FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Warning From Finland

by BORIS KAGARLITSKY

Moscow.

Finnish elections don’t usually make headlines in Europe. But this spring Finnish voters managed to spoil the mood among Brussels bureaucrats and the liberal public by giving the nationalist True Finns party the third highest number of seats in parliament. The Social Democrats secured second place by a margin of only one-tenth of a percent of the vote.

This is indicative of the overall trend gaining momentum in Europe. As the financial crisis hits one country after another, voters become increasingly angry about having to make economic sacrifices. Residents of the poorest countries are unhappy with the austerity measures forced on them by the European Union as a prerequisite to receiving aid, and people in the wealthier countries do not like paying out of their national budget to help others.

Whenever free market policy fails, the only salvation offered is even higher doses of the same policy. And when the standard of living falls and domestic markets shrink, governments and central banks can find no better solution than to cut social spending, thereby lowering living standards and shrinking domestic markets still further.

That vicious cycle will continue until somebody has the courage to adopt the opposite course. But that would mean not only changing the economic ideology of one government or a group of countries, but the collapse of the entire system of current European institutions that is built upon this ideology. The need to support and maintain existing structures compels politicians of every stripe to persist in pursuing a policy that everyone, including themselves, can clearly see has already failed.

Critics of the euro have long warned that the attempt to integrate different economies under a single monetary system would not only fail to unify the people of Europe but would intensify the existing tensions between them. It has often been said the decision by most European governments to dismantle the European social model to increase competitiveness would not strengthen Europe but only spark a deep economic crisis, send domestic markets into disarray and undermine people’s incentive to work and their sense of responsibility toward society.

All of those predictions came true in spades, but even now, when skepticism regarding the European project is gradually giving way to a single ideological doctrine uniting the peoples of Europe, the political class does not want to change.

Most tragically, conservatives and the parliamentary left are fully united in their stubborn desire to continue along their chosen liberal course. Practically foaming at the mouth, they passionately defend the European project without realizing that their own actions doom it to inevitable collapse. The majority of people see the experiment as a succession of hardships they are forced to endure.

As a result, they are searching for an alternative. Not finding one in the political left, they are turning to nationalist parties that promise their voters measures for combating unemployment, government regulation of the market and, most important, the willingness to challenge the ruling structures of the European Union. But along with a protectionist economic program, voters also receive the rest of the nationalists’ ideological baggage that comes with it ? ultraconservatism, authoritarianism and xenophobia.

The longer Europe’s ruling elite persists in its flawed policies, the more devastating the eventual collapse of the entire system will be. The real question is who will come to power in their wake? For now, only the right-wing nationalists have shown that they are ready and willing.

Boris Kagarlitsky is the director of the Institute of Globalization Studies in Moscow.

 

 

Boris Kagarlitsky PhD is a historian and sociologist who lives in Moscow. He is a prolific author of books on the history and current politics of the Soviet Union and Russia and of books on the rise of globalized capitalism. Fourteen of his books have been translated into English. The most recent book in English is ‘From Empires to Imperialism: The State and the Rise of Bourgeois Civilisation’ (Routledge, 2014). Kagarlitsky is chief editor of the Russian-language online journal Rabkor.ru (The Worker). He is the director of the Institute for Globalization and Social Movements, located in Moscow.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
Roseangela Hartford
The Hidden Homeless Population
Mark Weisbrot
Obama’s Campaign for TPP Could Drag Down the Democrats
Rick Sterling
Clintonites Prepare for War on Syria
Yves Engler
The Anti-Semitism Smear Against Canadian Greens
August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail