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.

May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
Nicolas J S Davies
Escalating U.S. Air Strikes Kill Hundreds of Civilians in Mosul, Iraq
Binoy Kampmark
Class, Football, and Blame: the Hillsborough Disaster Inquest
George Wuerthner
The Economic Value of Yellowstone National Park
Rivera Sun
Celebrating Mother Jones
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir and Postcolonialism
Mairead Maguire
Drop the Just War Theory
Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail