Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

The Crisis Of Social Democracy

by afew Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 02:01:58 AM EST

 EUROPEAN ELECTIONS 

The guy the French media are running after is Daniel Cohn-Bendit, leader of a coalition of Greens and altermondialists and others, Europe-Ecologie, that matched the score of the Parti Socialist (between 16 and 17%) in the European elections. Libération has an interview (not online [now available here]) of him toyesterday, and there are some interesting points in it with regard to discussion in tyronen's diary and ThatBritGuy's on the state of politics after the election.

Apart from the specifically French details, (once again Cohn-Bendit repeats he will not be a presidential candidate), most of the discussion concerns the place of the left and of ecology in European politics. After mentioning the "crisis of social-democracy", he is asked what the crisis consists of:


 I think the problem stems from the fact that the renewal of social-democracy, represented by Tony Blair, has completely driven into the wall, in its practice of social policy as much as with the Iraq war. But Blair was the incarnation of the renewal of social-democracy. Apart from that, nothing was happening. That's why, faced with the crisis, the voters don't know who to turn to. Because there is no real alternative.

Take the French presidential election. When Sarko says "Work more to earn more", the French don't really believe in it, but they think: "Why not? If he can make a success of it, that's OK. We can always give it a try, because on the other [political] side, nothing's happening."

What's all the same interesting in this [European] election, if we look at the Netherlands, Germany, France, is that all those who have been saying the same thing after the crisis as they were saying before the crisis, have failed. People say: "Who do you think you are?" The crisis is very deep, but the left, ultra or socialist-type reformist, has held on to the same software. I think this is the great problem for social-democracy.

 The Greens have a hope of doing something, and it's not by chance: their ideological hard disk was already opposed to productivist capitalism and to social democracy, in its radical communist version or its soft version. From the start, it was possible for them to take up a modern discourse.

And I think the good news of these elections, on the ideological plane, is that the argument levelled against us at the beginning of the campaign turned out to be false. We were told: "It'll never work, your thing, because in an economic crisis no one has time to wonder about global warming." It's now proved that the response to the economic crisis must also be an ecological response. And today everyone, from the IMF to the World Bank, says we can't separate the two.

I don't think Jean-Louis Borloo [French Environment Minister] is just an opportunist, that's meaningless. They can feel, on the right too, that a responsible policy today - and I don't see why the right would not want to be responsible - cannot exclude this problem. The funny thing is, that before we were told: "There's no need for an autonomous ecological force [in politics] because, anyway, no one's listening to you." Now they tell us: "There's no need for an autonomous ecological force, because now everyone else is saying the same thing."

Of course, there's talk of redefining the left, entering discussions with the other parties and groups, which seems much more within our grasp now that the PS, in crisis, can no longer pretend to hegemony over the left side of the political scene.

 We need to evolve towards a modern form of political organisation. The job ahead is not to create another party in the same way as they all exist, and don't work. The problem with parties is you do nothing but that, you have a cell meeting, a this meeting, a that meeting, and you're no longer part of society.

I think a modern political force needs to develop its existence at the European level. If we look at the crisis of social-democracy, it can only be solved by proposing European alternatives in opposition to national alternatives. And that's where the PS has failed. It had a wide open door on the European response, but it only spelled out its proposals nationally.

At the European level, why want to oppose Barroso for Commission president?

 Why I want to get Barroso out is a simple matter. If you want to understand who Barroso is, don't listen to us. Read Jean-Pierre Jouyet [French Minister for European Affairs], who was no less than the craftsman of the French presidency [of the EU]. He says: "This guy is a cameleon, when you talk to him, it's the last one who spoke with him who's right. It's always like that. You reach an agreement with him about something. The next day, he happens to meet somebody else, and he goes over to the contrary side."

