Europe Where the Right and Left Converge

 

Historian Perry Anderson is one of the luminaries of the so-called Western Marxists, that is, Marxist theoreticians who were based in Western and Central Europe, rather than the Soviet Union. He’s now a professor of history and sociology at UCLA. He used to be the editor of the New Left Review. This pedigree, I should think, would be sufficient for most on Ricochet to consider calling in an exorcist.

But I’m going to ask you to read him anyway. Just one essay, actually. It’s a piece about the EU in Le Monde Diplomatique, titled “Why the System Will Still Win,” in which he predicts that the European center will hold and the EU will survive. This is an outcome that as a revolutionary he deplores, of course.

What struck me reading it was how similar his arguments against the EU, and against Europe’s center-right and center-left parties and coalitions, are to those I’ve heard here on Ricochet — another forum where many (not all) of our members seem devoutly to hope “the system” will lose, too.

In some places, he uses a different vocabulary than Americans on the right would use. But I’m not sure he’s meaningfully describing different concepts. For example, he relies heavily on the word “neoliberalism,” which he defines this as “deregulated financial flows, privatised services and escalating social inequality.” But I don’t think this definition succeeds in distinguishing “neoliberalism” from “capitalism.” The word, it seems to me, has simply taken the place of “capitalism” in the Left’s vocabulary because after the fall of the Soviet Union, it sounded antiquated — and clueless — to say that one was “against capitalism.”

When you read what he’s written, mentally replace the word “neoliberalism” in every case with “capitalism.” I’m curious to know where, and how, his analysis substantively differs from yours. I stress that I’m asking in good faith, and I hope you’ll read his article in the same spirit, with an open mind.

The whole article won’t take long to read, but I’ll point out some of the passages that struck me:

The term ‘anti-systemic movements’ was commonly used 25 years ago to characterise forces on the left in revolt against capitalism. Today, it has not lost relevance in the West, but its meaning has changed. The movements of revolt that have multiplied over the past decade no longer rebel against capitalism, but neoliberalism — deregulated financial flows, privatised services and escalating social inequality, that specific variant of the reign of capital set in place in Europe and America since the 1980s. The resultant economic and political order has been accepted all but indistinguishably by governments of the centre-right and centre-left, in accordance with the central tenet of la pensée unique, Margaret Thatcher’s dictum that ‘there is no alternative’. Two kinds of movement are now arrayed against this system; the established order stigmatises them, whether from the right or left, as the menace of populism.

These “movements of revolt” in Europe, I’ll add parenthetically, now receive financial and political support from both Russia and the United States. For example, the largest donors to Geert Wilders’ campaign, by far, were Americans.

Also parenthetically, while he’s right to say that financial deregulation and privatisation were policies championed by Margaret Thatcher, many people overestimate the extent of financial deregulation she championed, wrongly associating the kind of reforms she advocated with those that led to the 2007 financial crisis. As I argued in this piece for the Washington Post, that’s a myth.

Like many on Ricochet, Anderson holds the European Union to be an unaccountable, massive bureaucracy that robs national parliaments of their sovereignty and subordinates them to Germany’s will.

From monetary union (1990) to the Stability Pact (1997), then the Single Market Act (2011), the powers of national parliaments were voided in a supranational structure of bureaucratic authority shielded from popular will, just as the ultraliberal economist Friedrich Hayek had prophesied. With this machinery in place, draconian austerity could be imposed on helpless electorates, under the joint direction of the Commission and a reunified Germany, now the most powerful state in the union, where leading thinkers candidly announce its vocation as continental hegemon. Externally, over the same period, the EU and its members ceased to play any significant role in the world at variance with US directives, becoming the advance guard of neo-cold war policies towards Russia set by the US and paid for by Europe.

So it is no surprise that the ever more oligarchic cast of the EU, defying popular will in successive referendums and embedding budgetary diktats in constitutional law, should have generated so many movements of protest against it.

He reviews these forces in broad outline: In pre-enlargement Western Europe, protest movements of the far-right predominate. In post-enlargement Western Europe — Spain, Greece, and Ireland — protest movements of the far-left predominate. Italy has both.

He takes it as given that pooled sovereignty and the Continent’s domination by a peaceful, democratic Germany are undesirable. These are both points that I think need to be argued, not assumed; and I think they’re both wrong. But it’s his article, not mine, and I know many on Ricochet take his side of this argument.

