Europe’s Crisis and the Rise of the Ultra-Right is the Left’s Fault

Nazis riseEurope’s appalling  handling of a euro crisis that was always going to happen, given its faulty architectural design,[1] has triggered an electoral result in the recent European Parliament elections that is a clarion warning that Europe is decomposing. And it is decomposing precisely because of the Left’s spectacular failure to intervene both during the construction phase of Europe’s economic and monetary union and, more poignantly, after the latter’s crisis had begun.

The international press has summed up the 2014 European Parliament election outcome as a sign that the economic crisis plaguing Europe has caused voters to be lured by the two ‘extremes’, meaning the ultra right and the extreme left. This is a verdict that the European elites, whose shenanigans are responsible for Europe’s deconstruction, are comfortable with. They see it as evidence that, despite ‘some errors’, they are on the middle road, with some wayward voters straying off the ‘right’ path both to the left and to the right. And they hope that, once growth picks up again, the ‘strays’ will return to the fold.

This is a misrepresentation of current economic and political reality. Europeans were not lured by the two extremes. They drifted to one extreme: that of the racist, xenophobic, anti-European right. Extreme, anti-European, leftwing parties saw no surge in their support anywhere in Europe.[2] For four years now, European institutions are the field on which incompetence and malice compete with one another in a bid to win the prize for the most inconspicuous obfuscation of the truth: (a) that the Eurozone’s construction was faulty; and (b) that, once the never-ending crisis had began, the elites were solely interested in shifting banking losses from the banks’ asset books onto the shoulders of the weaker citizens.

If the financial sector has been stabilised, it is because the combination of massive central bank liquidity and stringent austerity propped up finance, shielded bankers (without cleansing the banks), and reflated many of the burst bubbles. And this at the cost of untold damage on Europe’s real economy, social fabric, and democracies. The interesting question, however, is: Why has the Left not benefitted from the trials and tribulations of the Eurozone’s neoliberal design and from the great pain inflicted upon the majority by the neoliberal ‘cure’?

The obvious reason is that, prior to 2008, Europe’s ‘official’ Left had invested considerable energy so as to be… co-opted into the neoliberal cabal that designed and implemented the faulty Eurozone architecture. Post-2008, once the neoliberal design began to crumble, the parties carrying the torch of the social democratic tradition did not recoil from playing an enthusiastic role as enforcers of ruthlessly reactionary economic policies. It is, therefore, not a great wonder that they are now paying the electoral price.

The Greek socialist party, whose government sought out and celebrated the first Eurozone ‘bailout’ (which was to act as template for Ireland’s and Portugal’s ‘bailouts’, not to mention the fiscal straightjacket and labour market reforms that followed elsewhere, especially in Spain and Italy), has been diminished from 43% of the popular vote to less than 8%. Spain’s PSOE and the Portuguese socialists were similarly beaten into a pulp by a despondent electorate that refuses to vote for them even though the conservative governments that took over in 2011 are even more despised. Ireland’s Labour Party is in strife for having legitimised the wholesale ransacking of the Irish people by unscrupulous European bankers, under the brutal watch of the ECB and the troika. Holland’s Labour Party, engenderer of the ‘Polder Model’ and guarantor of Dutch social democracy for fifty years, is languishing at 10% of electoral support.

Austria’s and Germany’s social democrats are equally incapable of speaking out against self-defeating austerity or in serious defence of their constituents. As for the French socialists, the less said the better: Having made a song and dance about the need for a European New Deal, Mr Holland capitulated to Mrs Merkel before one could say ‘fiscal compact’. Tragically, the day after his party collected a pitiful 15% of the votes in the 2014 European election, to the National Front’s worrying 25% (!), Mr Holland’s Prime Minister promised… tax cuts to a baffled socialist party audience.

