Failure of the Left Leaves Italy a Victim of the Market

The failure of the Italian Left has left Italy dominated by the ‘free market’, just as a European Union commissioner said it would, according to Attilio Moro.

By Attilio Moro
in Brussels
Special to Consortium News

At the end of last month, European Commissioner Günther Oettinger scolded rebellious Italian voters who are fed up with European Union bureaucrats and European Central bankers dominating their country. “The market will teach Italians how to vote,” Oettingerm said.

He had made this remark when it seemed Italy was heading toward fresh elections after the latest political crisis. At the time the spread between Italian and German bonds jumped more than 300 points, aggravating Italy’s heavy public debt. In other words, Oettinger was convinced that the need for financial stability would force upstart Italian voters to get back in line with what the bankers want.

In the end, there was no new election as the Italian president backed down after first exercising his rarely used powers to reject a new coalition government of two populist parties who won the March election. He then tried to install an IMF bureaucrat as prime minister, rejecting the will of Italian voters, but was outmaneuvered by the coalition.

Oettinger, however, was still probably right: the market will most likely determine the future course of Italian politics. And that’s largely because of the collapse of the Italian Left.

Without a strong political party to represent a collective expression of public discontent with the neoliberal economics of the past decades, the market will inevitably remain the arbiter of any capitalist country. A nation with a very high public debt that has to obey EU rules designed in Brussels and Berlin will continue to experience a threat to its national sovereignty and democracy.

In the last 15 years the Italian Left and its most important party, the Partito Democratico (PD), has plainly ignored such threats, being viewed by voters as the executers of the “Brussels Diktat.”

Oettinger: Markets will tell Italians how to vote.

Populists Fill the Void

Therefore, the so called ‘populist’ parties—the rightwing “Lega” and the Five Stars Movement—stepped in and legitimized themselves as the only political forces who even raised these questions and offered solutions. They won the last elections in March, while the PD lost more than 10 percent.

Some DP leaders recognized they had lost touch with their base: workers, retirees and the middle class whose income had been halved by the 2008 crisis, the introduction of the euro and the imposition of austerity.

In an increasingly impoverished country, the sole ‘leftist’ measure of the PD government of Matteo Renzi from 2014 to 2016 had been to give a paltry 80 euros a month to the most deprived households. It was an electorally driven handout, somewhat reminiscent of Eva Peron handing out 50 pesos to desperate Argentines. In the meantime the PD government bailed out four Italian banks with an injection of 20 billion euros. “At least say something that sounds leftist,” an Italian humorist once told Renzi while he was busy rescuing banks (including Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the oldest bank in the world founded in 1472), which had been so generous financing Italian political parties, including the PD.

On the sensitive issue of illegal immigration, the Italian Left has been less than convincing. The PD speaks of a duty to host refugees fleeing wars and famine, a sentiment many Italians share, but ignores the impact of thousands of refugees in the poorest Italian suburbs, raising accusations of elitism.

This led to the perception of the PD and the Left in general as being the Establishment, with few new ideas and ready to sell their country to Brussels. The PD was also partly responsible for zero economic growth and a twenty-year social malaise. It’s not surprising the ‘populists’ won.

A Failure Beyond Italy

The crisis of the Left goes beyond Italy. In Germany the Social Democrats (SPD) badly lost the last election because of its unpopular immigration policy, and its coziness with corporate Germany at the expense of workers and consumers. Entering into a new Grand Coalition, the SPD became a crutch for a weak Merkel government. With rising anger among workers, the right-wing AFD – a pariah party before the last elections—filled the vacuum and became the third largest party.

In France,“socialist” President Francois Hollande pushed an unrealistic 75 percent tax for the rich, while failing to improve life conditions of the poor, losing support from both.

The Left in core countries of Europe is experiencing an unprecedented post-war crisis. It is difficult to imagine how it can cope with an increasingly globalized market, widespread social instability, environmental threats, mass-immigration, and the unprecedented power of corporate lobbying. It is faced with fighting society’s subordination to market forces. But so far they have no answers as long as the traditional Left succumbs to the corporations and banks, whether from the ambition and vanity of its leaders or the bankruptcy of its idea.

The rise of the popular Right is challenging the European Left to overcome its complacency and bureaucratic stagnation to reinvent itself. Should it continue to capitulate and lose this challenge, unimaginable disaster could be in store for Europe. 

Attilio Moro is a veteran Italian journalist who was a correspondent for the daily Il Giorno from New York and worked earlier in both radio (Italia Radio) and TV. He has travelled extensively, covering the first Iraq war, the first elections in Cambodia and South Africa, and has reported from Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan and several Latin American countries, including Cuba, Ecuador and Argentina. Presently he is a correspondent on European affairs based in Brussels.

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51 comments for “Failure of the Left Leaves Italy a Victim of the Market

  1. Bill Goldman
    July 4, 2018 at 17:53

    Someone should tell Mr. Moro that the Italian Left and the “free market” are myths. The Left evaporated in 1947 when the Communist Party, then the largest in Europe, was overpowered by Western lies and propaganda. So called “free markets” were sabotaged by the Central Bank Cartel which promoted intervention into capital markets and anti-labor union bias and the exclusivity of private fiat money rules under control of international entities. The IMF and Bank for International Settlements (BIS) both dominated by post WW2 US Federal Reserve Bank had the gold and made the rules. They solidified their control during a series of manipulated wars until economic recovery was converted to the economic austerity that exists today. Change requires a new militancy which restores strong labor unions everywhere immediately. If that is not possible, then the austerity will continue and get worse.

  2. Berna
    June 26, 2018 at 18:14

    The “Left” in the USA was represented in some aspects by the Democratic Party during the days of FDR but FDR was a bit of an phenomena. He was pushed to enact Social Security because the real left, represented by labor, communists and socialists, forced his hand. Since then, the Democrats have done little to promote left causes aside from Medicare and civil rights. Today, there is only a shadow of the former labor movement, and the communists have died of disillusionment and delusion. Yet there is a growing socialist movement in the US and it will show itself to be strong in the next decade. The issues which will give it strength are healthcare for all, affordable housing, a livable wage, and decent free public education including university and trades. To achieve these goals will not be easy and will require some profound changes in the monetary system; creation of state banks, limitations on speculation in real estate, taxes on stock trades, state control of pharmaceutical prices and health management, and some severe cuts to the defense budget.

    • Mild - ly Facetious
      June 26, 2018 at 19:27

      Dear Berna,

      None of those items you spoke of will happen under Right Wing Koch Brothers/Ayn Rand/Thatcher/Reagan banal belief/concept of “THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS SOCIETY”

      Their philosophy of Human Life is
      like, ‘every man for himself’ !!!
      To the victors go the spoils, and
      chattel slavery is the path to wealth…

      Or, as The Reverently worshiped
      Reagan said to his Right Wing Base,
      “The Gov’t is not the solution” (implying)
      “The people must fend for themselves”,

      “Even as I end FREE College education
      Close all State Mental Facilities
      Condemn Free Speech on campus and
      Declare an end to the Civil Rights Era” !

      A 21st century Iron Curtin
      in closing around the USA
      the diminishment of ‘rights’
      looms in a grotesque future

      Where an Ownership Society
      of Stock Market Insiders
      Capitalize on Managed deals
      while the 99%fight for survival

      Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud
      Ayn Rand and Donald Trump,
      with Charles Dickens and
      Edgar Allen Poe’s Raven…

      could this be the End?

      • Berna
        June 27, 2018 at 20:02

        ” Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” Robert Kennedy

        Don’t be defeatist, MF.

  3. Jon Dhoe
    June 26, 2018 at 10:53

    Really is shocking how so many rank and file Liberals and Conservatives still support the EU.

    It’s just a simple dynamic of who has power. We the people don’t.

    • Mild - ly Facetious
      June 26, 2018 at 17:57

      It is indubitably clear now, that Right Wing Dominion-ist / Paternalists / Fascists / Corporatists are devouring/consuming/controlling the earths’ last remaining resources – with a Devil May Care resolution to Control and Possess Earth’s attainable wealth and squirrel it away in Tax Havens and Off-Shore Banks, all of which are Owned and Controlled by Rothschild Despotic HATERS OF HUMANITY.

