Can Europe and the US reverse their nationalist and xenophobic drift? Is the West becoming belligerent?

European Peoples’ Party Congress in Dublin. General view. Jean-Claude Juncker goes to the rostrum, after being nominated EPP’s candidate for EU Commission Presidency. Shoot date: 07/03/2014. (European Council – Council of the EU Newsroom).

European People’s Party Congress in Dublin. General view. Jean-Claude Juncker goes to the rostrum, after being nominated EPP’s candidate for EU Commission Presidency. (Shoot date: 07/03/2014. European Council – Council of the EU Newsroom).

The appointment of the next European Commission President now clearly threatens the very unity of the EU. The two opposing camps have been well shaped around those longing for less or more Union. The first cluster is formed around the British Prime Minister David Cameron, who utterly opposes the candidacy of Jean-Claude Juncker, finding the Luxemboursois too federalist. The other group is led by Angela Merkel. The German Chancellor has finally decided to wholeheartedly support Juncker for Commission President.

However, this deep structural difficulty of the European Union to find a new leader hides a much broader development in the entire Western economic and political volume. It’s the inwards looking nationalistic and xenophobic trend, which is currently developing. It is quite clearly observed among the electorate on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Let’s see to that in detail.

Back to nationalism?

After of more than three decades of relentless and successful efforts to globalize the world economy and totally liberate the financial markets (a strategy having now established a new planetary division of labour after the fall of Communism, being initiated and strongly supported by the West and endorsed and brought to its apogee by the developing countries) now appears to falter. Citizens in both Europe and the US seem to feel they have had enough of it. The working classes, or what is left of them, on both shores of the North Atlantic are increasingly refusing to compete with third world labourers and vote for extremists who propose renationalization of the major economies.

This tendency became apparent in the European Union during the past few weeks. The European elections of 25 May solidified the drift, by favouring Eurosceptic and nationalist extremist parties, which were until recently in the margins of the political system. The most spectacular results haunted Britain and France, with Nigel Farage’s UKIP and Marine Le Pen’s Front National winning the first place leaving in the third position the governing Conservatives and Socialists respectively. In both countries, the inwards looking mood of the electorate, repulsing the openness of today’s world was manifested by the triumphant nationalistic even chauvinistic, xenophobic and Eurosceptic political formations.

What Juncker stands for

As it turned out, both the British PM David Cameron and the French President Francois Hollande have both taken the message of the election. Cameron’s latent Euroskepticism swiftly matured into an absolute rejection of Jean-Claude Juncker’s candidature for the European Commission Presidency and into a zest for the referendum on Britain’s position in or out from the EU.

The issue doesn’t seem to subside. On the contrary, every day it takes a new dimension. Last Monday, the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, hosted a meeting of the four center right leaders of the EU and invited to Stockholm the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and of course Angela Merkel and David Cameron. This meeting of ‘four’ must have been a disaster. Actually, Cameron threatened the German Chancellor Angela Merkel with this plebiscite of his if she insisted on Juncker’s candidature. Of course he got a stark Teutonic answer, that Germany cannot be coerced.

The importance of this issue may acquire existential connotation, because apart from the backing of Reinfeldt and Rutte, Cameron has secured the support of the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk plus his usual clients form central Europe, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Cameron also has obtained the backing of the major opposition Labour Party which also disagrees with Jean-Claude Juncker’s candidacy for the EU top job. Undoubtedly, the British left has also taken the message of the May 25th vote.

Paris abandons the axis with Berlin

It is of paramount importance though that on this question the French President Francois Hollande seems to also take the British side, abandoning the traditional Franco-German alliance and breaking from the famous Paris – Berlin axis. This was evident last week at the Brussels Summit of Tuesday 27 May, where Hollande joined Cameron in asking for deep reforms in the European Union. In reality Paris doesn’t want any more to take ‘instructions’ from Brussels about its economic policies. On the German side also the stakes were raised yesterday, when Wolfgang Schäuble, the minister for Finance, said that the next European Commission President will be Jean-Claude Juncker.

All this newly discovered deeply divisive animosity within the European Union is the direct outcome of the widespread public anger against the strategic politico-economic choices of the last decades. Those options openly favoured the financial sector and the completely liberalized the movements of capital around the world. This strategy led to the 2008-2010 financial crisis, which most likely will be repeated in the near future. The ballots for Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and the other European nationalist, xenophobic and inwards looking political formations have severely shaken the foundations of the EU.

What about the Tea Parties?

It’s not only the European voters though, who are fed up from what is going on in the world. The Americans in increasing numbers are also taking the most aggressive political option, which is the nationalistic, racist and xenophobic ticket of the Tea Parties movement. In a parallel development the US voters too turn massively towards dangerous and belligerent political options, denying deep in their hearts the competition with the third world workers and rejecting the total liberalization of the financial sector.

That is why, yesterday, the US House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor lost a Republican Party primary election in Virginia to a challenger from the extreme right Tea Party movement. Cantor is a major political figure in the US and had raised a lot more funding for his campaign than his almost unknown but victorious opponent David Brat, an economist.

Warmongering capitalism?

All in all, there is no doubt that something has to change in the world, because if things continue in this slippery road and the West ends up being nationalistic and xenophobic, the next stop may be in a minefield. War has already landed in Europe, with the Ukrainian government of Kiev bombarding from the air and the land its own people in the eastern cities and towns. The latest reports from there say that citizens are ‘ordered’ to take the ‘escape corridors from hail’, otherwise they will be considered as accomplishes to pro-Russian terrorists and will be killed.

In the Middle East and North Africa everybody fights and kills everybody, not to say anything about what happens in the streets of the American urban conglomerates. These developments could be, God forbid, a tutorial in war games for the public opinion in the West or it may lead to the triumph of the paranoia of ‘home security’. Even worse, the public opinion in the EU and the US looks prone to be convinced, that the West has to openly use its military might in order to maintain the prerogative on the world’s natural resources in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. Probably there is no other way to preserve democracy and maintain the western way of life.

 

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