Be that as it may, the question remains: Why? What explains European social democracy’s slide into reactionary policies and, thus, oblivion? My answer is that, some time in the 1990s, Europe’s ‘official’, social democratic Left fell into the trap of believing that the welfare state need no longer be financed from a portion of profits exacted by political means from industry and commerce. Instead, they could finance the welfare state by tapping into the rivers of privately minted money that the financial sector was printing (while waged labour was being squeezed and real estate prices soared).

Rather than constantly clashing with industrialists and merchants in order to extract from them a share of their profits, social democratic parties of government believed that a Faustian bargain with financiers could: (a) yield more funds for social programs, (b) end their conflict-ridden relationship with industry, and (c) allow them to hobnob with the rich and powerful, as partners, while still lavishly funding public hospitals, schools, unemployment benefits, the arts etc. It seemed like a dream come true for suited men who did not want to abandon the working class to its own devises but who had had enough of… class struggle.

Faustian bargains come, alas, with clauses written in blood. Europe’s social democrats, lured by the cacophony of money-making in the financial sector, numbed by the myth of some ‘Great Moderation’, and excited by the mystical notion of ‘riskless risk’, agreed to let finance free to do as it pleased in exchange for funds with which to prop up welfare states that were relics of a bygone post-war social contract. That was the social democrats’ game. At the time, it seemed to them a better idea, more fathomable, than having to be constantly in conflict with industrialists, seeking to tax them to redistribute. In contrast, they found a cosy relationship with bankers more amenable and easy going. As long as the ‘leftist’ politicians let them do as they pleased, the financiers were happy to let them have some crumbs off their gargantuan dinner table.

Alas, to be allowed these crumbs, social democrats had to swallow financialisation’s logic hook, line and sinker. Including the Eurozone’s neoliberal design. And so, when in 2008 the tsunamis of capital produced by Wall Street, the City and Frankfurt evaporated, Europe’s social democratic side of politics did not have the analytical tools, or moral oeuvre, with which to subject the collapsing system to critical scrutiny. They were, thus, ripe for acquiescence, for total capitulation, to the toxic remedies (e.g. the ‘bailouts’) whose purpose was to sacrifice working people, the unemployed, and the weak on the altar of the financiers. Indeed, they even volunteered to implement the ‘necessary’ cruel policies as if in denial of their acquiescence to a Faustian bargain that was to prove their demise.


European social democracy cannot survive its pre-2008 historic analytical error and its post-2008 complicity in organised misanthropy.

Europe, at the same time, cannot be saved without a revival of a Left capable of subjecting the Eurozone’s construction to critical reason.

Unless a reinvigorated Left, along the lines of Greece’s SYRIZA, can inspire Europeans to challenge the toxic policies at the heart of Europe’s deconstruction, the only winners will be racism, nationalism and the emerging regime that I refer to as Bankruptocracy.


[1] ‘Inevitable’ due to our monetary union’s faulty architecture that could never sustain the shockwaves of the global financial implosion of 2008.

[2] To portray Greece’s SYRIZA as anti-European, or as extreme, is disingenuous. SYRIZA is a party that has its roots in the eurocommunist movement of the early 1970s, consistently arguing in favour of the EU (even of the Eurozone), and committed, to this day, and in spite of the catastrophic effects of EU policies on the Greek people, to seek a solution to the crisis within the EU and within the Eurozone.

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  • …SYRIZA is a party that has its roots in the eurocommunist movement of the early 1970s, …

    can’t really think of the people behind this argument…

    • By the 1980s, even in English language poltiical science textbooks, Synaspismos was characterised as Eurocommunist, much in the Italian style. Since Syriza is largely shaped by Synaspismos, then this is a rather factual statement.

      I never cease to be amazed at how so many Greek people can deny basic facts. It seems to be a national talent, which also prevails across the university sector, and is a primary reason (in my opinion) why Greece is in the front line of this terrible eurozone catastrophe.

  • Yet the Left’s own attack on the Syriza model looks and sounds down right brutal. On what basis do you suggest that an untested experiment posing as a political movement is what Europe needs?