Two tremendous examples. When the Environment Commissioner proposes a plan called "European climate", we say: "We'll back it". Two hours later, the Economy and Industry supercommissioner holds a press conference to say: "This package is unacceptable for German industry. I reject it." Barroso, who is Commission president, should have told him, since the climate plan was a collective decision: "You can shut up and get out. That's the way it is, it's the Commission's position." But he just lets it happen. Second example, Sarkozy makes a big speech before Parliament: "We need to moralise capitalism, we must regulate..." Barroso adds his bit: "We must regulate." Perfect. Everyone has tears in their eyes. Two hours later, a European commissioner says: "No way! The only way out of the crisis is deregulation."  What does Barroso say? Nothing! Having a Commission president like that, in a difficult situation, is just not possible. It's not simply because he's a liberal [economic sense], but because he's incapable of holding to a position. If we can get a majority, we should do it! [throw him out]. It would be a strong political signal. I'm not saying the next Commission will be the one that will set up the peasant works councils. I'm simply saying it would be a signal. I don't know if we'll manage it. But we must try.

Cohn-Bendit is reminded of his line about being a liberal-libertarian, and he says he said that at a different time, and was being deliberately provocative. (He's of course aware of varying sensitivity to these terms in different European countries, and quite different meanings given them across the Atlantic).

 What are you?
I'm a Keynesian, I always was. The traditional Keynesian plan is stimulus through redistribution and consumption. This century's Keynesianism is changing, it's ecological and social. And it's not the same thing. Take the hard disk of the PS, it came up with a plan based on stimulating consumption alone. You have to be crazy to limit yourself to only that! Later on, they said: "It means green kind of stuff." But it's not true!

While there's an incredible need, in Europe over the next ten years, for tramways. All cities, especially in the East, must renew their tram systems. So you have an immense field for investment, that will create jobs. Where should this be prepared and how? Discussing these things is difficult. But if we don't get round to dealing with problems like that, we'll end up like we did with steel. We invested billions in it. Where is there anything left of European steel today? If we don't get round on the left to facing up to these problems properly, we'll end up in ten years' time saying: "We didn't find the right answer to the crisis, and now there are all these people [and/or projects] on the scrap heap."

Display:
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 09:17:34 AM EST
excellent diary!

C-B has a great overview.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 09:28:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "hard disk"?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 09:36:27 AM EST
Gotta love AI metaphors...

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 09:40:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It sounds very strange in translation.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 09:46:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose that what Cohn-Bendit means is more akin to 'hardware'.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 10:10:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think he's just suggesting what is inscribed in memory. The ideological fundamentals that don't change easily.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 10:33:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He means it's written on the hard disk, and cannot be erased (without extraordinary efforts, with a special software he kindly provides with)

Patrice Ayme Patriceayme.com Patriceayme.wordpress.com http://tyranosopher.blogspot.com/
by Patrice Ayme on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 10:38:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 10:43:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe Cohn-Bendit should read Impostures Intellectuelles.

--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$
by martingale on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 02:36:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe he was speaking quickly and using some poorly-thought-out metaphors. Which doesn't, imo, subtract from the overall interest of what he has to say about French and European politics.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 02:57:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He was not speaking quickly neither is the metaphor from DCB: it's a classic one from french politics, because usually none of them know how to work a computer.

I distinctly remind JP Raffarin using the same metaphor, and the PS is a usual suspect also.

by Xavier in Paris on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 05:01:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, in contrast to "software," a/k/a "symbolic-analytic work." <snort> Worth considering, too, are concommitant economic values of capital and expected investment returns, implied by the metaphorical license vested by Westworld legislatures in IT infrastructure, R&D, and marketing, rather than ecological drivers general advocated by "greens".

Econometric literature comparing corporate hardware and software investment over the past 40 years is substantial and indicative.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:06:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why, because of the words "hard disk" rather than HDD? Or because the metaphor feels strange?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 10:34:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The metaphor is strange.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 10:36:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I sort of assumed it was hurriedly translated idiom, but if it's not, its weird. Hard drives are something I think of as fragile and volatile and passive, so the metaphor seems opposed to the intended meaning.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 10:54:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the literal and everyday translation of "disque dur". You think of it in the way you do because you're an IT professional. I don't think it's a killer metaphor, but the general sense seems clear to me.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:15:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess that's why no-one does backups!
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:31:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From anecdotal evidence, I don't know many people who lost their computer harddrive, but I do know many who lost their external harddrive (the main cause seems to be dropping it).
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:47:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Real men don't backup."
"Then real men cry."

- Coder's proverb

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 02:48:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's one of lifes lessons that people always learn the hard way.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 02:56:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"software" also sounds very strage to me, both in translation and in the original French.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 12:47:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It sounds odd in French. It sounds a little more odd in English, but just about within the limits of comprehensibility.

