Socialism Slowly Dying in Europe

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Steve Erlanger, New York Times reporter, discusses why socialism seems to be dying in Europe even while many argue that capitalism is failing worldwide.


Steven Erlanger

Comments [16]

Richard Johnston from Upper West Side

There is an unfortunate journalistic phenomenon at work when you screen "experts" on other cultures for ability to speak fluent English and having sufficient means to live in New York. It's like when the "expert" in Tadjikistani politics is the guy in the town square who happens to look nice and speak English for the reporter who knows not a word of the local tongue.

In this case the French caller who said his compatriots are fed up with entitlements is pre-screened through his social status and his presence in New York. If you ask a typical French person on the street in towns there you will get a different perspective on the society where people do not want to surrender their entitlements, where the social safety net is strong and broad, and where there is much less dissent over it than an American right-winger would hope to find. The Socialist Party is alive and well, and whole swaths of the country adhere to its principles, which include stabilizing the countryside through subsidies to agriculture to keep people there instead of flooding into cities, stabilizing business through targeted intervention, stabilizing families through generous subsidies to make it possible to maintain a decent standard of living in hard times, stabilizing the social structure with a sound safety net that entails among other things generous unemployment compensation and strong union representation, and affirming the validity of the culture through generous subsidies to the arts and humanities.

Oct. 08 2009 08:50 PM
a woman from inwood

You people have no idea what you're talking about when you talk about socialism. I lived in Europe for 12 years, and nobody ever restricted my rights. There was no "restricting or retarding of human reproduction" -- if anything, extra benefits were given to people having kids.

In any case, the only reason socialism is dying in Europe is the same reason capitalism is failing here: human nature. Everybody is GREEDY. Any system that fails to take that into account and compensate for it will not work. And since everybody thinks humanity is so great and can take care of itself, they refuse to do so.

Time to wake up. We're all self-destructive and selfish, whatever system we are in.

Oct. 08 2009 11:55 AM
Sandra from Astoria, Queens

So if the European right embraces social welfare, universal healthcare, climate change, etc, this makes the American right look even more like dinosaurs. Perhaps a better term for them would be neo-feudalists?

Oct. 08 2009 11:31 AM
mozo from nyc

I know we are talking about Europe; however, Japan just got rid of the LDP (a conservative politcal party) and voted in the JDP (a relatively liberal party) for only the second time since WW2.

The reaction? The yen spiked last week to an eight month high against the dollar. So much for conservative ideas swaying the markets.

Oct. 08 2009 11:29 AM
michael santana from Brooklyn

I am a american; I have dual citizenship with france and travel frequently between the two countries. The lack of strong leadership is a significant problem in france. And when the public sees a void in leadership, they will be
attracted to a stronger personality like Sarkozy, or unfortunately attracted to the far-right, like Mr.Le Pen. Its not accidental that both of these men have a large following.

Oct. 08 2009 11:28 AM
Jgarbuz from Queens, NY

The death of socialism and communism in Russia, China, Eastern Europe, and India, essentially liberated 3 million slaves and turned them into eager beaver capitalists. And that has caused a major upheaval in the western world over the last 20 years, because all this cheap labor and newly liberated huge potential markets has meant the shift of jobs and capital to the East.

So, Reagan's promise of bringing down Communism didn't envision the tremendous economic upheavals it would cause in the US as manufacturing took a long march to the East.

Oct. 08 2009 11:21 AM
Olivia from Brooklyn

Thanks Brian for that thought. I have long been saying that it's the Conservatives in Europe would never deny the climate crisis! Their left and right are slightly opposite to ours.

Oct. 08 2009 11:12 AM
DL from NYC

Aren't the defeats of the Social Democrats in Germany and the looming defeat in England more of a reflection of the defeat of the left which has adopted right policies in favor of the right adopting left policies?

Oct. 08 2009 11:12 AM
Robert from NYC

Communism and Capitalism are the extremes and Democratic Socialism is a tamer version of both of these and a lot more successful than either.

Oct. 08 2009 11:10 AM
Robert from NYC

Everybody always has trouble. Socialism is not dying, it's evolving. Socialism in US = Soviet or Chinese Communism and a dirty word.

Oct. 08 2009 11:08 AM
Phoebe from NJ

I wasn't aware there were ANY socialist governments in Europe! This label has been recently adopted by the know-nothing teabaggers who neither understand what socialism is, nor - I guess - have ever traveled to Europe.

hjs says "europeans seem to like their better educated populous, long vacations and their longer lives (even as they spend less on healthcare than the US)". Isn't there something for the US to learn from this?

Oct. 08 2009 11:01 AM

The UK Conservative party (which is a favourite to win the next elections) explicitly promises continued support for the public health system.

The Left recently won majorities in Greece and Portugal.

Oct. 08 2009 10:59 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Please be careful in believing anything Erlanger posits about any topic.

I was in the room in October 2007 in Jerusalem when he called Israel a "failed state" with his trademark smirk. And to a room full of Jews...just to be snarky, cute and fashionably transgressive. Give me a break. Fortunately, he was shortly thereafter transferred to the Paris bureau.

This guy always has an agenda in whatever he writes. What he doesn't have is journalistic integrity.

Oct. 08 2009 10:47 AM
Robert from NYC

Oh I don't know, seems there have been just as many if not more murders/starvations/political imprisonments under right leaning capitalist regimes.

Oct. 08 2009 10:09 AM
hjs from 11211

I can't believe this topic. is it april 1st already. more honest would be a conversation about the death of conservatives in europe. their elected center right parties are to the left of the blue dog dems in the US

the conservatives of the UK won't touch universal healthcare if they win the election
the conservatives of france have backed off from many of the promised sweeping reforms
the conservatives of germany "promised voters it would protect the country's "social-market economy" with its mix of capitalism, regulation and a strong social safety net." and although the main center left party lost big in the recent election the other left parties gained big (yes some countries have more than 1 or 2 parties,) and the other left parties are more to the left than the main left party. the new left-right divide in the german parliament is now 46.6-53.4 so the safety net and socialism are safe there also
europeans seem to like their better educated populous, long vacations and their longer lives (even as they spend less on healthcare than the US)

longstreet, are the jails fuller in lefty norway than they they are in columbia or the theocracy of saudi arabia?

Oct. 08 2009 10:08 AM
longstreet from NYC area

Newsflash: Socialism can never long endure. Restricting freedom and retarding production, growth and human reproduction aren't exactly hallmarks of flourishing societies. Yet that's what socialism promises and delivers. Is it OK to mention the scores of millions of murders/ starvations/ political imprisonments under lefty regimes?
But, never mind. The US needs a new beginning of transformative change, modeled of course on illiberal marxism-socialism-communism.
Works for me.

[[Note, this comment originally pointed out an error in the blurb for the segment. We've fixed the error, edited out that part of the comment, but left the rest. Thanks.]]

Oct. 08 2009 09:43 AM

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