Saturday 8 September 2018

The Struggle for Mastery in Europe

From Angela Merkel to Macron, the advocates of globalisation are now relying on voters who cling to a social model that held sway during the three decades of postwar economic growth. Thus their determination to accelerate the adaptation of western societies to globalisation automatically condemns them to political unpopularity. Locked away in their metropolitan citadels, they fail to see that their electoral programmes no longer meet the concerns of more than a tiny minority of the population – or worse, of their own voters.
They are on the wrong track if they think that the “deplorables” in the deindustrialised states of the US or the struggling regions of France will soon die out. Throughout the west, people in “peripheral” regions still make up the bulk of the population.
From a very interesting article in The Guardian by left-wing French geographer Christophe Guilluy, entitled Trump’s poll ratings are better than Macron’s, after a year. Why?

Salvini can tell an impregnable position from a vulnerable one. The French president is still learning. Every boat that appears on the southern horizon casts a sinister shadow on Macron’s invocations of European solidarity. ‘There is no such thing as a real Dane,’ Macron mused, on a recent trip to Copenhagen. Surely that not only irked Danes, but also scared some of Macron’s own voters.
Just as immigration begets immigration, populism begets populism. When nationalist parties enter parliaments, the issues they raise there change the whole context of political discussion. Almut Möller, a policy analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin, astutely told Le Monde: ‘Paris underestimated what it would mean when Alternative for Germany entered the Bundestag.’ The multicultural cant that binds political establishments together — for instance, using the word ‘refugee’ to describe an ambitious person intent on settling permanently in a European country — comes under scrutiny. What was an asset for the establishment turns into a liability, a sign of hypocrisy.

From an article by Christopher Caldwell who is always wonderful, comparing Messrs Macron and Salvini.

Even BBC News describes Sweden Democrats in one sentence “has roots in neonazi movement”. Åkesson has not a single policy that is more extreme than, say, UKIP, that so recently finished no1 in UK euro elections. This is populism, but certainly not Nazism.


  1. An interesting read.

  2. The French, Coming Apart
    A social thinker illuminates his country’s populist divide.
    Christopher Caldwell

  3. Christopher Caldwell's essay is a well-written description of France's problems, but came before France's decisive rejection of Mme Le Pen's solutions.