'Hard disk' is just eccentric, especially when it's 'the hard disk came up with', because it's not at all clear what it means, or who did the coming up with.

(Policy group? Rank and file membership? Collective hive mind? Guiding metaphysical oversoul? Magic eight ball?)

Excellent piece overall though.

Why isn't he running as a candidate?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:40:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "hard disk" produced, to translate literally. I take the expression to mean the habitual ideology ran through its usual grooves and did not invent anything new. Which is certainly true imo. Who dunnit? The leadership mostly.

Why isn't he running for French president (if that's your question)? I think he really believes in, and is well adapted to, the European sphere of politics. I heard him say on Sunday evening he wasn't French, though I thought he had dual nationality: wikipedia says:

Daniel Cohn-Bendit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Being officially stateless at birth, when he reached the age of 18 he was entitled to German and French citizenship, but he renounced the latter in order to avoid conscription.

That would be an obstacle.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:58:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That seems rather strange to me. Both France and Germany had conscription. I know plenty of dual nationals who had to choose where they wanted to do their service.

--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$
by martingale on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 02:58:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I have a German friend still living here after first coming to France to avoid conscription in the early 1970s.

But it's true Cohn-Bendit was expelled from France in 1968, which would not have been possible had he held French nationality.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 04:08:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He was persona non grata throughout the sixties and seventies in FRance. That would explain the choice of German nationality.
by Xavier in Paris on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 05:03:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For ten years, from 1968 to 1978. But that was only possible because he did not hold French nationality.

French Wikipédia says:

Daniel Cohn-Bendit - Wikipédia

il naît en France de parents juifs allemands réfugiés en France en 1933 pour fuir le nazisme. Daniel Cohn-Bendit est apatride jusqu'à l'âge de 14 ans, où il opte pour la nationalité allemande[3] pour, dit-il, ne pas être soumis au service militaire en France. Il se définit toutefois comme « citoyen européen ».

He was "stateless till the age of 14, when he chose German nationality to, he says, not have to accept military service in France".  There's a reference to a Télélibre.fr interview where he says this.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 05:41:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right the French quote is clearer. I imagine German Jewish holocaust kids are probably exempt from German service?

--
$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$
by martingale on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 05:45:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's curious is that, at 14, he tried to avoid the military, which took place at 21. That's very insightful for a kid...
by Xavier in Paris on Sat Jun 13th, 2009 at 04:17:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He was 14 in 1959. Algerian War? That might have given him some insight.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jun 13th, 2009 at 04:35:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i think it works ok as analogy.

root axioms, what's buried so deep in the folders that even the owner isn't sure quite where, therefore difficult to access and tinker with.

i guess you call it the ideology driver!

with RAM as ideas that are bandied about in the short term, with the option of being deeper enshrined.

identity as function of memory.

wasn't it tim leary who'd refer to the brain as hardware and the ideas running through it as software?

hive mind is a bit similar, orthogonal.

"I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves." -Harriet Tubman .

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 03:04:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Why isn't he running as a candidate?
For what, EP President?

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 04:09:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It used to be a colloquial metaphor 15 years ago (somewhat)!
Even today, many kids use "bugged", "wired", etc.

Dany the Red (Er...Green), has a very understandable language for young people, the "tu" (tutoiement) of the "we belong to the same group", his short phrases and even his grammatical mistakes, are all signs of the "next door café" way of speaking...

He even uses it with political opponents in public shows (without them wincing, surprisingly), as he conveys the message to those listening.

He gets aways with it, in his ripe age, because he's the Mai 68 figure, it's his signature, there's nothing (apparently) demagogical, it's just like wearing jeans and no tie, a way of living !

His "Let's go beyond the present mess" sort of message should have a durable impact...


"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman

by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 04:46:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Spain we use "to change the chip" as a metaphor...

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 04:56:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... even though swapping out the EPROM is far less common nowadays than doing a sweep to clean old documents off a hard drive.

