The EU “Center” Embraces the Right Kind of “Right” 

The far right surges, says the BBC and CNN, but the center holds.

The far right wreaks havoc, but thankfully the center holds, echoes the New York Times.

“…it looks like the constructive, pro-European centre has held,” European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said.

“Constructive” is one way of putting it, and that’s probably true if the goal is some combination of neoliberalism, slavish Atlanticism, censorship, corruption, extreme incompetence, and more bunkers:

What exactly does the center holding mean when this is an EU backing Nazis in Ukraine and genocide in Gaza?

It would appear to signify that there will be no change in these policies. While the “right” did indeed make some gains, it was mostly nibbling around the edges:

Even if there was a complete sea change in the makeup of the European Parliament, the fact remains the governance structure of the bloc is designed to be undemocratic and the parliament has a limited ability to do much other than provide a facade of democracy. The parliament is supposed to act as a check on commission power. It has to approve legislation proposed by the European Commission, it can censure the Commission, and the European Council has to ‘take into account’ the result of the parliament elections to nominate the Commission president – although the latter process turned into a backroom disaster in 2019 when Ursula von der Leyen failed upwards into the job.

And it looks increasingly likely that von der Leyen will be back to continue her reign that has been a disaster for most Europeans:

And so we have this to look forward to, from Gilbert Doctorow: 

This means that barring some accident, Ursula von der Leyen will be reelected and the awful, self-destructive, even suicidal policies of the EU with respect to Russia will continue for the coming 5 years, if there is no Continent-wide war as a result that wipes Europe off the face of the earth.

There is some thought that the dramatic results in Germany and France, where President Macron has already scheduled new elections, will produce some shifts in EU policy:

No doubt. But what will that look like? And is it a course the commission feels forced to take or one it embraces?

What exactly is the “far right” in Europe today?

The use of the left-right political spectrum really needs to be retired, especially in Europe. As mentioned above, the “center” is for the following: war with Russia, genocide in Gaza, all types of neoliberal economic policies, and censorship of any voices that dissent from these policies. What little remains of the authentic left is anti-war and opposed to neoliberalism.

What then of the right? The term as it is used today refers to two distinct groups, broadly outlined here:

  1. Those who take a hard line on immigration and have no problem with the EU market-friendly economic policies, but advocate for more national sovereignty. Oftentimes that is expressed through Eurosceptic or anti-EU positions with a similar view towards NATO, as well as opposition to the war with Russia since it is harming the national economic interests.
  2. Those who take a hard line on immigration and have no problem with the EU market-friendly economic policies but who have abandoned their EU and NATO-skeptic views and support the war against Russia. Both 1 and  2 typically skeptical if not outright opposed to environmental and climate change policies.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is supposedly a leader of the right, but she is clearly in bucket number two. Upon her 2022 election she picked up seamlessly from her predecessor, the unelected Goldman Sachs man Mario Draghi, Meloni works well with Von der Leyen, and is a big proponent of the war against Russia despite all the damage it’s doing to Italy.

On the defining issue of the day in Europe (war with Russia), there is little to no daylight between the “productive center” and the Melonis on the right. It’s worth recalling all the hysteria over Meloni’s election back in 2022. A year and a half later, the New York Times was able to declare that Meloni solidified her credentials and “ has put the European establishment at ease. She has proved to be rock-ribbed on the question of Ukraine…”

The European Peoples Party (center), which is projected to remain the largest bloc in the parliament, is a major backer of Project Ukraine. The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) is too. ECR is led by Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, Law and Justice in Poland, VOX in Spain, and the Sweden Democrats.

Whatever opposition to Project Ukraine can be found on the right, is in the Identity and Democracy (ID) party, although it might be softening – at least in the case of Marine Le Pen’s Rassamblent National. Le Pen has begun to take a more pro-NATO line in recent months (although she has also criticized Macron over his eagerness to send French troops to Ukraine), likely in an attempt to show her “readiness to govern” much like Meloni did. It will be very interesting to see what line she takes in the French presidential campaign and how she will govern should she win.