All the significant movements of the far-right, he correctly notes, save Germany’s AfD, predate the economic crisis. Some have roots that date to the 1970s or earlier. But they grew in influence, he argues — and Syriza, M5S, Podemos and Momentum were born — as a direct result of the global financial crisis. This, in his view, is a reaction to “the structure of the neoliberal system,” which finds “its starkest, most concentrated expression in today’s EU,”

with its order founded on the reduction and privatisation of public services; the abrogation of democratic control and representation; and deregulation of the factors of production. All three are present at national level in Europe, as elsewhere, but they are of a higher degree of intensity at EU level, as the torture of Greece, trampling of referendums and scale of human trafficking attest. In the political arena, they are the overriding issues of popular concern, driving protests against the system over austerity, sovereignty and immigration. Anti-systemic movements are differentiated by the weight they attach to each — to which colour in the neoliberal palette they direct most hostility.

Movements of the far-right, he argues, now predominate because if their focus on immigration. But as he notes, and I agree, “this is typically linked (in France, Denmark, Sweden and Finland) not to denunciation but to defence of the welfare state; it is claimed the arrival of immigrants undermines this.”

In some countries, he argues, particularly France, the far-right has another advantage over the far-left:

The single currency and central bank, designed at Maastricht, have made the imposition of austerity and denial of popular sovereignty into a single system. Movements of the left may attack these as vehemently as any movement of the right, if not more so. But the solutions they propose are less radical. On the right, the FN and the Lega have clear remedies to the strains of the single currency and immigration: exit the euro and stop the influx. On the left, with isolated exceptions, no such unambiguous demands have ever been made. At best, the substitutes are technical adjustments to the single currency, too complicated to have much popular purchase, and vague, embarrassed allusions to quotas; neither is as readily intelligible to voters as the straightforward propositions of the right.

Now, what I think I detect in his tone is a reluctant admiration of the far-right: They’re the only ones, he seems to be saying, who are really willing to tear the whole system down and to use whatever levers need to be used to do it. We’ve seen a lot of this, historically: the far-left has always been vulnerable to co-option by the far-right; the segment of the population that for temperamental or socioeconomic reasons is drawn to revolution tends to be drawn by the group that promises it more convincingly, rather than the one that’s ideologically most pure. Modern nationalism was one of the earliest leftist ideologies; it emerged in the French Revolution. National Socialism was called National Socialism because that’s what it was. And so forth.

But to Anderson’s dismay — and to my relief — he concludes that anti-systemic parties have no hope of succeeding in Europe:

Polls now post record levels of voter disaffection with the EU. But, right or left, the electoral weight of anti-systemic movements remains limited. In the last European elections, the three most successful results for the right — UKIP, the FN and the Danish People’s Party — were around 25% of the vote. In national elections, the average figure across western Europe for all such right and left forces combined is about 15%. That percentage of the electorate poses little threat to the system; 25% can represent a headache, but the ‘populist danger’ of media alarm remains to date very modest.

I hope so, although I worry he may be wrong.

Now, he attributes the lack of enthusiasm for anti-systemic movements (or in more traditional vocabulary, the Revolution), to the widespread fear (justified, in my view) that it would make things much worse, economically:

The socio-economic status quo is widely detested. But it is regularly ratified at the polls with the re-election of parties responsible for it, because of fears that to upset the status, alarming markets, would bring worse misery.

He seems to dismiss this fear of “alarming markets” as a form of cowardice, whereas I see it as common sense. His seem to be standard far-left assumptions: the capitalist (or neoliberal) system should be destroyed; “the markets” and their judgments are bad things, rather than the only tool humanity’s ever successfully employed, ever, anywhere, to achieve First World standards of living; and the preference of most Europeans for “less misery” is somehow vaguely contemptible, given that it’s at odds with Revolution.

I’ll let you read his explanation for Brexit, which he believes will be the last success of the anti-systemic movement in Europe.

He then proceeds to write a paragraph that might have been written by a member of Ricochet:

Trump’s victory has thrown the European political class, centre-right and centre-left united, into outraged dismay. Breaking established conventions on immigration is bad enough. … [But] Trump’s lack of inhibition in these matters does not directly affect the union. What does, and is cause for far more serious concern, is his rejection of the ideology of free movement of the factors of production, and, even more so, his apparently cavalier disregard for NATO and his comments about a less belligerent attitude to Russia.

Whether Brexit or Trump succeed in tearing down the capitalist system that he so deplores, he writes, remains to be seen. But he concludes there’s little hope of revolution in the rest of Europe:

The established order is far from beaten … and, as Greece has shown, is capable of absorbing and neutralising revolts from whatever direction with impressive speed. Among the antibodies it has already generated are yuppie simulacra of populist breakthroughs (Albert Rivera in Spain, Emmanuel Macron in France), inveighing against the deadlocks and corruptions of the present, and promising a cleaner and more dynamic politics of the future, beyond the decaying parties.