      Trump yearns for inclusion into this class of Elite Destroyers of humanity – as were, i.e., Nazi Germans.

      Trump shares deep familiar blood lines with this Eastern European sect of territorial barbarians who are, TODAY, the last most racially intolerant Peoples/Nations in the World. ( this explains Trump’s yearning for his “people-from Norway” affection/affectation.)

      The Right-Wing covetous foment for Sarah Palin’s ‘Real Americans’ is the forerunner to Trump’s MAGA and the man (Trump) is doing a wonderful job of turning those sentiments into Reality.

      As regards to the Dominion-ist sect of “Evangelical Christians” — they are Equally/ if not More deceived than those that think ‘going to church’ and “Supporting Israel” completes them as followers/believers in Jesus Christ.

      The Right-Wing Majority of “Evangelical Christians” are, in the ACTIVE show of their “faith’, merely and major-ly the NIcolaitans of Revelation 2:6, whom Jesus Christ (The Savior) declared He hated !!!

      Whom to believe? The Nicolaitans of Revelation 2:6 are the ‘evangelical christians’ of today ! Easily Deceived Followers of a false ‘christianity’.

      TO WIT :

  4. Litchfield
    June 25, 2018 at 17:03

    “Should it continue to capitulate and lose this challenge, unimaginable disaster could be in store for Europe. ”
    I don’t see why this is necessarily so. The disaster is already unfolding. The left is not doing anyuthing about it.
    So, where is the logic here?
    I am not satisfied with the a priori demonization of “populist” parties.
    They are better and more in touch than the “liberal left,” and they also seem to be capable of fielding more intellectual heft than the so-called left, which actually is no longer a “left.” It is a gelding left, not a stallion.

  5. Mark Thomason
    June 25, 2018 at 08:07

    The rebellion of voters failed this time. It has however been building in many places. It has not won, but grown stronger. It is all in one direction. It is against the power that controls the media and current politics. It will arrive. Ask Hillary.

  6. exiled off mainstreet
    June 24, 2018 at 20:56

    This cites a key problem: there is no left in most countries except perhaps in Britain where, under Corbyn, the real left effected a recapture of the former “left” party. Indeed, in many European countries, so-called “rightist” parties take a more favourable position towards social defense than the former sold-out rightists. The only major exception is immigration, but that is a false issue, since immigration often works against the interests of the native ethnic groups and their living standards. Identity politics and political correctness, a term first developed in East Germany to define those loyal to the Stasi regime, are inimical to real defense of living standards from the corporate parasites.

    • christina garcia
      June 25, 2018 at 21:45

      Please cite, political correctness and identity politics, both terms and meanings, originated in the GDR. What year, when , who, to which purpose? Unless you exile from mainstreet are yourself ex Stasi , I cannot believe what you have posted. My proof, My uncle
      Werner Goethe deceased, and his still living wife, and their desendents who actually lived (live) in Guben former GDR , now FDR. Give me some proof or you don ‘t know what you are talking about.

  7. Tim Owen
    June 24, 2018 at 20:37

    I’ve been reading about the EU crisis with rising horror for ~ a decade. The article puts it plainly. If the left can’t shake itself loose from peripheral issues the result will be disaster.

    The good news is – ironically – its actually the left that has economics on its side. Austerity is junk economics. The result is like watching a community blind itself to fact they are sitting at a fully laid banquet, starving. The idiocy is breath-taking but, equally, the solution is simple: open your eyes.

    It is very well laid out here:

  8. carlusjr
    June 24, 2018 at 18:05

    If the “left” doesn’t advocate being independent from the banksters of the EU/US corporate fascists, then it cannot be called the “left”. Populism and nationalism doesn’t exclude the “left”. In fact it is within those two “isms” that those courageous US activists forced Roosevelt to back social programs for the poor during the Depression and resulted in Social Security being passed.

