European Left: The last days of socialism
29 September 2009
International Herald Tribune
“A specter is haunting Europe – the specter of Socialism’s slow collapse.” An allusion to Marx's Communist manifesto opens the front page article in today’s International Herald Tribune. Fresh after the “clobbering” the SPD received in this weekend’s German elections, the august American daily has revived the debate as to whether the European left is dead or not. “Where the left holds power as in Spain and Britain, it is under attack," it notes. "Where it is out, as in France, Italy and now Germany, it is divided and listless.” This is ironic given that the world is in the midst of one of “the greatest challenges to capitalism in 75 years, involving a breakdown of the financial system”. The reasons puts forward for such a decline are due to the centre-right’s recent embrace of traditionally social-democratic ideas – “generous welfare benefits, nationalized health care, sharp restrictions on carbon emissions, the ceding of some sovereignty to the European Union.” Says Tony Judt of New York’s Remarque Institute on European issues – “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."