There are some obvious differences between his view of Europe and those I’ve seen here. He views Europe as the hellish apotheosis of capitalism, whereas many on Ricochet seem persuaded it’s an exemplar of a socialism no less horrifying than the Soviet Union.

It’s a lot closer to the first than the second. I saw the Soviet Union with my own eyes, and I live in Europe: Europe is nothing like the Soviet Union. Europe is tremendously capitalist and prosperous by comparison with most of the rest of the world. I think this is a good thing. There’s a lot of room for reform, but a revolution, anywhere in Europe, would be insane.

This, I’d say, is the difference between the conservative view and the populist or far-right view. My view: Revolutions never deliver on their promises and result in something far worse than what preceded them. (And if I thought that before, I think it twice as much since the Arab Spring.) Don’t tear down a fence until you know why it was built in the first place. In other words: It’s insane to dismiss as irrelevant the reasons the EU was built, and particularly to dismiss as irrelevant Europe’s history as the most bloodthirsty, aggressive and violent continent in human history. Changes to any political system, especially in an ecosystem as prone to war as Europe’s, should be made gradually and incrementally. If the EU is to be dismantled, it should be done as slowly as it was assembled.

Anderson concludes that the Left must become more radical if it’s to have any hope of destroying the system in Europe:

For anti-systemic movements of the left in Europe, the lesson of recent years is clear. If they are not to go on being outpaced by movements of the right, they cannot afford to be less radical in attacking the system, and must be more coherent in their opposition to it. That means facing the probability the EU is now so path-dependent as a neoliberal construction that reform of it is no longer seriously conceivable. It would have to be undone before anything better could be built, either by breaking out of the current EU, or by reconstructing Europe on another foundation, committing Maastricht to the flames. Unless there is a further, deeper economic crisis, there is little likelihood of either.

I don’t believe committing Maastricht (or anything, for that matter) “to the flames” is apt to result in “something better” being built. Ever.

I’d like to know — and again, I’m asking this in good faith, I’m genuinely curious: If you believe the destruction of the EU and the far-right have something to offer Europe, why? Have you lost faith in the kind of conservatism I describe, and if so, why? If you’ve lost confidence in capitalism, why? (I think many have, in the wake of the financial crisis, and not without cause.) Are the steps in your argument very different from Anderson’s? If so, where?

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  1. Profile photo of Old Bathos Member

    The globalist order was a fine thing when (a) the larger net wealth for the participating nations meant personal financial growth and security for the middle class even if the 1% did exponentially better and (b) the governing structure did not use growing administrative powers to impose cultural values openly hostile to the beliefs, mores and institutions of the middle class but instead seemed to promulgate them.

    Inequality is only a problem when declines are unfairly distributed. No working family one whose net income grows enough to put kids thru college, to fund a sizeable 401k and to buy a summer home begrudges Buffet, Gates or Jeff Bezos an extra few 10’s of millions. the siren song of the left only works when the direction and the perceptions turn downward.

    The cultural insults from the administrative class could be permitted to continue so long as (a) the system delivered enough material comforts and security and (b) there was a large enough private sphere to remain outside of the ongoing Gramsician project elsewhere. The middle class is under siege both economically and culturally.

    The deliberately engineered influx of violent, welfare-sucking, host-country-hating foreign immigrants to both assuage the oikiphobic narcissism of the administrative class and suppress the labor costs of corporations is the last straw.

    • #1
    • March 20, 2017 at 6:03 am
    • Like11 likes
  2. Profile photo of Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    The globalist order

    By which you mean?

    • #2
    • March 20, 2017 at 6:11 am
    • Like2 likes
  3. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    Sigh. A democratic majority doesn’t create a credible or legitimate governing coalition.

    When somewhere between a quarter and a third of geography with common administration doesn’t broadly buy in to the direction, basically this is just a recipe for anarchy, dissolution, domestic terrorism, and the inability to secure or control a countries territory.

    • I believe I read somewhere that the american revolution only really had the support of a quarter or so of the colonists.
    • NY state passed an assault weapons ban that nobody complied with. When there was a jail break, nobody talked to the cops. Even peaceful non-compliance can make a merry mess of things.

    Saying to one’s self “whew we dodged that bullet” and going on with business as usual is a recipe for disaster. What comes next will be even less desirable. This is a sinkhole in the body politic and will have to be dealt with.

    The most interesting thing I have seen, personally, is that all these populist movements seem to like and support each other. What do you make of that?

    This is why the amendment process to the constitution has a ridiculously high burden. This high burden is why the democrats just basically ignore it. Majoritarianism isn’t a handful of magic beans that can make all things legitimate; something too many people seem to believe.