    “But so far they have no answers as long as the traditional Left succumbs to the corporations and banks, whether from the ambition and vanity of its leaders or the bankruptcy of its idea.”

    It has been obvious for decades that what the writer calls the “left” is really composed of covert allies of corporate fascism, like the US Democrats have been for decades.

    The obvious solution for Italy (and all countries of the EU) is to quit the euro, have their own independent government controlled banks, and default of all debt as a sovereign country is legally obliged to do when facing aggression by outside financial forces intent on subjugating the population and raping and pillaging its social, economic and natural resources. I repeat, this is all obvious. What is not obvious is why Mr. Moro has not mentioned it in his article.

    • Attilio Moro
      June 25, 2018 at 12:41

      I agree with you. However we still need to take into account some ‘ technical’ consequences of leaving the euro. Like the isolation from European market and the flight from italian banks. Including the need to ‘save’ them again with taxpayer’s money…

      • Litchfield
        June 25, 2018 at 17:06

        Not if everyone leaves at once!

      • carlusjr
        June 25, 2018 at 22:17

        Yes, let’s talk about the “technical” consequences.

        Private “Italian” banks are not Italian and are not banks, even though they are on Italian soil. They are covert, parasitical scam institutions, posing as banks, perpetually operating fraudulent operations that only benefit their corporate fascists owners to the extreme detriment of the Italian people. The first step is to quickly adopt the lira and drop the euro. Then these banks should be taken over by the state. Those Italian citizens that still have money deposited in savings should be compensated by whatever assets remain in that particular bank, including with the assets of the bank owners, and then by the state; but bond holders should lose their money and not be reimbursed. What investors in the bank that remain on the books should lose their money too. They are private speculators who for years, all over Europe, have used financial engineering to rip off the taxpayer by extortion, either threatening to, or, as was done to Greece, carrying out the decimation of economic, social infrastructure, and the confiscation of their natural resources- using the euro as the weapon of choice. This was implemented by dishonest convert corporate fascist puppet politicians, like Tsipras . It would be healthy for the Italian society to fine (and/or confiscate all of their assets), and immediately jail these people for fraud before they can do more harm to the country.

    • June 29, 2018 at 04:44


  9. ranney
    June 24, 2018 at 17:54

    “The rise of the popular right is challenging the European left to overcome its complacency” – sounds a lot like what is happening here in the US. The neo-liberal centrist Democrats who are in power in the Dem. party are doing everything they can to prevent progressive Democrats from having any say in what the party offers. It’s hard to believe the third way neo-liberals brought in by Pres. Clinton are so blind that they cannot see that the world and this country has moved on. What was once a forward progressive idea is now a hinderance to further progress.

    Lately I have been watching dvds of the TV series “The West Wing”. I loved that show and at the time I thought it was very liberal and progressive in its view – actually I think it was. It did a good job of presenting ideas that we weren’t ready for yet. One of them was about homosexuals in the military. West Wing”s President punted on that one but some good points were made for us to think about.. Another one was about marijuana possibly being taken off the schedule one list with heroine and cocaine; all the top advisors are running around horrified. The President punted on that one too but didn’t fire the US surgeon general who had pointed out on national TV that marijuana is not addictive and is less harmful than cigarettes and alcohol.
    That is only a small sampling of the ideas and problems that are discussed (and often not dealt with) on this show.
    What is interesting is to see how far we have come in certain attitudes and how far we need to go in others. But clearly we have moved on in many large and varied ways from Clinton’s day. That is one reason why Trump won. Too many people were sucked in by his lies and basically we all knew what Hillary stood for and we didn’t want another 4 years of that after having just finished 8 years of the same thing. (Obama apparently bought in to the whole third way, neo-liberal stchick – certainly he never gave any of his “hope and change” ideas a real try). A lot of people not fooled by Trump and knowing what Clinton would provide (a lot more wars being at the top of the list) simply stayed home and didn’t vote.
    We have a chance to start to right things in 4 months – don’t screw it up. VOTE!

    • Litchfield
      June 25, 2018 at 17:10

      Most of our current financial and economic problems were ushered in by failures of both omission and commission by the Clintons. As for homosexuals in teh military, how has that really helped anyone?
      OK, some gays who can get veterans’ benefits and a job and get training in killing (or maybe they don’t get posted to earth), plus enjoy contributing to the ongoing and accelerating militarization of American society. This is “progressive”????
      I don’t think so.
      And while gays in the military sucked oxygen out of the room, the Clintons, with Larry Summers and others, proceede to lay the groundwork for wrecking the economy and body-blowing minority and poor communities.
      And totally screwing up health care reform.

    • June 29, 2018 at 04:47

      Trump was a middle finger to the Bush Republicans and GOP.

      And democrats neo liberalism

      Sanders would have won

      Hillary left people with no choice but to want to blow the whole charade up

      • Skip Scott
        June 29, 2018 at 07:25


        I feel exactly the same about this. At this point in our history we have no choice but to “blow the whole charade up”. Bill Clinton and Obama taught us that the Democratic Party has become just another servant of the one percent and its war machine. More of the same is not acceptable! Trump is horrible, but Hillary would have been even worse because the “charade” would have continued. I thank Julian Assange every day for his courage in releasing those emails that laid bare the lies of the Hillary campaign. My hope is that the Progressives will abandon the Dems en masse and make the Green Party their home for 2020. At this point it is our only hope if we want to take down the evil empire and have any kind of a future other than slavery and ecocide. The Bernie supporters need to realize that it is utterly hopeless to try and revive the rotted corpse of the Democratic party. Then we can really “blow the whole charade up”.

  10. June 24, 2018 at 17:12

    Interesting article at link below.
    “Former Soviet Dissident Warns For EU Dictatorship”
    From the desk of Paul Belien on Mon, 2006-02-27 21:13

  11. June 24, 2018 at 16:54

    I believe Italy and other E,U. countries are prisoners of the E.U. which is a subsidiary of the “New World Order.”
    More information on this at links below.
    December 14, 2014
    “Is There An Open Conspiracy To Control The World”?

    The European Union was formed without a vote of all its peoples’ in different countries. And it is a striking example of how the people can be herded like sheep into an undemocratic union as part of the “global governance” agenda.
    “The Group of Twenty (“G-20”) nations, the new Financial Stability Board (“FSB”), and the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) are progressing on two fronts: the monitoring and revision of national and regional economic plans to facilitate global economic governance…”…
    [read much more at link below]

  12. Kalen
    June 24, 2018 at 16:10

    I frankly do not like this word failure in the title to this otherwise informative but not as insightful article I might expect.

    While it is true that broad left had its serious fallings but calling the resulted catastrophic situation of working people and raise of populism in a form of fascism and nationalism a failure of left is like calling Holocaust a failure of Jews.

    What about murderous rampage against true EUROPEAN leftists in 1990-ties after collapse of USSR, preprogrammed economic/financial collapse not only in Eastern block by western economies in countries dominated by socialists or social democrats like Sweden, Austria even Germany where SPD completely abandoned its leftist heritage. What about collapse of PCI and PSI in Italy parties that alone or coalition won ALL Italian elections between 1945–1985, under deadly assault of Italian mafia hired by global oligarchy to wage war against leftists parties. What about massive deadly attack on trade unions and other funding sources of the left.

    Not to mention unleashing $bilion dollar a day anti leftist propaganda and this includes mass purge of leftists from media, academia and educational systems. I just named few facts that makes the current situation not as much failure of the left but brutal result of deliberate nuclear war and obliteration of true left completely from political spectrum while leaving some globalist subservient cliques with leftist sounding names that became insult to their own political past.

    Make no mistake, in fact promoting by establishment controlled opposition in form of populist movements is nothing but channeling popular anger over collapse of socioeconomic foundation of post war European anti Soviet consensus, into political dead end and emotional roller coaster and cycle of political betrayal to emotionally wore down desperate people as a psych-op leading to ultimate mental enslavement.

    The left not just failed it was erradicated from the face of political Earth.

