The Globalization of Hollow Politics
Continued from previous page
The abrasive Nicolas Sarkozy is France’s oilier version of Bush. Sarkozy, along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has done the dirty work for bankers. He and Merkel have shoved draconian austerity measures down the throats of Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Spain and Italy. The governments of all these countries, not surprisingly, have been deposed by an enraged electorate. And if the new governments in these distressed European states continue to be ineffectual—which is inevitable given the sacrifices demanded by the banks—the instability will get worse.
Politicians such as Obama—and, I fear, Holland—who carry out corporate agendas while speaking in the language of populism become enemies of liberal democracies. Labor unions, environmentalists, anti-war activists and civil libertarians, blinded by the images and lies disseminated by public relations offices, stop watching what these politicians do. They mute their criticism to give these politicians, whose rhetoric is rarely matched by reality, a chance. The result accelerates our disempowerment. It is also, more ominously, a discrediting of traditional liberal democratic values. The longer the liberal class does not vigorously denounce expanded oil drilling, our corporate health insurance bill and the National Defense Authorization Act, simply because these initiatives have been pushed through by the Democrats, the more marginal the left becomes. If Bush had carried these policies, “liberal” pundits would have thundered with feigned outrage. The hypocrisy of the American left is too blatant to ignore. And it has effectively left us disempowered as a political force.
The political theater staged by the Democrats and Republicans, bloated with corporate money, will not work much longer. The game will soon be up. There are four countries in Europe with socialist governments—Belgium, Austria, Denmark and Slovenia. All have had to implement austerity programs. None have effectively defied the power of the banks. This paralysis is a ticking bomb both in the U.S. and abroad. And when it explodes it will be far more deadly than anything cooked up by a group of radical jihadists.
Paris was convulsed by riots led by unemployed youths in 2005, many of them immigrants living in the depressing high-rise housing projects in the poor suburbs of Paris known asbanlieues. These riots swiftly spread across France. The French government declared a state of national emergency. Now, the simmering rage of the underclass could easily boil over again. The French unemployment rate of 10 percent is the highest in 12 years, but for those in the banlieues the rate is more than 40 percent. We in the United States have similar numbers, only without France’s health care system or safety net. And public unrest could soon pit the disorganized rage of the dispossessed against organized crypto-fascists such as Le Pen, who once compared Muslims praying on France streets in front of overcrowded mosques to the Nazi occupation.
A breakdown of liberal democracy, which seems to be where we are headed, may not bring with it a salutary change. The most retrograde forces within the corporate state, such as the Koch brothers, will lavish racists, homophobes, demagogues, birthers, creationists and gun-carrying, flag-waving idiots with money once the political center crumbles. The left in Europe, and most certainly in the United States, could prove to be too weak to battle against figures like Le Pen or those in the U.S. who rally around the perverted ideologies of the Christian right and the tea party and who receive tens of millions of dollars in corporate backing. The left, in short, may find that it has done too little too late to be an effective counterweight. And widespread discontent could very easily be manipulated by the corporate elites to ensure our enslavement. I watched this happen in the former Yugoslavia. This is the real battle before us. And it has nothing to do with the election charade between Obama and Romney and, I expect, Holland and Sarkozy.