    “As the recent SDS congress of Left Party student association in the German city of Cologne made clear, the “left” of the political establishment is on a collision course with the workers, supporting the proxy war in Syria and social attacks on the workers modeled on those advocated by Greece’s Coalition of the Alternative Left (SYRIZA). In Cologne, members of the German and of the French Left Party, of the Quebec student group CLASSE, and of the British Socialist Workers Party listened enthusiastically to reports on SYRIZA, which is preparing itself to rule Greece.

    SYRIZA’s limited criticisms of Greece’s discredited social-democratic PASOK party won it support in this year’s election. In the international media, however, SYRIZA cynically reassured the banks that it would pay Greece’s debts and do everything to keep Greece in the euro zone. While he repeatedly held talks with army and police officials, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras benefited from a storm of media coverage and obtained 27 percent of the vote, finishing second.

    The 71 parliamentarians of SYRIZA made possible the latest Greek austerity package by refusing to provoke the dissolution of the parliament. Greek election law states that fresh elections must be held if at least 60 of the 300 parliamentary deputies and their replacements resign.

    SYRIZA is now dumping the few cynical “left” phrases it used during the election, winning the bourgeoisie’s recognition as an indispensable pro-austerity party. Georgios Papanagnou of the UN University in Bruges told the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung that demonizing SYRIZA is “deeply counterproductive … Since the elections the SYRIZA leadership has realized that its new-found attractiveness and strength mean it must re-calibrate its rhetoric and party program.”

    As a rising pro-austerity party, SYRIZA proved an attractive model for the pseudo-left tendencies from around the world that gathered in Cologne. SDS leader Paula Rauch summed up their viewpoint after one report on SYRIZA: “When one hears such things, one can get truly jealous of Greece.”

    Such comments epitomize the outlook of a layer of affluent political operatives that makes up the petty-bourgeois “left” parties represented at the Cologne congress. Far from opposing the horrific crimes finance capital has carried out against the working class in Greece, they enviously look at SYRIZA and hope they will have a chance to promote their careers by carrying out similar crimes against the workers in their own countries.”

    ….and there is more on the article……and of course Syriza’s present “evolution” would only intensify such criticism from the left….

    • This is the age-old, never-ending internal debate in the Left; roughly,
      one camp believes that “capitalism is sick” and the other part believes that “capitalism is a disease”.

      Instead of setting aside the issue in order to promote Left “cures” for ailing society, they endlessly bicker and denounce each other over this pseudo-semantic question.

      I am positively impressed by SYRIZA’s recent turn to pragmatism (seeking specific policies to address the “sickness” of Greece and the EZ, setting aside the final judgement on capitalism). But I have no doubt that it will attract lots of heated critique and animosity from those on the Left (like, say, KKE) who would rather be “Right” than be useful…

    • @Vasili
      I do not recognise this alleged debate in the Left. Where did you get this analysis from?

      The debate that I am familiar with concerns the working people’s relationship to capitalism and how best a socialist movement can improve the situation. The answers range from “abolish capitalism” through various versions of “reform capitalism in the interests of ordinary people” to “pragmatic” ideas that accept the premisses of neoliberalism and the primacy of market forces (such as Blair’s so-called Third Way).

      However, the majority of people on the Left are somewhere in the second category — looking for major reform of capitalism. The semantic debate about disease or sickness may well exist in Greek circles (which I do not inhabit) but is most certainly not a typical European discourse.

    • Vasili:

      Keep this in mind as an overall framework for this discussion. You learn a heck of a lot more from people who criticize and resist you than from the “let’s get along and agree” crowd.

      Therefore here is a criticism that Syriza ought to take seriously. To positively impress Syriza needs to:

      1. Display its own economic program accompanied by an air-tight budget.
      2. Compensate for the absolute and abysmal lack of talent in matters of governance, managerial skill and experience.