    • Ken
      June 24, 2018 at 19:49

      Yes, the traditional left has been co-opted by the powerful neocon/neolib machine that strategically controls its politicos, finance, media and the so-called “security” forces.
      So has the left died?
      Its heart beats in the hands of the people who have yet to mobilize to confront the madness engulfing us. So yes, the left has failed, but not the so-called left parties who are happily reading the script.
      It is our own failure that is leading us sleepwalking into a very dark place.

    • mike k
      June 24, 2018 at 21:17

      Yes. Good comments.

    • JoeD
      June 25, 2018 at 11:02

      I suppose it is what you mean by “the Left.” Since the author capitalized Left and used the term “Italian Left” – I take it the author is referring to political parties and not people who are “left” in their political ideology. If the author is indeed referring to political parties, then the author is 100% correct. Left political parties have moved away from working and middle class people and have endorsed neo-liberal policies. The Democratic party in America is a perfect example.

  13. Joe Tedesky
    June 24, 2018 at 14:26

    I sit here scratching my head but wondering about what label best fits my philosophical mindset, and with a little help from my friends here I then realize labels don’t really matter any more. To take this a step further, I then pinch myself to awaken to a declining America along with it’s Vassal State European allies, and suddenly this confusion to labels or party affiliations even is due to the chaos of our societies going down the drain.

    It would be but one wish, that when our Western Societies do recover from this period of calamity, that a fair and honest community of states will arise. I am a dreamer, so forgive me for wandering into imagining a worldwide utopia coming to be, but it’s something to strive for at least. You may tweak my idea, but please tweak it totally towards peace.

    Except for Duffs reference to Roberts & Stockman being a little over pronounced, Gordon Duff does critique a lot of the UN Report on U.S. Proverty…. I’m posting the link to give reference to the decline of America, and that with each pasting quarter as only to add another year more American citizens will be added to this poverty statistic…. it’s only a matter of time for change to have real meaning.

    • R. Millis
      June 24, 2018 at 16:27

      The UN Report fails to note how the US wealthy undermined the political system, whether during the Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Obama or the Trump years.

      The most egregious evil was perpetrated against D.C./Regional/State and even community politicians. Essentially, the elite bought off all the politicians. This has been going on for the last 50-60 years. Laws for the rich were enacted. The judicial system was destroyed by these same people.

      Add to that, a nation of people that NEVER respected or admired world history, philosophy, literature = this profound, and fatal flaw stretches all the way back to colonial years. Thank God there’s still a smattering of such studies that go on in Europe.

      But to blame this or that presidential administration is ridiculous. It’s the powerful wealthy and self-centered banksters, and corporations that continues to destroy “America.”

      • Joe Tedesky
        June 24, 2018 at 23:08

        R Mills I don’t think your reference of someone blaming this current presidential administration for malfeasance was ever mentioned, and especially not by me.

        Although your points of frustration are valid, and should be recognized by all, the UN report in my estimation is certainly not flattering to the U.S. in anyway. In my opinion Professor Philip Alston who created this report surely spoke to the ills and pitfalls of the American economy, along with his sharp critique of America’s treatment of its poor. I’m not sure what you expected R Mills, but I feel that at least Professor Alston isn’t hiding behind a pro-American agenda, nor is he omitting what usual gets omitted by the MSM.

        I agree with you R Mills that our American government has been bought off, and for a very long time I might add. I also believe that our American culture is way past it’s due date with it’s disgusting nature of continual indigenous conquest, and then after the U.S. destroys some lessor opponent we act like it was all well intended. It’s time this young nation of the United States of America grow up. Grow up to admit it’s wrongs of the past, and grow up to step down from it’s highly conceded exceptional ways, and begin to join the rest of the sovereign ruling nations to make a better multipolar world. We are not that special, we Americans just think we are.

        If you would like to further discuss any of what we have written about here, I will look forward to hearing from you. In any case you take car R Mills, and thanks for your reply, I enjoyed it. Joe

        • June 25, 2018 at 09:15

          Joe: Thanks to you and others, CN has the best comments section. I usually start the day at Counterpunch (they have a larger plethora of articles) then I head over to CN.