In the case of the Meloni-style right it looks like what’s happening is the absorption of nationalist eurosceptic, anti-NATO right into a pro-NATO, nationalist right. That might seem contradictory, but  Jonas Elvander, the editor of foreign affairs at the Swedish socialist magazine Flamman and a PhD researcher in history at the European University Institute in Florence, makes a compelling argument in a piece in Brave New Europe that was featured in Links yesterday and really deserves a  full read, although I’ll quote liberally from it here:

Since the euro crisis of the 2010s, the EU has gone from projecting its soft-power outward to becoming more defensive and inward-looking, according to Kundnani. The union’s leadership today sees it as being encircled by threats, which since the migration crisis have increasingly become synonymous with non-white migrants and political instability in the neighboring regions. This point was illustrated two years ago by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borell, when he described the EU as a ”garden” surrounded by a ”jungle”.

This new rhetoric is indicative of what Kundnani calls the EU’s ”civilizational turn”; the civic and cosmopolitan elements of European identity are increasingly being replaced by an emphasis on Europe’s common cultural and civilizational heritage, that is, a more exclusionary understanding of what it means to be European.

When Ursula von der Leyen was picked as new President of the European Commission in 2019, she decided to show that she had heard the voice of the European peoples, which had just given the far right a large increase in seats in the European Parliament. This was translated into a focus on issues like migration and security, as well as the creation of the new Commission portfolio ”Promoting our European Way of Life”, a phrase first used in the early 2000s by the French socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin to describe the West European welfare states. What this new position entailed was not very clear; policy areas included migration, security, education, religious dialogue, and the fight against antisemitism (but not islamophobia). Symbolically, however, the move was significant.

In March 2020 a crisis erupted on the border between Turkey and Greece, with migrants trying to enter the EU before being violently pushed back by Greek border security. Even though the violence broke against the rules of conduct of the European border agency Frontex, Von der Leyen hailed the Greek police as Europe’s aspida – Greek for ”shield”.

Such incidents illustrate the ongoing shift in values that the Commission emphasizes, from openness and tolerance to security and cohesiveness. This turn has made it possible for the far right to rediscover the civilizational aspects of the EU and embrace it in the name of the defense of a common European heritage.

So what we have are the likes of Meloni and maybe Le Pen soon morphing their nationalism into a pan-European nationalism and redirecting frustration with Brussels and its neoliberal policies to the outside, against immigrants and Russia.

When the politicians in Brussels and the media talk about the center holding, they’re talking about keeping those opposed to war with Russia at bay, not the likes of Meloni. In fact, nationalists like Meloni are likely the prototype moving forward as her and her Brothers of Italy performed well in this election and continue to maintain high levels of support.

And they are mostly welcomed by “the center.” If these “nationalists” can bring their supporters along with them as they embrace the idea of Europe and servitude to the US, they are actually quite useful. They can help form the foundation for a cohesive European ideology (protecting the “garden”?) beyond just neoliberalism and Atlanticism.

Meanwhile, the real national sovereignists – whether on the left or right – are excluded by any means necessary. They face resistance from the media, spooks, and Brussels. If they’re fortunate enough to get past that, they must deal with lawfare and engineered economic crises. And even if they survive an assassination attempt, like Slovak PM Robert Fico recently did, politicians and media will hint they deserved it.

So that’s the choice for those on the right: meet resistance (or worse) at every turn or embrace a European-style nationalism and be granted the keys to power a la Meloni. Le Pen might be following her.

There’s still one more nationalist big fish to reel in to bring the European Project and Project Ukraine full circle and that is, of course, in Germany.

Germany Divided – Barely

The division between the center-right and sovereignist right is clearly delineated in Germany between the CDU and AfD.

But in reality there isn’t a ton of difference between their policies. All it would take is a Meloni-style shift from the AfD and they would essentially be the CDU.

The Christian Democratic Union head is a neoliberal former Blackrock man and Atlanticist to the bone: Friedrich Merz. The AfD has a neo-Nazi base of supporters, some of its members can help but make excuses and admire the SS, but it is also an ethno-nationalist party that opposes the EU, NATO and Project Ukraine because it hurts German interests.

