Society

Elections in France: France is in danger, save it!

 

In 1940 General Charles De Gaulle  called from exile the French to save the nation from falling under the Nazi yoke. Today this call to action is more relevant than ever.

The French will decide the 25 ° President of the French Republic in an international and European context with two very different models: the unionist spirit and the values of democracy and globalization against populism who encourages old fears and it proposes a paradigm shift in terms of integration and exchange..

The truth is that election in France can be only understood in the context of a model of integration and free trade global crisis. Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States and the exit of the United Kingdom of the European Union were the first big breaks of this process that began with the financial crisis of 2008.

In the French case is particularly important the multicultural model crisis product and heritage of an imperial past that is manifested by the lack of integration of ethnic and religious minorities. The wave of attacks that the country experience does nothing but encourage fear and misunderstandings.

So that after Sunday’s elections  two candidates, two models and two visions of the world face each other. And beyond campaigns they are both product of the French establishment.

On one hand Marine Le Pen, candidate of the far right “National Front”. Mediocre student, daughter of the leader and founder of the National Front. Se has been since ever in the political arena. The daughter of the system that it says to face  but it is indeed a product of the most extremist and nationalist sectors of the hexagon.

On the other hand Emmanuel Macron, candidate for “En Marche!”. Outstanding student, representative of the French financial establishment, member of the outgoing President Hollande team as Minister of Economy, Macron is not either a newcomer to the French political arena.

However they are both representatives of nontraditional forces. The crisis also embrace the traditional political parties:the Republicans, who have remained outside the second round with the defeat of its candidate Francois Fillon and the Socialist Party that has had its worst election.

Many French are faced the dichotomy of choosing the lesser evil in a context of widespread disenchantment. The political class has appeared mostly under the principle of “republican pact” so that both the current President Francois Hollande as the right candidate Francois Fillon have openly expressed their support to the candidate Macron.

Macron represents the continuity of a central France in Europe with the principles of secularism and respect for minorities as flags. Also marks an encouraging profile for entrepreneurs and businesses to boost job creation.

Many of the disadvantaged by the globalization, as those formerly industrial areas in the north support Marine Le Pen. Lack of opportunities and fear of differences and the wave of Islamic extremism leads to endanger the French Republic

There are times where one should stop being warm and run aside the pretended objectivity because the danger is too great and will imply costly consequences.

We must speak openly against Marine Le Pen, for being xenophobic, contrary to the republican and democratic values, anti-European and destructive.

Despair and disenchantment has already led  Europe to fatal elections that have cost millions of lives.

For the good of France, of Europe and of all humanity, Marine Le Pen is not an option.

Beyond our borders

Technology is the vehicle of how we should see the political landscape today ~ Peter Thiel (Co-Founder of PayPal)

Have you ever thought we live in a chaotic society run by politicians who are proud of their long-term lack of vision? There is a place where people have a vision, with idead to make our society more efficient and virtual at the same time.

A technology-driven society where bureaucracy and current political issues are problems of the past, that’s Silicon Valley. Populated by programmers, entrepreneurs and capital investors, those are the ones shaping this new world.

How is this ideal of society?

We can see an example. There are only 193 countries with more than 7 billion people. We have much more variety of smartphones models than countries with our culture and vision that we want to be part of. If there were hundreds of floating cities, we would choose according to our needs the one that suits us best. With how diverse we are, we should not be forced to choose something that does not culturally represent us. Peter Thiel and Patri Friedman (founder of Seasteading Institute) dream of living in a city where the laws are written by investors. It is not crazy to think this, since Tim Draper, founder of Draper University, proposes to divide the state of California into 6 smaller states, one of them being Silicon Valley. This idea of ​​decentralization is the new idea of ​​what the “new politics of tomorrow” should be. And this can be seen with, for example, Bitcoin, whose underlying structure is called the Blockchain. Basically, and broadly speaking, Blockchain is a network of connected computers where no one has a greater hierarchy over another, and this in addition creates transparency. Returning to the example of floating cities, which is a project of the Seasteading Institute, they will have the following characteristics:

  1. It will be easier for many people to join the country as the island will be in a protected area of ​​the sea of ​​a host country.
  2. There will be a political exchange, autonomous, for economic, social and environmental benefits with the country that covers the island
  3. Cities will be environmentally friendly, and may be reconditioned according to needs
  4. The price of the square meter will be similar for what is paid in cities like New York or London.

