Precipice Ahead! – do we turn Left or Right?

As you know, I have been congratulating the Dutch for their brave and courageous stance towards EU autocracy and against the cowardly subservience of the EU in carrying out the foreign policy wishes of the USA.

Read “Dutch Courage!” for more background on the new “Dutch Resistance Movement”.

I was motivated to follow this remarkable resistance to EU tyranny by a story about the Dutch Referendum written by Andreas Umland. Instead of respecting the outcome of a democratically held referendum on an issue of genuine concern, at least to the Dutch, and exhorting the Ukrainians to raise their standards to the level of the rest of Europe, Umland derided the Dutch and made it sound like they were partly to blame for the catastrophe in Ukraine.

Now another story on the same subject has emerged written by Rene Cuperus, a Dutch Labour Party political adviser, but this time with a different twist.

I shouldn’t really be surprised that such nonsense is being presented as a defence of Left-wing policies and is being used as an attack on the political opposition in Europe.

First Tsipras of Syriza in Greece capitulates and then the Socialist/Leftist parties in Portugal adopt their own opposition’s policies. Now Corbyn, the leader of the, largely now hopeless, Labour Party in the UK appears to have become a closet Tory and with all of the backtracking and indecision from the Left that is occurring in Spain, I guess that next they will soon be getting into bed with their opponents. It seems that only Die Linke in Germany are staying true to their ideals and are still presenting a real opposition to the German government. Bravo Sahra.

What a paradox. I am beginning to despair. What the hell is going on!

It is obvious to even the dimmest person that most of the political Left in Europe is in a total mess.

I tackled this issue recently in another post of mine titled “The Dilemma of the Left“.

Now, to be clear, I abhor the radical, racist and discriminatory policies of the Extreme Right-Wing parties in Europe. However, in other respects, these parties have become the only alternative to the rest, presenting, if not a coherent answer, at least some resistance to the EU tyranny and autocracy that is slowly dragging European countries down the drain.

And why is this?

This has occurred because the European Left have completely lost their direction. They have given up the fight for those principles that we all thought they stood for. It looks like they just lost their nerve, somehow believing that to retain their supporters they needed to go more with the flow. Well that is what it looks like from the outside. Now their supporters are even more confused and the undecided voters are hardly going to choose to vote for uncertainty and weakness.

So this lets the Extreme Right-Wing radicals in the door. Not because they offer good solutions. But because there is no other political party to support if you do not agree with the Europhiles.

What a disgrace!

And Cuperus has the nerve to criticise the Dutch voters who took part in the Referendum.

Shame on you Rene!

It is time for the European Left to wake up and get their house in order before its too late, rather than blaming the voters for the mess. And please, don’t try to play the “populist” card. We are not so dumb to fall for that cheap trick.

As usual, I grant the right of reply by including the article in question here.

The Dutch Referendum – Revolt Of The 60%

by Rene Cuperus (18 April 2016)

“Highly educated versus lowly educated. Muslims against non-Muslims. ’People’ versus ‘Elite’. Young against old. Mainstream against populist. All is pointing in the same direction: countries like the Netherlands enter the future in increasingly separate worlds. The divisive tensions seem to triumph over the binding, bridging forces.

Take the Dutch referendum about the EU-Association Agreement with Ukraine on April 6. That referendum was initiated, under a new law, through a massive signature campaign by eurosceptic, even anti-EU, organisations in the Netherlands, under the umbrella of ‘GeenPeil: an anti-Establishment collective.

However, the breaking news of the referendum had little or nothing to do with Ukraine itself, or with the Ukrainian population. Let alone with the sacrifice of the Heavenly Hundred at the Maidan revolution. No, the alarming news about the referendum outcome was that it was a complete reconfirmation of the populist cleavage or conflict line running through (nearly) all contemporary western societies. The referendum demonstrated the clash between the Establishment and the non-Establishment; the tormented Ukrainian people played – bitter to say – little more than the role of a walk-on.

