In the aftermath of the Great Depression and World War II, social democratic ideals including welfare, social rights and moves towards equality became the basis for the transformation of European and North American societies through governmental intervention in social and economic dynamics. Considering present US reticence to federal taxation and spending, it is hard to believe Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. In the present crisis, the state of emergency is thwarting democratic debate to the extent that realist urgency, emergency and necessity are fast becoming the only currency of political debate, the only valid principles.
The Founding of a Republic, a Chinese state-sponsored film celebrating the founding of the People's Republic of China and the victory of communism over the Kuomintang, is a rather spectacular production. Jackie Chan as well as every nationally and internationally renowned Chinese actor and actress was recruited to raise its profile through minor cameos. Its greatest achievements, however, are firstly the beautifully texturised accuracy of the historical rendition, and most importantly how it avoids discussing the essence of communism.
Against the assertion that we live in financial times and that all policy, national and international, must yield to the commonsensical gods of finance, we must not forget that a lot is still dictated and informed by religious and political belief. To say that we are all animated by the same absolute truths and resulting interests is to forgo humanity, freedom and choice in favour of a single subjectivity. Navigating the new world order is about finance and trade, Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne asserted at a recent Chatham House conference on foreign policy. Because we live in financial times, he reiterated for close to 90 minutes, Britain's international relations must focus on economic diplomacy. He went as far as arguing that a foreign policy based on the promotion of free trade is not a “zero sum game”. One is to understand that for the British government free trade will bring about greater freedom and promote “universal values” as a consequence of its resulting social dynamics.
The recent attacks in Norway highlight that Europe is suffering from a crisis of identity and increasingly militant xenophobia. Anders Behring Breivik's cold-blooded murders are but an extreme expression of increasing fears of foreigners throughout a Europe that finds itself questioning its identity and increasingly afraid of immigration and foreignness. Most worryingly, this trend is not only the province of extremists like Breivik, the British National Party, the English Defence League or Marine Le Pen's Front National, but has also gradually come to inform the political discourse of mainstream parties in the UK, Italy and France.