2011, the two winners

The hopes of liberation from dictatorship and penury shine less brightly at the end of this year of movement, says Patrice de Beer.
Patrice de Beer
22 December 2011

There are only two groups that can rejoice at the work of 2011 and anticipate 2012 with pleasure. The first is Islamists, because they won the first democratic elections held after the Arab spring by a clear margin, and are likely to hold executive power in 2012 from Morocco to Egypt (and can hope to do the same in Syria if and when the Bashar al-Assad regime collapses).

The rising by Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and others against their old dictators raised many expectations. But in their first free electoral choice a majority chose to vote for those whose ideology promised heaven on earth for the believers and hell to the others. In its way this also gives credit to those in the shaken west who warn against a foreign peril most often equated with Islam or say that Muslims are the source of all ills.

The second group is bankers, whose ability to continue feeding off the west's economic crisis as much or even more than during its boom years guarantees their quiet rejoicing. The fact that they have a big responsibility for the crisis, alongside governments which allowed their countries to become hugely indebted instead of pressing ahead with unpopular reforms, only compounds their merriment. After collecting the reward for their incompetence and greed after the implosion of 2008, they are back as scavengers of a ravaged world (croque-morts, or "dead-eaters", as the French say).

But if these groups are covertly smiling, the responsibility for their success is widely shared. After all, many among us once blamed our parents for having bequeathed us a world of wars and crises. Now, when our own children - left with piles of debts we carelessly accumulated during the supposed good times - ask us to settle accounts, what do we tell them?

US election: what's at stake for the rest of us?

Our editor-in-chief, Mary Fitzgerald, is on the ground in key battleground states ahead of the US election.

There's never been more at stake. But the pandemic has kept many foreign journalists away. Hundreds of international observers who normally oversee US elections aren't there.

Hear Mary describe what she's seeing and hearing across the country, from regular citizens to social justice activists to right-wing militias arming themselves for election day.

Plus: hear from the journalists behind openDemocracy's latest big 'follow-the-money' investigation, which lifts the lid on how Trump-linked groups have exported their culture wars across the world.

Join us for a free live discussion on Thursday 29 October, 5pm UK time/1pm EDT.

Had enough of ‘alternative facts’? openDemocracy is different Join the conversation: get our weekly email


We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData