Monday, March 20, 2017

Will Denayer — The Dutch election, the extreme right, social democracy and the future


Backgrounder on Dutch politics and other nations as well.
While the working class has become reactionary or not remains an open question, there is no doubt that social democracy has become neo-liberal. As a result, several societal strata ended up without political representation (who defends the rights of the unemployed?; who speaks for the poor in parliament?; who represents the homeless?; who defends the rights of those abused by the institutions?). One of the results of social democracy taking the ‘third way’ (see here for a devastating critique), was the de facto exclusion from the public sphere of all those that have been on the losing end of globalization, outsourcing, ‘free’ trade, the capital bias in technology or lack of investment, neo-liberalism, the attack on the unions and the welfare state. The workers we met on the train in France did not rant about restoring the honour of the great fatherland or about ‘race’ or religion. It was about their work. “We are sorry,” the system has said to them for decades, “but your skills have become useless, you have become superfluous, you have become a burden on our economy and now that you are voting for extremist parties you are also a danger to our democratic institutions. They are, in the words of Hollande, the “sans dents,” those who are too poor to have dental care and, hence, have no teeth. “There is nothing to worry about,” Hollande opined. “The Front National can have the sans dents, we do not need them” – exactly as the Democrats did not need the blue collar workers in Pennsylvania (see here).
The so-called Left failed and now the Right is rising.
Today, the liberals tell you that the revolt is the back clash of the stupid masses, the uneducated, the radicals and the populists – it’s not the system, it never is. The sport seems to be to come up with the most superlative terms imaginable when engaging in quasi-religious moralisation and condemnation of the electoral temerity of the “rednecks.” The truth is completely different. Speaking of stupidity and blindness, how could the liberals ever assume that those at the bottom of the societal ladder would remain silent forever? For some, wage growth has stagnated, sometimes for decades. In Europe, the level of unionisation has almost halved over the last 30 years. Those at the bottom of the pyramid can forget about their labour rights. The political parties that, at one time, stood up for them left them behind and became champions of welfare-to-work ideology. People have been treated with neglect or with moralising paternalism, suspicion and brutal sanctions of the so-called modernised welfare state. Inequality has exploded, the rich have never been richer, businesses sit on piles of cash, but refuse to invest. According to the liberals, however, the back clash is a mere sign of collective stupidity. Sure, some fall for the fake anti-elitist and anti-establishment rhetoric of the extreme right. What did they expect?...
Flassbeck Economics International
The Dutch election, the extreme right, social democracy and the future
Will Denayer

24 comments:

Noah Way said...

See, globalization does work!

Bob said...

Speaking of stupidity and blindness, how could the liberals ever assume that those at the bottom of the societal ladder would remain silent forever?

They might have assumed that the 'bottom feeders' would organize themselves and bring forth a grassroots movement. Instead, they voted for a bozo named Trump. Instead of opposing 'neoliberalism', they support xenophobic neoliberalism on steroids.

'Liberals' have every right to view such people with contempt.

Magpie said...

Bob said...

They might have assumed that the 'bottom feeders' would organize themselves and bring forth a grassroots movement. Instead, they voted for a bozo named Trump. Instead of opposing 'neoliberalism', they support xenophobic neoliberalism on steroids.

'Liberals' have every right to view such people with contempt.


Here I'm afraid I'll disagree, Bob.

It is the liberals who have made it impossible for the bottom feeders to organise ourselves to bring forth a grassroots movement. One sees that, for instance, in the reaction to Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn: as timid as those two attempts were, the liberals sabotaged them. The Yanks didn't have much in the way of choice: for them it was either the unhinged or the crook. They picked the unhinged. Maybe theirs was the worse choice, but we'll never know how the counterfactual would have turned out.

Those are not the only examples. Every single attempt to pull out of the Eurozone was greeted with cries of chaos. In Australia, the new ACTU secretary tries to inject some life in the moribund unions and the Labor leader himself chastises her. The Greens cannot support MMT, because it's not "serious" enough.

Magpie said...

By the way, if one needs to find a target for one's contempt, I'd say that liberals are the best option.

Personally, I may not hate capitalists, but boy, if I'm going to be honest, I cannot say the same about liberals.

Bob said...

If you have contempt for the status quo, "liberals" are a prime choice.

As for the bottom feeders, would it have been unthinkable for them to vote for Jill Stein?
She was as qualified a candidate as the crook and the clown.
But no, we have our values... and believe that billionaires are geniuses who shit gold nuggets.

Some people have to learn the hard way :(

Magpie said...

Bob said...