The outcome was as follows: 61% voted against the association agreement; 38% voted in favour (based on a low turnout of 32.2% or just above the 30% threshold). This result was a repetition of the outcome of the Dutch referendum on the European Constitution of 2005, when the Dutch also in clear majority voted ‘’nee’’, after the French voted ‘’non’’.

Big-time losers

Now again, the whole established order of the Netherlands lost big time. All the main parties, the traditional media, trade unions, employers organisations, churches, etc. constituted the Yes camp, supporting the EU-relationship with Ukraine. Despite all this, the No camp, led by an alliance of the Geert Wilders Party (right-wing populist), the Socialist Party (left-wing populist), and a strong social media campaign organisation, demonstratively won the referendum battle.

Another painful disgrace for the Dutch Establishment, unable to prevent an international loss of face for the Netherlands. The referendum outcome is also a great shame, maybe not so much for the corrupt political oligarch system of Ukraine, but more so for the western-oriented young Maidan activist generation. The result also adds to the already perfect storm within the EU (euro crisis, refugee crisis, tensions between North and South, East and West) as well as fuelling tensions between the EU and Putin’s revanchist Russia. And there could be more to come with the UK‘s own EU referendum on June 23; as Mark Rutte, Dutch premier, whispered: “Brussels does not want to speak openly about the Dutch #Ukrainereferendum outcome before #Brexit referendum takes place.”

But again: the referendum debate was first and foremost an anti-Establishment revolt. This revolt includes enlargement fatigue and EU discontent, but the story is much bigger. The result of 60% versus 40% (both in 2005 and 2016) should be taken seriously. This distribution in numbers is returning over and over again. Especially in reports of the Institute for Social Research of the Dutch government (SCP). This institute regularly analyses the temper and mood of the Dutch population, and this has been intensified by way of qualitative focus group research after the so-called Revolt of Citizens of Pim Fortuyn in 2001/2002. This ‘’unpredicted’’ revolution demonstrated that both academia and media had completely lost touch with the undercurrents of discontent – especially in lower and middle strata in society.

The great divide

The fact that this 60/40-distributive code or formula time and again resurfaces in research and referenda suggest that we are confronted with the following fundamental phenomenon: a distinct majority of the population may well resist the course, the future direction, of our contemporary society. 60% distrusts the EU, resists the overall erosion of the post-war welfare state, criticises increasing inequality, has big worries about labour migration and refugee migration in general, and Islam in particular. They fear that their country because of immigration and open borders is losing too many of its characteristic traits.

This large group of citizens at the same time has the feeling that ‘people like us’ can do little or nothing about these changes and developments. Politics and politicians just go their own way. That’s why this (significant) majority of 60% is in favour of referenda, to wake up, correct or punish the political class. They have the feeling that it no longer represents them or listens to them.

What is even more unpleasant is that this 60% more or less equals the amount of lowly and averagely (non-HE) educated people in the Netherlands. These segments feel much less comfortable in the globalising knowledge-based economy, where the world has become a ‘global village’, but at the same the traditional village has become the world. They profit less from this new global order.

This deep cleavage in our post-welfare state societies is not socially sustainable. No country can welcome and embrace the future with such a bizarre rift between future-optimistic academic professionals and future-pessimistic non-academic professionals. Between insiders and outsiders in the new ‘meritocratic democracy’. Let alone the growing tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims as a result of jihadist radicalisation and terrorism.

All signals point to polarisation and sharpening of dividing lines. Worrisome is that this diverging of opinions – also in the Dutch referendum campaign – is coupled with more and more poisonous smears and slurs on social media and with mutual contempt between Establishment and anti-Establishment.

What such a divided country as the Netherlands now needs most is a break-up of stereotypes and group identities. Concepts such as ‘people’, ‘elite’, Establishment, populism and Islam must be refuted and invalidated as false entities. Pluralism and pluriformity must shake up solidified contradistinctions. Devastating is the image of politics as an old boys’ network for academic professionals only. The ‘elite’ should leave its post-political bubble, and again fight against each other for a left-wing and right-wing alternative political future. Muslims who wholeheartedly and deliberately opt for the Western way of life should distance themselves sharply from radical Islam, as right-wing populists should demarcate themselves sharply from the far and extreme right.

