Wednesday, September 27

bad times for the left

Decades ago the left abandoned the economic flank as a line of debate against the right. The development of the neoliberal model, as well as the fall of the Soviet Bloc, represented a clear victory for those who affirmed that “there is no alternative” (there is no alternative -TUB). This acceptance of such an overwhelming defeat has led to a discursive evolution of the leftist forces that unequivocally shows their dislocation.

To begin with the analysis, we should explain what we consider to be leftist forces, and bear in mind that they are not a homogeneous bloc. Rather, they are represented by an amalgam of interests that range from the traditional Marxists, social democrats, and anarchists, to feminist, environmentalist, some nationalist, and even animalistic forces, which do not have a defined position in terms of the capitalist economic system.

Under this consideration we observe that all these formations, or interests, can be grouped into two large blocks. In a first block we are going to collect those groups, the least numerous, that have not renounced their anti-capitalist origin and that consider that any alternative requires the replacement of the current system and the construction of a communist, socialist or anarchist-type alternative. In a second block, the most numerous, we could include those groups willing to assume management responsibilities and, therefore, have accepted the system itself and consider it possible to develop their policies, at least to a certain extent, within the capitalist framework.

This division between supporters of the eternal opposition and those who participate in the system is nothing current. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th there was an interesting debate between, for example, Luxemburg or Lenin. Those who do not want to participate in the rules of the system cannot assume any management responsibility because they do not consider the bourgeois institutions useful for their purposes. On the other hand, the position of the other group supposes participating in a game in which there will always be dissatisfaction among its voters, many of them from the first group who end up participating in it, since their expectations will never be satisfied. In its whole.

If we focus on the second group, that is, the one willing to manage, it is easy to find examples in which expectations and what is finally approved do not coincide, without going into what is actually executed. The repeal of the labor reform of 2012 has shown some of these limits (comrade Juan Luis del Pozo explains it very well here) while “harmful aspects” have been left untouched in favor of an agreement between the social agents. It goes without saying that nothing has even been touched on the 2010 reform, which made dismissal of workers cheaper. On the other hand, the approval of the minimum vital income (IMV), sold as a social milestone, has proven to be a failure in that it has not been a tool that has reached broad target groups and, moreover, has been insufficient in its implementation. amount. And we will see the disappointment with the Housing Law. At the time

The reasons that can explain these facts, inasmuch as they generate a strong disaffection among the leftist electorate, are multiple and some of them impossible to save. How the economic system itself reproduces cannot be changed. If the economy grows, it is because the capitalist accumulation process has options to generate profits for investors and this happens if, and only if, someone is being exploited (global South, Asian workers, Europeans, the environment, the common, etc. ). When this process stops (crisis), the conditions must be generated to start it up again. This is why the leftist government forces see their political possibilities limited in a structural way. The decision between lengthening the period during which the accumulation takes place or generating a new one is conditioned by the electoral period.

Another reason is circumscribed to the very discourse of the left organizations, by oversimplifying themselves and abandoning the possibility of a society different from the current one. We can observe an example with the Funds Next Generation EU. The Government has received it as a progressive measure since it will allow us to decarbonize our economy and transform our growth model into a greener one, in addition to being a stimulus for the growth of our GDP (new accumulation process). However, obtaining these almost 150,000 million euros will not be free, since a part is loans and in general the receipt of the total amount will be subject to conditionality, which translates into the adoption of certain “reforms”. Thus, the perception of the funds has affected the scope of the labor reform and will affect our pension system, red lines for the left-wing electorate. Well, from these political forces, which criticized the bank rescue so much, this rescue of European industry has been celebrated, to which we are going to pay for its transformation under the umbrella of Keynesianism. We’ll see when the illusion passes.

The way out of the COVID-19 crisis has been different from that of the Great Recession because both crises have been different and not because of a paradigm shift (as we have been led to believe). To verify this, we have before us a problem of unleashed inflation (7.4% in year-on-year terms this past February, and 3% in the core one) that could be further aggravated by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Given this scenario, and with a public debt over GDP of 120%, the authorities are going to face the dilemma of stimulating the economy or curbing inflation. The lack of argumentation by these political forces is going to be a new disappointment for their electorate because, for example, of a considerable loss of purchasing power.

Faced with the current impossibility of carrying out radical transformations of the system and a management of capitalism doomed to failure, the extreme right hides, crouching, and has been able to capture widespread social discontent. Stopping this discontent of the progressive electorate is a necessary condition and must be done by explaining reality to an adult society, adapted to our current social context. Being aware of small advances, and celebrating them if necessary, should not separate us from the real criticism of what prevents us from moving forward.

Economists Without Borders does not necessarily identify with the author’s opinion and this does not commit any of the organizations with which it collaborates..