Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hold on There, History Ain't Over

Electoral results last week in Europe indicate that the idea the free market capitalism and its close cousin, liberal democracy, have yet to conquer the world, leaving humanity in an omega state in which we just work out the details.

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In fact, the imposition of austerity measures across Europe has woken the spectre of  ultra right wing nationalism.  In Greece, a neo-nazi party gained a foothold in the legislature by winning 21 seats, and in France, Marine Le Pen, the presidential candidate for the far right Front National, gathered 18% of the vote.

As my history teacher used to say, "a drowning man will clutch at a dragon."

But what I find more interesting is that the French elected a socialist president, Francois Holland.  Since the demise of communism, there hasn't been an ideological alternative to the pensée unique, the gospel according to Milton Friedman, his disciple Alan Greenspan, and the many followers of the dogmatic belief that if you let the greedy, lying bastards have their way, it will all work out in the end.

As we all know, the French have this particular way of doing things that can be best described as being quintessentially French.  They take the ideals of the Republic, liberté, égalité, fraternité, very seriously.  If I'm not mistaken, during the French Revolution they beheaded almost all of the members of their top 1%.  That would explain why there isn't much opposition to the imposition of a financial transactions tax, better known as the Robin Hood tax.

Already, the minions in the global financial sector are starting to squirm.  They are used to having their way.  It's one thing if a small country like Greece defaults on their debt obligations -- just boot them out of the Euro -- but it's quite another when the fifth largest economy in the world starts to stray.

In a few weeks, we will learn whether the socialists will have retained their control of the French legislatures.  If so, I can easily imagine the French telling their Anglo-American colleagues that when it comes to economic matters, mange d'la marde

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