And you, will you be like those 1000 people who said they wanted to live on a floating platform?

I Am A Feminist

We all remember Emma Watson’s speech in the UN in September 2014 when she presented the #HeForShe campaign (http://www.heforshe.org). She was the voice for millions of women who daily experience obstacles, discomforts, pressures and also violence to live in a macho society. It was a voice to bring to reason many people who unconsciously continued to proliferate this way of social organization where there are certain rights that are traditionally reserved for men.

I live in Argentina, a country where the numbers of violence against women are significant. In 2016 there were 327 cases of death due to femicide in all of Argentina. This figure shows that a woman died every 30 hours in Argentina for a case of contempt for the female gender. They are only the figures of the cases denounced and that they have proof that demonstrates the bond with femicide. The number would be higher if we took into account that not all cases are reported and not all femicides are declared. By the middle of this February the figure for 2017 highlighted a total of 57 femicides, implying that there is more than one case per day.

These numbers call to action. Argentina took the initiative, the Argentine women took it to the street putting a voice and a face to social patterns with which they did not agree. Although our society evolved in many respects, such as the law of equal marriage, however in other respects it remained stagnant. In 2015 the “collective cry against gender violence” is born, as the #NiUnaMenos (Not a woman less – http://niunamenos.com.ar) page says. This was born from a group of journalists, activists and artists who saw the need and they took the cause as their own to generate a collective campaign. A campaign that became successful because of the high degree of adherence of women and men across the country and even reached neighboring countries.

 

What is sexist violence?

I hear constantly many men take offense at hearing the use of “macho” to describe this type of violence, on the grounds that they are men who never offended or denigrated a woman. But do not we live in a society that for years was built under the domination of men, and why not say it, white men, who banished women and everyone they considered different from the spheres of power and decision-making areas? Do not we live in a society where women earn a lower salary than men despite having the same training and the same hierarchical position? Do not we live in a society where women are judged by how they dress, how they act and how are their sex lives?

The woman problem has always been a man problem.” – Simone de Beauvoir.

Being a feminist is often misunderstood as to be against the male gender. But that comes from a high level of ignorance. According to the Oxford dictionary Feminism is: “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”, this means that women are equal to men, and do not want to subtract rights to men as many say. It is not a struggle of sexes, it is a question of gender ceasing to be seen as an impediment. As Emma Watson clearly explains:

For the record, feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of political, economic and social equality of the sexes“.

But not only violence against women is seen in gender-based killings, it is seen in everyday actions. We live in a society that, although we fight continually and we rip our clothes to declare that we are open, that we do not discriminate and that we have tolerance, we are surrounded by prejudices. Violence does not necessarily occur in a physical form, there is symbolic violence, which is not minor, because it is the one that influences people and limits their way of acting in public spaces.

Men make the moral code and they expect women to accept it. They have decided that it is entirely right and proper for men to fight for their liberties and their rights, but that it is not right and proper for women to fight for theirs.”- Emmeline Pankhurst.

Symbolic violence is the one that constricts freedoms in an indirect way, which generates that the person restrains from certain actions because of fear or to avoid problems. That violence that occurs every day, is the one that causes the greatest damage. It is transmitted in the family, in education, in the media and in public spaces. It is our job to diminish it and make it disappear.

For now, it is more what was gained in law than in fact.

 

3 powerful techniques for problem solving

We, the Homo sapiens, solve problems every day. One of our greatest tools (but not the best) is intuition. Our most common method for solving problems is that of trial and error. Based on this context, we learn from our mistakes and when we get to the solution of a problem, we learn how we did it. In this way, we build a “bridge” in our brain, which helps us in the future when we want to solve a similar problem. The issue is that there are many techniques that we can apply to improve our ability to solve problems in everyday life, whether in study, work or any situation; Every day we face a problem, as simple as it may be. The key is to structure our analysis, which serves as a framework for later thinking the problem in greater depth and thinking alternatives. However, a word of caution: intuition is a double-edged sword. Thomas Gilovich couldn’t have said it better: “We believe certain things because they ought to be true.” Sometimes, just because we believe that something must be true because we believe it (sounds obvious), does not allow us to examine other alternatives to the solution of a problem.

