Elections are about one thing and one thing only: “will this leader improve my standard of living, or not?” Usually, but not always, this is done by improving the economy. If you have to fight a war for the survival of your nation the people will rally behind the leader; if the people’s standard of living continues to improve irrespective of the leader’s economic performance, the people will also rally behind the leader. Every single time I go to the polls, and I live in California – a place blessed with one of the best democratic systems around, (at least on a state level,) that is the main question that I ask: “will this leader improve my standard of living, or not?”
It is in this context that the rise of the European Nationalist Right must be viewed; the masses, tired of deteriorating living conditions driven in part by austerity and immigration are rallying behind the ENR. And here one must note the crucial difference: opposing uneducated immigrants does not make one a racist.
While it is true that most of the uneducated immigrants come from third World countries, and are not white, the reason to exclude them is because they are a burden on the welfare services of a country, not because of their race/ethnicity. If truly educated immigrants came from these very same countries, and from the very same racial/ethnic groups, they should be welcomed with open arms! When studying in Strasbourg I met an amazing couple from Africa, a Hutu and a Tutsi working together to stop racism from spreading and ensure swift justice. I want them in my country! Please, come, we have excellent schools for your kids! They both had higher education.
But the uneducated immigrants are simply not helping. They drive down the costs of labor and impose a burden on the state’s welfare services, which are tightly limited by austerity. When hiring a citizen or national, the owner must pay them a living wage and ensure decent working conditions. Hiring illegal immigrants is a different story; if one of them dies due to unsafe working conditions, whoops! Give his or her family a couple thousand, and be done with it. And they can be paid substandard wages and laid off with ease.
This causes the lower class of nationals/citizens to seek a job elsewhere, one that they’re not qualified for, which leads to just two outcomes: they do not get the job and must use scraps or welfare to survive or they get the job over someone who is better qualified, and that person now has those same two options. Combine this policy with the shrinking of welfare services available under austerity and you will understand why the people are radically opposing this brutal combination.
The problem with austerity is that it harms the economy by shrinking it. You need constant investment in vital services, such as education and infrastructure, in order for the economy to grow. On the flip side, if you do not provide said services, the economy will shrink. When you have more workers and a shrinking demand for labor, what happens to the standard of living for a population? It falls! This is basic economics! As supply of labor goes up and demand for labor goes down, the living standard of the workers shrinks.
This is what gave rise to UKIP and the Front National. When I make a comment such as “we should pass anti-immigration laws” – that is not a racist comment equivalent to “we should deport all the Latinos,” a comment that would be rather idiotic. I remember talking with a Latina and she asked me: “why doesn’t the US do more to improve living standards in Mexico to discourage immigration?” Was she a super racist? It’s laughable. And that, by the way, is the difference between UKIP and racist piggies: opposing the entry of uneducated immigrants, isn’t the same as being a racist. I cannot believe that I even have to explain this basic, basic concept.
There are two types of immigrants: educated and uneducated. The first group you accept, since they will assist the growth of your economy and an increase in living standards. The second group you only accept as needed to increase living standards for your citizenry. A government’s duty is to the country and the citizenry, not to the rest of the World.
To go back to the Latina’s comment: she understood that as more and more illegal immigrants come into the US, it is going to cause more and more deterioration in the standard of living for American citizens, and being a citizen herself, she knew that it would also cause a deterioration in the standard of living for her and her family. But she did not want to turn her back on her ethnos, so she came up with a brilliant and cost effective solution. Why is it not being implemented?
Because of Capitalists who love favoritism. If her solution was implemented, then they would lose access to a cheap labor force and fail to engage is their favorite activity: legal theft. If you steal a lawn mower from my house and sell it, we would call it theft. Would it also not be theft if you illegally sneaked into my house and had a huge party on my lawn, breaking my lawn mower? In both cases, I’m a lawn mower short as a result of your illegal activities.
Similarly, if you dump toxic chemicals into a public river, you should pay for cleaning up the mess or be forbidden to make said mess. You did an illegal act; please pay your fine like an upstanding citizen would. Is that so hard? Apparently, for some, it is. If employers hire illegal immigrants at substandard wages, and said immigrants come down with a contagious decease, guess who bears most of the burden for paying the bill? It’s the taxpayers whose livings standards are already deteriorating due to illegal immigration and austerity.