      Syriza needs to get out of the frame of the opposition party mind and display its ability as a governing party. To do so it must abandon the cheap shots of finding anything the present (not so impressive, in fact mediocre) government is doing objectionable and show the voters specifically how Syriza would have managed the situation differently towards pragmatic results. Not theory and green horses but concrete, tangible, persuasive arguments of how to do it better and succeed. No more theory from Syriza. Only results, strong networking ability within Europe and absolute delivery of goods promised.

      Voters will never bring Syriza to power based on appearances or the “correct ideology”. They will only bring Syriza to power when this work in progress called Syriza obtains the gravitas to lead Greece demonstrably towards guaranteed better outcomes. Not outcomes based on wishful thinking but outcomes based on ability to produce results. I am sorry to tell you this to you, Yani and the other Syriza supporters here but in its present form Syriza couldn’t manage a hen house let alone a deeply bruised economy called Greece. (Ithou i Rhodos, ithou kai to pithima). Show us and stop telling us.

  • I am still waiting for a conservative social credit party in Ireland to counter the left and its fellow banks.
    Its not happening.
    Sinn Fein is a pro Europe Jacobite grouping who simply want to tax different people rather then try to regain control of the money supply.
    The truth ?
    Yee guys have won the game.
    That is why we have a disaster on our hands.

  • Yes. Troika need not worry about the far right parties.They gadly let Greek citizens believe that their misery is being caused by immigrants who will work for any wage offered and not the cruel austerity policies imposed on the country.They can depend on the military to step in and suppress any uprisings if they are having a damping effect on the economy.A Greek citizen can hate austerity policy makers but they will find it easier to take out their frustrations on the immigrant who is closer to their everyday miserable life.

  • No, it’s not the Left’s fault since the left has been reduced to a non-player status. Here is a good reality check, in fact an almost precise description of the problem:

    “There are many reasons for this political earthquake, but the biggest are the enduring misery of depressed living standards, double-digit unemployment rates, and diminished hopes for the future. Europe’s rolling crisis has shredded trust in the competence and motives of policymakers, who failed to prevent it, have so far failed to resolve it, and bailed out banks and their creditors while inflicting pain on voters (but not on themselves).

    The crisis has lasted so long that most governing parties (and technocrats) have been found wanting. In the eurozone, successive governments of all stripes have been bullied into implementing flawed and unjust policies demanded by Germany’s government and imposed by the European Commission. Though German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls the surge in support for extremists “regrettable,” her administration – and EU institutions more generally – is substantially responsible for it.

    Start with Greece. Merkel, together with the European Commission and the European Central Bank, threatened to deprive Greeks of the use of their own currency, the euro, unless their government accepted punitive conditions. Greeks have been forced to accept brutal austerity measures in order to continue to service an unbearable debt burden, thereby limiting losses for French and German banks and for eurozone taxpayers whose loans to Greece bailed out those banks.

    As a result, Greece has suffered a slump worse than Germany’s in the 1930’s. Is it really any wonder that popular support for the governing parties that complied with this diktat plunged from 69% in the 2009 European Parliament election to 31% in 2014, that a far-left coalition demanding debt justice topped the poll, or that the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party finished third?

    In Ireland, Portugal, and Spain, the bad lending of German and French banks in the bubble years was primarily to local banks rather than to the government. But here, too, the Berlin-Brussels-Frankfurt axis blackmailed local taxpayers into paying for foreign banks’ mistakes – presenting the Irish with a €64 billion ($87 billion) bill, roughly €14,000 per person, for banks’ bad debt – while imposing massive austerity.

    Support for compliant establishment parties duly collapsed – from 81% in 2009 to 49% in 2014 in Spain. Fortunately, memories of fascist dictatorship may have inoculated Spain and Portugal against the far-right virus, with left-wing anti-austerity parties and regionalists benefiting instead. In Ireland, independents topped the poll.

    The misconception that northern European taxpayers are bailing out southern ones also prompted a backlash in Finland, where the far-right Finns won 13% of the vote, and in Germany, where the new anti-euro Alternative für Deutschland won 7%.”


