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The Prague moment of the European Left

by Migeru Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 08:31:59 AM EST

Cross-posted on The Court Astrologer.

Prominent heterodox economist James Galbraith, who enjoyed an inside view of the last five months of Greek negotiations as an advisor to Yanis Varoufakis, writes the following for a mainstream American audience: Greece, Europe, and the United States (Harper's, July 16, 2015)

What will become of Europe? Clearly the hopes of the pro-European, reformist left are now over. That will leave the future in the hands of the anti-European parties, including UKIP, the National Front in France, and Golden Dawn in Greece. These are ugly, racist, xenophobic groups; Golden Dawn has proposed concentration camps for immigrants in its platform. The only counter, now, is for progressive and democratic forces to regroup behind the banner of national democratic restoration. Which means that the left in Europe will also now swing against the euro.
The parallel between the Greek crisis and the Prague Spring, with a ruthless mainstream left crushing the hopes of an idealist left in defence of a system, is illustrated with poetic irony by the following tweet by a Social-Democrat finance minister from the former Czechoslovakia:Meanwhile, in an interview with Jacobin Magazine which we have already been discussing in previous threads on this blog, Left Platform Syriza MP Stathis Kouvelakis says the following about the ideology of "left-Europeanism": Greece: The Struggle Continues (Jacobin, July 14, 2015)
I think that in this case we can clearly see what the ideology at work here is. Although you don’t positively sign up to the project and you have serious doubts about the neoliberal orientation and top-down structure of European institutions, nevertheless you move within its coordinates and can’t imagine anything better outside of its framework.
I imagine that you could have written the same of Communist parties in the 1960s and their support for the Soviet Union. Out of the disappointment of the Prague Spring (on top of the invasion of Hungary a decade earlier) was born the Eurocommunist strand of the 1970s.


More Galbraith:

Comparisons have been drawn to the Treaty of Versailles, which set Europe on the path to Nazism after the end of World War I. But the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, which ended a small country’s brave experiment in policy independence, is almost as good an analogy. In crushing Czechoslovakia, the invasion also destroyed the Soviet Union’s reputation, shattering the illusions that many sympathetic observers still harbored. It thus set the stage for the final collapse of Communism, first among the parties of Western Europe and then in the USSR itself.

...

SYRIZA was not some Greek fluke; it was a direct consequence of European policy failure. A coalition of ex-Communists, unionists, Greens, and college professors does not rise to power anywhere except in desperate times. That SYRIZA did rise, overshadowing the Greek Nazis in the Golden Dawn party, was, in its way, a democratic miracle. SYRIZA’s destruction will now lead to a reassessment, everywhere on the continent, of the “European project.” A progressive Europe—the Europe of sustainable growth and social cohesion—would be one thing. The gridlocked, reactionary, petty, and vicious Europe that actually exists is another. It cannot and should not last for very long.

More Kouvelakis:
And then you have the other approach, that of Tsipras, which was indeed rooted in the ideology of left-Europeanism. I think the best illustration of that is Euclid Tsakalotos, a person who considers himself a staunch Marxist, someone who comes from the Eurocommunist tradition, we were in the same organization for years. The most typical statement from him which captures both his ideology and the outlook given to the government by the presence of all those academics is what he said in an interview to the French website Mediapart in April.

...

From this it is quite clear that these people were expecting the confrontation with the EU to happen along the lines of an academic conference when you go with a nice paper and you expect a kind of nice counter-paper to be presented.

I think this is telling about what the Left is about today. The Left is filled with lots of people who are well-meaning, but who are totally impotent on the field of real politics. But it’s also telling about the kind of mental devastation wrought by the almost religious belief in Europeanism. This meant that, until the very end, those people believed that they could get something from the troika, they thought that between “partners” they would find some sort of compromise, that they shared some core values like respect for the democratic mandate, or the possibility of a rational discussion based on economic arguments.

...

When Mason asked him about the euro, Tsakalotos said that exit would be an absolute catastrophe and that Europe would relive the 1930s with the return of competition between national currencies and the rise of various nationalisms and fascism.

So for these people the choice is between two things: either being “European” and accepting the existing framework, which somehow objectively represents a step forward compared the old reality of nation-states, or being “anti-European” which is equated with a falling back into nationalism, a reactionary, regressive move.

This is a weak way in which the European Union is legitimated — it might not be ideal but it’s better than anything else on the table.

Display:
See also:

I hadn't realised until just now that both these diaries are from tyronen.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 08:34:02 AM EST
I was just looking a bit at the distribution of seats in the European Parliament. In principle you could hope that the Parliament, or its left wing members could try to take a more active positive role.

But the situation is not very good. Even if suddenly S&D wakes up to what is going on the relevant majorities are not there. Unfortunately I can not simply filter out the countries in the Eurozone.

by rz on Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 10:55:40 AM EST
Can't you do it from here?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 11:00:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the link
by rz on Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 11:09:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Follow This link for the whole thing.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 11:32:00 AM EST
This is the event: Democracy Rising World Conference 2015.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 12:28:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
action to effect change.

Why do we continue, naïvely in my view, to hold on to the idea that change can be effected democratically?

by John Redmond (Ladybeaterz@NolesAD.com) on Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 02:30:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because you need something like 80+% support (according to Che) to win a revolution and just ~50% support to win an election?
by fjallstrom on Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 03:38:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The idea that their is a clear and obvious pan european anti Austerity majority is not correct. E.g. in the last european election the EPP won. The idea that democracy has been tried and has failed is simply not correct.
by rz on Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 04:20:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European parliament not a credible democratic institution. People vote against austerity nationally.

In france we voted Hollande and against austerity. We got Hollande.

EU is used nationally as the reason we need austerity. Euro too.

And more and more of us know this is bullshit. You should too.

False dichotomies everywhere. You pose one too.

by John Redmond (Ladybeaterz@NolesAD.com) on Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 06:12:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I am saying is that it is not all black and white. So there is no dichotomy.

In France you voted Hollande and he has be waging a glorious battle against austerity. France basically singlehandedly brought the contraction of Government spending in the Eurozone to a halt. The fact is the only reason why we have at least stagnation instead of contraction is the actions of the French and to a lesser extend Italian government.

Additionally, while of course the ECB is totally apolitical in reality it is pretty clear that without Renzi and Hollande there would no QE.

by rz on Sat Jul 18th, 2015 at 04:39:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is the most spirited defence of Hollande I have seen on this blog.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 19th, 2015 at 06:46:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah. But IMHO this is very little in terms of a true fight against austerity and is more than balanced out by the stuff he went along with (not to mention Renzi). However, I felt this feebleness was assured the moment voters chose Hollande in the PS primary, so if all or even part of his voters in the general election believed they voted against austerity, they fooled themselves, and they had alternatives. And I don't think any Eurozone country other than Greece can say that its voters definitely voted against austerity. In general Europeans will vote against immigrants before they vote against austerity. With or without the EU.

I still don't get why so many on ET think that getting rid of the Euro or even the EU would be a path towards pushing back austerity as long as we have the same leaders who sit on the Council or the Eurogroup. The institutions (or, in the case of the Eurogroup, virtual institutions) and the treaties are a very efficient vehicle to break down dissent, but there are others.

It's not like non-Eurozone countries can pose as great examples of rebellion against austerity: not Hungary, where that 'rebellion' consisted of part social, part nationalist propaganda while labour and the poor were hit hard with a vicious austerity programme denying its name; not Poland where Donald Tusk's right-liberals are opposed by a strong, nationalist, pro-redistribution force but the latter showed no inspiration in economic policy-making back when they were in power; not even Iceland, which fought off the debtor trap but elected back the same neo-liberals who caused the original mess. In Denmark, where the previous "left-wing" government went along both with hard-line EU economic policy and the domestic immigration craze, now we have a pro-cuts right-liberal minority government with outside support from a pro-spending right-populist party, we'll see if that comes to anything while the public focuses on xenophobia.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 08:51:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I still don't get why so many on ET think that getting rid of the Euro or even the EU would be a path towards pushing back austerity as long as we have the same leaders who sit on the Council or the Eurogroup.