Reading it as "responding with the material lying at hand" rather than "providing the hardwired response", the metaphor makes more sense.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 10:46:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - The Crisis Of Social Democracy
Having a Commission president like that, in a difficult situation, is just not possible. It's not simply because he's a liberal [economic sense], but because he's incapable of holding to a position.
No wonder Brown supports him - they're made for each other.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 09:39:06 AM EST
yes, they are cut from the same -decaying- cloth.

powerfreaks, but poor leaders.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 03:06:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He says;


What's all the same interesting in this [European] election, if we look at the Netherlands, Germany, France, is that all those who have been saying the same thing after the crisis as they were saying before the crisis, have failed.

and


The Greens have a hope of doing something, and it's not by chance: their ideological hard disk was already opposed to productivist capitalism and to social democracy, in its radical communist version or its soft version. From the start, it was possible for them to take up a modern discourse.

He's saying two slightly contradictory things here: ie the Greens did not change, but their discourse was suddenly more acceptable in the new circumstances, so they did not get punished.

What I think he means is that the socialists were not critical enough of the old system before, and haven't changed much their tune; while the right, which carried the system before, at least tried to be pragmatic recently, by moving towards more interventionism.

So, what worked politically was either being fully neoliberal, and moving back to statism somewhat (or beign seen to move that way), or being fully critical of that system, but not the softer criticism of the socialists, which was overwhelmed before by the rightwards push, and is overwhelmed today by the similar push of the right towards pseudo socialism.

Or, in other words: if you're too close to the right, you lose.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 10:34:25 AM EST
I take it he's saying that Europe Ecologie, not just the Greens but the whole collective effort, came up with a new discourse re the crisis and situated it at the European level. The Greens having a traditional critique of productivist capitalism and social democracy presumably helped.

But he may be being contradictory too. I must admit I don't quite see why he puts the "radical communist" political line in as a version of social democracy...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 10:39:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I rather appreciated that insight, specturm of socialisms. The common trait of these ideologies is ideological conformity to achieve state-prescribed agenda. At the "soft" pole, the corporate agenda is indeterminate, or fluid; at the "hard" pole, a totalitarian, or insoluable, comity.

social democracy, in its radical communist version or its soft version.

What I find paradoxical, more so than contradictory, is his reference to modern(ity). It could be read as a kind of atavistic endorsement of imperial appetites for "progress."

From the start, it was possible for them [Greens] to take up a modern discourse.

Or read as the "base case" which a Green political impulse dissembles.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:36:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't like his use of "modern" there. But I suppose he's just comparing to the paleo-discourse (or the lack of propositions) of most of the left.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:06:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
afew: The Greens having a traditional critique of productivist capitalism and social democracy presumably helped.

i was surprised to learn that the Greens so pointedly oppose social democracy.  curious to understand what their beef with it is, i found this:

Les Verts - Dépasser la social-démocratie

is it safe to suppose that Cohn-Bendit would generally agree with that statement?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 11:40:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Social Democracy is as married to industrial productivism as the conservatives are.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 12:48:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru: Social Democracy is as married to industrial productivism as the conservatives are.

i did not realize that.  that is certainly a point to remember, if this definition of productivism is accurate (and includes industrial productivism/productivist capitalism):

Productivism is the belief that measurable economic productivity and growth is the purpose of human organization (e.g., work), and that "more production is necessarily good".

Productivism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 01:09:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Think about it: the labour movement is mostly centered on the blue collar worker.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:22:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My impression of the labor movement was that the most important things to it were fairness, worker rights, worker participation in company management, and so on, but not necessarily subscribing to the principle that productivity and growth are the primary purpose of human organization or that "more production is necessarily good".

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:40:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The labour movement is also interested in ensuring there are jobs, which requires production and demand.

The unions are an integral part of the industrial production economy, working with it not against it.

They want a better set of the pie and that's easier if the pie grows.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 02:01:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hate to repeat myself, but if you can find a copy of Galbraith's The New Industrial State, read the chapter on unions.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 02:04:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Galbraith's The New Industrial State at GoogleBooks.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 07:18:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Impressionistic history of union organization indeed. Some 250 years, from "mechanics" through "progressives" (skipping the STFU, mining, longshore, etc) and CIO/ILU industrial recruitment, culminating in near universally accepted, ironical boilerplate of seniority and safety attributable to increasing corporate productivity.

ohmmmmm

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 08:16:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've often wondered how exactly the so-called progressive idea that 'workers' need 'jobs' is supposed to be empowering.

