Sunday, December 16, 2007

My impression is the first post-Franco government of Felipe Gonzalez is primarily remembered here as a byword for corruption. Why do I mention this? Well, because Sr. Gonzalez has just been appointed the head of a large Group of the Wise which is to ponder the future of the EU.

I had another moan about Spanish banks last week. The very next day it was announced that Spain’s equivalent of the UK’s Monopolies Commission is to fine 19 banks for compelling clients to take out a particular house insurance as part of their mortgage deals. Why am I not surprised, as well as being pleased that action is being taken?

Bad news about the construction industry and the housing market is now falling so thick and fast, I’m beginning to wonder how accurate it can be. El Público advises of a new report claiming a 70% fall in house sales; ABC says that the construction of flats has fallen by 40% and 500,000 jobs are expected to be lost. It also warns that the bank rate is about to climb again, making life even tougher for those with mortgages; and El País reports that real estate promoters now predict falls in property prices next year.

For at least ten years, I’ve insisted to all and sundry we're all suffering the consequences of living in The Age of the Bureaucrat. Today comes the first sign that things might just be on the turn. A UK columnist writes - We are entering a post-bureaucratic age in which the model of society that has been dominant for the past 200 years is becoming obsolete. We have lived through such a transition before. In the distant past, authority in societies was local and familial, a matter of clan or noble power, submission to kings and feudal rules, with economies controlled by guild structures. That world vanished in the 18th and 19th centuries with the emergence of the bureaucratic society, in which power became centralised and economies industrialised. From Bismarck's Germany and the Britain of the Circumlocution Office described by Dickens to the America of the New Deal captured by Frank Capra, the bureaucratic society dominated the world. Just as the dinosaurs once did. But not now. In this post-bureaucratic age, deference towards traditional authority has gone and citizens are much more demanding of the state. Individuals are no longer willing to accept that the centralised provider knows best. Whether it's the open network of Linux, which challenges traditional software provision; peer-to-peer music file sharing, which has broken the control of the old music companies; or technology that makes the viewer the channel controller, the bureaucratic dinosaurs everywhere are dying.

Let’s hope so. And let’s hope Spain catches the bug.


moscawhich said...

Please let me know after you have read "Blood of the Islands" whether you still think the British don't care where they come from.

moscawhich said...

There was corruption and other during Gonzalez's mandate, but to say that's the only thing it is remembered for is like saying Thatcher is only remembered for the Poll tax. Amongst other, he is credited with the modernisation of the country.

Colin said...

Come on, I did say 'primarily' and that it was my impression. And, actually, a large proportion of the British population probably do recall Thatcher primarily for the poll tax.

Also, it must have been hard NOT to modernise Spain after the death of Franco and, more importantly, the end of dictatorship.

I will report my findings when I've read the book. Am even more intrigued now. Right now, my own attitude is that I'm delighted to be descended from a mixture of warlike Teutons and aggressive Basques. Not to mention the lovely Celts, who appear never to have done anything wrong throughout their entire history. Has anyone got a bad word for them? Apparently spent their entire lifetime playing bagpipes, singing mournful songs and drinking the equivalent of Guinness. Mead?

moscawhich said...

Dulce said...
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