woensdag, september 21, 2005

The 'dolchstosslegende' of the neo-liberal 'left'

Across the Rhine, neo-liberal nabobs of the right and left, are twisting themselves into Rubik's Cubes of re-interpretation attempting to explain away Sunday's election result in Germany, like the relics of the eighties that they are.

France's presumptive future Yankophile king, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his supporters seem to feel the result is of a piece with the recent European Consitution referendum, but not in the same way la vrai gauche does, according to the Guardian's France correspondent, the soggy moderate Jon Henley:

'Patrick Devidjian, a loyal and influential Sarkozy supporter, told Libération that Ms Merkel's problem had been one of method rather than principle. "The tax reforms she proposed were totally deformed by someone (the 'professor from Heidelberg' Paul Kirchhof) who did not have the political and pedagogical qualities needed in a politician," he said. "For us, that is the real lesson - radical reforms have to be properly explained."'

Just as with the referendum, it is not that voters made a rational decision, rejecting neo-liberalism, but it is merely that the subject has not been properly explained. The arrogant sense of superiority of Thatcher's children is perhaps neo-liberalism's most insufferable attribute. We are just too stupid to understand the benefits of markets, plainly.

Meanwhile, across the floor, the Socialists haven't wasted time blaming the far left for their own defeat, just as they did in the wake of the 2002 presidential election where Socialist Lionel Jospin was locked out of the second round between Jacques Chirac and Jean-Marie Le Pen (Henley again):

'The moderate French left, including most of the Socialist party's current hierarchy, were not slow to blame the rise of Oskar Lafontaine's Linkspartei - made up of ex-Communists from the east and former SPD members disappointed with the party's perceived liberal drift - for Mr Schröder's discomfiture.

"It bears direct and complete responsibility for the failure of the left," Pierre Moscovici, a former Socialist European affairs minister, said. "Its populist rhetoric prevented the SPD from scoring as it should have done."'

Horseshit. First of all, the left won. There is theoretically no reason why Schroeder cannot continue to govern (as a minority government, following the Linkspartei's vote for him as Chancellor [who are they going to vote for, Merkel?]), with or without passive support from the Linke. Secondly, if it weren't for the hemorrhage of CDU votes to the Linkspartei, the CDU would have a clear majority. Thirdly, the Linkspartei's very existence forced the SPD to tack left, pretending that it was the defender of the social model, which, together with Merkel's flat tax fubar, resulted in the enormous surge in support for the SPD in the last fortnight.

In the years following the First World War, a political fairy story developed in Germany that it was not the German army that lost the war, but in fact left-wing politicians - the so-called dolchstosslegende (stab-in-the-back-legend). It is as untrue today as it was then. The viability of such attacks on the real left from its social democratic Judases has long since passed. If social democrats insist on capitulation, they have no one to blame but themselves.