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Hometown: Xenia, OH
Member since: Tue Sep 19, 2006, 03:46 PM
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Journal Archives

The European far right: actually right? Or left? Or something altogether different?

Marine Le Pen’s ideology cannot be defined simply as “right wing”.

The success of the Front National hasn’t gone unnoticed in the popular media. In news coverage the FN and other members of the Nativist Populist (NP) party family are most often referred to as “far-right”. In the economic sense at least, the accuracy of the “far-right” descriptor is doubtful.

Le Pen’s own public utterances criticising “ultra liberalism” and mondialism (One Worldism) are evidence enough that her natural constituency is not the Davos set. Rather, she is distinctly protectionist in her economic positions, having described globalisation as “getting slaves to make things abroad to sell to unemployed people here".

French voters who support the Front National feel assailed on two fronts.
First by cheap Chinese and other foreign imports local manufacturers cannot compete against, lest they start a “race to the bottom”. Second, they fear mass non-European immigration, mainly from Islamic Africa and Asia. They perceive themselves to be overwhelmed by free markets and open borders. The NP parties portray a situation where globalising elites make all the gains while the average citizen loses job security, identity and quality of life.

NP economics are nativist in the sense they’re designed to protect the national interest against foreign capitalists in the age of globalisation, while simultaneously supporting intra-national homogeneity by restricting welfare.

Welfare for all, as long as they are us

The nativists transcend the traditional right-left dichotomy of party politics by supporting the welfare state (albeit restricted to natives), while developing economic policies designed to protect native business, workers and culture from the perceived excesses of global free trade and Islamism.

The economics of the NPs are defensive. They support welfare and state led solutions to economic problems, and often support renationalisation of key state assets.

Beyond the left/right dichotomy

Dutch political scientist Cas Mudde has developed the most considered and precise understanding of the NP party family, concluding their defining features are nativism, populism and authoritarianism.

Considering the economic positions of the party family in Europe, the “far right” descriptor is inaccurate. In the current context such parties would be better referred as nationalist, ethno-communitarian, or populist to better express their positions which are a combination of what is a combination of traditionalist patriotic, conservatism and statist, protectionist, mixed economics.

For the FN it’s not a struggle between left and right, but between nationalism and internationalism in its left, right, corporate and Islamic guises.


An interesting look at the "far-right" parties in Europe. The author, who is Australian, has come up with the term "Nativist Populist (NP)" to describe these parties in order to get away from the left-right way of looking at them. I'm not sure how the terms are used in Australia, but "nativist" and "populist" can be loaded terms in the US. I wonder if the author meant to use them that way or if she was looking for more neutral (and accurate, given their definitions) terms than "far-right" to describe some European parties.

The author was just looking at the political situation in Europe, not the US, but would the tea party here qualify as a 'nativist populist' party?

A letter to the good people of Iowa: Are you crazy? (re. republican party platform)

Dear Iowa,

I used to think you were a pretty straight-ahead place, what with all that flat land and healthy vegetables and honest living. I mean, Iowans rejected slavery 20 years before the Civil War and they approved interracial marriage a century before the U.S. Supreme Court. Homosexuality was decriminalized almost 30 years before the 2003 Lawrence vs. Texas decision did so nationwide. Today, control of the state’s Legislature is split between Democrats and Republicans and, a few characters aside, it is not known for political extremism. Like the corn it produces in such copious amounts, Iowa generally seemed a healthy and sensible place.

That idea of the state ended for me last week when I read the proposed platform released by the platform committee of the Republican Party of Iowa.

Are you people totally insane?

The platform is absolutely thick with ideas from the extreme right, lunatic conspiracy theories, and barely concealed hatred for President Obama and anything that smacks of multiculturalism. It sneers at science, is down on poor people, and despises, really despises, the United Nations.

Here’s a sampling of the deep-thinking goals of the Iowa GOP:

Require candidates for president to prove that they are “natural born citizens,” beginning with the 2012 election. After all, non-citizens serving as president have been a longstanding problem in American politics.