Because you can live with austerity if you can also depreciate your currency.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 09:42:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Generally performance of countries (and especially unemployment) outside of the Euro has been better than inside. And this even counts for countries with rather poor governance like Romania.
by rz on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 09:44:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(Already linked on ET)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 11:57:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is now used as meme by both the anti-European far right as well as the anti-austerity parties on the left flank...
by Bjinse on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 04:29:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I understand this problem. Its a difficult situation for the left.
by rz on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 04:33:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the first thing in a long time that could unite parties on the left. They gave up on "the poor" sometime in the 90s and have been going full retard with identity politics since then.

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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Tue Jul 21st, 2015 at 06:14:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They have given up on labor in support of capital.
by rz on Tue Jul 21st, 2015 at 06:28:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait... what is going to unite the left? Being against the Euro? Very unlikely. It is going to deepen the rift between moderate and hard left.
by rz on Tue Jul 21st, 2015 at 06:30:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"I still don't get why so many on ET think that getting rid of the Euro or even the EU would be a path towards pushing back austerity as long as we have the same leaders who sit on the Council or the Eurogroup."

That I don't get either.

by IM on Tue Jul 21st, 2015 at 06:33:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Leaving the Euro is no grantee of any better situation whatsoever. However, it gives you the option of using monetary policy and the exchange rate as a tool for economic policies.

Again this guarantees nothing. It really depends on how you use these tools.

But without those tools elections have little impact. Maybe a few countries like France can shape the political situation in the Eurozone sufficiently such that it makes a difference for their citizen. But most countries can not.

That said: The other alternative is to get a real democratic pan-eurozone representation which also controls the monetary policy and has the power to tax.

These are two possible paths which can improve the situation. I would prefer the former, yet the reality is that the latter is politically more likely.

by rz on Tue Jul 21st, 2015 at 06:51:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, Greece is the guinea pig.

And this is a country which had the nation's wealth systemically captured by monopolistic interests.

The double edged sword of Grexit is a return to policies that were just as bad if not worse than the euro's vacuum-suck-of-capital-toward-the-core.

In other words, the first euro exit might result, or will likely result, in something truly hideous.

by Upstate NY on Fri Jul 24th, 2015 at 10:37:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EPP remained the largest group while losing 53 seats and getting their worst result in terms of percentage of seats since 1994. They "won", ie remained the largest group because the S&D lost a few seats instead of gaining. But then again there wasn't (at least to my knowledge) any attempt by S&D to make the election a referendum on austerity.

There isn't a majority behind a pan european anti austerity political coalition, but a large part of that is that no such political coalition exists. The election result, strengthening both left and right anti Brussels, reflects the disapproval of EU leadership that was running the austerity show.

by fjallstrom on Tue Jul 21st, 2015 at 01:38:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because that is our only hope to make it a change to the better. And no, we have not seen the results of democratic action. We are largely seeing representatives of nations deciding on European matters, which is an outrage. And we are having elections with fewer options for voters. And we have antidemocratic governments scorning voters and stating that neoliberalism is not subject to democratic decisions.

It is quite possible that we have to defend democracy by all sorts of means in the near future. If you want to advocate antidemocratic measures, though, count me out.  

by Katrin on Sat Jul 18th, 2015 at 07:43:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cédric Durand: The End of Europe (16 July 2015)
Fifteen years ago, the successful launch of the single currency fueled a wave of Europhoria across the continent. The 2000 Lisbon Strategy promised to make the European Union "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion." Enthusiasts portrayed the union as "a beacon of light in a troubled world." Marcel Gauchet and Jürgen Habermas argued that the new European formula -- in terms of supranational democratic governance and the welfare state -- was destined to serve as "a model for the nations of the world."

The expectations of Europeanist days never materialized. On the contrary: in retrospect, the whole sequence appears a story of uninterrupted failure. The region lagged behind almost every other region in economic growth before and after the crisis, and the 2010 turn to austerity produced a magnificent economic debacle. GDP has still not recovered to its pre-crisis level, making it one of the worst economic crises in recent history -- beaten only by the catastrophic Russian capitalist restoration of the nineties.

