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May 30, 2014
May 30, 2014

Denmark: The success of the Right is due to the shortcomings of the Left

Source: Modkraft  Category: On the crisis
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Denmark: The success of the Right is due to the shortcomings of the Left

The rise of the Eurosceptic Right cannot just be dealt with moralising criticism.

As expected the Danish People’s Party, headed by Morten Messerschmidt, got the largest share of the vote in the European parliamentary election Sunday the 25th of May with 26.6% of the vote.

The trend is similar in many parts of the EU (mainly the north/north west part): a significant rise of the Eurosceptic Right-wing.

In Germany the neo-Nazi party NPD (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands) elected one MEP, while the Front National in France, the Danish People’s Party in Denmark and the UKIP in the UK won over a quarter of the vote. The trend is also evident in Austria and Hungary.

The electoral success of the Danish People’s Party’s has to many people who see themselves as progressive and tolerant caused a feeling of indignation to live in a country where so many people vote for a xenophobic and nationalist party.

The social media and comments on various media websites are littered with statements like “It’s so embarrassing and shameful to be a Dane” and “I am ashamed to live in a country where a quarter of the population votes for an extreme racist party”.

The important thing here is that the reaction to the Danish People’s Party’s electoral success among many who identify themselves as leftist, primarily is moral: those who voted for the Danish People’s Party, are considered flawed people who are intolerant and xenophobic – in short, their vote for the Danish People’s Party is an expression of their specific characteristics and moral character.

The situation in Europe and the threat of the right wing extremism is of such a serious nature that we will have to go beyond immediate moral response. The result of the election is alarming and the reaction understandable but far from enough.

Instead, we should analyse the success of the extreme right for what it truly is: an ideologically distorted and symptomatic expression of some important and real problems that certain parts of the European population are exposed to in these years.

We will have to look at the underlying social and economic structures and dynamics and its symptomatic expression that is reflected in the rise of the extreme right.

If the Left does not get an eye for it, it will never get the opportunity to develop an alternative discourse and strategy that in a progressive and subversive way will be able to articulate the real and well-founded fear and uncertainty of the European population.

The modern, global capitalism creates insecurity in many people’s lives. Outsourcing of production, the “unsteadiness” of work, the threat of unemployment, the decrease of entry-level salaries, the growing inequality, the lack of democracy and the side-effects of the combination of the freedom of movement of manpower and the large differences in salary levels within the EU, as well as the general crisis are some of the factors that create a sense of uncertainty but also anger in a big part of Europe’s population.

The Left’s obvious task is to identify the cause of these problems, namely the capital’s inevitable and permanent pursuit of profit.

In this context, the EU trade union is a substantial part of the problem and not the solution. The Left will have to insist on an anti-capitalistic and international democratic project from bellow that can capture the widespread political disillusionment among European populations.

Unfortunately it is the right-wing that has managed to capture this anger through a nationalist and xenophobic ideological narrative.

The central element of this discourse, and what has appealed to many people, is the claim that we – according to the Danish People’s Party – can maintain the relatively well-functioning welfare state by building a wall around Denmark.

In this way, the Danish People’s Party has succeeded in convincing many voters that the problems of our welfare state can be solved by strengthening the nation-state sovereignty – a romantic dream of a return to the welfare state as it was before Denmark joined the EU, and in fact a dream, that clarifies the lack of understanding of the development of the global capitalist economy since then.

There is however some rays of comfort in the otherwise dark picture.

The Left in Greece and Spain is now stronger. The problem here is that the very same Left has started to integrate itself into the existing political system.

The lack of a capitalism criticism in the discourse of parties like Syriza, Podemos and Izquierda Unida means that they accept the EU and thus the neoliberal capitalism.

Someone who is running for President of the European Commission cannot possibly provide an alternative. The EU is the underlying institutionalisation of the transnational political and economic elite force against the European population and at the same time adopts a necessary function in the maintenance of neoliberal capitalism.

The Left is faced with an important undertaking, which is to fight right-wing nationalism and pro-European regionalism with solidarity internationalism.

As the German philosopher Walter Benjamin said, every fascism carries an evidence of a failed revolution – the point being that the people’s aversion of the EU as well as the widespread feeling of apathy and the absent of influence, that the extremely low turnout (43%) shows, constitutes a potential for the left-wing opposition against the EU.

The success of the Right is an index of the Left’s inability to articulate people’s real problems and to provide direction to the anger and discontent that actually exist which is an important challenge for the left – a challenge that cannot be represented by the moralisation of the Danish People’s Party voter tarnished character.

Søren Mau is a student of philosophy and Esben Bøgh Sørensen is a student of history of science and learning at the University of Aarhus.

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