I suppose it's better than starving. But isn't it almost completely passive otherwise?

But it's such a reliable and useful trope for the right - support this project/person/boondoggle and get Jobs™ - that I'm surprised it hasn't been challenged more often.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 08:32:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if you start advocating things like universal living stipends, you're no longer considered a social democrat...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 03:18:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
oops

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 03:20:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, we're commies. What else is new?

Seriously, though, the social democrats have always been about the workers. Other disadvantaged groups have always taken a distinctly secondary position in the socdem programme. The early feminists, for instance, had to fight many of the socdems at least as hard as they had to fight the mommy-stay-at-home conservatives for their emancipation into wider society. They were thought to suppress wages - partly by increasing the number of available warm bodies, partly because there was a fear that they would not unionise properly. (Although to their credit, they came around a lot faster than the conservatives...)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 03:59:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even farmers were disadvantaged with respect to industrial workers.

"Socialism" as we know it is a product of the industrial revolution.

The brainless should not be in banking. — Willem Buiter

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 04:01:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which Cohn-Bendit does, btw. (In his book, Que Faire?).
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jun 12th, 2009 at 04:46:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so 'productivity (sustainable) good, 'productivism' bad?

dictionary of definitions dept...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 03:11:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Front de Gauche), in the France2 studio on Sunday evening with D C-B seemed ready to talk about abadoning productivism. But yesterday morning on the radio I heard his partner in the Front de Gauche, Marie-George Buffet, leader of the PC, make distinctly unfavourable noises re this notion. Cohn-Bendit says elsewhere in this interview that working things out on the left won't be simple...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:15:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Les Verts - Dépasser la social-démocratie
L'écologie politique a aujourd'hui pour tâche de dépasser la social-démocratie, en réinventant les idéaux qu'elle a perdus et en les adaptant à notre temps. La solidarité qui la fondait doit en effet être désormais étendue à la planète, aux pays du Sud mais aussi aux systèmes vivants auxquels nous sommes reliés et qui sont tous menacés.Political ecology today has the task of going beyond social democracy, by reinventing its lost ideals and by adapting them to our time. Its founding virtue, solidarity, must from now on be extended to the planet, to the countries of the South but also to the living systems to which we are linked and which are all threatened.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:12:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me just say that as an American I have trouble following all the shades of political thought that seem to be the mainstay of the European chattering classes (for centuries, apparently). So if I'm missing some important nuance I hope you'll be understanding.

It seems to me that there are two important factors in play. The first is that the European Parliament is mostly irrelevant. They are very good at setting the size of sheets of paper, or what's in a chocolate bar, or the like, but useless when it comes to creating a workable social structure that will span all the countries of the EU.

Second, this didn't matter as long as the EU region was growing economically. It was possible to ignore unresolved differences and provide enough money to bring the weaker states forward by means of transfer payments.

The natural gas shock administered by Russia signaled the end of this period. The EU states realized that they were no longer going to be able to avoid the global forces at work elsewhere, and the economic crash in the US removed whatever wishful thinking still remained.

So what we see is a body with no transnational political power being expected to mediate between states who have reverted back to their long traditions of self interest. The same resource constraints and population pressures that are at play elsewhere are now staring EU states in the face.

There seem to be two responses. One is for the chattering classes to engage in the type of opaque, but profound sounding, pontificating that has long been popular (especially in France). Whole schools of thought have arisen, gallons of ink spilled and yet the impact of these thinkers remains marginal.

The second is for the political leaders to revert to some variations of nationalism. In the past this usually led to war, but this time this avenue (thankfully) this seems not to be an option. So it is unclear what the xenophobes will be able to do now that some of them have gotten elected.

I have no suggested solutions, there is no enforcement mechanism when states disagree as the troubled history of the UN shows. I don't see why things should go better in the EU.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 04:38:27 PM EST
media.


The first is that the European Parliament is mostly irrelevant.

It's certainly not irrelevant. It's just hard to explain, which may be the same in terms of TV exposure, but not quite the same in terms of actual influence.


They are very good at setting the size of sheets of paper, or what's in a chocolate bar, or the like, but useless when it comes to creating a workable social structure that will span all the countries of the EU.