...

Uneven and combined developmental dynamics in the European periphery highlights the need for the Left to move from a defensive fight against austerity toward a positive agenda of systemic alternatives. The Greek experiment demonstrates that, on this path, there is no other choice than breaking with neoliberal European institutions and regaining democratic sovereignty on domestic currencies.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 12:00:04 PM EST
This is an interesting tweetstorm on Cedric Durand's piece. Excerpts (non-consecutive):(with apologies to john_evans: I fish these things out of twitter so you don't have to)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 08:50:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Third/Fourth-World rage, and far from being unjustified.

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 09:44:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He sounds completely incoherent.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 10:04:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's a Marxist - he probably makes no sense to you :D

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 11:00:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't get it. What is the argument? Against what? For what? Who is a radical Keynsian?
by rz on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 10:20:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Part of the argument is against "left" intellectuals who think they know better than the unwashed masses. The points about the results of the referendum and the supposed "end of the EU" --- the Greek people overwhelmingly want to remain in the EU and in the Euro, and "the Left" needs to come to terms with that.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 10:59:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If unemployment falls and grwoth resumes in the Eurozone everything will be stabilized and Merkel will claim victory.

But if not...

It is not really up to 'the Left' if the Eurozone ends or not.  

But anyway, the contradiction between the economic goals of Parties like Syriza and the strong support of the Population for staying in the Euro is indeed stark.

by rz on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 11:04:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like he needs to stop worrying and start loving mass unemployment then. Come to terms with it, I mean. ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 12:33:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, but he does. He does.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 12:54:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am of the mind that Greek people are actually quite confused and on the edge and can be convinced otherwise quite easily.
by Upstate NY on Fri Jul 24th, 2015 at 11:01:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, by the way, here's the guy's blog.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 12:52:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even on his blog, I sometimes find him short on specifics. The kind of technological innovation that allows for free time also relies on state research. This is why I find a Keynesian like Mazzucato (an uber Keynesian) to be very convincing, since her work is quite detailed in terms of the economic policy mix that creates growth.
by Upstate NY on Fri Jul 24th, 2015 at 11:01:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...the stupid in him, it is very strong, no?
by John Redmond (Ladybeaterz@NolesAD.com) on Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 02:28:34 PM EST
... to an American non-historian non-economist.

This is my read on the Greek situation:

  1. "Greece" owes a lot of money to a lot of folks. I don't know who this "Greece" is. The poor bum eating out of a garbage can? The pensioner who is just getting by? What did these people do with the money they borrowed? Blow it on booze/gambling/whoring?

  2. What is the goal of the proposed bailout? To alleviate point 1., get the money back to the creditors? How will that happen? Nobody seems to be explaining that.

  3. You hear about "ending corruption" and "getting people to pay their taxes". My experience is that the wealthy/powerful will always get away with shit and the people you can get to aren't the culprits.

So ... my conclusion:

What's really going on:

The powers that be have decided that Grexit will happen and they want to pillage Greece of everything they can while letting this exercise be a lesson to "others". Period.  

Oh yeah ... welcome to the European Union!

My allegiance to the human species ends at the California border.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 02:41:00 PM EST
Here in northern CA we had Candlestick Park in SF which was abandoned by the SF Giants who moved to AT&T Park. Instead of just demolishing Candlestick they auctioned the place off, brick by brick, even the chairs.  Why don't the Greeks do that with your old useless buildings, the Acropolis, Socrates mummified left nut ... put them on ebay/Amazon. Your debt will be paid off in no time.

My allegiance to the human species ends at the California border.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 06:27:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For some reason this episode of the original Star Trek series, The Gamesters of Triskelion,  came to mind:

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfo-BZOxt04

  The green/gray haired chick is Greece, the Providers are the Troika and Germany.  Kirk is the voices from ET.

4:45 ... the voice of the Providers ... sound familiar?

My allegiance to the human species ends at the California border.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Jul 17th, 2015 at 07:30:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's about right.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 18th, 2015 at 04:49:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. Don't suggest the set up was instrumental in financing the miraculous German export surplus.