As for the bottom feeders, would it have been unthinkable for them to vote for Jill Stein?
She was as qualified a candidate as the crook and the clown.


It wasn't unthinkable, at all. Of course Stein was at least as qualified as Clinton and Trump. I myself ain't no Yank, but if I were, I'd probably had voted for her, not because I thought she had a chance, but as a matter of principle.

Having said that, she had two things playing against her:

(1) the same liberals who sabotaged Sanders sabotaged her and
(2) she had no real chance of winning.

I shouldn't need to go any further than Paul Krugman or Brad DeLong to substantiate my first claim; but I will:

Jill Stein’s Ideas Are Terrible. She Is Not the Savior the Left Is Looking For.
By Jordan Weissmann, July 27, 2016:
[E]ven by the standards of protest candidates, Stein—whose press team did not respond to an interview request—is an absolutely awful torchbearer for the far left. She's a Harvard-trained physician who panders to pseudoscience. She mangles pet policy issues. And her cynical retelling of the past eight years has nothing to do with the reality of recorded history.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/07/27/jill_stein_is_not_the_savior_the_left_is_looking_for.html

Among other things, Weissmann -- a liberal columnist -- accuses Stein of being anti-Vaxer. That's why lefties have no choice but vote Clinton: Stein is crazy. For them, Clinton may be the lesser evil, but that's the choice they are allowed.

It is Weissmann -- a liberal columnist -- who claims that Stein is not qualified.

He wasn't alone. By July 28, Kim LaCapria, from fact-checking website Snopes, was attempting to debunk that slander:

Jill's Line
Dr. Jill Stein's popularity surge during the Democratic National Convention led to rumors that she opposes the use of vaccines.

http://www.snopes.com/is-green-party-candidate-jill-stein-anti-vaccine/

----------

As is my rule when I transcribe comments from a certain progressive blogger and from his equally progressive commentators, I won't post a link, so as not to compromise their anonymity (if that is in any way possible):

This is the blogger:

If you agree with me, then right now is when you need to commit time and money to the effort to elect Clinton, which is the only way to defeat Trump. Vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or write in Karl Marx if you live in a safely blue state, like New York or Massachusetts or California. It doesn't matter, and if it makes you feel good, go for it. But if you live, as I do, in a so-called swing state, then you have an obligation to volunteer for the get-out-the-vote effort in your state.

Full disclosure: the blogger calls himself a Marxist (that explains his reference to Karl Marx). He is urging people to vote Clinton (you guessed, she's the lesser evil), on the reasoning that a vote for Stein is a vote against Clinton. Again, that's the choice one is allowed.

This is one of his commentators:

[I]f we're talking about strategies to effect outcomes, what about the outcome we're currently facing?

(...)

I know that many disagreed with me on the grounds that they actually thought Jill Stein (with her 9/11 Trutherism) stood a chance. Not to play the amateur psychoanalyst, but those people belong in the looney bin.


----------

Some people have to learn the hard way :(

To learn the hard way, it seems, is the only choice we have left. To be honest, I wouldn't have tried to change anybody's mind.

The silver lining of that, of course, is that our masters will teach us that lesson ruthlessly. It would help, however, if we didn't have liberals around to bullshit us.

Magpie said...


And these people neither learn, nor forget, either.

Spare Us, Jill Stein

Someone who helped Donald Trump to the White House is ill positioned to criticize Democrats.
By Robert Schlesinger
Feb. 7, 2017, at 5:15 p.m.
https://www.usnews.com/opinion/thomas-jefferson-street/articles/2017-02-07/trump-abettor-jill-stein-really-shouldnt-criticize-democrats-on-devos

Again, Clinton was the choice they allowed us. We have our marching orders. The ceiling to our aspirations: the lesser evil.

Bob said...

It wasn't unthinkable, at all. Of course Stein was at least as qualified as Clinton and Trump. I myself ain't no Yank, but if I were, I'd probably had voted for her, not because I thought she had a chance, but as a matter of principle.

Well they didn't vote for her out of principle. Nor did they buy the Democrats' plea for the lesser of two evils. They voted for Trump, perhaps out of principle (disgruntled Republicans) or because the opportunity had presented itself. As Michael Moore alluded to in his devil's advocate speech, they (Michigan voters) would vote for Trump in an attempt to blow up the system.

(I'd link to the speech but I'm unable to find the full version, just the devil's advocate portion.)

The silver lining of that, of course, is that our masters will teach us that lesson ruthlessly. It would help, however, if we didn't have liberals around to bullshit us.