          • Joe Tedesky
            June 25, 2018 at 12:54

            As we pass each other in the halls of the alternative internet it is good we share each other’s thoughts on the Consortium. Thanks Chris for your kind words. Joe

    • mike k
      June 24, 2018 at 21:20

      Joe, if we don’t believe I utopia, then our beliefs ae useless.

      • Joe Tedesky
        June 24, 2018 at 23:14

        No mike I just threw that in there, because in the past my critics (god love them) have been critical of my dreamy nature…. I’m influenced a lot by Gandhi, MLK, and of course the venerable John Lennon. Hopefully mike you and I will make it to our utopia one day, and if not well at least we dreamed of it, right mike?

        Here’s to tomorrow mike, may it be all of what we wished for it to be, and then some. Joe

  14. Ralf
    June 24, 2018 at 10:57

    The refugee crisis and the immigration policy of the EU are dividing the political left in the EU, but also the political establishments within the countries. In Germany, the real left party (“Die LINKE”) is divided into two factions,and likewise, now the ruling conservatives are quite surprisingly experiencing a serious crisis over migration policy.

    The pragmatic factions in the left are in favor of a policy of unlimited asylum, and beyond that a limited immigration policy. The idealist faction upholds quite naively a general open borders policy, calling the pragmatist faction nationalist. This lead to a serious alienation with the working class base of the left which increasingly supports far right parties (same as in France, I guess, and in many east European countries).

    The solution, to my mind, can only lie in a stronger emphasis on elements of direct democracy as the central concept of left politics: let the people decide on core aspects of the state’s politics; how much immigration are you willing to accept?; do you want this war?; do you want these anti-social neoliberal policies? etc.

    The problem with the left in Germany is that their representatives are too selfish and arrogant towards the “masses” to recognize that this is the point. Just like the populist right, the left has cultivated the often false narrative of speaking “for the people”, but would never dare to let the people speak for themselves.

    • JoeD
      June 25, 2018 at 11:13

      Your solution does address the real problem. The problem is not one of immigration. The problem is what causes the displacement of people in the first place: Military Intervention, i.e., Foreign Policy. One needs to address foreign policy.

      This issue is not immigration as it relates to job movement. That does not cause stress on a country because of the low number of people moving between countries.

      Forced immigration caused by people being displaced because of war causes stress because of the large number of people moving between countries. A large influx of people overwhelms the system, “…ignores the impact of thousands of refugees in the poorest Italian suburbs…”

      The issue is one of foreign policy and the near endless military interventions. Stop bombing people and you end forced immigration.

      • Skip Scott
        June 26, 2018 at 06:07


        There is also a nefarious purpose behind so-called “economic” migration. Military action is only one tool for the looting of these countries by the forces of empire. The “job movement” is caused by their home countries economies being purposely destroyed as part of the looting process, a la “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”. I’m not sure the numbers are as you think they are regarding people migrating for economic reasons as opposed to war. It would be interesting to see some studies. In the end, we need to not only stop the wars, but stop the predation by the International Finance system, and allow these countries to build economies that provide a decent standard of living for their citizens. Fair trade policies and peace are both keys to solving the problem of forced immigration.

  15. Babyl-on
    June 24, 2018 at 10:48

    The European left, as is the case with the left throughout the West, is pathetic and does not understand how deeply and fundamentally things have changed. “Democracy” (Western Neoliberal Democracy) is already dead – it failed and failed miserably. Democracy is not going to fix anything because it is incapable of doing so. The world left behind union organizing 50 years ago and left has not figured that out yet. Democracy is not “the end of history” democracy is not an election, democracy will be superseded by another system, checks and balances DO NOT WORK look around at the courts for example (FICA). I urge everyone to read this sweetly written little piece which illuminates the deep failure of the Enlightenment in the face of the human condition.

    In realty there are no such things as human rights – the reason is that rights are granted to us by some power or another or handed down by “god” as inalienable. eternal and immutable. (There is no god – there is lust for power.) Of course nothing i the physical world ponds to “rights” We humans have something far better we have “The Will to Power” we do not need gods or governments to give or recognize “rights”

    Until the “left” in the West gets over its cult like religious belief in the god of “democracy” it will continue to fail.