Now, I present 3 tools that can serve to improve our ability to solve problems:

1) Divergence and convergence: With the first, we seek to explore and look for new things. It is a process to look for new options and ideas. Convergence is the opposite, we seek a response or conclusion. The idea would be to apply both concepts separately, and in different parts. The ideal would be to diverge and then to converge.

2) Restating the problem: In several different ways, is a divergent technique that opens our minds to alternatives. For example, changing the focus of the problem, rephrasing it in a broader context, or asking the question “how can we get employees to come to the picnic?”, to rephrase it to “how can we make employees not come to the picnic?”.

3) Applying the scientific method: Which was something I learned from my mentor Yimi, in order to solve problems. We present our problem as a hypothesis, and we want to see if applying a given solution, we arrive at the thesis is true.

I graduated… now what?

There are several types of crisis in this world and we all have experienced them at some point in our lives. Parents suffer when their kids grow and leave home, you can suffer a nervous crisis waiting for the grade of your last exam, we also have experienced as a society political, socioeconomic, financial and of course, existential crisis. But nobody anticipates the crisis that you are going to live when you have already passed half of your twenty decade … reaching your 30’s.

We are determined to follow an established pattern of stages to accomplish as we grow. We have a guide since our childhood that tells us what is the next phase that we must overcome. But what happens when you finish the cycle by which we are all immersed?

Knowing our path, that’s the importance

After a lot of effort, coffee cups and sleepless nights, you finish the major that you were forced to choose at your early 18s. You get a job, you become independent and you live your life day by day. It sounds like you’ve reached the top, but the truth is that you’re just starting to get to know yourself. There is no more pattern to follow. There’s only you. You and the decisions you make.

In my personal case, when I was 26 I suffered a strong stakeout in my life. I graduated and at 23, I came to live to Buenos Aires. Leaving your country makes you to live more intensely. Even though I was stable with a good job and a temporary department to live, I had my activities with friends and sometimes I got to travel, I felt deeply empty. That’s when the imminent question comes… where am I going? The end of the eternal adolescence hits you hard. According to Dr. Ricardo Rubinstein, Psychoanalyst of the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association, “we live in times that are characterized by burning stages with urgency. There is a social pressure to achieve everything right away”. After spending several weeks locked up and having finished almost the 10 seasons of Friends in just one night, I decided to make a change. That change was going to depend on me and only me.

The million dollar questions

Before any decision, you need to organize yourself: What am I passionate about? What is my talent? What am I investing both my money and my time? What makes me happy? These are some of the questions I asked myself to start this new path. It sounds very cliché, but if we do not start to question ourselves is difficult to reach a goal.

In my case I felt a strong need of learning new things and I realized that it was not as simple as it was in the past. I started ukulele classes that, even though I’m really bad at it, distracted me from my duties and I could expose my brain to activities that required different attention. At the end of each class I felt exhausted and is to be expected since playing music is for the brain the equivalent of a complete physical training.

In my innovation journey, I joined UX Design classes. I’m intrigued to learn how to program and I knew that to get to that, I had to start from the basics. I’m still in the process of reaching that goal, but setting small short-term goals makes it easy to not get lost on the road.

Since I’m always willing to help my community, I decided to get into the TED world. I  took the license to organize TEDxRecoleta and with a group of friends, we organize the first edition of this event. This kept me busy for seven months in an activity that was completely extraprogrammatic bringing something positive to my community . We were able to make an event for 100 people that was a success and the satisfaction you feel after having achieved it, is indescribable (watch the talks here!).

As I am passionate about traveling I decided to get to know at least 3 new places every year. They didn’t have to be far away from where I live, just destinations I had never visited before. In some journeys I was alone and in others accompanied, but I never left apart what makes me smile, traveling. At this stage I also quit my job and now I work in a completely different area from the one I was used to. I have constant challenges that test me in all my capacities and it has helped me to know myself in facets that I had never experienced before.

This month I went to the Vital Global Partnership Voice Mentoring Walk, which takes place simultaneously in more than 80 cities around the world. The initiative consists in couples conformed by young women with potential of leadership, in which both are involved in the reflection on the professional and personal challenges. This was an unique experience in which I had the chance to talk with my mentor about the problems and questions I currently have in every scope of my life. She was the one who insert in my mental hard drive a new question and that will be the 2017 question for me… for what I do the things that I do.