    • #3
    • March 20, 2017 at 6:22 am
    • Like6 likes
  4. Profile photo of outlaws6688 Coolidge

    Claire Berlinski, Ed. (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    The globalist order

    By which you mean?

    You are asking this question because?

    • #4
    • March 20, 2017 at 6:40 am
    • Like1 like
  5. Profile photo of Stephen Bishop Member

    It’s always difficult to make much of a Marxist article when the basic tenets of class warfare are underlying everything they write.

    • #5
    • March 20, 2017 at 6:52 am
    • Like3 likes
  6. Profile photo of Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed. Post author

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):

    Claire Berlinski, Ed. (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    The globalist order

    By which you mean?

    You are asking this question because?

    Because I don’t know the answer.

    • #6
    • March 20, 2017 at 7:03 am
    • Like3 likes
  7. Profile photo of outlaws6688 Coolidge

    Claire Berlinski, Ed. (View Comment):

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):

    Claire Berlinski, Ed. (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    The globalist order

    By which you mean?

    You are asking this question because?

    Because I don’t know the answer.

    I just wanted to get an idea of your thinking.

    • #7
    • March 20, 2017 at 7:11 am
    • LikeLike
  8. Profile photo of Aaron Miller Member

    If UKIP effects Brexit as a minority party, then a majority is not always necessary. Of course, not every government operates like Britain’s.

    It disturbs me that you are talking about “revolution” in regard to the EU, as if it was essentially identical to a national government.

    I know what hippies mean when they say “far-right” because anything Right is always “far-right” in the major news outlets. To them, it means “the frightening, evil other” of which anything bad can be assumed. But what do you mean, Claire, when you use the term? A group that worries about cultural disintegration or loss of sovereignty?

    • #8
    • March 20, 2017 at 7:42 am
    • Like9 likes
  9. Profile photo of Valiuth Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    the governing structure did not use growing administrative powers to impose cultural values openly hostile to the beliefs, mores and institutions of the middle class but instead seemed to promulgate them.

    The current administrations are doing as they have always done which is imposing the dominant consensus culture. The problem people on the right now face is that they are no longer part of that culture.

    • #9
    • March 20, 2017 at 7:42 am
    • Like3 likes
  10. Profile photo of Aaron Miller Member

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: If the EU is to be dismantled, it should be done as slowly as it was assembled.

    How? In principle, as a Burkean, I agree. But by what practical methods can decades of anti-republican exportation of sovereignty and regulatory micromanagement be undone?

    Burkean philosophy is feasible only in one direction — the expansion and management of laws and political authorities. Gradual repeal is a pipedream. Independent of circumstances, it is easier to introduce powers and privileges than to eliminate them, easier to accrue debts than to pay them, easier to lie or import voters than to explain and persuade, etc. Conditions will always favor the natural drift toward corruption and despotism.

    As gradual as you can hope for is a staggered series of Brexit-like disentanglements, rather than all leaving at once. But that would require the politicians of the status quo you respect to exhibit some understanding of concerns.

    It’s not the general idea of a united Europe that so many object to. It’s how that goal was pursued.

    • #10
    • March 20, 2017 at 8:04 am
    • Like8 likes
  11. Profile photo of outlaws6688 Coolidge

    Apparently it is now Conservative to defend an institution of unelected bureaucrats that rules over Europe like a dictatorship by controlling country’s borders and policy. Also, the EU was only created about 20-30 years ago and World War 2 was over way before that, so to cite peace as a primary reason for the EU or even as a primary reason it was formed is nonsense.

    • #11
    • March 20, 2017 at 8:18 am
    • Like8 likes
  12. Profile photo of Viator Member

    Any essay by a Marxist must be approached with a great deal of skepticism. Marxism is a religion long past it’s sell by date. Marxists make Jesuits look like pikers with it comes to unsupportable dogma. Marxist economics is to economics like astrology is to astronomy. This sentence by Anderson is a good example “the abrogation of democratic control and representation; and deregulation of the factors of production. ” The deregulation of factors of production in the EU? What universe does Anderson reside in? Maybe he should try importing bananas into the EU for an education. At the same time the first half “the abrogation of democratic control” is correct and in concert with the notion of more regulation not deregulation.

    The crash of 2007 was caused by too much regulation, politically motivated intervention in markets, and government rules, laws and regulations so complex and byzantine that no knew or could know what cause might have what effect. It was a case of too much central planning not too little.

    If Anderson wants to find a point of agreement between left and right then he might look towards localism. Localism, the opposite of everything the EU (and Marxism) stands for, is control of people’s destiny from the bottom up rather than the top down.