#1 is a very good question.

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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 06:30:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 From the FT

Mr Tusk said he was concerned about the far left, which he believes is advocating "this radical leftist illusion that you can build some alternative" to the current EU economic model. He argued those far-left leaders were pushing to cast aside traditional European values like "frugality" and liberal, market-based principles that have served the EU in good stead.

Austerity is the EU, the EU is austerity. Keynesianism is a 'radical leftist illusion'. With this type of leadership the EU is destined to fail.

by rz on Sat Jul 18th, 2015 at 09:42:16 AM EST
As matter of fact, what does it say about Donald Tusk that he considers Paul Krugman and Ben Bernanke to be part of the far left.
by rz on Sat Jul 18th, 2015 at 11:24:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. That he is one of many politicians/pundits for whom it is useful to pretend to believe that?

  2. That he's a total dope.

  3. Any mix of the above.

My personal mix is that he and those like him basically don't get it, while they know that even trying to get it is out-of-bounds for them.

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sun Jul 19th, 2015 at 12:57:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But they are part of the far left. Formerly known as the center.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 09:43:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tusk is a right-liberal.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 19th, 2015 at 06:17:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Flassbeck has an interesting theory on the intellectual limits of the East European rightwingers.

European Tribune - Comments - The Prague moment of the European Left  European Tribune - Comments - The Prague moment of the European Left
"System" bedeutet bei Tusk ein System aus Sparpolitik und Einschränkungen, so wie es Schäuble ihm bei jedem Treffen erzählt. Auf die Idee, dass Schäuble keine Ahnung von dem "System" hat, und dass es bei der Kritik von Krugman und anderen darum geht, das "System" überhaupt richtig zu verstehen, kommt er nicht, weil er in einer Welt aufgewachsen ist, in der es nur die Systemauseinandersetzung ,Marktwirtschaft kontra Planwirtschaft` gab.
"System" for Tusk means a system of austerity and Restrictions, as Schäuble tells him at every meeting. He wouldn't get the idea that Schäuble has no idea of ​​the "system", and that the criticism of Krugman and others aims at understanding the "system" correctly, because he grew up in a world in which there was only the system confrontation of market economy vs planned economy.
Die viel wichtigere Auseinandersetzung dreht sich um ein angemessenes Verständnis dessen, wie ein marktwirtschaftliches System überhaupt funktioniert und wie es mit Hilfe der Wirtschaftspolitik in ihren drei großen Ästen Fiskal-, Geld- und Lohnpolitik nachhaltig und zum Nutzen aller betrieben werden kann. Diese Auseinandersetzung, die viele Jahre der Nachkriegszeit diesseits des Eisernen Vorhangs geprägt hat, ist an den Menschen jenseits dieses Vorhangs vollkommen vorbeigegangen.
The much more important debate revolves around an appropriate grasp of how a free-market system Works at all and how it can be sustainably operated by means of economic policy in its three major branches fiscal, monetary and wage policies to the benefit of all . This debate, which has marked many years of the postwar period on this side of the Iron Curtain has passed by the people beyond this curtain entirely.
Selbst die Mehrheit von SYRIZA will keinen "Systemwechsel" in dem alten Sinne (auch wenn ihr das immer wieder unterstellt wird), sondern eine moderne, eine angemessene Auseinandersetzung mit der Marktwirtschaft. Alles, was SYRIZA gefordert hat, ist die Berücksichtigung gesamtwirtschaftlicher Einsichten und eine Abkehr vom primitiven Verständnis der Marktwirtschaft à la schwäbische Hausfrau.
Even the majority of SYRIZA does not want "system change" in the old sense (although it is always alleged that), but a modern, adequate examination of the market economy. Everything SYRIZA demanded, is the consideration of macroeconomic insights and a departure from primitive model of the market economy à la Swabian housewife.
Wenn aber derjenige, der bei all diesen Verhandlungen die Federführung hat, so verwirrt ist, dass er glaubt, Krugman habe nichts mit der Realität zu tun, wie soll das Ganze jemals zu einem guten Ende finden? Vermutlich denkt Frau Merkel in den gleichen Kategorien. Es scheint, der Marxismus besiegt die Marktwirtschaft am Ende auf eine ganz hinterhältige Weise. Indem die Marktwirtschaft von denen regiert wird, die der Marxismus so verschreckt hat, dass sie nur an die Auseinandersetzung zwischen den Systemen denken, nicht aber an die konstruktive Auseinandersetzung mit dem übrig gebliebenen System selbst, macht er der Marktwirtschaft endgültig den Garaus. Bravo Karl Marx - das ist die höchste Form der Dialektik.
If the person who chairs all these negotiations is so confused that he believes Krugman has nothing to do with the reality, how can this end well? Probably Mrs. Merkel thinks in the same categories. It seems Marxism defeats the market economy in the end in a very hinsidious way. By the market economy being governed by those who are so scared of Marxism that they only think of the confrontation between systems, but not of constructive discussions of the single Leftover system itself, it kills the market economy finally. Bravo Karl Marx - that is the ultimate form of dialectics.
by Katrin on Sun Jul 19th, 2015 at 12:36:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Katrin on Sun Jul 19th, 2015 at 12:37:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some people compare a successful society to a three legged stool. You need government, market, and civil society.

