Surely it can't happen here.....can it?
July 26, 2015 9:15 AM   Subscribe

 
I was surprised that this article seemed to downplay the role that leftwing parties becoming neoliberal and, as the article mentioned, advocating for abandoning the welfare state in favor of the competitive state plays in this trend. The racist, anti immigrant parties couldn't attack from the left nearly as easily if the ostensibly social democratic parties weren't selling out the interests of their economically vulnerable and working class constituents in favor of the increasingly absurd and ravenous demands of corporate capitalism.
posted by overglow at 9:49 AM on July 26, 2015 [39 favorites]


C.f. Völkisch equality under the Nazis.

One of the things that makes the far right in the US remarkable is that it hasn't needed to couple its hollow class-warfare rhetoric with social welfare programs to build its impoverished provincial base. The SD is pursuing a well-tested path to power.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:51 AM on July 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


Well, what is the left doing about this? We seen article after article about how the populist far right is much better at stirring up support and appearing more authentic and compassionate about the common citizen than leftist parties. When will the left finally do its duty and support economically leftist policies?
posted by Apocryphon at 9:59 AM on July 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


The anti-intellectualism or anti-elitism language is classically fascist stuff. Police working hard to arrest left-wing protestors. Lots of red flags here.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:00 AM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Gay Pride, welfare... what will these rightists take next?
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:04 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


National Socialism, what it says on the tin...
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 10:15 AM on July 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


Norway resident and citizen here. Live right smack dab in the middle of Oslo.

These articles are somewhat hit and miss when it comes to interpreting societal feelings and politics. Is there a backlash against immigration and the social safety net? Yes. Is it as pronounced and long lasting as some would make it? No.

Sweden is a great example of a Nordic and more to the point, a European wide realisation that current policies haven't really delivered towards integration during the course of the last 30-40 years. In Norway it is the same. What makes a big difference though, is even if there is a "rise of the right", all of us are dependent on coalition governments that are inclusive of the left to right spectrum.

And in the Nordics, lets just be a little bit more honest about our politics. Even the right is still left of center compared to other European countries and much more so compared to a hyper capitalist country like the USA.

Sweden, much like Norway has always taken in immigrants/asylum seekers as the highest per capita around the world. The biggest problem has been while we are willing to extend our hands to help, governments have more often than not acted without a long term plan to bring people into society. That in itself has created a situation where we have disaffected people, and rightly so. I personally find it a travesty in Norway that we, as a nation, have not invested in future planning for immigration nor finding and identifying pathways to being a part of our very unique and special culture.

Is there a quick fix? No. But ask my wife and everyone we know if we support higher taxation and plans to remedy the situation, the answer is overwhelming YES even though our national sport is complaining about how good our lives are. We also love to complain about our taxes, but most of the population overwhelmingly support the current social social safety net, regardless that it will cost much more in the future.

The biggest challenge for the Nordics now is how to manage growth. One of the things the USA does very well albeit with some major caveats is deliver on the promise if you go there, within a generation or two you will be integrated come hell or high water. For us mass immigration is a relatively new concept. It is one thing to say you stand as a beacon of liberalism but another to deliver in practice. That is where we are.

Politicians are stuck walking a thin line and especially in the case of Sweden where some cities have non ethnic rates of over 70% (Malmö as a great example), it is easy to see why such a message gains traction.

The sad reason articles and parties like this exist in the Nordics is really down to the fact successive governments have only extended a helping hand which human being every deserves, without looking towards the future needs of its old and new citizens.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 10:17 AM on July 26, 2015 [53 favorites]


It strikes me that the traditional left/right European political dichotomies are slowly being replaced by another sort: tribalism vs. cosmopolitanism. And with that shift, the old fears that everyone pretended were dead with the defeat of mid 20th century fascism are resurfacing.
posted by Chrischris at 10:19 AM on July 26, 2015 [11 favorites]


Icelander here. While Iceland's political history since independence has been dominated by the conservative party, our current government is led by the hilariously-named Progressive Party who, while ostensibly center-right, have been drumming up the nationalist, populist, xenophobic, privatize-everything chorus beyond what even the conservatives imagined.

I think a large part of what happened in our context is, after the 2008 crash, the two left-wing parties were voted in with the hope of change from the bad old system ... and promptly abided the IMF, austerity, "let's consider mixing private management of public services" and so forth, pretty much offering more of the same as before. Since then, the Right has hijacked the discussion, and the Left has been reactive. I understand this is a problem across Europe, too. The Right is controlling the dialogue, and the Left is just reacting.

If we hope to steer this around, the Left needs to stop reacting and start proacting. They need to offer actual alternatives that don't abide the standards and conditions of conservatives (such as arguing how public health saves money - I mean who gives a shit, it's not a profit engine; it's supposed to heal the sick!) instead of playing whack-a-mole with their bonehead ideas.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 10:31 AM on July 26, 2015 [18 favorites]


One of the things the USA does very well albeit with some major caveats is deliver on the promise if you go there, within a generation or two you will be integrated come hell or high water.

Only because by and large American culture is a lonely and isolated consumerist individualism. That's easy to integrate people into. All you have to do is sit them in front of a TV.
posted by srboisvert at 11:03 AM on July 26, 2015 [11 favorites]


Anybody else wonder why historically center left parties the world round (perhaps starting with the US and UK in the 70s and 80s and solidified in the 90s) have come to advocate the neo liberal technocratic agenda? Greece voted in favor of the leftist government's "no" and literally a week later that very same government says "yes". Perhaps not that neat and tidy, but years of this throughout the supposedly democratic world (albeit not as dramatic as greece) makes you wonder wtf is held over politicians' heads after they get elected.
posted by the lake is above, the water below at 11:07 AM on July 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


One of the things the USA does very well albeit with some major caveats is deliver on the promise if you go there, within a generation or two you will be integrated come hell or high water.

It's hard not to integrate when you're not given much of a choice. Your children will probably get some ESL schooling, there might be some official documents in your language and you'll get an interpreter if you wind up in court but beyond that the government has little interest in accommodating your language and culture. Adapt and flourish or resist and languish it's all on you.
posted by MikeMc at 11:18 AM on July 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Reporting in from Sweden. SD has always had the privilege of a populist party not in power allowing them to promise expenses without funding. They're promoting increased spending for the elderly, more money towards education, more state funding for everything that their mostly rural base desire, all without raising taxes or cutting other expenditure apart from immigration. They're selling the idea that all this is possible if we just slash spending for immigrants.

Of course, no serious economist think that their proposals are viable. They have been able to make their voters believe that there's a huge amount of wealth available that is now squandered on immigrants. It's easy to promise reforms that you cannot fund when you're not in power. If they do continue to grow, eventually they will have to face the economical facts. Sadly, their continuing growth seems to indicate that they won't implode before given the chance to influence national politics, a role that the established parties have so far denied them by refusing to cooperate.
posted by delegeferenda at 11:54 AM on July 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


Dane reporting in from Scotland (caveat: I left Denmark partly because of Danish People's Party).

SD has always had the privilege of a populist party not in power allowing them to promise expenses without funding.

Ding. Same goes for DPP - they became the country's second-largest party after the general election and they still opted to pass the reins to Venstre (a neo-liberal party). Accountability is not their strongest point.

DPP is not an overnight success. They've been building support on the ground for years and have managed to set the discourse. They're popular in most places - not just Jutland - and they poll between 31-35% in my childhood region (just an hour from Copenhagen).

And it's the casual racism that gets me every single time. I left almost ten years ago because I could not bear to let my (non-Danish) boyfriend move to Denmark. It's gotten much worse since then. The casual racism is everywhere - DPP have been so successful in creating a certain kind of discourse that Danes no longer notice their casual ever-day racism. This is a popular amusement park in Denmark and when some people pointed out it was problematic, people really didn't know why the amusement park was being offensive.
posted by kariebookish at 12:16 PM on July 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


“They’re at the centre of the spectrum. They take their policies on immigration from the right and their policies on defending the welfare state from the left.”
That is not how centrism works, dude.

This is just pure small-c conservatism. They like things the way they are and don't want them to change (for themselves, at least). It's a lefty kind of conservatism as compared to other kinds because the status quo is leftier than other status quos.
posted by Etrigan at 2:32 PM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Anybody else wonder why historically center left parties the world round (perhaps starting with the US and UK in the 70s and 80s and solidified in the 90s) have come to advocate the neo liberal technocratic agenda?

It's because they are not genuinely socialist parties of and for the workers. They are - like every party - essentially capitalist elites.

As politics has professionalised, the ranks of its members are swelled in ever greater number through dynasties, or the political system itself. Most politicians on either party these days do not have any background outside of politics - or if they do, they have nonetheless been embedded in the political establishment from their early twenties in one form or another, because they are following politics as a career, not as a representative function. In Australia, this is, sadly, frequently true of our union organisers too.

These people advance a neoliberal technocratic viewpoint because they are its prime beneficiaries in their privileged lives - demonstrated by not only their lifestyles, incomes, and power, but the the monsoonal troughs of cash that regular bucket down on them from capitalist interests. They are in fact, avatars of a neoliberal technocratic viewpoint, hence why they are so interchangeable, they just fill the role.

When you richly benefit from a capitalist culture, it's been inculcated upon you since birth, you are literally paid to champion it, and it is your culture - you rarely if ever mix with anyone outside it - of course you will champion it.

It's actually a wasting disease that's slowly eating away our democracies - and in doing so it's driving huge amount of cynicism, disgust, and apathy in our political systems; unprecedented swinging election results as the public desperately searches for an alternative and is disappointed again and again; and the appeal and rise of very dubious 'outsiders' ranging from the fascist, to the insane (thankfully, once these outsiders, too, are absorbed by the political system, they rapidly become insiders and tend to lose most of their appeal).