  • Yani, I watched all of this happen from the vantage of an academic teaching political economy in the UK in the early 1990s. The Left had already started to lose its way in the 1980s, with the apparent success of Thatcher and individualist neoliberal ideology in the electoral sphere. They failed to realise that Thatcher’s success was temporal and not a permanent shift; with this gross error, they rapidly acted to expunge “radical left” elements from the Labour Party, at the same time as adopting milder versions of the language and concepts of the Thatcherites.

    The exogenous shock and turning point was the collapse of the Soviet bloc. The Left suddenly floundered, in terms of direction, and had its recent foolish decision of adopting neoliberal ideology (slightly diluted) confirmed. This opened the way for the war criminal Blair, and his manipulative and egocentric approach. Even in the early 1980s, when I campaigned for the Labour Party, I despised Blair with his grinning face, always trying to please his elders in order to access power. Social democracy across Europe aligned itself with Blairism, all equally clueless. You have a Greek saying which is apposite: “in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King”.

    Now we have “socialist” parties whose primary raison d’etre is to gain power, anoint their party members, and collect their winnings. In that sense, although there is no causal pattern implied, all European parties have become much closer to the terrible self-serving Greek parties, with their origins in feudalistic political clientelism and patronage. The Left parties – and the appointment of Hollande is probably the clearest example — have lost touch with their roots, with their actual supporters, and have reshaped themselves as something more like businesses. That is the ultimate insult to democracy — that our political parties have been so corrupted by money that they represent only their own interests and the interests of those currently holding money and power. Voters simply do not enter the equation.

  • Yanni,

    Which left are you promoting here?
    The Greek far left that is responsible for the sad state of the national universities?
    The far left that is behind all the Greek unions that has resulted in having shipyard facilities with only workers and no ships to repair?

    You of all people be living outside of Greece should be able to see the situation clearly.

  • Yanis trots out the standard and nonsensical leftie claim that the “far right” is racist, xenophobic, etc etc. In the UK, two of the centre ground parties, Labour and Conservatives took part in the slaughter of a million Muslims in Iraq, while the two main “far right” parties (the BNP and UKIP) opposed that war from day one. Who are the racists and xenophobes?
    As for Islam, that’s about ten miles the right of the BNP and UKIP, but lefties keep very quiet about that.

    • Yanis overlooks the bigger picture: The EU being a cartel of countries run by an elite, totally divorced from parliamentary democracy. Here in Greece this was demonstrated by the recent cabinet reshuffling where the Simitis elite is still in full control despite having only a small percentage of Greek popular vote, but full support of their brethren EU elite.

      The Left is lured into the Soviet model of the EU. This is tantamount to believing that the Ukraine under Oligarch rule, sham elections and ethnic cleaning is some kind of nascent democracy.

      Interesting to note that Kosovo is fanatically pro EU and knocking the door for membership….. Countries with traditional democratic institutions like France and the UK want out (with their respective elite wanting to remain in the EU despite withering public support).

    • Ermmm, this comment is just not part of reality. The BNP? UKIP in the 1990s? You describe them as “main parties: of the far right: this is not correct. They were both regarded as the lunatic fringe of extremist nationalism and racism.

      Nor is it correct to describe the disgusting invasion of Iraq as racist. It was post-colonial resource-grabbing (at least in intent) and illegal; it was an abuse of everything that decent people believe in; but it was not racist in the normal meaning of that term. On the other hand, the BNP and UKIP are clearly racist and your attempt to deny that is pitiful.

  • I would explicitly exclude any party that resembles these so called ‘social democrats’ like the british Labour party, or the german SPD from the term ‘the left’. These are no longer left-wing parties. By trying to maintain the status quo of a capitalist system that treats labour – and the human beings ‘producing’ it – like commodities needed to preserve profit rates for corporations and their owners, they have become the very models of conservatism. There is no trace of a progressive spirit left in them.

