Free press and democracy in the age of fake news is a subject of paramount importance and so we decided to address this issue at Kathimerini Cyprus, as we mark our ten year anniversary since our first publication on 2 November 2008.
Times are heading towards a dangerous path once again, considering that it was 100 years ago (11 November 1918) when the First World War in Europe was coming to an end. Just like in all other big wars, the economic crisis, competition in the global arms trade, and drawing on nationalist sentiment, had all fueled what took place in Europe that ended up with almost 19 million people dead.
But the next economic crisis that seemed a lot like the ending result of WWI led to the Second World War a lot sooner than one would expect, in just three decades. In fact, many analysts believe that the conflict that ended in May 1945 with victims in 80 million souls had been simply the “second round” of the First War.
The traditional party alliances which have been complacent when special interests were running rampant, are not reacting but not because they don’t know how
In order to prevent the repeat of such atrocities in a devastating war, the Frenchman Jean Monnet developed the idea of European political unity which got him the name Father of the Europe Union. And in a déjà vu move, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke of the need to reestablish Europe, attempting to appear as leader of the Old World in a post-Merkel era. But perhaps he also saw the possible dangers of Europe breaking into pieces, with Brexit lurking, the banking tumbles of countries in the European south as well as the revival of ultra rightwing movements and the rise of populism.
Under those circumstances, a third world war would not be a farfetched scenario.
The fact that the leadership of conservatives and social democrats has been alternating power for half a century throughout Europe, coupled with the their politics and parties falling into disrepute, while leftist and communist parties have been running on empty with a language code of a past era, all have made room for new parties to appear.
And these parties, with nationalism and racism in their DNA, are stepping all over the drama of refugees who are fleeing war-stricken countries in the Middle East. These parties are acting in the name of “racial purity” for their homeland and race, constantly gaining more ground and winning elections.
Results are evident in the government coalition in Italy, the administration in Hungary, and the new president in Brazil. Such political movements no longer need the mass media to promote their policies and agendas, since they utilize social media to reach their audience and target social groups and bring them onboard as they amass more power step by step.
Traditional parties have been complacent
At the same time, the traditional party alliances which have been complacent for a long time when special interests were running rampant and there was lack of transparency, are not reacting but not because they don’t know how.
They are not reacting because they would have to change. They would have to step down and give way to young people with new ideas, people who would be prone to being transparent and speak the truth, something which had been eliminated by special interests within the old parties.
The dirty laundry of the old parties is being aired by the new populist parties and are stealing voters one by one, starting with the new kids. Those who do not know what took place in the two world wars because education was not a priority for the old alliances. That is, those people who were focused on power and kickbacks left the rest of the people to fend for themselves in the face of patrons who drove entire communities of borrowers into the red and utter financial ruins.
Plenty of these people are listed in the Lagarde document or their names could be found in the Panama Papers, where they can easily slip away in smaller countries such as ours, Malta, and Bulgaria, even if we happen to be member states of the European Union.
So we have reached a point that is absolutely crucial. This is the time when each of us will have to make a choice between democracy and nightmare.
The article was first published by Kathimerini Cyprus on 4 November 2018