Sunday, 6 March 2016

Gove Confuses Form and Content

Michael Gove in a rather hysterical article has claimed that the EU is fostering fascism.  What he should have said, of course, is that conservatism, and conservative policies of austerity is fostering fascism.  As I have pointed out myself in the past the actions of conservative politicians, led by those of Germany, in forcing Syriza to continue to impose austerity measures, do indeed act to promote fascism.  But, that is the responsibility of those conservative politicians, of conservative ideology, and of insane conservative economic policies of austerity, not the EU.  In fact, quite the opposite is the case.  If the EU acted according to its original post-war, social-democratic principles, it would currently be acting in a way that would undermine both fascism, and the broader conservative-nationalist swamp in which it exists.

The United States is not the EU.  In fact, the US by using social-democratic measures of fiscal stimulus has avoided some of the worst economic effects suffered by the EU.  Yet, the role of the Tea Party and right-wing Republicans in limiting those measures, and of imposing their own austerity measures at a more local level, has weakened the strength of the US recovery, and the vast expansion of QE, which encouraged asset price bubbles, and diverted funds away into the stock and property markets and away from productive investment, both exacerbated that trend, and highlighted the growing division of wealth. Yet, the US, on that basis has seen its own equivalent of that right-wing, populist drift too, in the shape of Donald J. Trump.

On the other hand, just as those same material factors have led to the rise of people like Trump, of Le Pen, in France and so on, they have also led to the rise of Bernie Sanders, of Jeremy Corbyn, of Syriza, Podemos, the Left Bloc in Portugal and so on.  So far, in Greece, Golden Dawn have not grown more than they had before Syriza came to power; in Spain and Portugal, and Ireland, all of whom suffered as part of the Eurozone Debt Crisis, and imposition of austerity there has been no rise of a fascistic right-wing, quite the opposite.  It is not the form of the EU, which fosters fascism, but the conservative content that currently dominates its higher echelons, just as it does the higher echelons of individual nation states.

If the EU had responded to the situation in Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and elsewhere, according to its original social-democratic principles then instead of imposing crippling austerity on those economies, it would have been instituting some kind of modern-day Marshall Plan, cancelling the huge unpayable debts of some of the member states, using the historically low global interest rates, and the borrowing capacity of the EU, to finance real investment across the continent in its worst affected areas, to bring about much needed investment in infrastructure, training and the encouragement of investment in modern globally competitive industries, that could have put all of the unemployed to work, in decent jobs, on decent wages.

Even today, with thousands of refugees entering Greece an obvious response would be for the EU to provide Greece with huge amounts of money to establish the required infrastructure to allow those migrants to enter the continent under humane, civilised conditions, and to be sheltered and processed efficiently.  At a stroke it would deal with that humanitarian crisis, whilst providing thousands of unemployed Greeks with immediate employment.

The problem is not the EU, it is its continued domination by conservative politicians and ideas.  In fact the problem is the same kind of problem that Britain faces from those same conservative, nationalist ideas peddled by not only Brexiters like Gove, but also by people like Cameron too.

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