Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bill Mitchell — Syriza must stay left of the line – more is at stake than Greece

There were regional elections in the autonomous community of Andalusia (Spain) over the weekend which saw the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) hold onto power. The results showed that the left-wing political party – Podemos – which received nearly 8 per cent of the Spanish vote (5 seats) at the European Parliament elections in May 2014, was third in the Anadulusian election, gaining 15 of the 109 seats. The parallels with Syriza in Greece are now routinely being made. I am forming the view, however, that unless things change rather dramatically in Greece, Syriza may actually end up only undermining progressive agendas in Europe as they self-destruct under the iron fist of the Troika (I do not use the terms “the institutions” or the “Brussels Group”). This is of great interest to me at present because I am sketching out a 2016 book project at present with a co-author, which broadly focuses on the demise of the left and social democratic movements in the World, although we might pare the scope down with more discussion to concentrate on Europe. Of particular interest is the morbid inferiority of the French left relative to the Germans in the Post World War II period and the way in which American Monetarism has infiltrated and built on that inferiority. Much of the design of the monetary union can be understood through that sort of lens. So a broad canvas right now but that is always the case. Of immediate interest, though, is the possibility that Syriza will set progressive causes back rather than become the spearhead for a sweeping change in Europe and the end of this destructive era of neo-liberalism.
There is no viable left anywhere at present because the left has no viable vision for governing based on a practical economic plan. So they fall back on the unworkable liberal model rather than appear "illiberal." There are other ways to structure economic liberalism rather than on the neoliberal model, but the so far the left has either fallen back on a discredited socialistic model or failed to elaborate a credible liberal alternative.

Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Syriza must stay left of the line – more is at stake than Greece
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia


mike norman said...

I don't understand all these MMT people suddenly wondering, scratching their heads, admonishing, Syriza, as to how they have to "stay left" when it was plainly obvious from the minute Tsipras back-tracked, even before the election, that exiting the euro was not an option. Then with the selection of Varoufakis, who has been repeating this very same thing and the party's unachievable and fantasy goals. The quest for German war reparations. It's total folly. I though Bill Mitchell was smarter than that.

I said it here and I said it here and probably a lot more places, but I just don't have time to go look it up.

These Progressives--everywhere--have zero BALLS. ZERO.

Dan Lynch said...

Agree with Bill. To his history of how the welfare state was discredited, I would only add that the collapse of communist countries played a big role, too, allowing the right to claim "there is no alternative."

It's debatable whether the collapse of the USSR was due to economics, or to other factors. Governments and empires collapse for a variety of reasons.

If the Kiev junta eventually collapses, will we say "see, that proves that capitalism doesn't work?" No, we'll just assume that the Kiev government was corrupt and incompetent. Why don't we make the same assumption about the Soviet bloc governments?

This is part of another strand of the demise of the left in Europe which our book will explore – the obsession by the educated left in Europe with the concept of ‘a grand Europe’ as an expression of modernity and sophistication.

Agree. There is a Rodney King style wishful thinking that "can't we all just get along?"

The reality is that different nations have different interests. That economic competition among nations is a form of warfare.

Matt Franko said...

Progressives need to find old Theodore Roosevelt's 'big stick' Mike....


Dan Lynch said...

@Matt, agree, and that's one reason I admire Huey Long -- he was a pragmatic realist who knew how to get stuff done.