    • #12
    • March 20, 2017 at 8:29 am
    • Like7 likes
  13. Profile photo of John Walker Contributor

    Perry Anderson is a professor at UCLA. Let’s calibrate his grasp on reality by examining his analysis of the most recent election in his adopted country (emphasis mine).

    These were also the conditions in which a US Republican presidential candidate of unprecedented background and temperament — abhorrent to mainstream bipartisan opinion, with no attempt to conform to accepted codes of civil or political conduct, and disliked by many of his actual voters — could appeal to enough disregarded white rust-belt workers to win the election.

    This is the electoral map, by county, of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    Trumpland and the Clinton Archipelago

    Heck of a rust belt.

    That calibration done, now we turn to his view of the evolution of the EU.

    The common market of 1957, an outgrowth of the coal and steel community of the Schuman Plan — designed both to prevent any reversion to a century of Franco-German hostilities and to consolidate post-war economic growth in western Europe — was the product of a period of full employment and rising popular incomes, the entrenchment of representative democracy and development of welfare systems. Its commercial arrangements impinged very little on the sovereignty of the nation states composing it, which were strengthened rather than weakened. Budgets and exchange rates were determined domestically, by parliaments accountable to national electorates, in which politically contrasting policies were vigorously debated.

    Precisely: the common market was popular and successful because its scope was wisely limited to reducing or eliminating barriers to trade and investment, while leaving each member nation free to determine its own fiscal, social, and cultural policy, recognising that no top-down one-size-fits-all solution will work for people as diverse as Finns, French, Germans, and Greeks.

    The whole project began to collapse at the moment ambitious politicians, dreaming of a larger stage upon which to strut, attempted to transform what had been largely a customs union into a socialist superstate with the Maastricht Treaty which created the EU in its present form. Many people, including this scribbler, predicted at the time that this would end badly, as it was founded upon a fantasy: that people with thousands of years or more identifying with their nation states or regions would, within a generation, shift their allegiance to “European” and that, furthermore, the disparate cultures of these peoples would start to behave sufficiently alike that a common currency and economic institutions could be imposed on all. This was delusional, and its consequences were immediately obvious to anybody with a sense of history—over forty centuries, every monetary union without political and fiscal union has collapsed. My belief is that those behind the Euro were aware of this and saw the Euro as a stalking horse to force the “ever closer union” they desired.

    Externally, over the same period, the EU and its members ceased to play any significant role in the world at variance with US directives, becoming the advance guard of neo-cold war policies towards Russia set by the US and paid for by Europe.

    “…paid for by Europe”? How, exactly? Would that be the same Europe that spends a fraction of its GDP on defence compared to the U.S. or its own Cold War expenditures?

    I guess when you analyse events through the lens of an obsolete and falsified theory such as Marxism, delusion comes easy.

    • #13
    • March 20, 2017 at 8:37 am
    • Like24 likes
  14. Profile photo of Old Bathos Member

    Claire Berlinski, Ed. (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    The globalist order

    By which you mean?

    The status quo. Free trade. The working assumptions of the EU, NATO, UN, WTO and the bi-partisan project of the structures to implement international law and the various national administrative correlates in place for the last 50 years.

    • #14
    • March 20, 2017 at 8:56 am
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  15. Profile photo of James Gawron Thatcher

    Claire,

    What is massively underestimated in all of this is the role played by democratic institutions in the creation and maintenance of the capitalist system which is the only recorded system that has ever lifted the great mass of the people out of subsistence poverty. Every time full blown Marxism has taken over it has resulted in a rapid descent back to subsistence poverty. I believe this is most simply explained by recognizing Socialism as nothing but a modern form of Feudalism. You remove the religious ideology & priesthood and install a pseudo-scientific ideology & priesthood. Same basic structure leads to the same basic results.

    If you wish to get more sophisticated then it is important to note that although Kant is all about individual autonomy, Hegel is not. Hegel never really accepts the rational individual making moral choices. Thus his philosophy is consistently bent toward the collectivist illiberal as should be obvious from this fact alone. Marx becomes a member of the Young Hegelians first. He is thereafter doubling down on Hegel’s mistakes. If you don’t accept individual autonomy then you don’t see the need for a strong defense of rights and democratic institutions to protect them.