I have a hard time believing that if the AfD softened its positions against the EU and NATO and got behind Project Ukraine that there would be any opposition by the centrists to it assuming power despite all its fascist baggage. Just consider:

  • Nazis in Ukraine who fight Russia = good.
  • Nazi supporters of AfD who want to leave the euro, kick US troops out of Germany, and make nice with Russia = bad.

Until the AfD understands what kind of Nazis they need to be they will continue to face all the tools of the EU, media, and spooks to keep them out of power. If they become Brussels’ kind of Nazis, well, things should get interesting.

It was a somewhat disappointing showing for a real antiwar and working class party in Germany, Sahra Wagenknecht’s new BSW party, which came in fifth with more than six percent of the vote. It’s tough to knock them too much as the party just formed early this year and is trying to rebuild a left working class politics that had completely vanished from Germany.

BSW and the AfD were largely believed to be in competition for big chunks of the dissatisfied working class vote, and Wagenknecht’s side tried focusing on three arguments in recent weeks:

  1. That BSW is the true representative of the working class while AfD opposes globalists in favor of a more national oligarchy. (The AfD, after all, did receive its seed money from a Nazi billionaire family.) BSW liked to point out AfD’s hypocrisy in supporting the recent farmers protests in Germany while the party’s program simultaneously calls for removing farmer subsidies. “This is not an anti-system party. It is the system, but undemocratic and mean,” says BSW General Secretary Christian Leye.
  2. That the AfD is an ethno-nationalist party with racial positions that harken back to some dark chapters in German history while BSW wants reduced immigration that would benefit the German working class.
  3. BSW also describes itself as the only consistent peace party in the Bundestag. The AfD, on the other hand, is not at all opposed to militarization. In fact, the party calls for the full restoration of operational readiness of the German armed forces, independence from NATO and using the military only for German national interests.

In the end Wagenknecht’s party primarily took votes from Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) and her former party Die Linke.

That makes sense, as the whole reason Wagenknecht broke off to form her own party was because of how the center continues to swallow up the left. The SPD, founded in 1863, dropped its commitment to Marxism in 1959. Die Linke, Wagenknecht’s former party, Die Linke, which has completely collapsed after abandoning nearly all of its former working class platform in favor of identity politics in an attempt to appear “ready to govern.” Much like the Greens, The Left increasingly stands for neoliberal, pro-war and anti-Russia policies.

BSW will next get to measure its appeal in state elections in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg in the Fall. One problem for Wagenknecht is that the media and political environment In Germany that continuously hypes the threat of Russia rolling across Europe is proving effective – potentially reducing the number of antiwar votes to be had. A recent survey showed that 68 percent back more defense spending at home.

Turnout in Germany was at a record high, which likely demonstrates the historic level  of dissatisfaction with the “traffic light coalition” of the SPD, Greens, and Free Democratic Party, which has been a disaster on every front and was punished at the polls.

Yet, it’s tough to see how things don’t get even worse. Germany’s economic model of cheap Russian energy, wage suppression, and exports is busted. It’s now reliant on expensive US LNG for energy, the Greens even managed to close the country’s last remaining nuclear power plants, the country is simultaneously deindustrializing while becoming more financialized, the economic war with Russia is hurting Germany much more than Russia, and it now has a government that has lost all legitimacy but has ruled out early elections (the next national election isn’t until Fall 2025). A CDU-led government could feasibly be worse, the AfD will be kept out of power unless it changes its tune on Project Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the German von der Leyen at the top of the EU mess appears to have plenty of energy to double down on all the disastrous policies of the past five years:

Europeans might be running for the exits soon as the bloc keeps inching towards open conflict with Russia and the likelihood that the garden goes up in flames.

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  1. CA

    The EU “Center” Embraces the Right Kind of “Right”

    [ What a brilliant but saddening overview. That Ursula von der Leyen now feels comfortable playing a German character right out of Cabaret is frightening for Europe but not surprising after Meloni the way in which ran for office wearing off-the-shelf outfits and immediately changed to Armani after election. Von der Leyen understood the successful symbolism. ]

    1. Neutrino

      I’m old enough to have seen that there are no good Nazis. No rebranding, focus group, propaganda, lies or other sleight of hand is likely to make me change that, and I don’t think that I am alone in that deep revulsion.

      I also recall seeing Cabaret and disliking it. I wouldn’t have liked Weimar Germany for various reasons.

      /end rant

    2. Jams O'Donnell

      Thanks for the image of UvdL as a fish-net stockinged extra in Cabaret. You’ve put me right off my dinner.

      And the possibility of Olaf Scholz as a tuxedoed pseudo Joel Grey is even worse.

  2. CA

    Grandly reverting to a sort of German official, I would never have expected to find parading again:

    Ursula von der Leyen @vonderleyen_epp

    Finland has over 50,000 air raid shelters.

    Their preparedness aims to strengthen their resilience and to deter aggression.

    We have so much to learn from the Finns.

    This is the change of mindset I want to help bring during my second mandate.

    5:52 AM · Jun 4, 2024

  3. Don Midwest

    I subscribe to a substack that was begun during the covid “pandemic.” The anonymous author was an associate professor of philology but resigned to blog full time. He is German, got some of his degrees and did some teaching in the US, but moved back to Germany a few years ago. He is a thoughtful, independent voice. He has written several pieces about what is going on in Germany, the EU and other topics.

    Given how crazy things have become his latest piece is a fable.

    “How certain efforts to make government representative and accountable have engendered a more diffuse, opaque and pointless tyranny
    A fable on the occasion of the European parliamentary elections

    EUGYPPIUS JUN 09, 2024”

    Many of his pieces are not behind a firewall. I am not sure about this one.

  4. Carolinian

    Thanks for the incisive analysis. Seems like Thatcher got it right all along with her There Is No Alternative–at least among the elites with their conformist driven worldview and shared economic interests.

    And as to “EU’s ‘civilizational turn'”–culture has always been aristocracy’s big defense. Empire defender Churchill used to go on about “civilization” versus “barbarism” and when Lord Kenneth Clark created his BBC art show he called it Civilisation as though art and architecture were the whole ball of wax. You do wonder how America with our Walmarts and “vast wasteland” television fit into the picture but then the Europeans are likely as appalled by the deplorables (and of course the vulgar Trump) as Hillary. There was a time when George Bernard Shaw could turn snobbery into satire in Pygmalion but these days snobbery is where they live. Our supposed satirists like Colbert are now mere panderers to power.

    Clearly a return to reality is needed, but perhaps not from Europe?

    1. Giovanni Barca

      Shaw said something to the effect of “the working class should be abolished and replaced with sensible people.” In that light the neoliberals and eurocrats sound positively Fabian and Shavian, and vice versa. He also said as I recall “you’ve got to make them laugh or they’ll kill you.” This bunch lacks Shaw’s wit, the way they make us laugh is not with pleasure. But to quote Shaw’s friend foe and quasi-biographer, Chesterton, “alas alas for England, they have no graves as yet.” (For England Substitute the country continent and or planet of your choice.)

  5. Aurelien

    To understand what’s going on, it helps to keep two very important distinctions in mind.

    The first is that a “swing to the extreme Right” insofar as it happened at all, is not the same as “voting for parties that are encoded by the establishment as ‘extreme Right.'” In France, the National Assembly of Le Pen has a programme which would have been unremarkable in the 1980s, and which would have attracted at least some support from everyone from the Communists to the Gaullists. There’s no indication that public opinion in Europe has moved to the right in any traditional meaning of the term, and the traditional Left/Right issues, of power and wealth and working conditions, are very much alive. It’s just that the organisation of political parties in most European states no longer reflects this divide. This, in turn, is why the so-called “Centre” will not lose its majority in Brussels. The vast majority of MEPs share the soggy consensus about economic and social liberalism, identity politics, unrestricted immigration, supranationalism and the progressive destruction of national culture and identity. This applies whether they are on some notional “Left” or “Right” of politics in their native countries, because they have been swallowed up by the Brussels bubble.

