Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

A Warning From Finland



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 (The Worker). He is the director of the Institute for Globalization and Social Movements, located in Moscow.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”