    England had a keen awareness of the need to defend rights in a very practical democratic institutional form early on. Thus, England precociously advanced into capitalism in the 17th century. The English ‘Revolution’ was to defend Parliamentary priority in all legislation. This simple remedy to illiberality is a test that E.U. fails at this moment. Yet, Mr. Juncker, an unelected executive of 500 million people, warns that Britain must be punished for leaving the “bloc”. It is Mr. Juncker that should be warned that his illiberal disdain for ordinary democratic institutional protections is endangering the whole E.U. enterprise. Momentarily, the parties supporting independence from the “bloc” are not powerful enough to overthrow the entrenched elite. This can change very rapidly.

    At the moment I have been working on a pure philosophical defense of my position. Needless to say, it is very complex and requires a great deal of knowledge of Kant. I’m not sure in the short run it will be any more helpful than what I have just stated above. However, I hope that a very fundamental philosophical treatment, in the long run, will shed the most light.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #15
    • March 20, 2017 at 9:03 am
    • Like10 likes
  16. Profile photo of Aaron Miller Member

    John Walker (View Comment):
    “…paid for by Europe”? How, exactly? Would that be the same Europe that spends a fraction of its GDP on defence compared to the U.S. or its own Cold War expenditures?

    I think he meant Europe would pay the price of American belligerence, as hippies so often perceive it; not a financial burden.

    By the way, redirecting to Claire, the notion that demanding NATO dues be honored before committing to the common defense is somehow anti-NATO makes me laugh. A plea without leverage is no plea at all in politics. There must be a potential consequence if we want NATO members to pony up what they agreed to.

    • #16
    • March 20, 2017 at 9:07 am
    • Like3 likes
  17. Profile photo of Old Bathos Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    the governing structure did not use growing administrative powers to impose cultural values openly hostile to the beliefs, mores and institutions of the middle class but instead seemed to promulgate them.

    The current administrations are doing as they have always done which is imposing the dominant consensus culture. The problem people on the right now face is that they are no longer part of that culture.

    That is flat wrong. The American policies of free market, flag-waving advocacy and Cold War fighting spirit of the 1950s and 1960s when the structures of the current international order were established was in harmony with the national spirit. The anti-patriotic, citizen-of-the-world-because-am-way-too-smart-to-buy-into-patriotism militant relativism of the modern academic and cultural environment that produces the administrative class is distinctively different from the mores of the majority.

    The sneering vituperation of the anti-Trump hysterics makes it abundantly clear that in the US there is a large but not yet a majority of cultural lemmings. Their access to institutional microphones and media magnifies their numbers and influence but they are clearly not a majority.

    Europeans have not yet completed their cultural suicide but it is an open question as to what are the current core values of peoples so possessed of ennui.

    • #17
    • March 20, 2017 at 9:09 am
    • Like6 likes
  18. Profile photo of Sabrdance Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: If the EU is to be dismantled, it should be done as slowly as it was assembled.

    Burkean philosophy is feasible only in one direction — the expansion and management of laws and political authorities. Gradual repeal is a pipedream. Independent of circumstances, it is easier to introduce powers and privileges than to eliminate them, easier to accrue debts than to pay them, easier to lie or import voters than to explain, etc. Conditions will always favor the natural drift toward corruption and despotism.

    Remember Burke also said that we must bear with infirmities until they fester into crimes. He supported the American Revolution on the grounds that the Crown and the Parliament had ignored the colonies for so long, that their new demands were tyrannical -and that if the Americans didn’t slap England back, they would soon try it on their own ridings. I won’t say for certain that Burke would have supported Brexit (he was an Irishman who supported union, so he wasn’t entirely opposed to multinational sovereignty), but if he believed the EU to have become tyrannical, he’d support burning it to the foundations.

    • #18
    • March 20, 2017 at 9:09 am
    • Like8 likes
  19. Profile photo of outlaws6688 Coolidge

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    By the way, redirecting to Claire, the notion that demanding NATO dues be honored before committing to the common defense is somehow anti-NATO makes me laugh.

    Do you think Claire finds it unreasonable that there are those on the right that believe European countries should live up to their NATO responsibilities, or do you think she is fine with America footing the bill. Also, Turkey should never have been allowed into NATO, another thing many on the right believe that Claire doesn’t.

    • #19
    • March 20, 2017 at 9:16 am
    • Like1 like
  20. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher

    Viator (View Comment):
    If Anderson wants to find a point of agreement between left and right then he might look to wards localism. Localism is the opposite of everything the EU stands for, control of people’s destiny from the bottom up rather than the top down

    Oooh! The professoriate of UCLA could make a big pile of their accumulated worth and dispense it “to each according to his need.”

    They will be at daggers drawn with respect to one another within six months. I’m trying to see that as a fault, but every time I do, I get the giggles.