Beyond the fact that setting the size of sheets of paper is actually important (how else do you get the paper AND printer markets to work otherwise?), this kind of petty dismissal of regulation, while typical of the anti-regulation English press, is actually false on substance: exemples of silly regulations are either false or distorted, and exemples pf meaningful regulation that ends up applying everywhere on the planet (like the GSM standard, or REACH) are carefully avoided.


The natural gas shock administered by Russia signaled the end of this period.

What natural gas shock? The only "shock" in the European natural gas business happened in the UK when they suddenly realized that they were running out of gas, something that was announced quite a few years in advance. The rest of Europe has been importing gas from Russia for decades and is not really stressed by the pseudo crises that so "worry" the English pundit class.


a body with no transnational political power being expected to mediate between states who have reverted back to their long traditions of self interest.

It does have transnational power. And the long traditions of self-interest have never been interrupted.


I don't see why things should go better in the EU.

Because, having almost self-destroyed once already, we're still keen not to do it again.

Honestly, it's a bit disappointing to read all the Europe.Is Doomed prejudice in your comment, after all we've written on these topics here on ET.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 05:34:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome:
I like your views in general, but I find you are a bit too defensive when it comes to EU politics. That's fine, many in the US are too defensive when it comes to those who criticize their country.

I don't read the English language press about the EU, in fact there is hardly any mention of EU politics and the EP to be found. What little I do hear is mostly from the BBC worldservice. You can factor in their prejudices accordingly.

I know you have vigorously defended your position about the Russian gas export business, but I'm not talking about economics, but psychology. At some point the gas stopped for several countries. It doesn't matter why it stopped, it just made people elsewhere realize that it could stop some time in the future for them as well. You seem to think that just because some action makes no sense from an economic point of view it won't happen. We have learned that countries can gleefully engaged in self-destructive behavior in spite of the facts.

As for your statement that the EP has transnational power, I think you will have to provide evidence of this. Right now, for example, Spain and Ireland are constrained as to what sorts of monetary policies they can undertake and the wealthier countries seem disinclined to help.

I'm not being a doom sayer, I just think that the EU is now facing its first real international challenge and has, as yet, to come up with an appropriate response. The future is not predetermined and like you, I hope that cool heads will prevail and new ideas will be forthcoming.

PS.
I wasn't mocking the setting of standards, which is what the right does, just pointing out that it is easier to deal with specifics than with overarching social policy issues.

I'd be interested in hearing what steps are being contemplated or suggested to deal with the current crisis. I can't make head or tail out of the kinds of remarks that Daniel Cohn-Bendit made at the top of this thread. To me this is just the type of muddled thinking that the pundits delight in engaging in.

In the US things are different. The right is funded by the monied interests who provide the think tanks and academic appointments that keep their intellectual whores employed. So all the talk about free markets, trickle down, light regulation and the like is just a veneer meant to cover up the underlying greed that motivates the funders.

Without the same plutocracy in Europe I don't think there is the same connection between political thought and social positions. When you know who is paying your salary it focuses the mind and helps you concentrate on getting your master's positions disseminated.

If you think there are any specific sources that I might find useful I'd be happy for your suggestions.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 06:06:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]

What little I do hear is mostly from the BBC worldservice.

You do realize that the first "B" of BBC stands for "British", right? You have to realize that anything the British say about Europe or the EU (and thus anybody writing in English and influenced by primary sources from London) has to be viewed with profound suspicion. "Balance" on that topic is somewhere between distaste and mistrust, compounded by a rather different understanding than on the continent of how much the EU matters internally.


At some point the gas stopped for several countries. It doesn't matter why it stopped, it just made people elsewhere realize that it could stop some time in the future for them as well.

Well, it depends what you mean by "it stopped." Wholesale deliveries from one source stopped, temporarily. Which is something that also happens now and then for technical reasons. Which is why you have storage, diversity of supply, etc... That the media chose to treate wholesale cuts from one source as "hospitals in the dark" is hyperbole and incompetence, to a large extent. Even in countries which rely heavily on Russian gas, it's not clear to me that they actually needed to cut supplies to domestic users, or that this was done to score easy political points - and it certainly points to incompetence in governments in dealing with a strategic issue. Continental Western Europe has dealt with full dependency on imports for many years, via massive storage capacity, diversified sources and so forth. So, if the Russian cuts revealed anything, it was the incompetence of some rather than a risk which has always been taken into account by the serious players.


As for your statement that the EP has transnational power, I think you will have to provide evidence of this.

Google "REACH"


Right now, for example, Spain and Ireland are constrained as to what sorts of monetary policies they can undertake and the wealthier countries seem disinclined to help.

That(s like saying that Congress obviously has no federal power because California is in a budgetary crisis.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 12:27:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
rdf:
I'm not talking about economics, but psychology

I see no evidence in Europe for a psychological shock of the kind you imagine. The British media, though, do make more of it, because Britain has a dog in the fight, namely, is running out of North Sea gas.

If you can't make head or tail of what Cohn-Bendit is saying above, it's because your knowledge of French and European politics is too summary. Try asking questions instead of pontificating on the basis of what you get from the BBC.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 01:50:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My own take was that the Left as a whole did rather well (in France). It overpolled the right by several points, no?

I didn't sense an ideological shift.

The problem (if problem there is) lies in its divisions.

I think the French PS seems to have an image problem: it's perceived as lackluster and lacking in ideas -- and has no charismatic leader.

It needs its own Obama.

But then what do I know?
 

by Lupin on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 04:09:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what's your definition of "left"?

Are you equalling hard left would-be radicals like Besancenot or Mélanchon to the traditionnal left like the PS?

Because it seems to me that there are more difference on the european topic between thses than between PS and the UMP (right): Both Mélanchon and Besancenot voted against the constitution treaty, whereas the PS voted YES.

I'm all in favour of division here, because such a difference on such an important issue cannot be hidden easily. (and should not)

by Xavier in Paris on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 05:18:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What Jean-Marie Colombani, former director of Le Monde, has to say in El Païs:

"Sarkozy quiere que González sea presidente de Europa" · ELPAÍS.com
P. ¿Qué opina del hundimiento de la izquierda en las elecciones europeas?Q: What to think of the collapse of the left in the European elections?
R. Hay que matizarlo y verlo en el contexto de la situación general de Europa; en una crisis que ha puesto en marcha todas las recetas de la socialdemocracia y ha vencido a ésta. Lo sucedido es muy preocupante para la izquierda. Se ha recurrido al Estado como salvador tras una crisis acarreada por la política neoliberal, lo que debería de haber implicado un giro, que no se ha producido, de la opinión pública hacia la socialdemocracia. En clave francesa, sin embargo, Sarkozy ha salido vencedor, pero si se suman los votos obtenidos por los partidos de izquierdas, se ve que han logrado más. La victoria real de Sarkozy hay que corregirla porque a la hora de hacer alianzas la gobernante Unión por un Movimiento Popular tiene menos posibilidades que el Partido Socialista francés.A: It needs to be qualified and seen in the context of the overall situation in Europe; in a crisis that has led to the implementation of all the recipes of social democracy and [at the same time] has defeated it. What happened is very worrying for the left. The State has been resorted to as a saviour after a crisis caused by neoliberal policies, and this should have involved a shift -- that has not occurred -- in public opinion toward social democracy. In the French context, however, Sarkozy has come out victorious, but if you add up the votes obtained by the left parties, you see that they obtained more. The real victory of Sarkozy will need reestimating because when the time comes for alliances the ruling Union for a Popular Movement has fewer possibilities than the French Socialist Party.

(h/t to Migeru)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 11:51:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So I doubt the PS wants him. Anyway CB wacked PS, and Sarko is far ahead, being all said to everybody...

Patrice Ayme Patriceayme.com Patriceayme.wordpress.com http://tyranosopher.blogspot.com/
by Patrice Ayme on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 12:51:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
your comment is typical of a common emotion in the USA, contempt for the European Union, and ignorance of its main mission: preventing severe dis-union from ever happening again.

Once one is armed and primed by this emotion common in the USA, one is ready to attach one's logic to details, such as reference to silly stuff, tending to corroborate one's fundamental emotion.

The basic fact of Europe is that France and Germany are firmly decided to never make war with each other. France and Britain reached that same emotional status a century ago (or maybe earlier, 1815, when the British monarch renounced his right on France).    

