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Alastair Thompson @althecat
, 46 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
Obama is addressing the world.... right now....
And he is talking about how real power is exercised in the world. /2
Their decisions (to do bad things) are often done without malice, but too often these decisions are often made without reference to humanity, or to the consequences for ordinary people. /3
Their children do not suffer from reduced access to education when the taxation base is undermined. Which is why some were predicting the triumph of liberal democracy at the end of the 20th C. many missed a rising backlash. /4
Russia already already humiliated, started reasserting autocratic control. China emboldened by its economic success, started bristling at criticism of its human rights record. /5
In the United States right wing Billionaires started funding efforts to tap into the political influence of groups who had been left behind. And perhaps more than anything the consequence of the 2008 financial crisis created suffering all around the world. //6
Because of the actions taken during and after thecrisis, the global economy has returned to health, but the credibility of the system had been undermined, and the politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment are now on the move, at a pace that would have been unimaginable. /7
This is an age of strong man politics. In the west you have parties that are based on barely hidden racial animus. In the developed world many nations are looking towards China as a preferable model to governance to democrracy. /8
Social media which had been seen as a means to promote democracy has proved just as effective at promoting propaganda and hatred. /9
On the 100th anniversary of Mandela's birth we stand now at a crossroads. Two different narratives compete for the hearts and minds of the peoples of the world. How should we respond?
Let me tell you what I believe. I believe in the world of Mandela, and MLK and Ghandhi, in a world where all men are created equal and a better world is possible.
And I believe this is based on evidence. The nations with the highest levels of happiness are those which best express the ideas of liberal democracy.
Technology can not be put back in a bottle. The only way to effectively address problems like Climate Change and mass migration is to develop systems for more international cooperation, not less.
But history shows the power of fear. And the disastrous power of fear. Of the desire to dominate others. History shows how easily people can be convinced to turn against each other or to look at God in a different way.
We are going to have to work harder. Let me suggest a few guideposts for the road ahead.
First, we are going to have to fight to reduce inequality. History shows that societies that have vast differences in wealth are less stable and grow more slowly. And when economic power is in the hands of the few then political power is sure to follow.
Mandela warned us about this. He told us that because Globalisation creates new paths for the powerful and rich to acquire power and wealth we need to protest. But we need to do more than just protest we need to build and innovate and close this chasm of wealth and power.
The solution will not be either unbridled capitalism nor will it be based on top down state control.
There is only so much you can eat. There is only so big a house you can have. There is only so many nice trips you can take. Its enough. You don't have to take a vow of poverty to support that child who doesn't have enough food to eat, to pay some more in taxes.
It shows a poverty of ambition to want to just take more and more and more. To be able to give more and more and more. That is ambition. To be able to help others. ("Where was I, I adlibbed")
There is talent everywhere in the world. It is legitimate for poor and developing countries to seek access to richer markets, it is only fair. It is also appropriate for developed countries to seek reciprocity from countries like China which are no longer poor.
The biggest challenge for jobs and work in this world is technology. We are going to have to be more imaginative and we are going to have to do more fundamental reimagining. Jobs don't just provide money, they provide dignity and a sense of purpose.
Second, Madiba taught us that everybody from every race, gender, sexual orientation and place is equally human. We need to constantly look for those and fight against those who seek to elevate one group above another.
In 1964 Madiba explained from the dock that the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights are documents that are venerated everywhere in the world. This is part of what gave him the moral authority to challenge Apartheid, because he understood their values better than they did.
What was true then is true today. Its a truth that can be embraced by everybody. It is a truth that lies at the heart of every world religion. That we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
It is a truth which is incompatible with any form of discrimination, and it is a truth that holds practical benefits as it enables you to benefit from the talents of everybody in your society, just look at the French World Cup winning team.
Madiba never stopped being proud of his heritage. You do not have to put down others heritage to respect your own. Rather it shows you are a little insecure about your heritage.
Madiba knew that we can not claim justice for ourselves if it is not assured to all. Its not justice if now I'm on top so I'm going to do the same things to you that you did to me.
Madiba reminds us that Democracy is about more than just elections. Mandela could have been President for life, am I wrong? Had he chose Madiba could have governed by executive fiat, but instead he guided South Africca to a new constitution.
No individual is immune to the corrupting influences of absolute power if everybody is telling you what you want to hear because they are afraid of you.
Its not just about who gets the most votes, its about the quality of the civil society. Democracy depends on strong institutions and minority rights, and free press, and an independent judiciary and the rule of law.
Real democracy best upholds the idea that Government exists to serve the individual not the other way around, and it is the only form of Government that holds the possibility of fulfilling that promise.
Democracy means being in touch and in tune with the experience of real people in their communities. With representatives who can tell the people in fancy buildings what is happening down here.
Most of us prefer to surround our selves with the views of people who agree with us. But Democracy demands that we are able to get inside the minds of people who are different from us, who have differing views.
You have to believe in facts. Without facts there is no basis for cooperation. If I say this is a podium and you say it is an elephant there is no basis for cooperation.
I can't find common ground if someone says that Climate Change is not happening. If you start saying its an elaborate hoax, where do we start. Unfortunately too much of politics today seems to reject the concept of objective truth. People just make stuff up.
We see it in state propaganda. In the blurring between news and fiction. We see it in the utter lack of shame with people being caught in a lie who just double down and tell more lies.
You'd think that would just be a baseline. You also see it in the debasement of intellectualism. And as with the denial of rights, the denial of facts threatens democracy. Which is why we need to champion independent media and that schools teach critical thinking.
My final point: We have to follow Madiba's example of persistence and of hope. It is tempting to feel that recent political events are too hard to push back against. We have to resist that cynicism, because we have been through darker times.
Yes by the end of his life Madiba enjoyed freedom, but the path to that was not easy. He spent three decades in prison, he broke rocks, and spent time repeatedly in solitary confinement, and yet somehow his power grew during those years.
Because if you stick to what you believe is true. Ultimately right makes might. Not the other way around. Madiba would not have sustained that hope if he had been alone. He knew that the ranks of freedom fighters were growing around the world even in his most difficult days.
We don't need one leader. We need the power of collective spirit. And I know that the hope carriers are growing around the world. We need to rely on the spirit of the young.
So young people my message to you is simple. Now is a good time to be aroused. Now is a good time to be fired up. And those of us who remain young at heart have an obligation to help, to support you.
Madiba teaches us that nobody is born with hate, you have to be taught to hate, and those who hate can be taught to love.
[Wow.... that was a remarkably well timed intervention. Thank you @BarackObama and Nelson Mandela, Madiba, before you. ]
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