There are two ways to deal with dissent: derogate it as insignificant, or suppress it with brute force.
The ruling class in the United States, having tried the first tactic on the Occupy movement to no avail, has now resorted to the second. In city after city, riot-armed police have driven off peaceful Occupiers, bashing heads, making mass arrests, destroying tent encampments and, worst of all, burning books by the hundreds.
In England, Prime Minister David Cameron is invoking the first tactic to dismiss as a petty annoyance ("a damp squib," in his words) the strikes by public sector workers to protest proposed pension cuts. It's one of the "austerity measures" to bring down the debt bogeyman. All of Europe has been infected by the same obsession that fuels the insanity of the political parties here, as well: quit spending, lower the debt.
The austerity campaign is championed by the very people who caused the debt. None of their "austerity measures" will cost them a shilling. The One Per Cent Oligarchy will get still richer. Let the workers, the jobless, the sick, the elderly, the pensioners pay the cost of wars, unregulated financial markets and other follies of the free market priests and prelates.
In the UK, the effectiveness of Cameron's fizzling little firecracker can be judged the amount of time that elapses before he is forced to call in the armed goons and bash heads, as his peers have already done in police states around the world, from Syria and Egypt to the U.S. of A.
Governments today -- whatever label they wear: democracy, republic, dictatorship, military junta, social-democrat, monarchy, etc. -- are all in fact plutocracies. Their richest few either run the country directly, or control those delegated or "elected" to run it. They wring personal profit from traditional religious and ethnic hatreds, exploit hostility toward immigrants and love war as long as they're on the winning side. They're police states, to one degree or another. They are intolerant of dissent, whether they simply send goons to assassinate dissenters or merely throw them in jail without trial (as the United States increasingly does).
Exceptions to the rule seem almost quaint: how much do you hear or read about, say, Costa Rica? Described in 1719 as "the poorest and most miserable Spanish colony in all America," its citizens today enjoy an enviable quality of life, the highest in Central America. Their life expectancy level is among the highest in the Western Hemisphere. Their government health care system provides them with better health care than U.S. citizens receive. Once dependent on coffee, banana and beef exports, Costa Rica has diversified its economy. Its high level of education (state-supported) has attracted computer chip makers, pharmaceutical companies, and financial outsourcing enterprises to set up shop there. Ecotourism now earns more foreign exchange for Costa Rica than the combined exports of the country's three main cash cops (coffee, bananas and pineapples). The economy has no army to support: Rebels against its military dictatorship won a bloody civil war in 1948 and one of the first acts of the new government was to abolish the army altogether. Costa Rica's inflation rate, once a worrisome 13.8%, has declined to 5.7%. Its poverty rate is around 8% (vs, 15.1 percent in the U.S.).
Through its last 13 presidential elections, Costa Rica has remained stable, and it is a world leader in efforts to foster human rights and ecologically sustainable development. At home, it maintains one of the strongest social welfare systems in the hemisphere.
According to the New Economics Foundation Costa Rica ranks first in the Happy Planet Index and is the most environmentally responsible country in the world.
It is a government that believes government's principal obligation is to the quality of life of its citizens.
Weird idea, isn't it?
Some might call it paradise. Others would say it's a "damp squib."