The false dichotomy we've been fed the past 50 years (at least) is a winner takes all battle between government and (laissez-faire) market.


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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 10:59:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]

This chart, also posted in tyronen's recent diary, sits in the back of my mind reading this diary - and it keeps asking me: 'what left?'

I think no words need to be written on Labour in the UK. I and others have written across the years about Dijsselbloem's party - Third Way PvdA/Labour in the Netherlands. Sometimes there was an ill-perceived notion the party might turn back to its roots. It never has, since it turned Third Way late nineties while they were in government. This country has now had parliamentary hearings on a number of the costly messes (among which the Fyra flop) that spawned from that period when liberalising social housing and rail infrastructure was perceived a good idea by PvdA.

Though I have yet to find a modern-day self-proclaimed social-democrat who can coherently explain me in what way the much touted ideals about social cohesion and society can actually be achieved through the economic framework that has so enthusiastically been embraced. And by coherent, I mean without consorting to business management psalms and other folksy fairytales.

I think this past week has illustrated never sharper how deep the rabbit hole wherein social-democrats all across Europe are residing has been dug.  

So let me ask: Is there any so-called social-democratic party in EU nations left that has not turned Third Way TINA? If so, how much left was there to begin with? To me the political centre now solidly consists of EPP, PES and ALDE parties, virtually interchangeable in their economic core beliefs. With alternatives residing in (radical) political flanks, with the unease about the EU on a steep increase all across European nations, it seems more instability lies ahead - and no guarantee it might bring any good.

by Bjinse on Sat Jul 18th, 2015 at 06:36:50 PM EST
In fact some words certainly can be written about Labour in the UK.

The current front-running leadership candidate is one Mr Corbyn. Corbyn is literally the only true left-winger who's standing. No one "serious" expected him to be considered a realistic contender. The fact that he's now leading the pack is making heads explode.

How are Labour's MP's responding? By threatening an immediate coup to replace him with a Red Tory Blairite if he's elected by ordinary party members.

So that's how fucked Labour are. And that's how "democratic" the process is.

You don't get to choose the leader you want, you get to choose the leader you're given.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jul 18th, 2015 at 10:12:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"You don't get to choose the leader you want, you get to choose the leader you're given."

Just like China.

My allegiance to the human species ends at the California border.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 01:46:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The optimist version is that further rounds of austerity and blatant anti-democracy will cause PvdA &co to be replaced by Podemos-like forces across the continent. The moderately pessimist version is that the resurrection of a true Left as a major force first needs the destruction of the middle class (which has well progressed but didn't finish even in Greece). The more pessimist version is that several right-wing populisms need to emerge, gain power and fail before a left-wing one captures the imagination of the masses again.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 09:03:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You call the destruction of the middle class the less pessimistic version? Funny that. Although your last scenario could just as well combine it all together. Now that would be a fine pickle and a half.

