Tue Sep 29th, 2009 at 12:30:54 PM EST
Journalist Michael Goldfarb argues that only centrists remain in Europe in a short essay at GlobalPost: "Left, right, left, right -- halt!!! one, two".
And now come the stories about the rise of the Right, the collapse of the Left!!
Stop it. Stop it right now, all editors, reporters, and think-tank types with good degrees from fancy private colleges opining in quarterly journals few people read. Stop writing this tripe right now!!!
There is no left and there is no right any more in Europe, at least not by the historic definitions of those terms. There is only a center ground and all politicians with a hope of electoral success occupy it.
Europe's left -- with its historic ties to statist socialism is dead, dead, dead.
Goldfarb writes that Francois Mitterand killed the left 30 years ago, with Tony Blair issuing the coup de grâce 15 years ago. On the right, Goldfarb writes that British Conservatives today are pale imitations of Thatcherites. Angela Merkel is not going to attack Germany's unions and Nicolas Sarkozy is not dismantling the socialist state.
Left and right have meaning only where radical politics have real purchase in a society. In Europe that is only at the fringe so there is no need to apply those terms in Europe. The U.S. is different. The fringe has taken over a mainstream political party turning the Republicans into the only party in the civilized world that is truly radical. So you can use the appelation "right-wing" when discussing U.S. politics. But the Republicans are not counter-balanced by a radical party of the left. The only people who see radicalism in the Democrats are the propagandizers of the "right." Impartial observers have yet to detect it. Therefore America has a "right-wing" but no "left-wing."
I agree with his assessment of the U.S. America does not have a leftwing, even the Progressive caucus of the Democratic Party are more centrist than radical lefties. So as consequence, the pull on American politics is constantly to the right.
However, not being in Europe I don't have a good feel if Goldfarb's assessment is correct. Is the left and the right today in Europe just shadows of their past? Are European politicians a collection of centrists?