    • #20
    • March 20, 2017 at 9:17 am
    • Like4 likes
  21. Profile photo of Joseph Eagar Member

    I’ve thought the EU was destined to crash and burn since 2010. I remember some enterprising WSJ blogger wrote an article that year proposing a “United States of Germany” where European states would give up sovereignty in return for fiscal transfers from Berlin. Rather prescient of him as to what preserving the EU will take.

    I don’t think it’ll happen. Absent a system of fiscal transfers like we have here in the U.S., the eurozone is going to implode, and probably take the single market and the Schengen zone with it. I don’t see how the EU could survive that. It’s not really a question of whether the EU falls, but how long can Europe’s elite hold off the inevitable, and at what cost to the public at large.

    • #21
    • March 20, 2017 at 9:18 am
    • Like3 likes
  22. Profile photo of Umbra Fractus Coolidge

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):
    Apparently it is now Conservative to defend an institution of unelected bureaucrats that rules over Europe like a dictatorship by controlling country’s borders and policy.

    Apparently it is also “far right” to desire independence for one’s own country.

    • #22
    • March 20, 2017 at 9:29 am
    • Like11 likes
  23. Profile photo of Cato Rand Member

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):
    engineered influx of violent, welfare-sucking, host-country-hating foreign immigrants to both assuage the oikiphobic narcissism of the administrative

    “Globalist” has sort of become an all purpose epithet on the right, kind of like “racist” on the left. It doesn’t really seem mean anything beyond, “I don’t like you.”

    • #23
    • March 20, 2017 at 9:42 am
    • Like6 likes
  24. Profile photo of outlaws6688 Coolidge

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):
    engineered influx of violent, welfare-sucking, host-country-hating foreign immigrants to both assuage the oikiphobic narcissism of the administrative

    “Globalist” has sort of become an all purpose epithet on the right, kind of like “racist” on the left. It doesn’t really seem mean anything beyond, “I don’t like you.”

    I didn’t say the above quote, but I am pretty sure Old Bathos hit the nail on the head when it comes to defining a globalist.

    • #24
    • March 20, 2017 at 9:49 am
    • Like1 like
  25. Profile photo of Jamie Lockett Reagan

    John Walker (View Comment):
    Perry Anderson is a professor at UCLA. Let’s calibrate his grasp on reality by examining his analysis of the most recent election in his adopted country (emphasis mine).

    These were also the conditions in which a US Republican presidential candidate of unprecedented background and temperament — abhorrent to mainstream bipartisan opinion, with no attempt to conform to accepted codes of civil or political conduct, and disliked by many of his actual voters — could appeal to enough disregarded white rust-belt workers to win the election.

    This is the electoral map, by county, of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    Trumpland and the Clinton Archipelago

    Heck of a rust belt.

    That calibration done, now we turn to his view of the evolution of the EU.

    The common market of 1957, an outgrowth of the coal and steel community of the Schuman Plan — designed both to prevent any reversion to a century of Franco-German hostilities and to consolidate post-war economic growth in western Europe — was the product of a period of full employment and rising popular incomes, the entrenchment of representative democracy and development of welfare systems. Its commercial arrangements impinged very little on the sovereignty of the nation states composing it, which were strengthened rather than weakened. Budgets and exchange rates were determined domestically, by parliaments accountable to national electorates, in which politically contrasting policies were vigorously debated.

    Precisely: the common market was popular and successful because its scope was wisely limited to reducing or eliminating barriers to trade and investment, while leaving each member nation free to determine its own fiscal, social, and cultural policy, recognising that no top-down one-size-fits-all solution will work for people as diverse as Finns, French, Germans, and Greeks.

    The whole project began to collapse at the moment ambitious politicians, dreaming of a larger stage upon which to strut, attempted to transform what had been largely a customs union into a socialist superstate with the Maastricht Treaty which created the EU in its present form. Many people, including this scribbler, predicted at the time that this would end badly, as it was founded upon a fantasy: that people with thousands of years or more identifying with their nation states or regions would, within a generation, shift their allegiance to “European” and that, furthermore, the disparate cultures of these peoples would start to behave sufficiently alike that a common currency and economic institutions could be imposed on all. This was delusional, and its consequences were immediately obvious to anybody with a sense of history—over forty centuries, every monetary union without political and fiscal union has collapsed. My belief is that those behind the Euro were aware of this and saw the Euro as a stalking horse to force the “ever closer union” they desired.

    Externally, over the same period, the EU and its members ceased to play any significant role in the world at variance with US directives, becoming the advance guard of neo-cold war policies towards Russia set by the US and paid for by Europe.

    “…paid for by Europe”? How, exactly? Would that be the same Europe that spends a fraction of its GDP on defence compared to the U.S. or its own Cold War expenditures?

