The New Left, both in Europe and the United States, is the old left reanimated by an economic downturn.
In France, former Trotskyite Jean-Luc Mélenchon is being pushed forward politically by a favorable communist wind at his back. It is said that M. Mélenchon’s public rallies rival those of President Nicolas Sarkozy in size and intensity.
The Financial Times reports:
“His policies, including rescinding the new EU fiscal discipline treaty, raising the minimum wage from€1,200 to €1,700 a month and confiscating all income above €360,000 a year, go far beyond even [France’s chief socialist] Mr. Hollande’s proposal to tax income above €1m at 75 percent.”
M. Mélenchon’s poll numbers have surged from 5 percent two months ago to a high of 17 per cent in more recent days, a reaction in conformity with Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.
M. Mélenchon’s recent popularity is undoubtedly a reaction to austerity measures adopted in Europe that, some suppose, will reverse a crippling economic downslide. The painful austerity measures – now imposed in stricken parts of Europe by economic and autocratic technocrats – are themselves a predictable reaction to unsustainable increases in the cost of labor.
The communist-socialist-union led opposition to austerity measures designed to reverse the European downslide should be viewed as a reaction to a reaction. Newton’s Third Law of Motion may be applied repetitively to every action-reaction sequence.
The same economic forces roiling Europe – extreme debt, unsustainable social programs, timid governments committed to preserving an enfeebling status quo, a radical disproportion between tax consumption and supply -- are blowing hot and cold here in the United States. The United States is not yet Greece or Spain or Italy, democratic governments captured by special interests in the grip of a seeming unending recession, now replaced by autocratic technicians who soon find themselves in disfavor. Austerity measures imposed by technocrats are both painful AND anti-democratic.
Much of Europe today resembles a pre-World War II theater in which Western countries nervously awaited the arrival of its various world altering saviors, a steam pot that brought forward Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy and Stalin in the Soviet Union. Europe is haunted today by its discredited specters. Communism has been exorcised, but its first cousin, fascism, still prowls the world, growling in China, where enterprise is brought under the domination of the state, waving cheerily in quasi-monarchist Muslim saturated Middle Eastern countries. Here at home in the United States, command economies are being carefully nurtured in left of center hot beds, and constitutional restraints upon the withering grasp of state and national governments are regarded as quaint and passé.
Passé also is a Christian infused moral consensus that has completely collapsed. One hears the moral house falling in any rap song chosen at random that entices young people to kill policemen or mutilate women; in prestigious universities that have exchanged research and study for left of center political indoctrination; in a Byzantine justice system that no longer believes in the efficacy of punishment and cannot, in some cases, even convict criminals who are clearly guilty; in racial tensions artificially induced by Elmer Gantry like ministers of the word; in the popularization of violence promoted by a morally adrift “entertainment” industry; in the rise of illegitimate births; in immodest displays of sexuality; in a suicidal birth rate that, in most of Europe, falls far short or the rate necessary to simply replace a dying and decadent civilization.
Economic disorder and end of the century moral dissolution marches hand in hand with the rise of a resurgent Islam in North Africa. The United States is exhausted – and, perhaps more importantly, disheartened – by a twenty year war in the Middle East in the course of which the country first rented out its armed services to overthrow a petty dictator and since has winked at the bloody machinations of Bashir Assad in Syria and the preposterous declarations of theocratic thugs in Iran.
The Los Angeles Times reports that a unified Western opposition to Mr. Assad is prepared to sanction Mrs. Assad by preventing her from traveling in Europe and “halting her reported spending sprees for expensive French chandeliers and candlesticks.” And just in time too. One wonders how rough-rider Teddy Roosevelt, President Barack Obama’s most recent progressive presidential hero, might have handled Assad or Iran’s development of nuclear weapons or the boy wonder of North Korea.All this social and economic roiling portends something -- but what, exactly, no one seems to know.