It is important to know that there are years that ask questions and years that answer them. You only regain control if you start living more focused on your interests and values. The small goals that we propose define ourselves and we need to have that turning point to decide what course will be taken in our future. Do not be afraid of losing the guide we once had before and let’s take every opportunity to reinvent ourselves every day.

The technological revolution: freedom or servitude?

We live today a period of acceleration of time and complexity of the space. The moment when a new type of society is born. This is reflected in the constant transformations, both from the macro point of view, at the state level and the global order as well as in the micro level: attitudes or way of doing things in everyday life.

The application of technological advancement holds many advantages but also many challenges. Within the first thing we can list advances that have been simplified, improved and even prolonged human life. On the other hand the risks of this fourth revolution are not only challenging but also dangerous.

The application of the technological revolution to the labor market represents a serious challenge to the quality of life of millions of workers. It is a global risk the concentration of wealth in hands of a global minority. Today we live in a structurally unequal world, where a group of hundred people concentrate the same percentage of wealth that half of humanity, 3.5 billion people.

Technological developments and their profits concentrated in few hands will only lead to the end of society as we know since such conditions can not sustained in the medium and long term. Technology has increased the gap substantively. It has left many out of the benefits from the technological revolution and  it has concentrated the fruits in a few hands.

The concentration of wealth and high levels of inequality are contrary to liberal democratic state. But this is not the only thing that affects the state as we know

The real challenge of this new revolution is considering the human being in the heart of it. Scientific progress and technology development is meaningless if it is not serving humanity.

It is therefore essential the role of governance, both local and international, to guide the changes in benefits of all and thus enable sustainable development in the medium and long term. It depends on this a successful and fair transformation of our world.

Finally doing an analysis of our current situation, we are not very encouraging in the short term as global structures and effectiveness of state for allocating resources does not work properly. Perhaps the complexity of today’s world and the resurgence of anti-establishment and extremist elements can be understood from a model that does not answer to the needs of the human being.

In the policies adopted at regional and global levels we will see if the challenges become or not a opportunity to live in not only a more efficient but also more fair world. The fruits of innovation belong to humanity.

MERCOSUR is dead

With more than 1 million square kilometers, with a GDP of more than 4 trillion dollars and with a population of approximately 275 million inhabitants, MERCOSUR is characterized by a history of impulses and stagnation. After being born as a process that was disruptive for the time, and especially, to mark the end of the confrontation thesis between the two biggest countries of South America, MERCOSUR has been losing its impulse.

During the month of March 2016, MERCOSUR had its 25th anniversary, an event that was little promoted, which happened almost unnoticed for civil society and to which governments did not give much importance. The media, although they did not refer to this anniversary as an event of transcendence, recalled it in their publications with titles that reflect a pessimistic perspective: “25 years of MERCOSUR and very little to celebrate” (La Nación, Argentina https://goo.gl/s2ju3R), “A sad regional birthday” (El Observador, Uruguay https://goo.gl/ENlIOL), “MERCOSUR will celebrate 25 years of creation and will be without pain or glory” (ABC , Paraguay https://goo.gl/VxSKNE) or even Globo (Brazil https://goo.gl/YrL3E7) detailed that: “… the anniversary comes amid the political crisis in Brazil and the wear and tear of the bloc”. However, there were two optimistic headlines: “MERCOSUR, 25 years of success” (La Razón https://goo.gl/3oomlE) in Bolivia, which is currently in the process of joining, and Telesur (https://goo.gl/fNrXXI): “MERCOSUR celebrates 25 years betting on economic integration” highlighting the progress in social and cultural issues.

However, the current situation shows that there is a crisis and an opportunity for the process of integration. There are two possible ways, self-criticism and call to action, or resignation. The international system up to 2016 demonstrated the importance of every State to belong to broad integration processes and to large trade blocs, since it increases the possibilities of commercial transactions, with enormous political and economic opportunities. But last year was a turning point in the history of integration. The Brexit and the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency who withdrew the country from the brand new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) shows an uncertainty in the economic, geopolitical and also social area, especially after a time when diplomacy and international negotiations had created a conducive environment for the trade blocs, from the Trans-Pacific Partnership itself to the Pacific Alliance, in an attempt to focus the world economy on Asia-Pacific, which is interpreted as the engine of the international economy in the next years.

