We are facing the 8th year of crisis in Europe and Spain. The issue I am going to talk about comes from early times but has taken a quantum leap due to the economical situation, especially in continental Europe and Spain. The emergence of neoliberal discourse and trends and the steadily growing application of such policies it’s been clearly seeable in recent years. A defenestration of the State and its paper on economy, combined with a refusal to taxes and welfare policies appeared early in the 70’s Britain and USA by the hand of Reagan and Thatcher.
Nowadays, this discourse is being extended by Right politicians (being helped by leftist ones), the media and business world. Progressive forces have fallen into that trap, leading sometimes the fight against taxes, forgetting its redistributive and social commitment. In this context of inequality and rising instability of labor and labor rights, Social democrat parties faced the crisis with the same tools and discourse as right ones, bringing to a huge discontent on voters. Looses that main parties suffered flowed to an emerging parties have focused their strategy on catch that voters with easy messages. As an example it is interesting to look at the French case, where FN grew with a huge amount of ex-PCF voter’s support. Not only far right parties were benefited from the down of the catch-all parties but also the far left and undefined too.
In the Spanish case, privatization of public companies started in the last years of the 90’s, but the main neo-liberal discursive attitudes increased with the financial crisis in 2007. Affected by specific problems like the construction bubble, the economical situation turned dramatically into bad country performance indicators. With some of the highest unemployment rates in EU members, one of the most repeated sentences was “hem viscut per sobre de les nostres possibilitats” . That statement justified the implementation of cuts on social services like education or health. At the same time, banking companies had several problems in European and Spanish context and had been helped by EU governments with thousands of millions of Euros. That shed light on the two faces of neo-liberalism, against state in taxes and services but providing help and safe place for big business like banking. Instead of real liberal practice, the model we are facing is about plutocracy, a dystopia that could become real.
Coming back to Spain, as Ian Bruff article* says, the Indignados, a spontaneous social movement, despite its ephemeral existence, put the basis for new leadership and a new political discourse. Recently we have seen that political changes drove in the last local elections to a more multi partisan parliaments and councils. New parties rose and changed the political interplay. There will be an opportunity for changing the actual dynamic.
One of the main problems of that new movements and political parties will be that they have created a huge movement and reached lots of votes with the “enemies” rhetoric, where, as we have seen in Occuppy, there are the people, the 99% versus the 1%. It is an extremely useful message to bring together large electoral majorities but fragile when you pretend to change the system and make politics. Changing voters frame specially conception bout economy and policies, like the taxes, is going to be a hard job. Defining new priorities is going to be one of the most important achievements. As Bruff’s article highlights, they must break the frame of discursive and political basis of the status quo and bring us to new ways of doing politics.
The self proclaimed “new politic” is about justice, as one of its main claims. One important lesson is to realize that the Left organizations should not only manage the state and laws in a progressive way and keep for interests already fixed. A recovery on the economical indicators should not make us forget the inherent inequalities of the system and the necessary policies of redistribution.
*Bruff, Ian (2014): The Rise of Authoritarian Neoliberalism, a Rethinking Marxism, vol. 26, n. 1. Pp. 113-129.