Somewhere in 2011, when the eurocrisis began to take a more solid shape and the systemic flaws of the eurozone became more and more clear to me (with much aid from ET), PvdA supporters (including family) kept insisting to me all would turn out just perfectly peachy. I wish I had written it down somewhere.

While I love a good 'told you so' once so often, I've now stopped insisting things need to get a lot worse before politicians in the neurozone get bright enough to halt the Mexican stand-off shuffling itself closer to the abyss. Not because I no longer think so, but because it is pointless.

PvdA currently polls at 9 seats (now holds 38 of 150 in Parliament).

by Bjinse on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 04:24:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To make it clear: the more pessimistic version is the "even the destruction of the middle class won't do it" version.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 04:32:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PvdA currently polls at 9 seats (now holds 38 of 150 in Parliament).
When, in the run-up to the Greek negotiations last weekend a ruthless liberal austerian like Rutte could come to the Tweede Kamer and say that the PVdA's Dijsselbloem was doing a fantastic job, you know the PVdA has lost it.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 21st, 2015 at 12:40:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As DoDo frequently points out: given the choice between a left party bending to austerity and the real thing, voters prefer the latter. The liberals of Rutte poll notably lower at 24 seats (currently 41), but their drop in ratings is hardly as precipitous.
by Bjinse on Tue Jul 21st, 2015 at 04:52:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking at the Wikipedia page, I see that the Socialist Party is doing well. But the Party for Freedom performs equally well.

A sign of our times.

by rz on Tue Jul 21st, 2015 at 05:15:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SP always polls well but the party rarely manages to cash in during elections. Same trend is visible with the PVV: the party's anti-EU strategy has never brought in many voters - its electorate doesn't care enough to get out and vote.

What most people don't realise enough about the PVV is that behind the anti-EU and anti-foreigners tirades the PVV closely rubs shoulders with the SP on a variety of issues, most notably health care. Many MPs who leave the PVV complain it is not right enough to their tastes.

Also the conservative streak of the SP and its authoritarian hierarchy is frequently underestimated. Their current group of MPs contains a number of very capable politicians.

The trend since I began watching politics was the drift of the voters, the death of the political center and the rise of political flanks. This government bucked that trend, though it might succeed in leaving this country completely ungovernable come next elections.

by Bjinse on Tue Jul 21st, 2015 at 03:33:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I discover that the answer to the question 'what left?' has already been answered for plenty other European nations in Why is the SPD part of this? Just add the Dutch PvdA to that sum-up.
by Bjinse on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 06:35:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I still can't believe that politician made a reference to the Prague Spring.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Jul 18th, 2015 at 07:27:10 PM EST
He was probably referring to the Arab Spring.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Jul 18th, 2015 at 08:25:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This just shows tha racist condescension that passes for Social Democracy North of the Danube.

Evidently the comment referred to the Arab Spring or to what Philippe Legrain has dubbed the European Spring. So it is somewhat disingenuous to reply to Kazimir with a reference to the Prague Spring. But on the other hand both were named at least in part after the Prague Spring, and so there is a kernel of truth in the criticism.

But Kazimir is just a convenient target or an anchor for the argument, which is broader and transcends this superannuated central-european minion of Schäuble.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 19th, 2015 at 06:32:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see what's racist about it. The Arab Spring was a disaster for the Arab world, and Syriza has unfortunately been a disaster for Greece.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Jul 21st, 2015 at 11:53:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I more think he used it as a general term for a period of political upheaval (history knows xxx Autums and yyy Springs, too). He is relatively young, and came into politics late (an economist who sat on the supervisory boards of several companies), so the Prague Spring probably means nothing to him. So the deleted comment speaks of an ignorance similar to that of German politicians about Brüning's austerity.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 20th, 2015 at 08:16:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In France and Italy, at least, the "Spring" expression dates back to the 1848 uprisings, the "Spring(time) of the Peoples". I've always understood the "Printemps de Prague" and the "Printemps Arabe" as an allusion to that.

The expression is not unknown in English.

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sun Jul 19th, 2015 at 01:07:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe a The Producers reference?

