Workers of Europe unite, you’ve only euro chains to lose
Europe’s Left has suffered a calamitous six months. Socialist governments have met historic defeats in Portugal and Spain. Greece’s Pasok party was toppled by an EU technocrat Putsch. Ireland’s soft-Left Fianna Foil lost every seat in Dublin.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
18 Dec 2011
Almost 97pc of the European Union’s population is now governed by conservative or Right-leaning coalitions, or EU-imposed mandarins. All that is left to social democrats is Austria (8.4m), Denmark (5.5m), and Slovenia (2.1m).
The whole machinery of the European Union (EU) system is under the control of the Right, with variants of Rhenish corporatism in the Council, and pre-modern Hayekians at the European Central Bank (ECB). Whether you regard this Hegelian ascendancy as good or bad, it certainly has profound consequences.
For just as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher protested at Bruges that “we have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at a European level”, the Left might equally protest that they have not fought the long, hard struggle for worker rights in their own democracies to see social welfare rolled back by Brussels and Frankfurt.
In Italy, EU viceroy Mario Monti has more or less been ordered to reform the labour code, to break union power by shifting to “firm-level” wage deals and rewrite Article 18 that protects workers against sacking for economic reasons – the issue that led to the assassination of two labour reformers by the Red Brigades since 1998.
No doubt Italy should confront its trade unions if it hopes to compete in the world, but my point is a different one. Who decides such matters? Why would the Italian Left think it desirable to concentrate further power in EU hands when it will without question be used against them? They might win control of Italy. They have no chance of taking control of policy levers in Europe in the foreseeable future, if ever.