It would help, but it isn't going to happen. Arguments such as lesser evilism aren't going away. The Democratic Party, which is bought and paid for by corporate interests, will continue to channel disaffected voters away from Tweedledum to Tweedledee. The DNC will continue to block progressive candidates like Sanders.

Nothing will change until Americans decide to vote on principle.

Attempts are being made to reform the Democrats, but I believe they will fail. I haven't heard much from the GOP/RNC, but I imagine they will get their act together to prevent another Trump from hijacking their anointments. The next election may likely see another outsider as the only principled alternative to the status quo. Will American voters have learned their lesson by then?

When change does occur democratically, it is often small parties that capitalize on it. In other words, Jill Stein and the Greens have no chance of winning... until they do.

Bob said...

If only Bernie had accepted Jill's offer... who knows what might have happened.

Bob said...

The Greens cannot support MMT, because it's not "serious" enough.

Not so with the Australian Workers Party. We need something similar in Canada.

Magpie said...

Bob said...

Arguments such as lesser evilism aren't going away. (...) Nothing will change until Americans decide to vote on principle. (...) Will American voters have learned their lesson by then?

When change does occur democratically, it is often small parties that capitalize on it. In other words, Jill Stein and the Greens have no chance of winning... until they do.


I may be mistaken, but I think there are two problems with that.

(1) people don't just decide to vote "on principle", Bob.
(2) "principle" is a luxury not everybody can afford.

Somehow I thought you were Australian, but I think now you are from Canada, right? You are also a university graduate, if I recall properly.

I don't know how things currently are in Canada, but in Australia, things are getting worse, without reaching US level.

The Trump voters who interest us, those we are talking about, are not graduates. They are unemployed blue-collar workers and their families (not necessarilly white, although many/most may be). Their situation seems much worse than what I know we are facing in Australia.

The point is that it is easier for a Canadian graduate and an Aussie grunt to talk about principles. You are educated, my situation here is not good, but it's much better than what those guys have to endure.

There's a need for outreach, education. Without that, people won't know what principle is.

In particular, people need to be taught that there's no such thing as good capitalism/good capitalists, that "the problem doesn't seem to be capitalism, but financial capitalism" is bullshit. In fact, people need to be taught that moralising does not substitute for real criticism.

Moralistic criticism of capitalism characterises both social democracy and Fascism.

Liberal (and social democrat) criticism against those formerly blue-collar workers whom they claim deserted them, is pure moralising. Their liberal democracy is not at fault: it's those dumb workers' fault.

It's designed to divert the attention from their own failings: it's not they who fucked things up, it's someone else's fault. It's Assange, Stein, Sanders, Putler, Cormey, those dumb racist hillbillies (suddenly, all unemployed industrial workers in the US became white: 29% of Hispanic voters who supported Trump just vanish), the Elders of Zion, the Bilderbergers.

Liberals and social democrats, as much as Fascists, make people's learning difficult.

Bob said...

(1) people don't just decide to vote "on principle", Bob.

I mentioned disaffected Republicans who may have voted for Trump on principle. These are people who profess to hold certain values, and will describe themselves using various political/ideological/philosophical labels. They are distinct from people who voted Trump in hopes of blowing up the system, or out of fear that Clinton would provoke a war with Russia.

People decide to vote based on their principles all the time. Why do you suppose that blogger was making on appeal based on whether the reader was living in a safe blue state or a swing state?

Refusing to vote Jill Stein because she's a "socialist" is a rejection based on principle.
Refusing to vote for the Greens because they have no chance of winning is based more on pragmatism.

(2) "principle" is a luxury not everybody can afford.

I don't understand that statement. Being informed is a luxury that not everyone can afford. Having principles is relatively easy in the privacy of a voting booth.

Somehow I thought you were Australian, but I think now you are from Canada, right? You are also a university graduate, if I recall properly.
I don't know how things currently are in Canada, but in Australia, things are getting worse, without reaching US level.


I'm an unemployed Canuck with mental health issues. I used to be a grunt, as you put it. Nowadays I exemplify the first syllable in bumblebee.

Poverty is a reality in Canada, along with ignorance and hatred. From reading the works of Joe Bageant, things are not as bad here as they are in the US. Maybe it's just that we're more polite in person, which covers up the rot.

If Bogan culture is representative of Australia in general, then you guys are in dire straits. But surely that is an exaggeration?

I used to work in the hospitality industry and would meet Americans on a regular basis. They were relatively more affluent than the folks JB writes about in his books, but they also have their foibles. My impression is that this is mainly a personal affect, not cultural.

