In today’s Europe, the people are no longer in control. Instead, politicians have become slaves to financial institutions and the markets. We are partly to blame — and changes are urgently needed to nurse European democracy back to health. Trouble is brewing all over Europe. Young people with little hope for the future are protesting in Spain. In France, 1.4 million copies were sold of a manifesto titled “Be Outraged.” Young Frenchmen and -women are devising utopias that extend well beyond civil society because they no longer expect anything from it. A deep depression has descended upon Greece, combined with a rage directed at politicians and the rest of Europe.
The banks and investment firms now play the role once held by the gods. Hardly anyone dares to criticize them, and fear of their wrath guides the behavior of politicians. Many are reluctant to speak frankly, while others seek refuge in lies. Under such conditions, democracy has lost its dignity. And that is dangerous. The foundation of any dictatorship is the tacit or open threat of violence against citizens. Their fear supports the system. The basis of democracy is respect among citizens. Their approval supports the system. If this approval disappears, democracy crumbles.