    I guess when you analyse events through the lens of an obsolete and falsified theory such as Marxism, delusion comes easy.

    That map is massively deceptive and underestimates the degree of division within the counties on either extreme. A lot of those counties were extremely purple. And it is more than clear that Trump won over the right number of voters in the right number of states for victory – most of those states happen to be in what is traditionally referred to as the “rust belt”: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin.

    • #25
    • March 20, 2017 at 10:06 am
    • Like3 likes
  26. Profile photo of Cato Rand Member

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):
    engineered influx of violent, welfare-sucking, host-country-hating foreign immigrants to both assuage the oikiphobic narcissism of the administrative

    “Globalist” has sort of become an all purpose epithet on the right, kind of like “racist” on the left. It doesn’t really seem mean anything beyond, “I don’t like you.”

    I didn’t say the above quote, but I am pretty sure Old Bathos hit the nail on the head when it comes to defining a globalist.

    If you’re referring to comment #14, I submit that that definition is so expansive as to be meaningless. It might as well say “globalist means everything on the globe.”

    • #26
    • March 20, 2017 at 10:08 am
    • Like1 like
  27. Profile photo of outlaws6688 Coolidge

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):
    engineered influx of violent, welfare-sucking, host-country-hating foreign immigrants to both assuage the oikiphobic narcissism of the administrative

    “Globalist” has sort of become an all purpose epithet on the right, kind of like “racist” on the left. It doesn’t really seem mean anything beyond, “I don’t like you.”

    I didn’t say the above quote, but I am pretty sure Old Bathos hit the nail on the head when it comes to defining a globalist.

    If you’re referring to comment #14, I submit that that definition is so expansive as to be meaningless. It might as well say “globalist means everything on the globe.”

    Only thing I don’t agree with in Old Bathos’s comment is trade, other than that it speaks for me on what constitutes a globalist.

    • #27
    • March 20, 2017 at 10:19 am
    • LikeLike
  28. Profile photo of Umbra Fractus Coolidge

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):

    Only thing I don’t agree with in Old Bathos’s comment is trade, other than that it speaks for me on what constitutes a globalist.

    The problem is that “globalist” is quickly becoming the “racist” of the right. Anti-protectionists are getting slapped with the label even when they’re border hawks, anti-UN/EU, in some cases even federalists. “Globalist” means something, and it’s not, “Prefers free trade.”

    • #28
    • March 20, 2017 at 10:23 am
    • Like9 likes
  29. Profile photo of outlaws6688 Coolidge

    Umbra Fractus (View Comment):

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):

    Only thing I don’t agree with in Old Bathos’s comment is trade, other than that it speaks for me on what constitutes a globalist.

    The problem is that “globalist” is quickly becoming the “racist” of the right. Anti-protectionists are getting slapped with the label even when they’re border hawks, anti-UN/EU, in some cases even federalists. “Globalist” means something, and it’s not, “Prefers free trade.”

    I agree with you but those same anti protectionists don’t really go out of their way to make their arguments to real people that are not predisposed to like free trade. Also, same thing happens the other way. How many times were people that were against TPP called ignorant and protectionists when they brought legitimate concerns about TPP, like potential loss of some sovereignty. Finally, it seems that if you are anti free trade you cannot be a Conservative, but you can advocate for the EU and you can be as Conservative as they come as evidenced by the author of this article.

    • #29
    • March 20, 2017 at 10:30 am
    • Like3 likes
  30. Profile photo of Jamie Lockett Reagan

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):

    Umbra Fractus (View Comment):

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):

    Only thing I don’t agree with in Old Bathos’s comment is trade, other than that it speaks for me on what constitutes a globalist.

    The problem is that “globalist” is quickly becoming the “racist” of the right. Anti-protectionists are getting slapped with the label even when they’re border hawks, anti-UN/EU, in some cases even federalists. “Globalist” means something, and it’s not, “Prefers free trade.”

    I agree with you but those same anti protectionists don’t really go out of their way to make their arguments to real people that are not predisposed to like free trade. Also, same thing happens the other way. How many times were people that were against TPP called ignorant and protectionists when they brought legitimate concerns about TPP, like potential loss of some sovereignty.

    My problem with discussing the TPP, especially around here, is that the vast vast majority of people commenting on it had never actually read any of it. As far as I am aware the only person who has read the entire thing is @jamesofengland. I myself have only read about 2/3 to 3/4 and I’ve read more than almost anyone else. Most of the objections to TPP were based on second hand innuendo from the conservative entertainment media.

    • #30
    • March 20, 2017 at 10:34 am
    • Like3 likes
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