The Trump voters who interest us, those we are talking about, are not graduates. They are unemployed blue-collar workers and their families (not necessarily white, although many/most may be). Their situation seems much worse than what I know we are facing in Australia.
The point is that it is easier for a Canadian graduate and an Aussie grunt to talk about principles. You are educated, my situation here is not good, but it's much better than what those guys have to endure.


It is easier to be informed than it is for someone who cannot devote the same amount of time. It is more difficult to have an open mind than to have a fixed world view.

Bob said...

In particular, people need to be taught that there's no such thing as good capitalism/good capitalists, that "the problem doesn't seem to be capitalism, but financial capitalism" is bullshit. In fact, people need to be taught that moralising does not substitute for real criticism.

Marxists talk about incentives and relationships to the means of production.
"Deplorables" talk about how much they despise the other (and ultimately, themselves).
"Liberals" do as deplorables do, except that they are socio-economically more secure. They can 'afford' to entertain their brand of nonsense.

Moralistic criticism of capitalism characterises both social democracy and Fascism.

They are also pragmatic responses to the periodic crises of capitalism. The author and journalist Chris believes America is headed towards fascism.

Liberal (and social democrat) criticism against those formerly blue-collar workers whom they claim deserted them, is pure moralising. Their liberal democracy is not at fault: it's those dumb workers' fault.

It's designed to divert the attention from their own failings: it's not they who fucked things up, it's someone else's fault. It's Assange, Stein, Sanders, Putler, Cormey, those dumb racist hillbillies (suddenly, all unemployed industrial workers in the US became white: 29% of Hispanic voters who supported Trump just vanish), the Elders of Zion, the Bilderbergers.

Liberals and social democrats, as much as Fascists, make people's learning difficult.


Well, I'm not one of those affluent city-dwelling latte-sipping coastal liberals. My roots are working-class and I've lived in rural areas my whole life. What other prerequisites do I need before I'm allowed to be a critic?

I'm not a teacher. The ability to connect with people and open their minds is rare.

Bob said...

^Chris Hedges

Tom Hickey said...

.In particular, people need to be taught that there's no such thing as good capitalism/good capitalists, that "the problem doesn't seem to be capitalism, but financial capitalism" is bullshit. In fact, people need to be taught that moralising does not substitute for real criticism.

Capitalism favors capital as a factor and socialism favors workers ("labor") and the environment ("land") as factors. Simple as that. Go figure what needs to be done.

jrbarch said...

There are two types of human being.

One knows that a human is the most important, at the apex of all priorities because of Life ItSelf. The other thinks that everything else is more important; the politics, commerce, religious beliefs – culture, country, nationality, daily life, etc. For these, a Cause is greater than any human being; for the other – there is nothing on the face of this earth that matches the true potential, true beauty, unfolding undying Grace& Essence, of this tiny little animation in a tiny little solar system, in an unimportant little galactic space – we call human. Do you know, the most important characteristic of this human is its ability to feel? All of the senses are just extensions of this sensitivity of touch, and mind too. So too is the heart, except its focus is singular.

For one, each human being is a miracle: - composed of atoms born of consolidated energy, evolved over billions and billions of years, perhaps even through cyclic rebirth of the universes themselves; possessed of a consciousness capable of probing these very atoms and reaching high above to the worlds where consciousness is born; designed to descend into matter and redeem it and lift it, anchor within it Light and make of it an even better vehicle for expression, for the One who uses consciousness as a tool, just as we use the energies of gross matter. For these there is a true appreciation in the heart for Creation, gratitude and love; and from this heart is born a wisdom that is not of the world, but is a true intelligence. For these there is knowledge, of the One Self; the hidden Light behind all of creation and the power that drives the entire universe through its cycles and spirals, and infinite production of Being. It is both the greatest Architect and the greatest Economist – deconstructing and reconstructing, recycling everything. Supply and Demand driving Need.

Then there is the bitter unconscious world of man - with his countries and nationalities, his currencies and temporary possessions and obsessions, border lines and boundaries; his war and greed and utter blindness to the inner reality and beauty within himself and fellowman. His arrogance and sense of self importance as though the Eternal Energy would make its plans around the interest rate of the day, or our political divisions based jealously in ignorance. Oblivious to the most important thing which is the Breath. Without it all the experts would be dead in minutes. Without Breath, you couldn’t even be stupid.

When two or more of the first kind gather together there is a palpable stillness and sweetness in the air, a harmony and peace; and the conversation is based on knowing (not believing). You have to be able to feel to know. When two or more of the second gather together, confusion can only grow. Blind leading the blind, in the desert of everything. Instead of reporting news of the dead, day after day, we should be reporting on news of the living. How can you tell? Simple litmus test: - has the human being been given priority; or some idiot’s system to which the human being is supposed to be slave? $money and machines over man.