No joke, neoliberalism scares me more than the fascists. Neoliberalism is what will let the fascists take power.
posted by smoke at 4:08 PM on July 26, 2015 [24 favorites]


Norwegian here. The left/right dichotomy is not very useful any more, as several commenters have pointed out. Xenophobia, weak or strong, is the one traditional "far-right" element these parties have in common. Mostly they are populist, and tend to over-promise when in opposition, which Norway's Progress Party has gotten a feel for, recently coming into a position of power and having to swallow one camel after another.

As Funmonkey1 points out, these articles tend to be a bit hit and miss, but I'd say this is one of the better ones.
posted by Harald74 at 11:31 PM on July 26, 2015


I would agree with everything that smoke wrote except the following

These people advance a neoliberal technocratic viewpoint because they are its prime beneficiaries in their privileged lives -

No. I know of plenty of young people with working class roots in the UK, for example, who enter politics with genuine interest to reform things on issues and justice, and slowly get morphed into the professional creatures that they become because of the machinery of party politics - the endless compromising, the influence of lobbying and the media in order to be successful, the constant mixing with the handmaidens of the powerful. Its a quite deliberate process; but not all politicians were, to paraphrase you, "born to become capitalist enablers".

The other thing I'd like to add, is that technocracy in and by itself is not a bad thing. The world is complex! An appeal to grassroots bottom-up, layperson politics is a tough sell in the case, for example, of multiple overlapping environmental regulations or international trade. We need experts! We want technocrats who understand these issues and their complexities, but we want them IRREVERSIBLY YOKED to a vision of justice and true democracy, not just greasing the wheels for the existing elites and their own propagation of power.
posted by lalochezia at 6:07 AM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anybody else wonder why historically center left parties the world round (perhaps starting with the US and UK in the 70s and 80s and solidified in the 90s) have come to advocate the neo liberal technocratic agenda?

Because neoliberalism is cosmopolitan. Which is a variation on what smoke said, but our economic "betters" are all cosmopolitan, hailing from Manhattan or D.C., sneering at the hillbillies in "flyover country" who refuse to grasp the logic of trickle down, etc. Just as the cosmopolitan who maybe doesn't have a lot of money looks down on the "flyover" bumpkins for their outdated views on, say, sex and gender.
posted by kgasmart at 10:28 AM on July 27, 2015


It sounds like some of y'all are talking about "elite co-option". Pull the cream of the downtrodden into the system, and all that will be left for leadership outside the system are the wackjobs and idiots. Then you can point to any alternative to the system and say, "See? Clearly any alternative to the system is *just crazy*, so we have to stick with what we've got."
posted by clawsoon at 11:40 AM on July 27, 2015


I left Denmark partly because of Danish People's Party

Curious to know more about this. Are you an immigrant who felt unwelcome, or an ethnic Dane who objected politically to their platform?
posted by theorique at 12:31 PM on July 27, 2015


Curious to know more about this. Are you an immigrant who felt unwelcome, or an ethnic Dane who objected politically to their platform?

[Just read later on in your comment - my bad for not reading further.]
posted by theorique at 12:46 PM on July 27, 2015


I feel I should be commenting on this - from Jutland.
Here, I know a lot about the frustration people are feeling, but I also see an intellectual laziness. It's not that people are stupid. They aren't. It's that taking responsibility for your own situation is challenging, and that in this part of Denmark/Scandinavia, it has never been an issue before now.

In a way, city and country have reversed, here in Denmark. When I was young, the countryside was prosperous, new industries were growing, and everyone wanted to live in the exurbs or the real country. It was embarrassing to be forced by circumstance to stay in the city.

In the city, when I was young (and up to 33yo), the housing standard was way below any western city. We had no bathrooms, or even private bedrooms. There was no heating. From the middle 70's immigrants came in from the Balkans and opened new shops and restaurants which were very welcome, because the immigrants were better than "ethnic" Danes at living on a stone. My local Turkish Grocer had a cookery school for single parents. He was the star of the neighborhood.
Denmark was a very rich country in 1980, but Copenhagen was a third world country, filled with poor addicts, students, old working-class people and immigrants, and the immigrants were the most succesfull and they were embraced with no doubts.

During the mid 1990's, the government realized that one can not have a country where the capital is a failure. However, they were not going to pay for a rebuilding of Copenhagen. So they forced the municipality to sell off all public property in Copenhagen. And today Copenhagen is a capital completely divorced from it's country.

This is obviously much more complicated than I can ever recount it.

At the end of the day,, I think several comments above have it right: we have succeeded in creating an almost perfect welfare society, but we still need to figure out how that will work in a situation where production and even service is globalized.

An important aspect which is almost always ignored by the nationalists is that we are under-populated. We need people! and the politicians know this and are obviously lying when they claim otherwise.
posted by mumimor at 1:52 PM on July 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


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