The solution is extremely easy: punitive fines on any businesses hiring illegal immigrants. Problem solved, next! Except the lobbyists are not letting that happen; instead, anyone who challenges illegal immigration is boldly branded as a racist. As Eric Cantor just found out, apparently the voters are no longer buying those lies.
It is this factor that led to the rise of Nationalists, (not racists,) rising in Europe. What did the EU do? Ran a couple of stories about how much of a shock the election was, branded a couple more people as racists and went back to business as usual, namely austerity and illegal immigration. Speaking of the EU’s business as usual: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/13/us-ukraine-crisis-naftogaz-idUSKBN0EO0UU20140613
“Ukraine said on Friday it was ready to pay a compromise price for Russian natural gas for 18 months to avert the threat of Moscow cutting off supplies and allow time to reach a long-term pricing agreement.”
Seriously? The “Russian threat”? Hmm, I wonder, what would happen if I was to talk into a Ferrari dealership, tell them to give me a car for free, and then accuse them of withholding an Enzo as a threat? I would probably be laughed out of the dealership, but hey, it’s Russia we’re talking about, so let’s keep going:
“Andriy Kobolev, chief executive of state gas company Naftogaz, said the price of $326 per 1,000 cubic metres – higher than what Kiev wants to pay and lower than what Russia demands – was proposed by the European Commission during talks.”
Wants to pay? Is Mr. Kobolev aware of how Capitalism works? In Capitalism, Mr. Kobolev, you either pay the market price for the good or you do not buy the good. I might want to pay $500,000 for a Ferrari Enzo, and I want to, really, really badly want to, but the market price is a million. And what exactly is the EC doing making up random prices? Would the EC negotiate $700,000 for my Enzo? I’d love the EC to negotiate that price!
“Russia almost doubled the price to $485 per 1,000 cubic metres after Ukraine’s Moscow-leaning president was toppled in February. Ukraine wants Moscow to stick to the price of $268.5 offered after Yanukovich spurned a trade pact with the EU.”
Actually, $485 was the contract price and $268.5 was the contract price after discounts. The thing about discounts in Capitalism is that they can vanish at a moment’s notice. If Ukraine wants to embrace Capitalism, let that be a lesson in Capitalist Economics. If you see fifty percent off today, that doesn’t mean that said discount is going to be at the store tomorrow or the next day. Discounts, unlike prices, are not guaranteed.
“Moscow has also offered to cut the price to $385 by eliminating an export duty of $100 per 1,000 cubic metres. This would be around the average price for Russian gas in Europe.”
Sounds reasonable. Despite the initial contract and Ukraine’s very poor payment record, Russia is still willing to sell at the market price. Why is this even an issue?
“Russia says Ukraine has piled up more than $4 billion in debts to state exporter Gazprom, which also delivers gas to the EU, half of it through pipelines via Ukraine.”
Let’s talk about the $4 billion figure. Presuming that figure is just for five months, (a very generous presumption,) that would mean that in 12 months, Ukraine would have to pay $9.6 billion. Of course if said contract was listed at market prices, Ukraine would have to pay $7.62 billion. Going below the market price would mean that Russia is going to take a hit. Nevertheless the EC suggests a price of $326. Under this price Russia forfeits $1.17 billion a year below the market price, solely for the purpose of funding Ukraine’s entry into the EU. Why should Russia do that?
Ahh, because half of Russia’s gas to Europe runs through Ukraine’s pipelines, and if Russia won’t sell to Ukraine, then Ukraine could cut off Russia’s gas to Europe. However, the Russians are building pipelines through numerous countries. Under normal Capitalist principles these pipelines should be allowed to be built, but the EU is attacking the construction of these pipelines, i.e. the South Steam in Bulgaria, pressuring Bulgaria’s Government to stop construction.
