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Socialism in Europe under extinction?
by Christos Mouzeviris
2011-12-07 07:13:50
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"Since the recent elections in Spain toppled Prime Minister Zapatero, only 4 out of 27 heads of government in Europe belong to the centre-left. The Socialists also fared badly in the 2009 European elections, which saw the centre-right European People’s Party dominating." That is what we read in the Debating Europe website recently. (http://www.debatingeurope.eu/2011/11/28/is-european-social-democracy-in-crisis/#comment-5747)

Indeed, in my opinion Socialism in Europe is critically endangered ; like the Amur Leopards, very few remain in the wild. Haven’t you noticed that most of Europe is “blue” currently, in other words they have right/center-right wing Governments? And the few that do have left/leftist Governments, follow right wing policies. No wonder the people are angry and vote for right wing parties. Because if they can’t find social justice and security from the left wing parties then what is the point?

Not to mention that far right wing parties are on the rise. Nationalism is on the rise in Europe. Because of irresponsible economic, social and immigration policies, the people want to return to what they knew best; a nation state!

If Europeans vote for right wing Governments then perhaps they are worthy of their fate, but then again what alternatives do they have since the Left is also promoting and supporting Capitalism? Most of the times they vote for right wing parties, is to get rid of the corrupt previous left wing Governments. Can we put the blame on the European voters? If we examine how those choices are taking place, we might just discover a more suspicious case.

In Greece previously they voted for the center-right party New Democracy, to get rid off the "socialist" party  PASOK, because of the constant scandals of corruption! When the New Democracy got elected, little has changed. More and more scandals so the people voted back PASOK again and its new (then) leader Mr. George Papandreou. Only to see austerity and a deep crisis hitting their country. Every worker's right they fought for during the past decades was scrapped, salaries slashed. Now they are having a Technocratic Government but we know for sure, that PASOK won't be in power anytime soon. In fact the media are already tipping New Democracy's new leader Mr. Antonis Samaras to be the next Prime Minister, after the emergency Government.

In Ireland after almost 15 years in power, the Fianna Fail center-left party loses the elections to the right-wing Fine Gael party. Why? The scandals, the economic bubble burst and the destruction of the "Celtic Tiger" economic miracle, infuriated the Irish electorate and thought it was time for them to go. In my opinion they did the right thing. When a Government stays for too long in power, corruptions settles certainly in. But here we see again that the people voted for a center-right wing party to punish the existing Government in protest. Recently we saw the same in Spain.

So without knowing it, and out of desperation , anger, disappointment and a hope for a real change, they willingly give power to conservative  parties. But does this comes with the permission to the Right to chop their salaries, scrap their worker’s rights and establish a more American style Capitalism? And why the "socialist" Governments compromised and followed those policies already; who do they answer to, us or the Markets?

Has the Right infiltrated the Left and make it collapse from within? Could there be a plan to destroy Europe's Left and its traditionally strong leftist policies, by exposing it to the public's mistrust and anger? Or simply there is too much corruption and nepotism in Europe that even the Socialists developed a "taste" for such Capitalism that is against the workers? Do we have a choice for Socialism at all anymore, or is Socialism a thing of the past?

Where does this leave the ordinary folk and the workers of Europe? Shall we accept our fate and allow our leaders to drive us to a Continent that has less Social policies? Some say that we can not afford a Social Europe anymore! Why, because we run out of regions of the World to exploit? Were our social policies based on the poverty of other nations, or is it just the greed of our rich elites that always want more? There is a redesigning of our social structures as we speak, that is for sure! But what will they be in the future?

Are we going backwards when social issues and rights are concerned, are we losing the battles we won? What will be the new reality for the European working class in the future? Could what is happening in Greece right now, be an omen of what it is to come for the whole Continent, and where is Europe's powerful Right leading us?

The EPP (European People's Party, Europe's center- Right) is the largest party in the European Parliament and they are in power in most European countries, notably Germany (the powerhouse of the eurozone) with the Christian Democratic Union (C.D.U.). If they lead most of Europe, they have a majority in the E.P. and they keep winning the public's hearts and votes with the disastrous policies that the Left is following, what hope do we have for a Social Europe?

Are our leaders following the American model, are they bowing to the pressure from the Markets and multinational companies to get rid of our social policies, in return of investments and loans? Do we want jobs but no worker's and social rights, or we keep our rights and we have no jobs and why can't we have both?

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Emanuel Paparella2011-12-07 11:44:15
Indeed, Christos, as I pointed out in a recent piece where Socialism and Capitalism are compared, I would challenge anybody to mention a country where pure capitalism or pure socialism reigns. There is no such country except as a Utopia which literally means “nowhere”.

You keep mentioning “the American model” in a rather negative undesirable way, and that would be true if in America you had only a pure capitalist society imbued with greed and social injustice. But that is not the case: there is here a mixture of capitalism with its uses and abuses and socialism, also with its uses and abuses. Partly in response to the Great Depression of the 30s the US put into place under FDR the so called New Deal with its underpinning consisting of socialist programs which have grown and expanded over the decades. Just to mention a few: Social Security, Unemployment compensation, Medicare, Medicaid, Health care. Of course the right wingers of the Republican Party would like nothing better than to dismantle those programs but the vast majority of the people understand that they are beneficial to the poor and disadvantaged and the elderly and would like to keep them.

And that is the root of the issue it seem to me: are the people in charge via democracy, as for example in the Scandinavian countries which seem to have a socialistic system but one that is democratic where the people remain in charge via the ballot? If the people are not in charge then they end up with totalitarianism. If they are in charge than they run the risk of electing a Berlusconi and richly deserving him. The latter is preferable since the people remain free and assume the consequences of their voting.

What about a possible prognosis for the future? Perhaps a new imaginative social paradigm is urgently needed; one that is able to synthesize capitalism and socialism and preserve democracy (I have mentioned Habermas’ suggested paradigm in one of my postings), not to mention a better knowledge and understanding of the vision of the EU founding fathers and the cultural roots of Europe, as an idea rather than a mere geographical expression. Here people like Dante and Dawson are relevant, for amnesia of one’s own cultural roots is the equivalent of building a house on sand. Jefferson, who was one of the founding fathers of the US wrote that those who privilege economics above liberty and democracy eventually will lose both. Plenty of food for thought in that statement, given the present dire situation on both sides of the Atlantic.

Christos Mouzeviris2011-12-07 22:01:02
Thank you once again for the comment. i agree with what you say, especially in the last paragraph. To explain myself, to me the American right wing lobby is too strong, and it influences the rest of the world directly or indirectly. Greece's leaders for example studied in American universities. I guess they took the "brilliant" ideas on how to ruin a country with aggressive capitalism from there..Maybe, just maybe....

Panagiotis Koutakis2011-12-08 21:48:06
I have asked myself pretty much the same questions over the last ten years. I have even undergone a period when I was seriously puzzled whether I am leftist, as I have always been, or am I becoming conservative. I am not sure about my political identity, yet what I think I've learnt is that in order for a political system to be effective its people have to be active and involved. People here in Greece for the last ten years became passive recipients of whatever it was decided by politicians as long as they could get an annual raise in their incomes. Now they blame the very same politicians that they had voted! They are just looking for a scape-goat. Also, you have correctly mentioned nepotism which has always been an important driving force in Greek politics. No surprise that there are rumours that a new party is about to be born from the tank of the two major political parties.Now that nepotism collapses they try to invest on clearer political ideas.

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