According to many analysts, nowadays MERCOSUR is the moment of the ‘Black Swan’. This theory develops the possibility that unexpected situations lead to a rebirth of the bloc after a long hibernation in an unpredictable and uncertain international political and economic context. Among other things, this new impulse is brought about the emergence in Latin America of a new integration process, the Pacific Alliance, which calls itself as an innovative process which follows the patterns of the new international system focus on the new center of geopolitics and world economy. In contrast to MERCOSUR that was born in 1991 inspired by neoliberal ideas, after the change of political climate there were only advances in the social, cultural and, in some cases, political areas.

MERCOSUR needs to adapt to the new regional and international situation. Since it was born in the 1990s in a neoliberal context, it developed in the 2000s in a political climate framed in the ‘turn to the left‘ and is now in a different regional climate with the so-called ‘turn to the right‘ (1), into an international environment where it seems that the status quo is going to have an unpredictably change. This is precisely one of the weaknesses of the MERCOSUR project; it depends almost exclusively on ideological complementarity, extreme inter-presidentialism and pro-tempore presidencies pendulums. However, it should not be forgotten that this harmony between governments and presidential diplomacy is the success factor of the bloc (2), a bloc that does not fit the models of classical integration, because there is neither a significant institution nor a supranational level. We could say that MERCOSUR follows its own model (3) which is precisely the cause of its progress but also of its obstacles. There is no single model for the integration and cooperation processes, because each one is adjusted to its member’s reality (4). MERCOSUR was born with the deficiency that it followed the priorities and objectives of the governments of turn, reason why before each political change, MERCOSUR is stalled.

If we see the present, it is possible understand that after the first phase of economic complementation the bloc did not have more advances in that field, but it did cross with strength the 2008 crisis that was originated in the developed countries, the congruence of the politics of the ‘Turn to the Left’ made it advance in the social and cultural level, and the leadership of Brazil, on the one hand at regional level, on the second hand as an emergent power (5), gave some dynamics to the process but that could not cross political climate changes.

Nowadays, MERCOSUR is immersed in a crisis, but it is not the only integration process that is on crisis, even the European Union (EU) which is considered the deepest process of integration and the example to follow, is in its greatest crisis (6), or the Trans-Pacific Agreement which few months after seeing the light, goes through its first moment of darkness. However, MERCOSUR is marked by a change of political conjuncture of the ‘turn to the right‘, the strongest partner, Brazil is in a social, political and economic crisis, Argentina is politically divided but in a stable situation, Uruguay is in a cautious mode, Paraguay is expectant of the Bolivian incorporation to be able to increase the commercial flows and thus to leave the mutual geostrategic prison, and the most problematic partner, Venezuela, that after Chávez’s death, the country entered a political-social crisis that divides the country and makes the member be suspended from the bloc, but having the pro tempore presidency, a big deprivation.

That is why MERCOSUR is dead, because the bloc is experiencing a credibility and survival crisis. It was unable to adapt to the new era, to the new international and regional reality, and neither was there political efforts to have an economic deepening. It is necessary that the projects transcend political administrations and be guided by the wishes of the people, which at first are forgotten. Furthermore is needed a common external agenda, because that was built for the majority partners (Brazil and Argentina) for the benefit of their own interests, which sometimes are not complementary and even hurt the smaller partners. A common agenda would give the bloc the tool to go on new international negotiations, deepen current alliances and having a voice in international forums. With Brazil immersed in its internal sphere, it would seem the moment for Argentina to be the leader of the process, but for that to happen it must prioritize the interest of the bloc to the national interest, and generate instances that allow a better complementation after the changes of the administrations.

Between the 20 and the 24 of March, the XXVII Round of the Committee of Bi-regional Negotiations between MERCOSUR and the European Union will be held in Argentina to promote stalled trade negotiations. But the bloc also has several open fronts, negotiations with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), and the rapprochement with Korea, China and Japan. In a Multiplex World, all actors have the potential to increase their international insertion, if they maintain a clear strategy (8). It is time to see if MERCOSUR can achieve this strategy.