For me, it is time we humans stepped out from the shadow (or prison) of our nationality, commercial, political beliefs consciousness (!), and simply endorsed our selves. It is very simple. Easy to tell – the essence of a human being is kindness! So, should we see kindness turning up in every policy both domestic and international, then the human being has been given priority. For all those who insist on the ‘baseness of human nature’ we shall agree with them too: - let them be given a sledge hammer to break rocks all day long under the sun that governs their physical nature! See how long it takes them to ‘suddenly’ recognise and appeal to the kindness of their benefactors.

jrbarch said...

... Need (desire) driving Supply & Demand.

Magpie said...

Frankly, Bob, this discussion is rather confusing and doesn't seem to lead anywhere.

Take this, for instance:

People decide to vote based on their principles all the time. Why do you suppose that blogger was making on appeal based on whether the reader was living in a safe blue state or a swing state?

The blogger was precisely appealing to "pragmatism" (to use your term) and against "principle". He was urging his readers to not "vote based on their principles all the time"!

And I'm sure not one of them voted for Stein, even if many actually liked her better. Precisely the opposite of what you claim.

The blogger's argument was strategic (or pragmatic, if you insist): a vote for Stein (even if one likes her/the Greens better) is a vote Clinton won't get and that favors Trump. Trump's defeat, in the blogger's understanding, weighs more than Stein getting a few more votes.

And that is an upper-middle class, highly educated, well-connected guy. Now, you demand from less educated blue-collar workers who, on top, are desperate and unemployed to have a more principled attitude than the blogger? Does it make sense?

-------

I don't understand that statement ["principle" is a luxury not everybody can afford]. Being informed is a luxury that not everyone can afford. Having principles is relatively easy in the privacy of a voting booth.

No, it ain't. It's not easy at all. If you are drowning, you won't reject out of principle the hand from the guy who promises to help you. That's what Trump did. Sure, he is lying. But desperate people believe what gives them hope.

Stein could not give them hope, Clinton did not want to give them hope.

-------

So, let's press the reset button. What's your position, exactly?

Magpie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Magpie said...



After giving this some more thought, I think I get what's the point of misunderstanding.

I believe many people who actually voted for Clinton would have voted for Stein if they didn't fear Trump so much. They didn't vote according to principle.

I also believe many people who actually voted for Trump didn't like him. They only voted for him because the alternative was Clinton. They didn't vote on principle, either.

Trump, like Obama eight years earlier, promised them change and hope. The same voters who twice took Obama to the presidency were never credited with his victories: it was Obama who won. But Obama did not deliver. Now, those voters are being blamed for Clinton's defeat: she didn't lose, it's them who are fools.

Magpie said...

Capitalism favors capital as a factor and socialism favors workers ("labor") and the environment ("land") as factors. Simple as that. Go figure what needs to be done.

Pretty easy, true. Next time you could explain GLH and MRW that. :-)

Bob said...

Magpie,
What it boils down to is why should you vote for Jill Stein?
People who did cast their vote for her often say they did so out of principle. They didn't believe she could win, yet voted for her anyway.

There was no strategic reason to vote Stein as there was with Clinton or Trump. With Trump, there was the possibility of sending him to Washington as a wrecking ball, to disrupt or blow up the system.

I'm asking voters to vote on principle. Vote for your candidate, whether that be Stein, Clinton or Trump. Ignore lesser-evil arguments. It won't cost you anything.

I believe many people who actually voted for Clinton would have voted for Stein if they didn't fear Trump so much. They didn't vote according to principle.

I also believe many people who actually voted for Trump didn't like him. They only voted for him because the alternative was Clinton. They didn't vote on principle, either.


These are your fools. Do you wish to put up with them? I don't.

Magpie said...

These are your fools. Do you wish to put up with them? I don't.

Well, I do.

They are wrong, they have been misled, they are following a demagogue who will betray them, they are acting against their own interests, all that is true; but to the extent that they are workers, I'm with them, no matter how frustrated I might feel about their choice.

I won't write them off. I won't side with their enemies. Not now, not ever.

They need guidance and I can only try to explain to them why socialism is their only hope. They will learn, one way or the other.

It's up to you what side you take on that fight.

Bob said...

If I were doing activism I'd start in my own neck of the woods.

Here are some people whose views I respect:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cf6vAmCG3q8

That they live within 100 km of where I live is important. Are there people in other parts of the world who share similar struggles or hold compatible views? Who is on our side?