Reject the “claims” of global warming, which are “based on fraudulent, inaccurate information” and pushed by people using “extremist scare tactics.” The Iowa GOP “recognizes” that policies and laws designed to combat global warming are really “a plan to take our freedoms and liberties away.”

Oppose “the diabolical collusion of the United Nations” in promoting its Agenda 21, a non-binding global sustainability plan signed by President George H.W. Bush and the leaders of 177 other nations in 1992. Like the Republican National Committee, the Iowa GOP apparently believes Agenda 21 is part of an effort to impose global political control on the U.S.

Allow Iowa to “nullify” any federal laws it doesn’t like. Nullification was a failed legal argument made by opponents of the civil rights movement.

Eliminate the Federal Reserve Act and implement a “sound commodity-backed currency” with a gold or silver standard.

Fight the North American Union, “which would do away with our borders and sovereignty, and … [battle] the Amero, which would do away with our currency.” Although there actually are no secret plans to merge Mexico, the United States and Canada into a single entity — and replace our dollars with “Ameros” — that hasn’t stopped the conspiracy theorists.

• In the same vein, “oppose so-called ‘One-World Government.’ ”

Entirely eliminate the departments of Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Energy, Interior, Labor and Commerce, along with the Transportation Safety Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

• Likewise, abolish the Internal Revenue Service and repeal the 16th Amendment, which legalized the federal income tax.

Require judges to instruct jurors that in addition to judging cases, they may pass on the law at issue. Commonly known as “jury nullification,” this is a highly controversial notion that is embraced by the radical right.

Oppose federal anti-bullying legislation because, after all, “students have the right and responsibility to stand up for themselves.”

Pass a “stand your ground” law, like the one that many believe led to the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. By a large margin, most prosecutors and police oppose such laws, which make prosecuting many killings difficult.

• Allow parents to refuse to have their children immunized.

• Reject the teaching of multiculturalism.

• Only teach evolution as a theory, along with creationism.

• Repeal compulsory school attendance laws.

• Outlaw pornography.

• Impose “more severe consequences” for convicted juvenile offenders.

• Eliminate the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which oversees job safety.

• Repeal smoking bans because, as the platform statement asserts, “We believe this to be an issue of liberty.” Air quality in all businesses should be left up to owners’ “freedom to choose.”

• Repeal all hate crime laws.

• Oppose the imposition of Shariah, or Islamic religious law, in the United States, along with any other foreign or “United Nations Law.”

• Build a fence along the entire U.S. border with Mexico.

• Eliminate no-fault divorce laws and require “good cause” to get a divorce.

• End minimum wage laws.

• Oppose abortion and reject the Supreme Court’s decision authorizing it. Encourage adoption and aid to unwed mothers — but only if every dollar of support comes from the private sector.


Thanks to the Iowa republican party for providing us with such a convenient list of current craziness and right-wing paranoia. You can't go far wrong just taking the opposite position on every issue that the Iowa repubs have taken a stance on in their platform. I wonder how many of these will be adopted by the national party.

Recent study: UK last, US next to last in social mobility among developed countries


Several large studies of mobility in developed countries in recent years have found that [b[the US among the lowest in mobility. One study (“Do Poor Children Become Poor Adults?" found that of nine developed countries, the United States and United Kingdom had the lowest intergenerational vertical social mobility with about half of the advantages of having a parent with a high income passed on to the next generation. The four countries with the lowest "intergenerational income elasticity", i.e. the highest social mobility, were Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Canada with less than 20% of advantages of having a high income parent passed on to their children.

According to journalist Jason DeParle
At least five large studies in recent years have found the United States to be less mobile than comparable nations. A project led by Markus Jantti, an economist at a Swedish university, found that 42 percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay there as adults. That shows a level of persistent disadvantage much higher than in Denmark (25 percent) and Britain (30 percent) — a country famous for its class constraints. Meanwhile, just 8 percent of American men at the bottom rose to the top fifth. That compares with 12 percent of the British and 14 percent of the Danes. Despite frequent references to the United States as a classless society, about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths, according to research by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths.