 

(1) Carné, Jonatán. “¿América Latina da un Giro a la Derecha?”, SABF Blog, 2016, http://blog.sabf.org.ar/2016/04/06/america-latina-da-un-giro-a-la-derecha/

(2) Malamud, Andrés. “La diplomacia presidencial y los pilares institucionales del MERCOSUR: un examen empírico”, Revista electrónica “Relaciones Internacionales”, 2010.

(3) Bizzozero, Lincoln. “Los primeros 20 años del Mercosur: del Programa de Liberalización Comercial al Plan Estratégico de Acción Social”, Revista Densidades, 2011.

(4) Peña, Felix. “Los 25 años del Mercosur y opciones en el camino de su evolución futura”, Newsletter, 2016.

(5) Carné, Jonatán. “¿Qué pasó con las potencias emergentes? El Caso de los BRICS.”, SABF Blog, 2016, http://blog.sabf.org.ar/2016/07/06/que-paso-con-las-potencias-emergentes-el-caso-de-los-brics/

(6) Domínguez, Emiliano. “La encrucijada europea: ampliación y Brexit”, SABF Blog, 2017, http://blog.sabf.org.ar/2017/01/30/la-encrucijada-europea-ampliacion-y-brexit/

(7) Acharya, Amitav. “From the Unipolar moment to a Multiplex World”, YaleGlobal Univertisty, 2014.

Let’s play together

I remember going to the toy store with my parents for my 8th or 7th birthday to pick out my present. Those were the times when there was nothing as boring as getting clothes and there was nothing that could beat that trip to the toy store and those long aisles filled with fun.

I can’t recall if I wanted to be a marine biologist or a crazy scientist (special emphasis in the word “crazy”, because it was the most important part of the degree!), but I was looking for a microscope on that trip. Looking back I can see why may be the toy store wasn’t the best place to buy one! I finally found one, but of course it was a toy.

Disappointment didn’t last too long, since I kept looking around and I found it. The perfect gift. It was a box almost as big as me, and with big letters spelled: CHEMISTRY. When I bought it I felt so grown up, I could picture myself turning my house into an amazing lab. Each time I played with it, it felt like I did. The hours I spent with that chemistry set are countless.

What I didn’t see back then was that the box was decorated with different lab equipment, nothing else. Finally, on the side, the box specified the recommended age for the players. Leaving the specific age aside, the thing that stood out was the fact that there was a girl and a boy on the sides of the number.

As I grew up and started leaving my toys behind, I started paying more attention to the ads. The little kitchen, the register machine, the laundry set…the toy every girl wants for this Christmas. The workshop, the cars, the tools’ box, the little man of the house can’t have too many of those.

Sometimes, you don’t realize the effect that one can have on children. If you let them believe since that early age that they should play with something because it’s a “girl” or a “boy” toy, that kid grows up believing life is filled with “girl” and “boy” stuff and believing that decisions have to be made considering that, including of course, deciding which degree to pursue.

Usually school doesn’t help. If a girl does well on maths, it’s “impressive” and if a boy does poorly on literature, it’s “natural”. That’s because boys do better in science and girls do better in softer subjects. I heard that one between mothers so many times.

The world of science is seen as a man’s world, and if that was the case because it just happens, so be it. However, degrees in science are pictured as hard, intense, with a lot of manual skills. Therefore, boys are more encouraged to pursue them, since it’s risky for a girl.

We need to increase awareness on the impact we have on children and start thinking before speaking. If not, we are still raising adults that think that the natural place for a woman is the kitchen, while there’s nothing more charming than a man that cooks. We keep nurturing a society where is “amazing” that a woman pursues a degree in science. More important, we set what kind of aspirations kids should have.

If I ever have kids, I would like for them to grow up in a world where they don’t feel as a minority if they are the only woman in a class full of men or vice versa. If I ever have a daughter and she decides to study engineering as her mother, I would like for the first question she’s asked not to be: “Hey, it’s full of boys! When are you getting a boyfriend?”

Changes begin at our homes and we collaborate as a society. While playing they learn. Let’s learn to let them play.

Superficial Social Progress

What if all of our progress in the last decades regarding human rights, racism, gender equality and homophobia was a big filthy lie. Why do I say this? Well it occurs to me that maybe it is. I always considered myself as a guy who sees the glass half full, which always saw our race in constant progress for the better. That may be right, but on a very superficial level.