Russia is offering Ukraine market prices, in lieu of the contractual prices and Russia is trying to build other pipelines to Europe in order to circumvent Ukraine. Instead of asking Ukraine to pay the market price for gas, the EU is insisting that Ukraine gets special treatment and stopping the construction of Russia’s pipeline through Bulgaria. If the Europeans are left without gas during winter, who are they going to blame? The government that is imposing austerity and promoting the growth of uneducated immigrants, or the government that is doing everything possible to get them the gas under market conditions? Seems like a no brainer to me. Seems like a tough case for certain liberals: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2014/05/14/vladimir-putins-popularity-among-populist-parties-in-europe-illustrates-the-depth-of-the-challenges-facing-european-democracy/
“Although most mainstream political actors in the European Union have criticised the actions of Russia during the Ukraine crisis, not all parties have been critical of Vladimir Putin. Angelos-Stylianos Chryssogelos writes on Putin’s popularity among several far-right and far-left parties within the EU. He notes that while some of this support reflects compatible ideological positions, the real common ground between these parties and Putin’s regime is a belief in the use of populist politics to oppose foreign influence. He argues that the extent to which this style of politics has proved successful illustrates the challenges facing European democracy.”
Wait what? The use of populist politics to oppose foreign influence is a challenge for democracy? Erm, the duty of democracy is to ensure that the government does the best job to take care of their country and citizens, not to support foreign adventurism in the Middle East and North Africa. That’s not a challenge. That’s what democracy is about!
“With the crisis in Ukraine in full swing, a cascade of reports in media and policy outlets have pointed attention to the hitherto little noticed phenomenon of Vladimir Putin’s relationship with far-right parties in Western and Eastern Europe. Reflecting the logic of the Cold War, many fret about the possible repercussions for European security at a time when pro-Russian radicals are on the rise in many European countries.”
Ahh, fear mongering. It’s been all of two seconds. First off, they’re not far right, but rather nationalist parties. A patriotic populist will, de facto, appeal to nationalist parties. It all makes sense once you get your terminology right. Putin is not a racist, and is not afraid to crack down harshly on racists, so it’s a bit hard for a racist party to like Putin. As for “repercussions for European security” – what? Putin might play it rough in the former SSRs, excluding the Baltics, but it’s not like Russia is going to be invading Bulgaria any time within the next century.
“But what is it about Putin’s Russia that is so attractive to these parties? On the surface, it is relatively easy to come up with reasons for Putin’s appeal. There are elements in Putin’s Russia that speak both to the far-right (e.g. homophobia) and far-left (e.g. anti-Americanism).”
Not the actual reasons. Putin was popular amongst the nationalists before the anti-LGBT laws were passed, on the account that he’s a patriotic populist. And Putin was popular amongst the left because he repeatedly refused to cut social programs in Russia.
“In addition, and even more important, there are very few things genuinely ‘leftist’ about Putin’s Russia. Radical leftists should normally be appalled by the authoritarian nationalism and the rampant social and economic inequality of today’s Russia.”
Economic inequality does not mean “very few lefty things” in country. The left things in Russia are numerous, including: universal education, healthcare, pensions, long vacations, etc, etc, etc. Furthermore Putin has been shifting Russia’s economy as much to the left as possible, because the people love stability and job security, and so does Putin.
“This convergence between far-right and far-left can best be explained with reference to one common element that has increasingly marked their outlook: populism. As the classical scholarly statement has it, populism is a ‘thin-centred ideology’, something more than a style but less than a complete ideology, privileging the homogeneous people against elites and outsiders at home and abroad.”
The popular left is opposed to outsiders abroad, which perfectly explains why their hymn is called “The International!” Nothing says “go away foreigners” like “welcome foreigners!” And how exactly is Russia – homogenous? Has Russia ever been homogenous? There’s nothing wrong with populism as long as it is a genuinely popular ideology not directed against a specific group. Who is Putin’s Populism directed against?
It’s at this point that I simply stopped reading the article. Putin has no issue hailing his elites; Kudrin, Prokhorov and Zhurova are household names. What is Zyuganov, if not an elite, or for that matter, Putin himself? There’s nothing wrong with elitism as long as the elites work to better society, be it Putin’s stability or Zyuganov’s bold stance on pensions. Putin gets his support from Stabilization of Russia and Caucasian Victories, as well as the Sochi Olympics and the Annexation of the Crimea and Sevastopol.
To summarize: the reason that nationalists are rising in number is because illegal immigration and austerity are leading to the deterioration of the standard of living and no amount of accusations of racism or fear mongering are going to hide those facts, because the people vote based around a central issue: “will this leader improve my standard of living, or not?” If GazProm’s the one that’s building gas pipelines and the EU is the one stopping their construction, and people need the gas, is it really that hard to figure out who the people are going to support?