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Whatever his personal failings, François Hollande seems emblematic of the decline of social democracy which lost its primary raison d'être when the Soviet Union died and western elites no longer needed to fear a socialist revolution. Social democracy was the price they were prepared to pay to stave off that terrible vista.  Ever since then global capital has been flexing its muscles, playing off one government against another and threatening recalcitrant unions with divestment to another market.

Indeed we don't have countries any more, we have markets. Most global corporations don't break down their numbers by country any more, we are all part of the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) region. Profits are reported where taxes are the lowest, production is located where labour costs are lowest, and products are sold where they can command the highest prices.

And the thing is, nation states not big enough to dominate a market on their own haven't yet devised a strategy to combat this. Nationalism is the inchoate response, but it merely compounds the problem.  The EU is the best solution we have, and even it has failed miserably.  For all his incompetence, Hollande has delayed this process almost as well as any: France is still a functioning social democracy.  As the UK is about to find out if it votes for Brexit, the alternative is even worse.

There is only one long term global solution, and that is for global political institutions to wrest control from global corporations, and that isn't even on any political agenda yet.  For the foreseeable future we will live on democratic islands in a rising corporate sea.  France, for now, is still one of the hold-outs. A returning Sarkozy wouldn't make that any better.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jun 19th, 2016 at 01:46:23 PM EST
People fought back with considerable success against the demands of capitalism before the Russian Revolution! The fall of the Soviet Union is not the end of the world for those trying to protect society from the destructive effects of capitalism. I am heartily sick of that meme. Get over it and focus on what needs to be done.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 19th, 2016 at 05:35:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
characterisation of France as a social democracy. Politically, it is not, though the social environment has all the trapping of one.

The post-war settlement was essentially brokered between the Gaullists, who held (mostly) the levers of power, with an able contesting partner accross the negotiating table in the persons of the PCF and the CGT. The post-war settlement and what was acheived in terms of social progress essentially was the result of that partnership, and in many aspects should probably be considered more a patriarchal capitalism, with a strong sense of social responsability, buttressed by a strong PCF and left unions who kept the other side honest.

The PS has always been the odd man out in this configuration, and its attempts to insert itself into the settlement in order to push the interests of its electorate (the PS is and pretty much always has been a petit bourgeois party, core electorate being functionaries and especially the corps of teachers) have been mostly contested by both the historical left and the right as well. Jérôme, a perfect representative of the PS view, would often joke with me about my party tendancy to "collaborate" with the right, this is a fairly strong current of opinion within the PS to decredibilise those to their left, with increasingly weak results.

Now, what we are seeing is that the PS insertion into that settlement is seen by popular opinion as illegitimate. This government, and not just Hollande, is plumbing the depths of democratic credibility, and in so doing is setting the stage for a crushing majority for a right which has shed its Gaullist sense of social responsability. And, in the extreme divisiveness the present government is employing in attempting to maintain legitimacy, it is consciously undermining the remnants of the actual left which contributed to the social post-war settlement, and which could actually continue to act as a counterpoint to the crushing majorities that the right parties are likely to enjoy in 10 months time.

France may look like a social democracy, but it really isn't one, and François Hollande's presidency, far from protecting the post-war settlement, is fatally undermining it. This is a reason for the street protests, the strikes without end. And it is the reason that Jean-Luc Mélenchon, imperfect as he is, is far more popular on the left than anyone associated with François Hollande or Manuel Valls.  

by John Redmond (Ladybeaterz@NolesAD.com) on Mon Jun 20th, 2016 at 05:17:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that France is not a social democracy in the sense that it has typically been run by a social democratic party:  rather that social democratic policies have been implemented as the outcome of a collaboration between left and right, often not including the ostensibly social democratic PS.

In some ways this is similar to Ireland, where the ostensibly social democratic Labour party has rarely been anything other than a marginal player in national politics, and most of the actually social democratic policies have been implemented by Fianna Fail - the Irish Gaulist Party.  It was Fianna Fail which initiated the building up of a large range of publicly owned semi-state enterprises in all sectors of the economy; the development of close union/government working arrangements through National Partnership agreements and the implementation of a good deal of social and employment law protections for workers as a result.

No one would call Fianna Fail a social democratic party, any more than the Gaulists, but we can see the degree to which their policies ended up with a distinctly social democratic tinge by the degree that their neo-liberal successors are now trying to dismantle their achievements of state led development and cooperation with leftist forces in society.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 20th, 2016 at 05:53:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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