Real change is not made on what we see, and express. Real change is something more complicated, is not measurable by statistics made by NGOs or private or governmental entities. Real progress is something intangible.. Real progress is only measurable in our own consciousness, is our inner voice who tells us what is right or wrong. It is what we truly believe, is that inner voice that really makes us accept or love a person of a different race, gender or sexual preference no matter what, because they are a human being just like yourself.

This is why our progress is superficial in a big degree. I don’t say that real progress hasn’t been made, of course it has. But certain events show us the degree of shallowness. These events show us how we only changed the ethics on our societies, the code of ethics that says what is right or wrong on a superficial level. If you are racist, people will look down on you, if you hit your wife or you sexually harass your secretary you will go to jail for it. But that is not real change, the mindsets are not changed, only the idea of what is right or wrong for society changed, and that is the big issue.

So Donald Trump won. Yes a racist, misogynist, homophobic, and probably a guy with lack of critical thinking because of denying climate change. Not only this, the Brexit happened, the neo nazi party entered the parliament in Greece and in Austria, and Le Pen is the favourite candidate on France. These events happened because of the geniality of the people behind them that understood what I explained before and used that in their advantage. They attacked the big crowds which only changed and progressed on a superficial level in their minds. This people made the unethical, ethical again.

All the people who believed in something but couldn’t express it because of our superficial progress, could rise their voice again thanks to this characters. So racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia and xenophobia flooded our societies and streets again.

My mother once told me that there is a famous phrase which says “ People get the government leaders they deserve”; but she corrected it and told me “People get the government leaders they look alike”. And she was right. Brexit and Donald Trump showed us that a big percentage of our current societies never stopped discriminating and is still full of hatred towards others. All this events shows us how nationalism is still a great way to win elections, how hate is such a powerful tool to move big crowds.

Another issue that feeds the idea of far right extremists having such an amount of power all around the globe is the apolitical crowd. For example, in the US 43℅ of the voting population decided not to vote. In the UK 28℅ of voters also chose not to vote. This can be analyzed as having a huge amount of adults not caring about their country’s future. The huge differential of 15℅ between the UK and the US it’s because as it is said the US suffered the phenomenon of voting “between the lesser of two evils”, making a bigger margin of non voters. So how can this happen in the 21st century? Where we have internet and information at our fingertips, we can easily search which candidate aligns better with our interests and model of thought. We can see their statements, their political agenda, their political team, even what they have stated 10 years ago and how they changed their point of view and why.

It is known as a fact by many statistics entities that the rates of discrimination at schools, and messages of hate towards muslim and LGBT communities peaked during Trump’s campaign. Yes, during the campaign, before he won. This shows the great impact a candidate and even more a president has with his speech over the population. The economic instability and recession takes some political leaders to create escape goats. This escape goats are an illusion, an imaginary answer to very complicated problems. This is not monday’s new’s, populist speakers around the twentieth century generated hate in many countries creating imaginary enemies which the people could hate to forget about other real problems. Hitler had the jews, Chavez had the US. So why Trump couldn’t have muslims, mexicans and China? Who wouldn’t love that all of our most complicated problems would be solved by these easy solutions these populist speakers bring to the table? But the world doesn’t work that way sadly.

Only 492,306 from 3,806,471 of people between 18 and 24 years old voted for the EU referendum for the Brexit. That’s only a 36%! Ideas are crucial for making a real change, but execution is the key aspect. People between 18 and 29 cover a 20% of all the amount of votes, that’s a big number in the spectrum.  We should definitely use our power to vote. We were raised in a more advanced society, with less xenophobia, racism and homophobia. Youngsters need to understand how they can make a change by only showing up. So why lose this big 20% who can fight against all these negative aspects, we just can’t keep sitting around.

So are we doomed? Should we surrender our ideals of real progress, and embrace this wave of hate that is crashing in to our foreheads? Absolutely not. This is the best moment, more than ever before, to remind ourselves of a key thought. No presidential candidate, no newspaper, no anti immigration law, no far right extremist party can really determine the way we live our lives. They do not represent us as a whole, these are just laws and people who got voted, on a fraudulent system, that in no matter of years will change. We live in a representative way of government which is often confused with the real democratic system which was stated 2500 years ago in ancient greece, but that will be a subject for another time. This Hate is only reflected on our daily lives if we let it pass through, if we choose to neglect it when it’s around us. So remember you can always chose, to embrace what is thrown to us, or to fight it with empathy.