Left-wing Melenchon polling ahead of far-right Le Pen in France's parliamentary elections

Le Pen to lose to leftist in French assembly vote: poll

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen looks set to lose to far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon in parliamentary elections next month, dealing a blow to the National Front's hopes for a strong national score, an opinion poll published on Sunday showed. The rivals are running head-to-head in Le Pen's political backyard, the northern working-class town of Henin-Beaumont, in national elections where she hopes momentum gained in the presidential vote will deliver the party its first parliamentary seat.

An Ifop-Fiducial poll showed that Le Pen would win the June 10 first round with 34 percent of the votes against 29 percent for Melenchon but would be beaten 55-45 percent by Melenchon in the June 17 second round.

Not winning the parliamentary seat on her home turf would be a humiliation for Le Pen, who came third in the first round of presidential elections in April, behind winner Francois Hollande and his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.

"My objective is to catch up with her, to leave her behind me, and to eliminate her politically," Melenchon told radio France Info.

Melenchon said Le Pen represented a form of "obscurantism that only exists by pointing the finger at people based on their religion or the color of their skin".

"For them, the problem is the immigrant. For us, the problem is the banker
," he said and called on all those who are "angry, without being fascist" to join the leftist front.


Best of luck to Mr. Melenchon in defeating Le Pen's far-right National Front. He is accurate to mock the NF's penchant for blaming immigrants and foreigners rather than blaming bankers and the elite of their own country. Our own teabaggers tend to do the same thing.

Is it the Economic Left if "opposition to Globalist Corporatism" is more a right-wing phenomenon?

Opposition to globalization and "free trade BS" is more pronounced among teabaggers and the republican base than it it among Democrats. That is in the US. The opposition to globalization is even more concentrated in conservative political movements in Europe.

The far-right French National Front pushes nationalism and opposition to globalization and the EU (along with being anti-immigration) as solutions to France's problems. Other far-right parties in Europe use the same theme.

"Marine Le Pen, putting the accent on patriotism, deplores what she says is France’s loss of sovereignty to the European Union and to globalization...

Le Pen said the “real line of fracture” between the National Front and the system is not left-right but with forces who support globalization and Europeanization.

“I don’t defend the workers of the world. I defend French workers,” she said to stomps and cheers. “No, we are not xenophobes. We are passionately francophile,” she said."


While xenophobia and racism are, thankfully, harder and harder to find in the Left, I think you'll agree that they are still way too prevalent in the Right. And since it is on the right that much of the opposition to "globalization" and "free trade BS" is focused in the US and Europe, those attitudes are still, unfortunately, relevant to the discussion.

Krugman: "in 2008 the Wall Street Journal ... knew – knew – that there was no housing bubble...

People aren’t very receptive to evidence if it doesn’t come from a member of their cultural community. This has been blindingly obvious these past few years.

Consider what the different sides in economic debate have been predicting these past six or seven years. If you got your views from, say, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, you knew – knew – that there was no housing bubble, that America in 2008 wasn’t in recession, that budget deficits would send interest rates sky-high, that the Fed’s expansion of its balance sheet would produce huge inflation, that austerity policies would lead to economic expansion.

That’s quite a record. And yet I’m well aware that many people – including people with real money at stake – consider the WSJ a reliable source and people like, well, me flaky and unbelievable. Much of this is politics, of course, but that’s intertwined with culture: the kind of people who turn to the WSJ, or right-wing investment sites can clearly see that I’m a latte-sipping liberal who probably favors gay rights and doesn’t worship the financially successful (I actually prefer good filter coffee, black, but that’s otherwise accurate), and just not part of their tribe.

I suppose that in my quest to improve policy and understanding I should be trying to fit in better – lose the beard, learn to play golf, start using “impact” as a verb. But I probably couldn’t pull it off even if I tried. And as a result there will always be a large group of people who will never be moved by any evidence I present.

Actually, I had a wonderful, in a way, piece of correspondence today; the correspondent had read End this Depression Now!, and was having trouble finding any instances where I presented facts deceptively to support my ideological agenda. Could I please help him locate the places in the book where I do that?

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