The times they are a-changin’

I started this post to continue with a previous theme that was on my mind….Grexit.

How the subject ended up straying from Grexit to Bob Dylan, is a long story. Therefore, I will have to split the stories into three posts. So, here is part one:

Are the times really a-changin’? Maybe……I hope so……they really should be.

Bob Dylan certainly wrote a very prophetic song, one that has resonated every decade since. I suggest that he should have titled the song: “the times they should be a-changin’.

The Spanish born, Italian philosopher and writer, George Santayana, is famous for the following quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Different versions of this quote are often stated, but the meaning remains clear and is undisputed. At least in the past century or two, the fabric of our society has made wonderful progress for a while and then the wheels fall off the wagon. We stumble around for a bit, then pick ourselves up and off we go again!

In Athens from 16 to 19 July 2015, the The Global Center for Advanced Studies, in partnership with The School of Economics and Political Science at The University of Athens held a conference called “Democracy Rising 2015”. The purpose of the conference was to bring together intellectuals and activists to think through and propose strategic alternatives for democracy and its future.

Margaret Thatcher’s slogan, “There is no alternative” was a declaration of war that installed the horrors of neoliberal policies that have eroded and systematically undermined democratic and public-based projects for more than 30 years. The global financial crisis of 2008 exposed these neoliberal policies that have paved the way for the rise of an untouchable oligarchical class whose top 80 members now possess more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s population. It is now abundantly clear that neoliberalism has accelerated radical inequality and at the same time forced the world to conform to their unquestionable, anti-democratic policies, lest even greater disasters befall us.

Faced with no alternative, on their terms, in 2011 a new series of insurrections began to emerge from the Occupy movement to Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, to Spain, Ireland, and Greece. The recent events in Greece brings forth the message that, when faced with the most dire of circumstances, citizens must and will decide their own future.  It is therefore imperative that the primacy of politics reasserts itself again in the world.

In the wake of Syriza’s victory and the hope that it articulated for the world, it was indeed fitting that the conference was held in the birthplace of democracy, Athens, Greece.

I am not sure whether this conference got even a mention in the mainstream media. I only got to hear about this event by accident, sometimes afterwards, on the internet. Obviously, many people who are constantly involved in political activism and academia know about and participate in these sort of conferences. But why is any of this important to the general public?

This is surely just more blah, blah, blah and things stumble on and nothing ever changes!

Maybe, but I am not so sure. The times they are a-changin’:

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

Copyright © 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991, 1992 by Special Rider Music

About Peter Smith

A "foot-soldier" in the wider Post Capitalism Movement. First task - keep spreading the words of change, hope & inspiration.
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3 Responses to The times they are a-changin’

  1. Pingback: Why Yanis V is wrong about his democratic renaissance in Europe | Thoughts on European Politics & Economics

  2. Pim says:

    Heard the song first when I was 21. Believed it was true at that time. Put it on my blog when Obama was elected, but you know, time’s aren’t changing at all.
    Here is an original version.


    • The value of Dylan’s words, embodied in this song, are that time’s are indeed a changing…continuously.
      When our society either refuses to acknowledge the nature of the changes acting upon them or fails to keep up with or accommodate to that change, that is when the pressure-points develop.

      Since WW2, Europe in its current form has gone through massive changes, both politically & economically. And this need to change continues to be present, influenced by the internal and external forces acting on each respective European country. However, there have been periods when individual nations enjoyed greater prosperity for the majority of their citizens at certain times and then there were times when this prosperity has diminished.

      My contention is that we have now all arrived at the bottom of the cycle, so to speak, and the debate, discussion and motivation that is gathering pace is to get us going back upwards again. Those at the “top” may feel that everything is fine and for them, it probably is. But for most of us at the “bottom” there is growing discontent, and not happiness and satisfaction, regarding our political aspirations and economic outlook. Maybe it looks like that we take two steps forward and one step backwards and sometimes we take one step forwards and two steps backwards. But we cannot give up!

      I sense that you are starting to become cynical and that is understandable. But we will just have to press on, doing things the best we can, but striving to improve the situation.


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