    So I don’t think Ukraine matters much as an issue here, and it’s not in my view a good way to distinguish between parties. As I have pointed out at perhaps excessive length elsewhere, Brussels has an immoderate hatred for Russia under Putin, which to them represents everything archaic, nationalist, religious, cultural, civilisational, etc. which the gleaming new Europe of Brussels is supposed to have left in the historical dust. Again, this is an almost universal view in Brussels, independent of formal party affiliation.

    The second is the old truism that the reasons why voters choose parties do not necessarily have much to do with what those parties formally stand for. Indeed, voters often vote tactically, for the party that is most likely to defeat the party they want to lose. This has certainly happened in France this week, and almost certainly happened elsewhere. So it’s dangerous to read too much about changes of political affiliation into these results. In effect, in the famous four-part square of politics, Brussels is economically conservative and socially radical, whereas the majority of the actual voters are economically radical and socially conservative. Most Europeans are attached to their culture and their history, and want decisions affecting their lives to be taken by institutions over which they have some control. Brussels (including the vast majority of MEPs) wants effectively the reverse. This tension produces situations like the present, where anti-Brussels or “sovereignist” parties attract support, or, in their absence, this support goes to whichever party seems most likely to give the Bruxellois parties a bloody nose.

    1. AG

      a) The content of leftwing has not changed. It has been abandoned by the parties that call themselves leftwing.
      The content that power admits has shifted rightwards with the invention of the term “New Centre” as in New Labour and New SPD under Schröder. Which was the beginning of the end.

      The definition of what is humane, progressive politics hasn´t changed. But nobody implements it. On that note “left” and “right” have become meaningless because they are simply incorrect. It´s like calling a bicycle a car.

      b) I completely agree on Brussels hating Putin without Ukraine.

      This hatred being the single most important reason for where we are now.

      This did not happen since 2022. The ground was prepared at least with Putin taking office and his past as KGB was not helpful in selling him as the good guy in Germany. No matter that we had enough CIA spooks in the US in government. But the conflation of East Germany/Stasi and Putin/KGB runs very deep in German psyche.

      (Which is why nobody complains that Zelensky this very moment is dining with Scholz a few miles from my place with the entire quarter there turned into a security zone. You actually have to show your ID if you wanna cross to get your shopping done.)

      1. pjay

        I posted my comment below before I saw those by Aurelien and yourself. You both answer in part my question about “internal” factors contributing to Europe’s suicidal policies. But such irrational “Putin derangement” does not strike me as adequate to explain actions that seem quite contrary to Europe’s economic, political, and perhaps even existential interests. For one thing, many European leaders had a much more rational or “realist” attitude toward Russia even when it was still part of the Soviet Union under communist rule. Where did all these voices of reason go? How were they all replaced by such irrational robots in such a short time? And why did this process take off at the very moment in history when the “Russian threat” to Europe had disappeared entirely in the 1990s?

        I don’t deny a long history of Russophobia in Europe which can always be fanned by propaganda and ideological manipulation. But it’s hard for me to believe that European elites are now so blinded by such irrational fear and hatred that they would act against their own material interests. Where did these “leaders” come from, and where did all the sane leaders go?

        1. Aurelien

          When Russia was under Soviet rule there was a different generation of western leaders, who had been through WW2. Many were bitterly anti-communist, but they knew that the Soviet Union was powerful, and not to be messed with. The post-Cold-War generation of leaders saw a weak and declining Russia, which did not frighten them any more, and which they expected to simply absorb into the western orbit. When this didn’t happen under Putin, and when Russia began to take off in its own civilisational direction, they still believed that they were strong, and Russia was weak, and so they could do what they wanted. It was only after about 2014, as Russia started exert itself both militarily and culturally, that the hatred got under way, and a new generation of European leaders, brainwashed by the Brussels norms, identified Putin as the anti-Christ who must be brought down by any means. For them, this is a categorical imperative, and if Europe is destroyed in the process, that’s too bad. I’ve said a lot more about the subject here, if you are interested.

      2. Jams O'Donnell

        Yes. “The use of the left-right political spectrum really needs to be retired, especially in Europe”.