It is now more than ever that we should push our minds for a real conscious change in order to achieve real progress. We should fight against this past of facism and hate that is coming to haunts us once again. I think that human history is not cyclical as many may think, and this wave of hate can be left behind as old news well buried, for a more prosperous and bright future. A famous psychologist, Steven Pinker, wrote a book called “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined”. This book studies that the greatest variable that marked our success as a race was collaboration between ourselves. The human mind found out thousands of years ago, that it was easier to understand, to collaborate, to love than to hate and discriminate. So… why bother ourselves in this nonsense?

Democracy in Argentina

2015 is a year of elections. The Argentines vote to choose the destiny of our country and of other forty million people.

These elections are the expression of a democratic system, the election of the governors by the governed, as it happens with many other countries in the occidental world and some other countries outside of it.

 

What is considered as democracy?

 

Is the term that gave its origin equally applicable to the system we know today?

 

We can start by saying that partly it is not. The Greek democracy, or the government of the people, did not correspond to the current definition of popular government. For example, in ancient Hellas not every inhabitant were considered citizens (with political rights) and most of the population was slave. On the other hand, those who had political rights should assume them as their duty in the agora or in the political arena.

 

Today, according to the theory of the American political scientist Robert Dahl, we  must say that what we call democracy represents an open, inclusive and competitive political system. This system is based on citizen participation and the control of the citizens over the government.

But, beyond the dogmas and without wanting to hurt susceptibilities, we will analyze if the current Argentine system correspond completely or partially to a modern democracy.

 

How democratic is Argentina today?

 

 

 

  • Free, periodic and competitive elections.

 

We can’t doubt that at a national level we live in a country where, since the return to democracy, a system exists in which the officers are elected by vote in clean elections that are carried out regularly and in which coaction is rare and alternatives from the current government can compete freely. It is a different story at a province level in which periodicity is not affected, but competitiveness is partially affected.

 

 

  • Inclusive vote.

 

Practically every adult can periodically participate in the elections. There are no privileges or qualified votes, nor the exclusion of certain groups or sectors.

 

 

  • Right to hold public office.

 

In theory, any Argentine citizen can run for office representing a political party. In practice, it is not as easy for an “outsider” of the traditional political circle to access it, but it is not restricted by any anti-competitive requisite.

 

 

  • Freedom of speech.

 

It may be one of the most controversial characteristics of the Argentina of today.

The citizens have the right to express themselves, without putting themselves in danger of receiving severe punishments, about political issues included criticizing public officers, the government, the regime, the socio-economic system or the prevalent ideology, among others.

There is no doubt that in Argentina we currently live fully the “freedom of speech”. However, this doesn’t omit the attacks from the party currently in government to certain media and journalists, creating and adverse environment but without affecting the democratic principle.

We must take into account that every media responds to particular interests that can crush with those of the government of the time. The serious thing would be that for the communication channel to be silenced. In Argentina, apart from the adverse environment and certain critics there is no evidence of the violation of this principle. In case of any violation by the media, it is the responsibility of justice and not of the government to judge it.

 

 

  • Variety of information sources

 

Citizens have the right to use different sources of information which do not only exist but are also protected by law.

Even though it’s true that the new media law encourages this variety of sources, it doesn’t differentiate between those close to the government or not. Anyway, we must say that in Argentina there is currently a broad variety of sources of information.

 

 

  • Associative autonomy

 

The citizens, to ensure the defense of their rights and interests, can build organizations and associations relatively independent, including political parties and interest groups.

 

Thus, we can say that in Argentina we currently live in a full democratic system. However, this doesn’t mean that certain characteristics, as freedom of speech, are more likely to be damaged than other. But nobody can doubt that from a formal point of view we live as a country under a full democratic system.

Maybe going deeper of the formal content of democracy, we may ask ourselves what have we accomplished as a society and how much is missing.

There is no doubt that to leave in a full and healthy democracy we must heal the social debt. That one that leaves millions of Argentines out of the system and makes us vulnerable regarding the democratic quality and its future.

It’s us, the citizens, the responsibles for strengthening democracy and for including everybody and assuring its benefits for the whole population.

Let’s celebrate democracy, but we know it is not enough. The challenge is the inclusion.