Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Naive and the Cruel - The Ideological Struggle for the Heart of Europe

Part of the pro-European Union pitch relies on the promotion, mostly from Marxist intellectuals and fellow-travellers in the Academy, of a naïve anti-Atlanticist economic model which is designed to appeal to the younger generation. Needless to say, both the Atlanticist neo-liberal and this neo-socialist European model are deeply flawed but the latter is naïve where the former is cruel. Because the former is cruel, the latter becomes attractive and so it must be ripped apart by serious democratic socialists before it gets traction.

The two key issues neither side are addressing are a) the massive impending flow of refugees this year and possibly in subsequent years and b) the economic instability of the Eurozone in the context of a global slowdown not only in Europe but also in China and the US.

These people are not getting it – a perfect storm of an economic system on the edge and massive population shifts for which there has been no preparation does not lead to democratic socialism but to authoritarianism and national populism. And eventually to violence which can only be handled by the surveillance society (and not that either).

The only real solution is the restoration of flexible and responsive national democracies in a framework of internationalism (not supra-nationalism) in which democratic socialists (not neo-socialist liberals) restrain the forces of reaction and maintain ‘civilisation’ before returning to effective long term power and the rebuilding of the welfare commonwealth - and then perhaps returning to the construction of a new collaborative Europe from the ground up.

The economic projects of the European neo-socialists are doomed on massive welfare costs and the revolt of the Middle European middle classes from the taxation and inflation required. A system built on the assumption of constant high economic growth relying on cheap labour and minimal infrastructural investment has been called out by history. Eight years after the 2008 Crash, the reliance on the 'inevitable' up-turn looks more futile than ever. There will eventually be a massive structural up-turn on technological innovation (biotechnology, nanotechnology, AI/robotics) but it will be fiercesomely disruptive and our elites are simple not competent enough to handle it.

Even if they get into power, like the French Popular Front in 1936, our backwards-looking soft Left will be out of it within a year or two. The logic that destroyed Tsipras still exists within the European Project and Varoufakis can appear on TED as many times as he likes with his 'alternative strategy' but it is little more than the same old intellectual failure re-packaged for dim-witted liberals.

Worse, this is not the way to help the refugees or the working population most threatened by break down. Both deserve better - they deserve realists and not idealists, a political class prepared to get stuck in and bring peace to troubled regions, fund reconstruction for destroyed territories, turning camps into viable townships where return is not possible. We must match migration aspirations to labour shortages and not rely on spurious human rights claims and the demand for ever cheaper labour to feed the maw of late capitalism. Liberal internationalist idealism (as opposed to democratic socialist internationalism), the deontological impulse of the cultural studies departments, is at the very root of the murder and mayhem we see across the peripheries of the West.

The liberal idealists who now sit, like Cnut before the waves, at the leading edge of European 'socialism' are worse than simply naive, they are potentially destructive in that naivete, part of a failed elite instead of the vanguard of a new democratic socialist political elite (there I have said it) that will transform the condition of the people under conditions of democracy, technological innovation and socio-economic redistribution within an internationalism of free democratic welfare states.