The Netherlands is the latest in Europe to move away from the center. A relatively new political party in Holland, formed in 2016 it stunned convention this week. Dutch voters were electing provincial parliamentary representatives who then determine seats in the country’s Senate. The Forum for Democracy (FfD) party will go from two to twelve campaigning on a “Dutch first” platform.
The current governing coalition centered on Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD will drop from 38 to 31 seats, losing its majority. The VVD itself lost one and will now hold a dozen, the same number as the upstart FfD.
Former academic and writer Thierry Baudet, head of the newcomers, said that the “stupidity and arrogance” of elites in Amsterdam and Brussels had been punished by the electorate. Other euroskeptic parties in Holland picked up votes, too.
We stand here in the rubble of what was once the most beautiful civilization. We won because the country needs us.
Baudet opposes the euro and wants the country to pull out of the EU. The FfD’s chief complaint is immigration and open borders.
Mainstream reactions have been the usual spectrum of disgust and mocking, how could this happen? You don’t have to agree with populists in order to honestly attempt to understand what’s going on. Why would voters in Holland, as Italy or Brazil, turn so far against the so-called establishment?
Flocking to the other side of the spectrum of extreme politics, Time Magazine’s Charlotte Alter has conducted a lengthy interview with the woman who she claims is the “second most talked-about politician in America.” That is, if you didn’t know already, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the young socialist from Brooklyn.
She is a hero to the left, they write, and a villain on the right. Those in the latter camp cannot fathom why especially millennials are like AOC so infatuated with socialism. It has been a disaster everywhere its incoherent doctrine has infected the political system.
In order to understand @aoc, you have to look at what she experienced— and what she didn’t. Red Scare, Reaganomics & prosperous 90s were all before her time. Her adulthood was defined by financial crisis, debt & climate change. No wonder she and her peers are moving left— Charlotte Alter (@CharlotteAlter) March 21, 2019
In response to this claim, people are taunting how socialist-leaning youths are making their case on the fruits of capitalism, using things like Twitter, the internet, and modern conveniences to complain about, supposedly, capitalism. This misses the point.
Rate of change is everything. Progress, like GDP, is not linear or at least it’s not supposed to be. When these people talk about the lack of prosperity, they don’t mean compared to 1950. Opportunity is much more immediate, even more so the lack of it.
How much opportunity is erased by GDP that’s almost $5 trillion short of where it “should” be? We know it’s a real problem by the very fact that AOC is so popular especially among the youngest Americans. They feel that though by historical standards they are inarguably wealthy something has changed, something’s not right which in its absence has robbed them of the same progress as earlier generations took for granted.
Again, you don’t have to agree with socialism to honestly wonder what’s driving people toward it. Why now? Jay Powell says, until very recently, the economy is super-awesome terrific.
Most people want to remain in the center, only those who are currently occupying this established order keep saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Anyone who complains must be doing so for nefarious (populists on the right) or ill-considered (socialists on the left) reasons. Perhaps the extremes are gaining because they at least offer some sort of answer to a very real shortfall people actually feel in their daily lives.
The real concern, as I see it, is how all this has been brought out between Euro$ #3 and Euro$ #4. People around the world were, for the most part, constrained even after Euro$ #1 and Euro$ #2. The third one, though, that was apparently one too many. It fractured natural social patience and has opened the door to all its ill ends: not just more and more extreme positions but even those in the middle have hardened their stance (globally synchronized growth as one such expression).
What happens in Holland, Italy, China, even the US if Euro$ #4 comes down hard on everyone? That’s the real danger. What’s the breaking point for an already weakened cohesiveness?
It’s easy to dismiss those who move toward the fringes as nuts and wackos, idiots who don’t know history or are so devoid of human compassion. However, this is perfectly natural (though still unfortunate), history itself littered with examples; societies undergoing continued economic stress eventually break down into everyman-for-himself. The man or woman who makes the best emotional plea ends up attracting the most attention and eventual support to remake “the system” as they see fit.
What their supporters most agree upon, what can unite all of them, is their view that the current way of doing things just isn’t working. What splits everyone apart is trying to explain why, the lack of a rational, honest answer from the middle.
More than EFF’s disobedience or the drastically distorted financial curves, look around the world and it’s easy to find this sort of evidence, political changes that leave you shaking your head, wondering if something must be very wrong and must have been for some time already. Why is it now Trump vs. AOC, Holland moving much closer to “Dutch first” mode, and China under a new supreme leader? What happened to any middle ground?
A year ago it was the Italians. I wrote then:
If anything, I think Italians, the British, Americans, etc., have until recently all shown remarkable restraint. They gave the technocrats the benefit of the doubt time and again, with dubious policies and experiments and then promises that haven’t come close to being kept. Ten years is a long, long time for nothing being accomplished. That’s really all there is to it. It’s just that simple.
You want to save Europe? You can start by ending all this blatantly dishonest boom nonsense.
Too late for that; the boom, unexpectedly, of course, has ended before it ever got started. Whatever side your natural sympathies might lean, it is a mistake to simply believe it can’t happen here. It has happened in a whole lot of places already. Risk isn’t purely financial.