    Why is he left not joining in with the Chinese? Their system is the future not failed and deeply corrupted “democracy” while the US has slaughtered innocent people around the world China has lifted 700 million people out of poverty. Does the left even know this?

    It is not just that democracy has failed the entire intellectual and cultural foundations on which democracy was created have failed.

    • mike k
      June 24, 2018 at 12:17

      Democracy can only serve higher ideals if the people are at a higher level of intellectual and moral functioning. But everything about American society works against such a public coming into existence. Phony individualism, which is just dressed up selfishness. Dumbing down education. Addictive consumerism and entertainment circuses. Lying propaganda media, Hollywood fantasies, sex for sale culture, etc. And so we get a democracy of dunces. Easy for the wealthy bullies to buy and control.

    • Joe Tedesky
      June 24, 2018 at 13:59

      Maybe it’s a matter of prioritizing?

  16. Theo
    June 24, 2018 at 08:56

    I’m afraid that today’s EU will not survive.And our Merkel is part of the problem.But she’s loosing power and influence.No one takes her seriously.Most Germans hope the government will break apart.Italy has always been a problem child.As far as I remember there was never a stable government in office since WW2.In a country where the corporate business is ruled by the organized crime and corruption,what do you expect?

  17. mike k
    June 24, 2018 at 08:14

    Capitalists and their Bankers are essentially Super Rich Bullies. They have zero concern for the millions of lives they warp and destroy.

  18. john wilson
    June 24, 2018 at 04:36

    So, the Italians didn’t vote the way they were supposed to, well that is according to Gunther. Actually, if voting ever changed anything, they would do away with it ! I’m nearly 80 and in all the years I have been around, absolutely nothing has changed, regardless of the government of the day. I’ve long since come to terms with the fact that I’m screwed and that all there is to it ! My old mother-in-law used to say when I die I will go to hell. Well, no change in my circumstances then !

    • backwardsevolution
      June 24, 2018 at 06:47

      john wilson – that’s funny, John. At least you’ve still got your sense of humor.

  19. backwardsevolution
    June 24, 2018 at 04:30

    Attilio Moro – “In the meantime the PD government bailed out four Italian banks with an injection of 20 billion euros. ‘At least say something that sounds leftist,’ an Italian humorist once told Renzi while he was busy rescuing banks.”

    That’s funny. Yes, the banks get bailed out. Where have we heard that before? The banks should be taken over, nationalized, split up into smaller pieces, and then sold off. Somebody will buy them. Let the bondholders and shareholders take their losses. Give them a taste of the “free market”!

    The Right, the Left? They’ve all been bought off. Corporations and supranational organizations are firmly in control. Nobody is concerned about the common man any more; they don’t have to be, as he’s too far removed from the seat of power. There’s too many layers between him and those controlling the purse strings. The elite formed the European Union in order to strip sovereignty away from countries. Flooding the E.U. with immigrants will create more chaos, exactly what they want. Hard to take back control in a chaotic environment. You’ll end up with citizens who will feel no allegiance to your country.

    Italy should leave the E.U., along with the rest of the southern European countries. Get out while you still can.

    • Sam F
      June 24, 2018 at 09:13

      Back in the early 1990s the Resolution Trust RTC was selling packages of bogus banks (!) for almost nothing, because they had net assets of about zero (or less) due to corrupt speculation after the Repubs removed controls causing the Savings and Loan S&L crisis. Those banks had been formed to attract depositors and steal their money, often offering prizes like toasters to transfer balances there. The joke after the crash was that RTC was offering a free bank with every toaster sold.

  20. Sam F
    June 24, 2018 at 03:49

    Perhaps the protectionist, nationalist part of the right wing should be considered to be left wing. Those ideas are not very “liberal” but they are populist. The left abhors mainly the racist component.

    One prefers international solutions where they work, but these may backfire due to finance exploitation, market economics, and US abuse of NATO and the UN. The left might welcome the nationalist protectionists back into the fold, and dump the abusers of international institutions.

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