[lbo-talk] Workers of Europe unite, you've only Euro chains to lose

Marv Gandall marvgand at gmail.com
Wed Dec 21 14:12:35 PST 2011

On 2011-12-21, at 2:46 PM, c b wrote:

> Marv G.:
> -clip- The question assumes, of course, that the interests of the
> Socialist leaders mostly coincide with those of their base across
> Europe, an assumption not borne out wherever they have governed.
> ^^^^^
> CB: Marv, with respect to the giant and varied protests in the E U
> countries where there has been austerity attacks on the working
> classes , I always say to myself that there must be a substantial
> portion of the working class that supports these attacks on their own
> material interests, otherwise the strikes and protests would bring the
> countries to a halt, and force the Social Dems to do something
> different. I have suspected that this hypothesized right wing of the
> working class is scared of the long term growth of immigrants of color
> "coming home to roost" in the former colonialist metro-poles. Anyway
> , why would the European Social Dems attack their own base unless a
> substantial portion of it supported cutting itself ? What is going on
> ?

Maybe some of our European friends on the list will answer more fully. If Canada's social democratic party is any guide - and this would also apply to the Democratic base in the US, as well - they do not "support" the cutbacks as such, but grudgingly bow to their leaders' rationale that the right wing will cut even more deeply and attack the very foundations of their social gains and institutions, ie. lesser evilism. The parallel is trade union majorities who accept concessions in pay, benefits, and work rules as as a means of staving off what they fear will be a worse alternative (layoffs).

The social democratic and trade union leaders, for their part, especially since globalization and tech change eroded the power of the organized working class, view the relationship of forces as adverse, fear the bond markets, and are consequently reluctant to mobilize their followers in any deep and sustained confrontation with international capital.

Perhaps racism plays a part amongst trade union followers of the right-wing parties in France, Italy, Hungary, Austria, etc., but I don't think this is true of the majority. The trade unions are more racially and ethnically heterogeneous than they used to be.

You started by saying thete have been giant and varied protests in the EU countries, which would suggest a "substantial majority" are not as passive and accepting of austerity as you go on to say. And as the threats of the Portugese social democratic leader (admittedly now from the safety of opposition) to use the "nuclear threat" of a full and unilateral default indicate, the growing mass protest from below is placing pressure on these left-centre leaderships to adapt. But that is also true of many bourgeois politicians and pundits to their right who have concluded it is in the political and economic interests of the system to halt or slow down the austerity drive and to restore economic growth and social order.

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