    Meanwhile the neoliberal elites, who have been the true rulers of this system for more than three decades now, have virtually limitless means to finance a myriad of think-tanks, pro-capitalist NGOs and privately owned media conglomerates serving the purpose of swaying public opinion into acceptance of this status quo. And they have succeeded to do so on a massive scale already, whereas truly progressive movements have nothing but their wits and a lot of good arguments at their disposal which – as sound as they may be – most of the people suffering the cosequences of this system can not even begin to comprehend. (To anybody doubting this sad fact I would recommend to try to explain something like e.g. the ‘modest proposal’ to anybody who has never read an economics textbook in her life.) To them, fueled by massive indoctrination from the neoliberal establishment and now also aided by right wing populists, the progressive view on the problems at hand comes across as the patronizing, elitist ramblings of single- minded socialist ideologues, who haven’t realized yet that they have long lost the cold war – and that includes even keynesians trying to save capitalism from devouring itself.

    Maybe I am (again) looking at this from too much of a german perspective, but it would seem that ‘the left’ has already been defeated by a systematic campaign to discredit their Ideas as backwards and irrational in the eyes of globalized markets and the ensuing competition amongst nations that once regarded each other as partners in the pursuit of prosperity rather than opponents in a rat race to the lowest possible labour costs.

    At the peril of annoyingly repeating myself: The Left is faced with overwhelming propagandistic power controlled by the elites it is opposing and there is no way they can overcome this extremly well-oiled machine by means of politics or its own propagandistic efforts. They simply lack the necessary firepower to do so.

    As an example for how this machine works, I would like to point to the following:
    When recent events in the Ukraine incited a new found interest of the german political elite to meddle in international affairs and take on global ‘responsibilities’ on a broader scale befitting the economic weight of Germany, as expressed by german foreign minister Steinmeier of the SPD at this year’s NATO security conference in Munich, the propaganda machine that is usually working so well when it comes to reducing complex economic issues down to a question of competitiveness between ‘us’ and ‘them’, at first seemed to utterly fail in its attempt to convince the public of the need to isloate Russia and reanimate the cold-war’s arms race.

    The ensuing battle between readers and viewers of the german ruling classes’ propaganda outlets on the one side and the country’s journalistic elite working for them on the other was an interesting thing to behold. The latter, instead of rethinking their black-and-white approach on matters of war and peace soon went on to complain very loudly about the people’s unwillingness to share their notion of the west as the embodiment of freedom and democracy through the blessings of the free market and its quasi-missionary obligation to export these wonders of civilization to the far corners of the world not only by the usual means of free trade and private investments, but now also by military power if necessary.

    They (the media) did so by collectively branding anybody who opposed the openly belligerent writings of their chief editors as mindless disciples of a cult worshipping President Putin, either because they were fascists admiring him for his tough stance on homosexuals and other minorities and his supposed plan to bring back the russian Empire, or because they were yesterday’s socialists wishing for a resurrection of the soviet Union which, clearly, Putin was trying to bring back to life.

    They even went as far as portraying Minister Steinmeier (who, by the way was one of the chief achitects of former Chancelor Schröder’s grand agenda to increase the country’s competitiveness by reducing unit labour costs at the expense of wages) as an heroic figure, after he reacted to accusations of warmongering from the audience at an EU-election campaign event in Berlin by starting an almost hysteric shouting match with his critics, wherin he reiterated the role of NATO, the US, the EU and the german government as the forces of good in an epic struggle against the evil emperor in the east, and went on to accuse his accusers of being enemies of freedom and democracy. His face reddened and his voice screaming.

    Unfortunately, the protesters actually were a very lose agglomeration of people from all kinds of the political spectrum from the far left to the far right and, even more unfortunately, the protests had been instigated by a group of conspiracy theorists, blaming the US Federal Reserve System for all the evil in the world, which gained them a lot of support from the neo-nazis, who never fail to jump on the opportunity to brand capitalism and the banking system as a result of a jewish-bolshevik masterplan to obtain world domination.