From that fact alone, Europe is unavoidable. Because Germany plus France, plus their low orbit satellites (Benelux, Lombardy, Catalogne, etc...) make a super power, and the others can't be left out...

Simply, in the USA, power is centralized in Wall Street, so European democracy confuses the American mind who naturally searches for little pieces of paper explaining it all... Since the USA is all about little pieces of paper in Wall Street, chasing each others...

Patrice Ayme Patriceayme.com Patriceayme.wordpress.com http://tyranosopher.blogspot.com/

by Patrice Ayme on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 04:22:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From the coverage on ET Cohn-Bendit seems worth listening to. Nonetheless he has been around for a while and especially given his involvement with the German Greens a close look at his record may be called for.

Specifically I'm thinking about the "reform" activities of the Schröder government Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

From his Wiki page

He was criticized from the political right for being a strong proponent of freer immigration, the legalization of soft drugs, and the abandonment of nuclear power and from the left for his pro-free market policies, his support for military interventions in Bosnia and Afghanistan and frequent collaboration with centrist personalities (Bernard Kouchner and François Bayrou for instance).

So definitely a liberal interventionist. See also this interview in foreignpolicy about Iraq. Quite good actually, but his objection to the war is one of practicality and not of principle.
A first google yielded nothing of substance about his opinion about the Schröder "reforms".

by generic on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 03:49:21 PM EST
Maybe it would help if the Social Democrats didn't have among them some very dubious people, such as Georges Frêche and Manuel Valls :

Manuel Valls aimerait plus de "blancs" dans sa ville d'Evry | Rue89

Habitué aux sorties iconoclastes, le député-maire socialiste d'Evry (Essonne) s'est une nouvelle fois distingué mardi dans l'émission « Politiquement parlant » sur Direct8. Au cours d'un reportage réalisé dimanche pour l'occasion, Manuel Valls, parcourant les allées d'une brocante à Evry, lâche à Christian Gravel, son directeur de cabinet et directeur de la communication à la mairie :

« Belle image de la ville d'Evry... Tu me mets quelques blancs, quelques whites, quelques blancos... » (Voir la vidéo)

The PS mayor of Evry was seen in a TV documentary asking for more whites in the camera field.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 04:28:05 AM EST
I've been reading some of the more exotic comment boards, and nationalisation/fascism seem based on historical romantic notions of sovereignty which are pure fairy tale.

Hence the BNP and UKIP's message of 'proud Britian betrayed by immigrant invaders' - which is closely tied to their apparent love of feudal England.

And that's literally feudal. Not just metaphorically. The BNP have just started a campaign to bring back Magna Carta as a serious constitutional document for the UK.

Since some of the greens would prefer an end to all science and industrialisation, and a return to what they think of as an organic utopia, the gap between nationalists and dark greens isn't as wide as it might be.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 08:39:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My word, what a shortcut you take there! You might be able to find some feudalists who are also in favour of living in caves, but even the more fringe anti-modernists or log-cabin livers among greenish people I know are far removed from nationalist feelings, are in fact rather more universalist.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 09:36:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not a shortcut. It may be more of a UK thing, but I can assure you from experience that the affinity is there.

It's not universal, but it's far from unheard of.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 10:26:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By all accounts, Britain does have more than its fair share of radical environmentalists. I suppose that's only to be expected, because (unlike anarchists, communists and other radical socialist movements) it is a kind of "safe" radicalism that doesn't actually threaten any established power groups.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 03:12:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
britain's anti-hunt, anti-vivisection, anti-motorway/airport brigades have been tenaciously and sometimes virulently activist for decades.

as for that kind of radicalism as safe and unthreatening to established power groups, the powers that made it harder to be a 'traveller' in the UK than any other european country sure felt threatened, as did those who wanted to build infrastructure where locals didn't want it.
likewise i'm certain that the protesters who climbed trees and refused to get down rather than have them cut to make way for some nightmare or other, felt threatened too, so it cuts both ways.

the rush to a surveillance state in england also points to the idea that certain powerful people were really terrified of losing control, imo.

could any country other than england have produced george orwell? only kafka shares that level of perception of the relationship between individual and state, that i know of.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 15th, 2009 at 02:39:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]