Monday, May 09, 2005

Grass Talks

I was beginning to believe that intellectuals no more talked about socialism, capitalism, and globalization. Until I read this piece by Gunter Grass in a recent issue of The Guardian. Grass has raised important issues, in the context of Germany, but his points are relevant for all of us:

"...parliament is no longer sovereign in its decisions. It depends on powerful pressure groups — the banks and multinationals — which are not subject to any democratic control. Parliament has thereby become an object of ridicule. It is degenerating into a subsidiary of the stock exchange. Democracy has become a pawn to the dictates of globally volatile capital. So can we really be surprised when more and more citizens turn away from such blatant scams, indignant, an­tagonised and ultimately resigned and regard elections as a simple farce and decline to vote? What is needed is a democratic desire to protect Parliament against the pressures of the lobbyists by making it inviolable. But are our parliamentarians still sufficiently free for a decision that would bring radical democratic constraint?"

A very potent argument!

Here he talks about the job market and how the over the hill people are finding it difficult to stay in employment.

"The consequences of this development disguised as globalisation are clearly coming to light and can be read from the statistics. With the consistently high number of jobless, which in Germany has now reached five million, and the equally constant refusal of industry to create new jobs, despite demonstrably higher earnings, especially in the export area, the hope of full employment has evaporated. Older employees, who still had years of work left in them, are pushed into early retirement. Young people are denied the skills for entering the world of work. Even worse, with simultaneous complaints that an ageing population is a threat and the demand, repeated parrot-fashion, to do more for young people and education, the Federal Republic — still a rich country — is permitting, to a shameful extent, the growth of what is called "child poverty"."

So much food for thought. And for a change, this piece is not written by Arundhati Roy who seems to have monopolized this segment of discussion. Relish it here.


she said...

i did read this piece. and i agree, it was nice to see someone other than roy write about it. and especially someone as erudite and readable as grass.

Zafar Anjum said...

Thanks for dropping by Asya! It was one of the most satisfying essays I have read in recent times.