        Not so. The ‘left’ in Europe is typified by such as George Galloway in the UK and Sahra Wagenknecht in Germany. They are very clear as to their aims.

        The ‘right’ equally, seem to be very recognisable, at least to the ‘liberal’ press.

        What must be avoided is the confused state of terminology which prevails in the USA. There the ‘liberal’ so called ‘Democratic’ Party is labelled as ‘left’ by the Republicans by way of being a slur. But the Democrats are not in any way ‘left’. They are dedicated supporters of the capitalist system. Forays into ‘wokeism’ by the Dems do not amount to being ‘left’, which is if anything is basically an economic stance.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, UK/US analysts almost always miss that European elections are conducted under different conditions than in FPTP systems (usually a variation of ranked vote), which makes tactical voting a key element. So voters invariably use the EU Parliament, and local elections, as a way of voting against whoever they don’t like, or to send a message. The patterns are rarely carried through to national elections, which follow their own dynamic. One key pattern that is almost always apparent is that in a coalition government, the junior partner(s) almost invariably get a serious backlash in mid-term elections, as they are seen as most vulnerable to vote switching.

      Plus of course we’ve seen a massive redefinition of ‘far right’ to all sorts of scattered parties, many of which are just traditional nationalistic groupings. In the UK and the US, these elements are usually incorporated into the main parties as they can’t thrive on their own. In the case of at least one independent politician in Ireland who got elected, he seems to have seamlessly moved from being a candidate of the most orthodox Marxist party to being labeled far-right, without seemingly (at least according to him), having changed his politics much – they key difference being that he has taken on a strongly anti-immigrant stance.

    3. Ignacio

      Your comment, I believe, explains some electoral shifts that occur which are related more with the scope of the election (EU-supranational, national, regional and municipal elections) the closer to the voter the higher the probability of votes going to parties, even individuals, other than mainstream liberal parties. Or the contrary!

      I watched with interest what happened with the two main “left parties” in Spain. Sumar and Podemos of which Sumar might be considered as better identified with globalist identity politics, more pro-Ukrainian and pro-military spending in the EU (and less pro-palestinian), in sum a member of such political “centre” while Podemos broke with Sumar (they went together in the last national elections) precisely for these reasons and might then be classified as far-left. Sumar was supposed to do much better than Podemos in the EU elections but the outcome showed less of a difference between both suggesting that a large part of left-wing voters are truly anti-war and decided to support Podemos.

      Interestingly, the classic progressive nationalists (basically Vasque, Catalonian, Galician nationalists) did better compared with previous elections while the conservative nationalists did far worse suggesting that the progressives are more worried about the conservation of those “archaic” cultural differences.

  6. AG

    via German

    “Things are worse for the traffic light coalition than you might think, if you look at the real figures from the European elections.

    In the 2024 European elections …

    … 35.2 percent of all eligible voters did not vote.

    … 19.3 percent of all eligible voters voted for the CDU/CSU.

    … 10.2 percent of all eligible voters voted for the AfD.

    … 9.0 percent of all eligible voters voted for the SPD.

    … 7.6 percent of all eligible voters voted for the Greens.

    … 4.0 percent of all eligible voters voted for the BSW.

    … 3.3 percent of all eligible voters voted for the FDP.

    … 1.8 percent of all eligible voters for the Left Party.

    The traffic light coalition thus accounts for 19.9 percent of all eligible voters. At European level, the coalition parties thus represent less than a fifth of all eligible voters. The camp of non-voters is almost twice as large.

    p.s. of course the parliamentary election 2025 is a different matter, not least due the personalized 2nd vote in your constituency.

  7. panurge

    Thank you very much for the analysis. The EU architecture is designed to prevent all but the extreme boat rocking: clip the wings and let the center doing its stuff.
    The radical left underwent a taming process in the past 40 years which resulted in the blairite third way. Now it is the radical right turn which will be neutered and bad nazis will turn in good nazis.

  8. pjay

    They may be neo-Nazis, but they’re *our* neo-Nazis! Gehlen in Germany, Banderites in Ukraine, fascist “anti-communists” in Greece and Italy, Operation Gladio, etc., etc. – yep, sounds familiar.

