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Gone are the carefree days of summer, gone are the beach chairs, duck buoys, diving masks and tanning lotions. We go home; most of us work, the others stand in line in front of the Onem and the social aid centers. We go back, even if we have not left and we have been satisfied with small distractions; we go back because it is the beginning of the school year and it is an event that the newspapers talk about every year at the same time. The beginning of the new school year is not without its little worries about enrolment and the lack of space here and there, and about the various decrees announced to make things easier and more suitable for students and teachers alike. And those who are dissatisfied are always up in arms, denouncing such and such a technicality, such and such a contradiction, or some other flagrant stupidity. It is necessary and good to be a little agitated, it is another facet of the return to school. In this respect, it is without great impatience or illusions, but with a certain curiosity, that we will await the start of the social season, which goes roughly hand in hand with the start of the political season, both of which may give rise to slight upheavals. We will remember the poor dispute and controversy that opposed the head of the Christian union to the head of the FGTB, one reproaching the other for hating what she represents: a woman, educated, who has studied, able to read files. And some books, surely; but which ones? Let’s move on. Goblet, for his part, defended himself from any form of primary anti-feminism and called, despite the discord, for dialogue with his partner in social struggles, who would need to see the common front reunited for the next elections. For its part, Charles Michel’s government has not been idle and has multiplied, on all fronts, the measures and attacks against what remains of the social security and solidarity conquered and built by our forefathers and of which there will soon be nothing left but ruins. In the face of which, until proven otherwise, the trade unions only oppose vague protests by way of ripostes, far from the real and necessary reflections and actions that the rigor of the times demands. 

Besides, once again, one will observe with saddened disappointment how far all this seems to move nor shock the first concerned by the blind and stupid application of the now unavoidable austerity which affects them and which our political leaders say they expect to bear fruit in terms of economic recovery, job creation and other vague embellishments from which, it seems, we will soon draw all the benefits. We have seen and are seeing, in Greece, subjected to the implacable obstinacy of the « troika », in our close neighbors in France, governed however by eminent and respectable socialists, that the insistence on following the dictates of business and the market only perpetuates and aggravates the frightening disparity between the « haves » and the increasingly compact crowds of the « new poor. Some come to think that all this is the whim of the owners of the world whose ultimate project would be to get rid, in one way or another, of the hordes of miserable people who are a blot on a landscape that, very strictly, belongs to them. In addition, the criminal carelessness with which the projects of the large multinationals are carried out everywhere in all fields of activity and the irreparable damage that inexorably ensues for man and the environment — the latest incident The latest Tianjin incident is a perfect illustration of this — and, furthermore, the madness that is increasingly spreading in financial circles that are increasingly outside any possible regulation, wherever it may come from, one has every right to wonder where this sinister farce will end up leading us. We, that is to say, all those who constitute the present humanity. With the buying crowds of our country, indifferent when they are not hostile to these others, these Foreigners who take to the sea with their wives and children, on rafts and boats, drown by the thousands or arrive exhausted at the borders of an aged and cold continent which is for them a chimerical El Dorado in comparison with the suffering and the misfortune they are fleeing. If we add to all this the alarmist perspectives and predictions coming from those who observe and analyze the movements and disturbances in the world of the economy — which has become the only world — and the possible next and universal banking crisis that is looming on the horizon, here too, whatever hopes we might still have had of an awakening of the elites everywhere in power, we are forced to note that, very globally, the paths traced up to now are now absolutely impracticable. 

But here we are, all of us continue to live our fragile existences, we do our shopping, we cook and use the gas, water and electricity that are there, within reach. Just turn a knob, press a button, open a tap. And even if we choose — or are simply forced to choose — a simple and sober existence, with minor needs and without any superfluous items, we are nevertheless citizens of this world and we share with others a collective responsibility in what happens to disasters of all kinds. But this being the case, it must be said again and again that the choices made in all the fields of the elaboration and the indefinite extension of this industrial society have been, since the origins, the fact and the only prerogative of the class that dominated and dominates more than ever. It is the princes of industry, the bankers who, with the sole aim of establishing their power and increasing their profits and privileges over the submissive masses, have shaped the world as it is. Certainly, struggles have been waged, sometimes hard, and some victories won by the poor classes to improve their lot. And we saw, after the hot alert of May 1968 and during a few decades — the famous thirty glorious years — the new conditions of life impose themselves, an extraordinary opulence gives birth to new and marvelous needs and desires, maintained and amplified by the science of publicity, in the same time that the profits of the merchants, the small ones as well as the big ones, increased in proportion to a mass consumption which seemed to have no limits. And so we have witnessed the birth of the consumer, flanked by his faithful pet, purchasing power, now the only available and coveted horizon. Nothing, of course, could satisfy their masters as much as to see those who had for so long and sometimes harshly contested their power, submit with such enthusiasm to the delicious reels that now held them captive. 

But the golden prison where we were dozing without apprehensions or alarms is gradually transformed into a fortress, threatened by dark figures, subdued and blinded by distant madmen. We are told that the ramparts will have to be fortified, and we are in danger of paying the price. 

Jean-Pierre L. Collignon 

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