    Sadly, a lot of public support for the peace protesters turned out to be founded rather on the simple explanations of the conspiracy theorists, who explicitly denied any political affiliation to the left or the right, than on the more advanced analysis of the left, which put the whole Ukrainian issue in the rather complex economic context it must be seen in, in order to form a more objective opinion.
    The inevitable result of this was that even the german Left party (Die LINKE) who, following the secession/annexation of Crimea, had been a voice of moderation calling for cessation of the warmongering rhetoric and pleading for a more differentiated approach on the issue, pointing out the mistakes and errors that both sides had made prior to the escalation, where now forced into a corner together with cospiracy weirdos, nationalists and outright Nazis by the concentrated efforts of the german mainstream media and once again marked as enemies of freedom and democracy, refusing the Ukrainian people the right to chose their own government and worshipping the evil czar Putin, who – if one were to believe the journalists – is turning into a reincarnation of Stalin himself.

    By the way, chief among the members of parliament accusing the Left party of supporting a socialist dictator and calling for a more active role of NATO in eastern Europe where the representatives of the green party, which once upon a time had been founded as a rather radically leftist green anti-war an anti-nuclear power movement. They were also Mr. Schröders coalition partners back in the early 2000s when the german SPD-led government officially entered the race to the bottom, withdrew its support for labour unions, began to dismantle the welfare state and started to turn the Eurozone into a means to the german end.

    I may be wrong, but the result of the european elections, leaving the german grand coalition of Ms Merkel’s conservative christian democrats and Mr Steinmeier’s SPD with an overwhelming majority of votes and the ultra-conservtive market fundamentalists of the AfD with almost 7%, seems to prove anybody wrong who believed that even the hardly veiled threat of war could fuel any support for progressive movements. People like simple explanations and they don’t get these from the left side of the aisle. They get them from everybody else, including the neoliberals.

  • It seems that the shift toward the right by Democrats in the US after Clinton became president is similar to the change in ideology that the European Socialists underwent.

    Some people seem to view the belief in the union of European people as being in opposition to racism. However, are the groups on the right really against Europe, given that they are white supremacists? Golden Dawn, for example, does not attack Western Europeans, but people of color. I see racism as an extreme form of Eurocentrism. The problem I see with so-called radical left groups in Europe like Syriza is that they tend to view Europe as a naturally benevolent power which has been temporarily thrown off its course by the rise of the Troika. It seems a naive view, given Europe’s imperialist history. I would think that the best chance a government has of protecting its less powerful citizens is to get out of the EU, where the powerful interests are much more well entrenched than are the powerful interests in one home country (although that probably depends on the country, but in Greece for example, they would be easier to deal with).

  • “A broad win for the Left in possible national elections, is probably the only hope against this nightmare scenario according to which the experiment will be expanded throughout Europe, although the war against such a government in Greece, will be pitiless.”

  • I completely concur with this analysis.

    However, the arguments put forth address the disaffection of the public with neoliberals and social-democrats; they do not explain adequately the recent rise of xenophobic nationalism. To explain the latter, Rick Wolfe’s analysis is also important.

    Briefly, Wolfe argues that over the last generation, the neoliberal policies and globalization have left the majority of the people in the “west” (Western Europe, North America, Japan) in a gridlock, where on one hand their labor is too expensive to compete with the cheap labor found in the emerging economies and on the other hand, their private+public indebtedness is so high that they are increasingly less important to capitalism as consumers. Subsequently, capitalism is gradually abandoning its “western” cradle and not only seeks cheap labor but also new demand for its wares in the rest of the world, leaving behind empty shells, such as Detroit, the EZ periphery, etc.

    I believe that this analysis resonates with many citizens in Europe (and the US) and drives many to a xenophobic, nationalist message, as the closest thing to an anti-globalization agenda.

    To be reinvigorated, the European Left needs to provide its own critical answers to capitalism’s traumatic abandonment of the west; otherwise, the forces who feed on phobia of the xeno will keep rising.

