A very interesting interview on Social Europe with Mark Blyth, author of the terrific book Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (which if you haven't read, you should!)
I don't agree by any stretch with everything Blyth has to say, but he is provocative in a good way and well worth reading through to the end of the interview. I was particularly tickled with his pronouncements on the German SPD, which he pronounces dead. Passed on! No more! Ceased to be! Expired and gone to meet their maker! Stiff! Bereft of life! Rest in peace!
"Well, the first thing that [social democrats] should do, to quote—I think it was Planck, the physicist, that said this—‘Society evolves one funeral at a time.’ Let them die. I think you’ve got to start from scratch. When I had to give a speech at the SPD [Stiftung] in 2016 I said: ‘You are two electoral cycles from extinction.’ And I think I was exactly right. You might get three. But they’re dead. So there’s no point in trying to renovate something that’s dead.
What you can do is you can do what Corbyn did, although he’s not doing much with it, which is to take the dead husk of the Labour Party, in a kind of free-leveraged buy-out—take it over, build a whole new membership and then run it from the inside out. Until you assemble [in Germany] some kind of red-red-green coalition, you’re not going to stand in the way of the nationalists [in Alternative für Deutschland].....
I think that [reform of the neoliberal system] can be done if there’s activism to try and do it—if basically remnants of the progressive forces actually realise that unless they hang together they will definitely hang apart. And we’re really at that moment. Germany is the classic example for this again. If you had done red-red-green six or seven years ago we could have been in a completely different space now, but it wasn’t done. If you can reconfigure that now you can offer an effective opposition to AfD, but if you can’t then you won’t, because the SPD is dead. And that’s a choice that’s facing lots of countries.
This is not a counsel of despair. I have zero faith in the incumbents. They’ve had 10 years to fix it. They resuscitated the system with a massive liquidity injection. Didn’t change anything. And it turns out the world has changed and those structures don’t fit anymore.
Humans are incredibly adaptive, and when we’re faced with crises, as we are—environmental and inequality—there can be various responses. Just now what we see is the exclusionary nationalist response but that doesn’t have to be the only one. We are totally masters of our destiny here.
My point is this: if you’re waiting for a bunch of superannuated, septuagenarian social democrats to save your arse start looking elsewhere."
Whoa. Tell us what you really think Mark! But you know what--he's probably right. Those folks are not in fact going to save our arse. It's up to (gulp) us instead.