Total fertility rates in Europe (children per woman), 2010. (Source: Eurostat)
My early political thought was in large part opposed to the “myth” of the demographic collapse of Europe, particularly as promoted by American neoconservatives and other Anglo-chauvinists, supposedly caused by spirit-killing effects of “liberalism” (welfarism-socialism), which, tied with Muslim immigration, would lead to “Eurabia.” These writers were taking a grain of truth, and as propagandists and vulgar polemicists are skilled at doing, turned this into an unadulterated fantasy pandering to the prejudices of their readers.
But there was a grain of truth. In whole swathes of Europe, entire nations, people have lost the will to reproduce themselves and/or are fleeing their country for prosperity elsewhere. This dramatic trend, which is affecting virtually all of Southern and Eastern Europe, will significantly change Europe’s internal balance of power and the continent’s relationship with the world. Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania and virtually all of the Balkans are just some the “childless and jobless” countries which risk falling into econo-demographic death traps.
Sorry, this entry is only available in Français.
Marine Le Pen at a May 2012 Front National rally after finishing third in the presidential elections.
This is a guide to the French far-right nationalist party the Front National, based on numerous interviews, articles and polls. It also covers broader issues of French attitudes towards their democracy, immigration and Muslims. It is composed of the following subheadings:
- What is the Front National?
- Is support for the Front National growing?
- Do the French agree with the Front National?
- Where does support for the Front National come from?
- What do French people care about? (It’s the economy, stupid.)
- Conclusion: Permanent protest or a party of Government?
Last January a poll claimed that 87% of French said they wanted “a real leader in France to restore order.” The media were equally alarmed with a poll the same month which found that a majority of French thought there were too many immigrants, that Muslims had too many rights, that the police were not tough enough, and that “traditional values” were insufficiently defended. Most remarked upon was that 31% of people said they “completely or mostly agreed with the ideas” of France’s far-right party, the Front National.
I write this rough outline as a sort of postscript to my debate with Leigh Phillips on national democracy.
A typical, and unsurprising, response was that I was idealizing national democracy today. This is a legitimate point of discussion. The fact is that virtually nowhere is classic Western-style liberal democracy working well, at least not in the North American and Western European heartlands. This suggests there are broader trends at work affecting all these countries.
The eurozone is an easy target as it is formally undemocratic (elected representatives of the people have no say over monetary policy, soon will have limited “wiggle room” for budgetary policy, as Jörg Asmussen puts it, and eventually the same for wage, labor and general economic policies). But euro-critics need to answer the charge: isn’t it necessary that national democracy itself to have become heavily dysfunctional for 17 national democracies to create the euro-regime? The eurozone may be merely an aggravating factor or the most open expression of democratic decline in the West.
This chart uses very simple assumptions. It takes the OECD economic outlook data on headline and underlying primary public budget imbalances and look at the impact on GDP if these were brought to zero, assuming a fiscal multiplier of 1.3 (the median of Olivier Blanchard’s range of 0.9-1.7).
I read this little book by John Kenneth Galbraith, the great American liberal economist of the Twentieth Century, over a couple days. I was disappointed. It’s not much more than a narrative history of the speculative stock boom of the late 1920s United States, with just a little bit of analysis at the end. It is history as “one damn thing after another,” with obviously perfect hindsight, made all the more boring because it is financial history, which is to say, a minutely documented record of the mood swings and various tricks of those people who dedicate their lives to “making” money by spinning it in circles. Dismal stuff.
This said, Galbraith is a good writer and there’s quite a few excellent passages, that I quote here that resonate with me, on speculative booms, “pointless meetings” of business and political leaders, central banking, regulation and more that strike me as perfectly relevant to politics today.
I write this post after debating with a friend the merits of Baltic austerity. I add my piece to recent ones by Paul Krugman, Matt Yglesias and Mark Adomanis.
The question is: Are the Baltic states, especially Lithuania and Latvia which both have currencies pegged to the euro, proof that austerity can work? Are they “successes” as described by IMF Chief Christine Lagarde and some American conservatives? Most analyses of these have tended to focus on GDP. I will focus on employment.
I write this post to further a debate I’ve had with Leigh Phillips on his Austerityland blog and Twitter. It was supposed to be a mere summary of our debate. It’s grown into an opusculo developing the extent of my thought today on democracy in the Twenty-First Century. I add it is only an interpretation given my vantage point and others are possible.
In short, the question is: Do we really need to break up the euro? To which I answer, if one is attached to democratically accountable economic policymaking and moderately progressive, Keynesian economics, simply yes.
Click to enlarge.
This post seeks to document, and partly explain, collaboration between the United States of America and Western European states (most being democracies founded under U.S. protection after World War II) in military and political interventions in the Balkans and the Third World.
Sorry, this entry is only available in Français.