    PS. A recent speech from Rick Wolfe

  • sorry yanis but you yourself are not exempt from the critics you adress to left wing parties, be it extremist or not.
    you are defending a scheme wich is technically relevant to the eurozone misconceptions, I have almost no doubt about that.
    But you never take into account the fact that your scheme, maybe because it is hard to understand, is politically irrealistic.
    Hence you’re still defending the euro (within “another eurozone”), and, to my knowledge, your remark about syriza apply to your position (“committed, to this day, and in spite of the catastrophic effects of EU policies on the Greek people, to seek a solution to the crisis within the EU and within the Eurozone.”) I do not remember that you changed your mind and called for grexit, frexit or brexit.

    • Quite correctly, you cannot recall my calling for a dissolution of the Eurozone, for Grexit etc. It is because I have never issued such calls even though I believe, strongly, that the Eurozone is a terrible design and that we should never have constructed it. Is their an inconsistency there? None. For it is one thing to say we should not have entered it and quite another to argue for an exit – in mathematical terms this is called hysteresis (i.e. a path that, if reversed, will not take you to were you once were). Is our Modest Proposal unrealistic? Economically, technically and institutionally it is utterly realistic. Might it be the case that the political reality will never accept it? Maybe. But then the euro will crash and burn, eventually.

  • Yanni,

    When times are dire and the wind blows our beloved ship into the shallows and towards the jagged coastline, people always start to blame their fellow sailors. Their infighting creates the perfect scenario for doing exactly nothing, making the imminent disaster an inevitability. It is not those who blame, shame and fight amongst themselves who solve the problem, it is the people that ignore the squabling and act.
    It is this position that the ultra-right now takes. It is not because leftist organisations let them, but because leftist organisations are not acting, but whining. Hoping that the rich and powerfull will head their pleas and act in ‘the Benefit of the People’. Thereby acknowledgeing the power of the rich and powerful in relation to themselves. The ultra-right claims power for themselves, they claim not to be subordinated to higher masters, to high finance, corrupt europarlementarians and other powers-that-be. They are souvereign, or so they claim. That is what makes them attractive.

    Therefore I claim the exact opposite: the rise of the ultra-right is not the fault of the left, when looking at it through the glas of the forementioned sailor-metaphore that claim seems proposterous: the acting sailor does not owe his existence to the others, nor does their inaction set him into action. It is his souvereignity, his ‘propaganda of the deed’, that spurs him to do what he thinks, has to be done to bring the situation to a good resolution.
    The squabling sailors (the left) did not create his action, were he alone he would have done the same.

    • Whether or not Freeman is an apologist for Chrysi Avgi, I thought this was astute. And helpful to clear the mind regarding the left.

      The far right GD offers Action. Most people know where that leads & don’t want it.

      What is needed from the left?
      An extremely clear, 100% completely workable alternative.
      A very strong plan that people can get behind.
      Not just the Modest Proposal (which is just about the EU, a neo-liberal EU)…a whole reset.
      THIS is what is missing.

      This applies to the EU, the US Democrats, everywhere in fact.

  • The only thing that seems not to be true in this enlightening document is that – at least since 1998, if not years before – neither the Social Democrats nor the “green” party were in any way “left” parties. They tried to act neoliberal, and their intellectuals and cultural postmodern scenes had fun in declaring “there is no left and right”. Their part was to fool people, an advertising propaganda that claimed they were still a leftist movement caring for the millions that are victims of wrong neoliberal politics (Clinton, Blair, Schröder, Bush, Sarkozy, Hollande, Merkel, Obama, soon Hillary Clinton and so on, in fact it is a cycle). But it is not only the mistake of politicians – it is also a mistake of the people. One could read a lot in this very blog from people who favoured the german right-wing homophobe AfD neoliberals. There are – and were – many many signs of, so to speak, an intellectual absurdity among people, not only among those lying politicians like from SPD or the so-called “green” party of Germany. Maybe it is not too late to wake up, who knows in the middle of this mess that torture poor people since years.

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