Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Steaming Pile in the NyTimes, part zwei

Take a ganders at this monstrosity.

There's so much loaded into this inept assemblage of bullshit that it's difficult to know where to begin.

The article begins:
A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of Socialism’s slow collapse."
Don't you love the nuanced treatment of political conditions in Europe? Or the detailed treatment of "socialism"? Who knew... apparently socialism is just the vote tally of social-democratic (or, as the case may be, soft neoliberal 'third-way') parties.
"German voters clobbered the Social Democratic Party on Sunday, giving it only 23 percent of the vote, its worst performance since World War II."
My my. It's as though the SPD has no history, no recent political past, no identity at all. It's a lot easier to just call them "socialist" and say that because they got clobbered, people in germany must hate socialism. In reality, the SPD got clobbered precisely because they are so pathetically right-wing; they lost support precisely because their strategy of trying to be CDU-lite has alienated their constituents. Yes, Conservatives have shed their SPD coalition partners, but its crucial to note that CDU (the "union") did not radically increase their vote tally since 2005. What's changed is that the SPD got hammered, while the Left Party (Die Linke) and the right-wing FDP made impressive gains. Because the right-wing FDP made sizable gains, the CDU is able to form a wholly right-wing coalition without the SPD.

Before the article bothers to finish up with the German situation, we get a nuanced, detailed analysis of Spain:
In Spain, the Socialists still get credit for opposing both Franco and the Iraq war.
Ugh. Is this all the NYTimes has to offer in the way of political analysis of spain's current conditions? And they say this like opposing the Iraq War and trashing fascism are bad things... If there actually was a party in the United States who opposed the Iraq War I'd give them credit too. Wow, those poor anti-war dupes in Spain. Don't they read the New York Times? Don't they know that socialism is passe?

All we hear about Die Linke is:
In Germany, the broad left, including the Greens, has a structural majority in Parliament, but the Social Democrats, in postelection crisis,must contemplate allying with the hard left, Die Linke, which has roots in the old East German Communist Party.
Right... the "hard" left, who, evidently, are all really just a bunch of Stalinists. Whew. Glad we don't have to think seriously about what they have to say. Who knew that "hard" left had to do with:
-- A safety net for everyone
-- Put people's social interests and needs first
-- For a just and future-oriented society
-- Protect democracy and civil rights
-- Peace and social justice
-- Consistently social for democracy and peace
That was Die Linke's "Six Point Program" that they ran on in the election. Scary shit, isn't it? Sounds like a bunch of silly Stalinist garbage if you asked me... I'm just glad we have real "change' coming to America from the sensibly centrist Obama Administration.

The best part of this article, however, has got to be this line:
Asked this summer if the party was dying, Bernard-Henri Lévy, an emblematic Socialist, answered: “No — it is already dead. No one, or nearly no one, dares to say it. But everyone, or nearly everyone, knows it.”, no. You read that correctly. No joke. Benny Levy is an "emblematic socialist", according to the folks over at the NYTimes. Doesn't anyone bother to edit this shit?

Hey, wait there's more:
The Socialist Party, with a long revolutionary tradition and weakening ties to a diminishing working class, is riven by personal rivalries.
Yes, the Parti Socialiste in France... paragon of revolutionary passion. What?!

The current PS in France was never a revolutionary force in French politics. Aside from a brief stint in power under Mitterand in the 70s/80s (which was formed as a coalition government with the participation of the French Communist Party), the PS has also never been a dominant party in France.

The PCF, on the other hand, was the main party of the Left in France for the entire post-war period up until its decline in the late 80s. Is it news to anyone that the Parti Socialiste can't seem to accomplish much of anything? The PS has been a consistent loser for the last 20 years straight (particularly embarrassing for this 'center left' party was the recent election when Lionel Jospin failed to make it to the second round of the presidential election, losing to fascist Jean-Marie LePen).

This hardly says anything about socialism as such, let alone the political situation in France. The NPA is an interesting development, but I suppose that doesn't fit the facile american "two party" frame of reference that the author of this article seems to prefer. Or maybe the NPA is just too 'hard' left to be worth commenting on.

So as though the BHL bs wasn't enough, the NYTimes felt it had to go in for another 'expert' with a semi-radical past who has since gone right-wing. According to the virulently anti-communist Tony Judt:
The French Socialist Party “is trapped in a hopeless contradiction,” said Tony Judt, director of the Remarque Institute at New York University. It espouses a radical platform it cannot deliver
Right, right... the problem with the PS in France is that it is "too radical". In reality, they've been veering further and further right to the 'center' for the last 20 years. They find themselves in the position today of being nearly indistinguishable from Sarkozy. Where Sarkozy opts for deep cuts, they stand for slightly less intense, more 'pragmatic' and 'centrist' cuts. But of course, none of these facts stops the 'third wayist' hacks from complaining every single election cycle that the problem with the neoliberal PS is just that they aren't sufficiently 'centrist'.

Next on the agenda of complex political situations to ineptly misunderstand and blather about: Italy. Now it's no surprise to anyone who follows these things that Italy's electoral left is in complete disarray. But there's a story to be told here. And it's got little to do with socialism, and a lot more to do with the increasing neoliberal turn on Italy's 'center-left'.

But who does the NYTimes talk to about this issue? Someone who any learned person could actually recognize as "left"? Nope, sorry... here's another third-wayist hack:
“We have to understand that Socialism is an answer of the last century,” Mr. Letta said. “We need to build a center-left that is pragmatic, that provides an attractive alternative, and not just an opposition.”
Noticing a trend? We hear a lot of the following buzzwords and phrases: pragmatism, socialism=dead, future-oriented, modernized, "new", "third way", centrist, etc....... I mean this isn't new language. This is a redux of the 1990s. All of these recommendations were already tried by the 'center left' Prodi government in the 90s, and look how well it turned out for Italy's electoral left.

But yeah.. right, it's clear that all the left in Italy needs to do is accept a little dose of 'reality' and try to 'modernize' and imitate Berlusconi, so that they can claim the mantle of "pragmatic" and "centrist". That's the future. That's where the new century is heading.

And just like the triumphant capitalist tone of the opening, the article ends with another hooray-for-capitalism bang:
Not an easy syllabus. But without that kind of reform, Mr. Judt said, “I don’t think Socialism in Europe has a future; and given that it is a core constitutive part of the European democratic consensus, that’s bad news.”
Yes, thanks for that Tony. Socialism in Europe has no future. Well, that's good enough for me...

Geez, NyTimes. Could you have found a more cynical old jerk to discuss the future of socialism with? Complete bullshit. Ahistorical, lazy, fatalist, tendentious garbage. American newspapers are a joke.

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