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Economic Democracy? In the EU? - Part 3

Economic Democracy? In the EU? - Part 3In coming issues we will publish a few chapters of this bilingual book, newly launched at the Confederação Empresarial de Portugal, presented by its President Antonio Saraiva, with foreword by the President of the Auditing Court of Portugal, Guilherme d’Oliveira Martins.

It was edited by Jack Soifer, with co-authors Francisco B. Weinholtz, John Wolf, Stefan de Vylder, Armindo Palma, Luis Silva, Henrique Neto and Viriato Soromenho-Marques.

History - 3

In “Part 1” (click here to read) we wrote about the political parties using Euro from the lobby to finance their election campaigns and thus representing it, not the electors. In Part 2 (click here to read) we wrote about their use of the media, social net-works, mobile phones and much clutter to occupy the mind of the citizen and focus it on the interests of the powerful. This makes people work as slaves without thinking.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau and other philosophers said that in principle human beings are good and rational. Adam Smith theorised that a rational man buys quality at the best price if faced with many alternatives. With the pre-industrial revolution, or soon after, many artisans offered their services and products. The consumers were a few bosses and presumably rational in their choices. Economic theories were based on the ceteris paribus (nothing changing).
In the 19th century changes in products and services were minimal. The slow steam engines of the first locomotives were replaced by diesel only after 60 years. The same occurred with the looms operated by pulleys & belts. Companies were local, the expensive freight costs & the need to be in contact with their customers mean companies rarely extended beyond their region. Technology was the skill of the master. The client trusted him, and he depended on word of mouth to sell more.

The rationale in choosing the product or service and ceteris paribus worked. Hence the theory of laissez-faire, laissez-passer, where the government does not govern, it does what the powerful want, it allows movement of goods and people without any control. Anything goes. The only respected rule is ‘do not kill or steal’.

In the 19th century, inspired by successful gold prospectors, settlers and cowboys advancing through the American West at the great expense of the lives of the peaceful indigenous population and of early pioneers, came the practice of 'what counts is the result' and a criminal is only one who has been caught. The difficulty in communicating with distant locations (sometimes only overcome by the telegraph) facilitated the “law-in-my-hands” approach. In general the gangs were stronger & better armed than the sheriffs.

Europe took over the Americas & Africa in the 17th &18th centuries. When Napoleon invaded nations, eventually this led Europeans to divide Africa among themselves, uniting only to beat him. Portugal and Spain had divided South America. The Europeans, instead of killing the local people, enslaved them to provide raw materials and metals. First at sea, piracy then turned to rob the rich resources on the land.

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