If you haven’t noticed, there’s no more social democracy or democratic socialism in Europe. Probably the only thing left is Belarus, Moldova, Turkey, and Russia. Possibly Iceland because they told the banks to go pound sand. Greece elected a Leftist government, Syriza, that quickly went full-blown neoliberal, reportedly out of necessity. What has happened to social democracy is something that any Marxist could have predicted – the incompatibility of even trying to have any sort of socialist society in the midst of a capitalist economy.
The fate of social democracy is the what has always been the fate of social liberalism in the US and its counterpart in Canada and Australia. All of these variants have never been anything but reactionary on foreign policy – smashing the slightest sign of liberalism anywhere in the world if it even dared to peek its head out. Many governments in Latin America were overthrown for the crime of raising the minimum wage.
And most of these were overthrown by “liberal” Democratic governments. Bill Clinton set the stage for the overthrow of Aristide. Aristide’s crime? He dared to raise the minimum wage. He had investments in some factories there. So did Hilary. Hilary overthrew Honduras. The crime? Raising the minimum wage.
Even FDR, the most progressive President of the 20th century, was a raving reactionary freak on foreign policy. “Somoza may be a sonofabitch, but he’s our sonofabitch.”
Teddy Roosevelt was progressive at home but an imperialist brute overseas. “Walk softly and carry a big stick.”
The standard formula for all of these countries has always been some form of liberalism at home combined with hard right or ultra right policies that favored rightwing dictatorships, death squads, the genocide of the Left, and out and out fascism overseas. Liberal at home, reactionary abroad. And now Joe Biden, one of the most liberal Presidents in modern memory, is already treading down the same worn path.
And now the social democracies have undergone the same transformation that social liberalism, etc. has had from the start. One gets the feeling that liberalism or socialism at home in a capitalist country will always have to co-exist with ultra-right, pro-fascist politics overseas. In other words, a foreign policy of imperialism.
Most of Europe is whored to the ultra-rightwing NATO. The EU is for all intents and purposes the civilian state and NATO is the Defense Ministry of that state. Even Sweden, Denmark, and Norway are hard right countries when it comes to their NATO alliance. Finnish foreign policy has always been rightwing, a legacy of their hatred for Russia. Dutch, French, British, and Spanish foreign policy have been horribly rightwing forever now under social democratic and conservative governments both. Indeed in Europe, there is little difference between the two.
Spain strides around Latin America like a brute. Apparently they still think they rule the place as they once did.Most of this involves threats, arm-twisting, sanctions and whatnot every time countries try to assert more control over their resources, which are inevitably being exploited by Spanish corporations. Bolivia’s nationalization of oil and gas is instructive in this regard. The social democratic Spanish government was just as reactionary as the conservative one.
The French are cruel and colonialist towards their former colonies and do not allow any independent governments to form there, especially in Africa. The French and Canadians were deeply involved in the overthrow of Aristide in Haiti, apparently for the crime of raising the minimum wage. In addition, France is still demanding that Haiti repay it for its losses when the slaves of Haiti were freed and the slave-holding families were massacred. France is a social democracy.
The Dutch held a phony inquest in the M17 false flag shootdown where a Ukrainian fighter jet shot down an airliner in order to blame it on Russia. The EU was also deeply involved in this plot and especially the coverup. As were the British and in particular the BBC, the official organ of the British state. The British stole $4 million in gold from Venezuela by confiscating it. British foreign policy mimics US foreign policy in every reactionary thing we do. The UK is a social democracy.
Italy led the charge against Qaddafi and helped steal billions of his gold reserves. Italian corporations also quickly tried to get on Libya’s oil. Italy is a social democracy.
100% of the EU is sanctioning Venezuela for the crime of trying to create a social democracy in America’s backyard. No socialist country would ever sanction Venezuela. Same with Nicaragua. They’re all sanctioning Nicaragua too. Nicaragua’s even less socialist than Venezuela and Norway’s probably a lot more socialist than Venezuela.
So you see, these countries may have some sort of socialism at home (increasingly threadbare) but in foreign policy, it’s straight up full-blown reaction and imperialism, support for rightwing dictatorships and out and out fascists. The reason is simple. The economies of all EU countries are based on their multinational corporations.
Multinational corporations want nothing but rightwing dictatorship, preferably fascist, when they cannot elect hard Right democratic states. These corporations will not tolerate the slightest socialism or even liberalism overseas because they all operate on a predatory model towards the Third World.
Hence the foreign policy of all of the EU “socialist” countries is all about what’s good for the corporations that run their economies. Their corporations wish to go abroad and rape, ruin, exploit, destroy, and stripmine the economies of the Third World by exploiting their resources such that the corporations get almost everything and the countries themselves barely get a nickel.
This has always been the model and it always will be the model. So the EU social democracies have the same problem of the Democratic Party – while they can be leftwing at home to some extent, they all go hard rightwing and pro-fascist and rightwing dictatorship overseas due to their fealty to the corporations that run their economies.
One thought on “Alt Left: The Death of Social Democracy in Europe”
The domestic components of social-democracy are free primary and secondary education, free health care, old-age security, disability and unemployment insurance, welfare as income support of the last resort, progressive taxation, labor legislation to protect employees. Those haven’t been abolished yet, so we can say that social-democracy is still alive in the Western world, although it has been under relentless attack by the neoliberals since 1980 and been retrenched.
The truth of the matter is that democracy and social-democracy go hand in hand. No democracy will ever put libertarians in power. Libertarians advocate the minimal state, that is, a state which only provides those services that the rich can buy. As a German social-democrat once put it, “Nur Reiche können sich einen armen Staat leisten.”= Only the rich can afford a poor state.
Quite right! Since the rich are always a minority, a democracy cannot be a plutocracy. Even the Republicans, the most plutocratic party in the Western world, didn’t abolish Social Security or Medicare. Margaret Thatcher didn’t terminate the NHL, and social expenditure didn’t decline that much under Thatcher’s rule. In a democracy, the majority want some benefits from their government. Conservatives who hate the welfare state have to learn to live with it because, if they abolished it, they would be turfed out of office.
Social-democrats may behave like reactionary bastards abroad, but at home they aren’t just neoliberals with leftist rhetoric. If you like social-democracy, you are better off with the Democrats than with the Republicans, with Labour than with the Conservatives, etc.