OK

I've been pretty depressed by world trends over the past year.

First you have the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt which originally were supposed to be about freedom but now seem to be getting taken over by Islamists. In the hometown of the fruit seller who burned himself a year ago in Tunisia to set off the revolution, a landslide was won by a populist hard-right charlatan living in Europe. Then you had the TV executive whose house was set on fire for broadcasting a documentary that showed an image of Mohammed, despite it being an award-winning Iranian movie (Persepolis) from another Muslim country. Instead of the arsons being brought to justice, the TV executive was the one brought to trial. Meanwhile in Egypt, the Salafists, who are against democracy have won anywhere from 21 to 30 percent of the vote in the first round, which supposedly included all of the most liberal and secular parts of Egypt. Even worse, the secular Egyptian Bloc refuses to represent the interests of the average impoverished Egyptian, leaving that task up to the Salafists. The Egyptian Bloc appears to be a hodgepodge of losers from the former regime, and middle class (read: rich), out of touch neo-liberals. Basically, there is no leftist party in Egypt of any significance whatsoever.

A ray of sunshine seemed to appear this week in Russia, where the United Russia party is finally losing steam and people are losing patience with Putin. But the leader of the opposition, a guy named Navalny, said that dark skinned people should be eradicated "with a pistol" and the Jews are like a cancer on the liver that must be eradicated. I'm not sure which is worse: the Salafists or this guy. The idea of a nuclear superpower run by an open racist and fascist does not appeal to me. Of course, some people will try to say that this guy is not representative, but that's also what they said about the Islamists and the 'Arab Spring.' The fiction will only be maintained so long as the revolution does not reach its final conclusion, at which point the true purpose is no longer hidden for the sake of winning over useful idiots in the West to naively believe that it is all out of love of America that the spontaneous uprising is happening.

Then there is Europe. Don't even get me started on that one. There is a huge democratic deficit on that continent, resentment at austerity, resentment at the cross-country transfers that are necessary to keep the euro going, and the left wing parties, which are in opposition almost everywhere, are unable to capitalize on it. The right wing parties are in government, but it's actually the far right parties that are harnessing the pubic opinion the most effectively. The so-called European socialists have long since been co-opted by neo-liberalism, the status quo, mind-deadening centrism, and demoralization. As Europe goes through the same de-industrialization process the US went through, the base of the socialist and labor parties is being eviscerated, witness the fall of the long-dominant labor parties in Scandinavia, which was largely untouched by either World War or the euro debacle.

Are there any rays of hope in the world?

One of the few is Occupy Wall Street. It shows that there is still a spine somewhere on the left, even if it is leaderless and program-less, the left will protest against a Democratic President and be able to harness so much energy to refocus the debate on inequality. It shows that there are some on the left who are out challenging the corruption of the current system and are capable of vision(s) for radical change. That they are willing to be out there day after day. The support given to Daily Kos for the OWS movement has also been an excellent sign. As a corollary to this, there are the Spanish indignados and other sporadic protests against austerity. They show that people are standing up against 25% unemployment and dropping out of a political system where the only choices are Bad and More Bad. In Greece and Italy the unions have been able to put boots on the ground, although they haven't been able to stop anything. In Germany, domestically at least, the discussion appears to be finally shifting to the left. After years of Hartz IV reforms, gutting the social welfare system, and an export-oriented, supply-side wage suppression strategy overall, Germans are finally waking up to the massive imbalances they have participated in within the euro system and how it's not necessarily beneficial to them. The FDP has collapsed in domestic politics at least, and the country is moving towards a minimum wage.

Besides all this, the clear bright spot out there is unquestionably South America. Almost alone among people of the world (besides Turkey), the Brazilians and Argentines seem genuinely happy with their leadership, at least for now. Although it's the most unequal region in the world, unlike the rest of the world, that inequality is shrinking, not growing. What did the South American left do right, that the left elsewhere is not doing right? Conversely, what did the South American right do wrong? I have a few theories First of all, right-wing parties in South America are still tainted because many of those countries were ruled by right-wing military dictatorships from the 1960s-80s. Secondly, you don't see the kind of ultra-nationalism that you see in the European (and Asian) far right. And you don't see the kind of religious fundamentalism that you see in the far right of Muslim countries. The Left meanwhile has always adopted a populistic stance. Aiding this has been some religious interpretations such as Liberation theology.

Well this has been a long and rambling diary. I just feel I need to get my thoughts out there. I leave with one final note, on domestic US politics. Where's our Ron Paul? You know-- the one who is un-touchably pure, in both word and deed (voting record), and personal affairs; the one who is intellectual (or at least smart enough to come off as), the one who has vision, the one is constantly spouts that vision, in a hard line against corruption, against the establishment, for a better democracy? Is it Bernie Sanders? Dennis Kucinich? Someone else?

Edit: Oh yes, if you want to talk about clinical depression, I know about that one too.

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