    Thanks once again for another excellent overview which once again, unfortunately, reinforces my pessimism. It is the same story everywhere in the West. Any authentic “left”, or even realist “centrist” opposition to NATO warmongering, has been silenced and dispersed. The only voices of dissent that remain are on the “right,” and these are easily manipulated or co-opted with militarism and “nationalistic” rhetoric about various Enemies.

    Now I’m watching this as an outsider in the US. I certainly don’t want to deny the Europeans their “agency,” so please feel free to explain to me what internal factors have led to these suicidal developments. But if one were to construct a LaRouchean-style conspiracy theory in which the EU and NATO are the mechanisms of infiltration and eventual control of Europe in some sort of long-term Anglo-American plot to control the world, it would sure look a lot like this.

  9. AG

    As Conor writes: “The SPD, founded in 1863, dropped its commitment to Marxism in 1959”.
    This sea change would deserve a historical analysis of its own.

    Untill that fateful date SPD with labour tried to fight NATO politics. But even with putting 1,2 mio. people into the streets, even with ongoing fierce protests all over Western Germany´s cities against Franz-Josef Strauß, the first SoD of the country, who even had to cancel public appearances in 1957 (imagine that today) – even with that power of the street SPD lost the important regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia in 1958.

    SPD then abandoned its Marxist anti-NATO course and adopted the new line, which Conor refers to.
    And only with this, they could prepare Willy Brandts eventual chancellory. (I do not know if the US had any hand in this. But I dont think it´d been necessary as German sentiments went.)

    So anti-socialism is inherent part of much of German society as a baggage of the pre-1945 years.

    Wagenknecht´s uphill battle has to be judged with that in mind, too.

  10. Polar Socialist

    Oddly in Finland the mildly NATO sceptic but very pro-EU Left Alliance gained second most votes, while the greens and far-right crashed totally – both competing to be the most unhinged war party.

    The Left Coalition leader alone got over 13 % of all votes in Finland. More than the Center Party put together.

    1. Ignacio

      I believe that because the electoral situation in each country, even each region, is so diverse the final outcome will with great difficulty depart very much from a political “centre” even as if in this case there have been noticeable electoral swifts in countries as important as Germany or France. A gigantic wave of shift will be very difficult unless we have a second vdL term in which case anything can occur in the future.

  11. Gregorio

    The uni-party duocracy is working out swell for the plutocrats in ‘Merica.’ Why wouldn’t the Europeans copy it?

  12. RPLérias

    Here in Portugal, only the old fashioned Communist Party dared talk about peace in Ukraine and oppose the militarisation of Europe. They got 1 MEP out of Portugal’s 21. So a 96% majority for war.
    All the others, including the supposedly ‘far right’ party support escalating the war.
    War is the overwhelming winner of this election, there were many war parties by different names, from the supposed left to the far right. But they all agree on War. The Commission has full democratic backing for War and the USA will not let such an opportunity to destroy Europe go to waste.
    The EU is going down the drain of history with only the likes of Orban and Fico calling it as it is.
    1914 has turned into 2024.

  13. jsn

    “What exactly does the center holding mean when this is an EU backing Nazis in Ukraine and genocide in Gaza?”


    This is what we’ve become.

  14. Gulag

    To better explain the continuing doubling down of the European elites it may be useful to take a more careful look at supposed internal psychological dynamics and more philosophical speculations on our human nature.

    Michael Oakshott in his “Tower of Babel,” essay states that the pursuit of perfection is an activity that he considers both impious and unavoidable in human life.

    Such a perfectionist impulse, according to Carl Schmitt, is an expression of our fear of the unknown as well as a will to power that working in tandem, help us to carry
    out our fruitless attempts at achieving control and supposed insight into the forever unknowable.

    Maybe hooking these psychological/philosophical insights to more cyclical conceptions of economic development as an inevitable rise and decline, which includes increasing prosperity, market enlargement, increasing inequality, institutional sclerosis and perhaps then collapse is a worthwhile shift in focus– to endogenous dynamics in both individuals and economies.