This will result in more varieties of the elite, more flavours of Islam, more sorts of populists, and thereby a visible break-up and deconstruction of stereotypes and identity-political group stigmas. How else should we fight to avert segregated, divisive, unequal societies in future?”

In contrast to the article above, read the following article for really sensible analysis of the implications of the Dutch referendum. Marike Abrahamse is a masters student at the University of St Andrews and is a member of both the Dutch (VVD) and the European Liberal Party (Alde):

One lesson from the Dutch referendum

by Marike Abrahamse (8 April 2016)

Politicians should look carefully at the Dutch case and tackle the problem before it is too late

About seven months ago, the Dutch satirical website GeenStijl (“NoStyle”), managed to force the Dutch government to hold a referendum on the EU agreement with Ukraine.

Dutch politicians laughed at the idea of a website like GeenStijl being able to change the political field of the Netherlands.

                                       (Photo: European Commission)

But on Wednesday (6 April), 61 percent of the vote was against the EU Agreement with Ukraine, and the turnout passed the threshold of 30 percent.

Politicians believed the uproar would have died down again closer to the vote and that voters would be well-informed enough to vote in favour of the agreement.

That is also what everybody thought when Donald Trump announced he was standing for the US presidency – that it was all just a show and that voters would make a well-informed decision and not vote for him.

Trend in Western democracies

Although these two instances seem very different, both show as a trend that is prevalent in Western democracies: people feel disconnected to the political elite who supposedly force decisions upon the population which will only benefit the elite’s own interests.

Whether this is true is debatable, but it shows both a clear lack of political leadership among moderate political parties as well as a lack of communication skills of our politicians and government institutions.

Most of all, it shows us the failure of big governments and state-centralisation.

Yes, the economy of scale works on many fronts, but it is a mechanism that prevents individuality, a value in high demand in Western societies.

In a society where anything can be tailored and individualised through online services, people do not want a policy tailored for Europe – they want a policy that benefits them as a person.

There are two solutions to this problem: political leadership or decentralisation of the government.

The first option seems unlikely apart from political leadership from the extreme-right, which is not really the kind we are looking for.

Ideology in Western democracies is becoming obsolete as most mainstream parties are in general agreement on policies.

In a country like the Netherlands you cannot gain votes by claiming to be in favour of fundamental rights like the right to equal marriage or to abortion because every party except a very small one is as well.

The debate is thus not about what values we want our society to be based on but what should be the political system that enforces them?

One thing the European Union has often avoided, although subsidiarity is one of the first concepts you learn while studying European Politics, is the debate on what responsibilities should remain within the national state and why.

Tip of the iceberg

Generally it is assumed that apart from some responsibilities that the national governments want to keep, the European Union would be better at enforcing and creating legislation.

Subsidiarity was thus evaluated from a state interest. Now, a new framework that looks if an individual level of demand should be established.

If I were a regular citizen of the EU, where would I want the accountability for this issue to be concentrated? Moreover, how can we do that using modern-day technology?

Those are the questions bureaucrats and politicians in Brussels should ask themselves.

Even if the EU declines to answer these questions, it will seriously have to evaluate how it can answer the rise of populism.

The Dutch vote, largely against the agreement albeit with a low turnout, might just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Euroscepticism across the EU.

Britain’s referendum will be next and after today’s vote a Brexit seems the likely outcome.

Still, politicians in Brussels seem to think that a doomsday-theory rhetoric towards the voters is enough to solve these problems. Instead, they should look carefully at the Dutch case and tackle the problem before it is too late.”

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About Peter Smith

A "foot-soldier" in the wider Post Capitalism Movement. First task - keep spreading the words of change, hope & inspiration.
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