Springtime for Hitler

by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Sun Jul 19th, 2015 at 01:58:04 PM EST
Le Monde Diplomatique: La gauche et l'euro : liquider, reconstruire (Frédéric Lordon, 18 juillet 2015)

  1. L'euro interdit radicalement toute politique progressiste possible.
  2. S'il en était encore besoin, le traitement criminel infligé à la Grèce en six mois de brutalisation (rebaptisée « négociation ») prouve que l'entreprise de « transformer l'euro », ou l'hypothèse d'un « autre euro possible », sont des chimères qui, par désillusions successives, ne mènent qu'à l'impasse et à la désespérance politiques.
  3. Abandonner aux extrêmes droites (qui au demeurant n'en feront rien [1]...) toute perspective politique d'en finir avec l'euro et ses institutions est une faute politique qui condamne les gauches européennes à l'impuissance indéfinie.
  4. Sauf à continuer de soupirer après ce qui n'arrivera pas -- un « autre euro » et l'« Europe sociale » qui va avec -- le réarmement des gauches européennes passe donc impérativement par l'imagination de l'après-euro.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jul 19th, 2015 at 06:32:57 PM EST
James Galbraith interview: Syriza Was In A Lose-Lose Situation (Social Europe Journal, 17 July 2015)
As a friend and advisor to Yanis Varoufakis, you've followed the negotiations up close from the start. Do you think there was a way of avoiding this outcome? Could Greece have handled things differently?

What became clear as the negotiations proceeded is that the European authorities and the IMF were making no concessions on policy issues and that they were simply waiting for the Greek side to concede all the way back to the original Memorandum, to the original policy program that had been imposed on the previous governments. So the position that one heard from Schäuble at the beginning - that `elections make no difference', which was a position that was extremely hard to take seriously at the time - turned out, after months of negotiations, to be exactly the position that he maintained until the end. And under those conditions the only thing that the Greek government could do was to demonstrate to the world that that was the case. When you have a completely unmoving counterpart in a negotiation, you have to discover that fact and it takes time.

...

In light of that, once the Greek side realised that the troika was not interested in reaching a viable agreement for Greece, wasn't it naive for the Greek government to continue appealing to reason and logic and insisting on debt relief when there was clearly no willingness on the creditor's behalf to compromise on that or other issues?

I don't believe that the Greek position was naive in the least. It was based upon the principle that you make your arguments as clearly and logically as you can, you explain them as forcefully and effectively as you can, and you count on the combination of reason and common sense to have some effect on the other side's position. It seems to me that when you have no other cards to play that's what you do, and that's what the Greek government did. I think it had a powerful effect on public opinion in Europe. But of course it had no effect on the power politics. It wasn't naive - it was the course dictated by the material imbalance of power.

...

The reason I ask whether Syriza could have done things differently is because left-wing movements and parties elsewhere in Europe will now have to re-evaluate their strategies based on the Greek experience.

Syriza's entire strategy was, in a way, founded upon the following question: could a country that had suffered the failures of European policy try and change those policies inside Europe? Well, I think the answer to that question is obvious to everyone now. I don't even need to say it.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 21st, 2015 at 04:55:57 PM EST
Zero Hedge is picking up a Greek report that Tsipras was seeking $10 billion for new drachma reserves, but Putin refused on the referendum night...
by das monde on Wed Jul 22nd, 2015 at 03:19:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The source is Greek Reporter which quotes To Vima but doesn't link to the source.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 22nd, 2015 at 04:55:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oil is too cheap.
by IM on Wed Jul 22nd, 2015 at 10:04:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2015 at 06:05:15 AM EST
Blair wouldn't learn anything by it, but anyone tempted to (still) listen to Blair should read this (that would be most of the Labour elite for starters).

And (with hindsight) Mitchell's analysis of French politics between the mid-70s and mid-80s is accurate.

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Thu Jul 23rd, 2015 at 07:57:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is a fantastic link. You should make an LQD out of it. The idea 'the stupid people' will make the budget explode is so ingrained in absolutely all narratives left or right.
by rz on Thu Jul 23rd, 2015 at 09:56:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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