    Or maybe such speculations on my part simply helps to construct a forever reoccurring Tower of Babel that only ends up angering the Gods.

  15. AG

    Commentary from German “Philosophie” Magazin:

    Right-wing parties gained ground almost everywhere in the European elections . This continues a trend that has been going on for decades, which is why talk of a sudden “slide to the right” is misleading. It is more a case of a gradual drift towards a right-wing Europe. This will probably not be characterised by the disintegration of the Union, as some fear. It is more likely that it will be restructured, which can build on the conservative to right-wing conservative roots of the European project. There have also been communist, social democratic and liberal ideas about Europe. But a conservative model has prevailed.
    The introduction of the common internal market in 1987 and the founding of the Economic and Monetary Union in 1992 resulted in a neoliberal Europe that focused on competition, austerity, and avoiding inflation. However, a common economic and social policy was not planned. Nevertheless, left-wing intellectuals never tired of emphasizing the greatness of the project. They had just had to accept the collapse of real socialism and were looking for a new god. Jürgen Habermas declared the EU to be the “avant-garde” of the future “cosmopolitan” state. Jacques Derrida interpreted Europe as “another cape” that is characterized by non-identity with itself and thus forms the spearhead of postmodern identity deconstruction.
    The cliché of a left-liberal Europe probably dates back to this time, although it never actually existed. In reality, as Wolfgang Streeck pointed out in his 2013 polemic against Jürgen Habermas, it is an institution for circumventing welfare state claims that are guaranteed within the national framework.

    p.s. However, why the article calls Helmut Schmidt and Valérie Giscard d’Estaing leftist liberals is beyond me but perhaps I am missing something.

  16. Victor Sciamarelli

    The Ukraine circus has long been produced and directed solely by the US. John Mearsheimer said repeatedly that France and Germany objected to the 2008 NATO invitation to Ukraine and Angela Merkel said Putin would interpret it as an act of war. Yet, Victoria Nuland summed up succinctly the obedience the US foreign policy establishment expected from the EU when she was recorded saying, “Fuck the EU.”
    But this is only part of the story. When Biden took office in Jan 2021, it was widely recognized the US had the world’s largest economy and most powerful military. As Biden continued to demonize Putin, what should the European “center” do; abandon the US? To what end?
    I don’t pretend to have exhausted the literature on Ukraine since Biden assumed office but, I’m confident nobody, not any American or European elite, predicted in Jan 2021 the situation we have now in 2024.
    The powerful US military is unable to adequately defend and support Ukraine, let alone to push Russia out of the country. Russia, unintimidated by US threats, got its mojo back, and has wrecked Ukraine. Russia is now a formidable military power in Europe.
    The US sanctions, known to cripple the economy of adversaries, have not worked against Russia and some economists say they backfired. Rather than weakening Russia, which I’m sure most European centrist elites expected, Russia’s economy has gotten stronger.
    Richard Nixon said it would be a dangerous mistake to allow Russia and China to join together. A crucial reason Nixon went to China was to prevent that from happening. Biden soon accomplished what Nixon and many others warned against.
    And nobody fully understands the logic of unconditional support Biden provides Israel knowing it’s committing genocide in Gaza.
    The European “center” thought it was a no-brainer to back the US no matter how crazy it acted. The US was too important. Besides, what’s the alternative to the neoliberal and pro-war US positions? How much fun is it to challenge and oppose the US?
    I’m sure many Euro elites endorse the neoliberal and pro-war plan but the recent elections indicate it’s bound to unravel. After Nordstream, Gaza, potential loss of valuable trade with China, expensive energy while cheap energy goes to China and India, and threats against Russia and China that might easily escalate to a major war, imo, the Europeans will soon rethink their unconditional support for the US.
    It’s remarkable how much irreparable damage Biden has done to the US in so short a time.

    1. Yves Smith

      Andrei Martyanov did not predict the Feb 2022 invasion, but he wrote THREE books on how the US military was much weaker than it appeared, for structural reasons, way before 2021. So you can forgive him sometimes being strident since he was a Cassandra.


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