Pasokification

That’s a term coined to describe the fate of the Greek social democratic (and nominally socialist) party PASOK, which implemented austerity measures in the wake of the global financial crisis, and was subsequently wiped out, with most of its voters going switching their support to the newly created left party Syriza.

In France, Germany and the Netherlands, much the same has happened with the Greens gaining many of the votes lost by social democrats. Broadly speaking, the more a social democratic party has gone for centrist respectability, the worse it has done. In Spain, the Socialist Party has formed a coalition government with the leftwing populist party Podemos. In Portugal, confusingly there is both a Socialist (anti-austerity) and Social Democratic (pro-austerity) parties. Unsurprisingly, the SDs have lost ground.

Could something like this happen in Australia. I’ve always been critical of the idea that the Greens could replace Labor as the main left-of-centre party. That’s because the policy differences between the two were less significant than the stylistic/cultural differences, which meant that the Greens appealed to a relatively limited section of the electorate.

However, with the massive overreaction to the unexpected election loss in May, Labor under Anthony Albanese seems to determine to test out the possibility of Pasokification. Having waved through the Coalition’s regressive tax cuts, and “big stick” energy laws, Albanese has now failed to offer any response to the fire emergency, opting instead to promote coal exports. He has trained all his attacks on the Greens and has had nothing to say about the government.

Our only hope at this point is to replace Labor with an opposition that will actually oppose the government, and push for serious action in response to the climate emergency. That will take time we don’t have, but I can’t see any alternative.

The underlying problem is the emergence of the three-party system (Trumpists, neoliberals and left-green) replacing the previous neoliberal consensus in which the dispute was between harder (Thatcherite) and softer (Third Way) forms of neoliberalism. The three party system is unstable, but it rarely leaves room for a soft neoliberal party of the kind Labor is becoming.

77 thoughts on “Pasokification

  1. Well, one has to ask how “impotent” they actually are. Their standard line to the domestic (city) audience is “we’re only 1% (or 1.3% or whatever it is) so our hands are tied… but one has to wonder what agendas Taylor et al. actually have with their diplomacies with large emerging emitters?

    Actively promoting action?
    Dodging the issue?
    Saying nothing?
    Actively discouraging action?

  2. It would appear again that “wibble-wobble” campaigning on any big issue important to large cohorts won’t carry the day.

  3. Smith9

    It would appear that Corbynisation isn’t the answer either.

    Possibly Corbynisation without antisemitism, cuddling up to Islamofascists and the more bizarre policies like giving non-citizens the right to vote would have done much better. I could never have voted for Corbyn for those reasons although I agreed with 90% of his program. I would’ve stayed home and got drunk.

  4. Hugo

    Here is what Nick Dyrenfurth has to say on Twitter

    “Who knew Blue Labour were right all along & that putting up a far-left, anti-Semitic enabler backed by far-left, anti-Semitic enablers & actual anti-Semites would end in disaster for the once great UK Labour Party”

    The previously Labour voting Leave seats, which are overwhelmingly working class, have overwhelmingly voted Tory. Make of that what you will.

  5. Smith9:

    I note with disgust that the Corbynite Left and the more extreme right wing libertarians are in furious agreement about smashing the nation state (stripping citizenship of meaning, free movement of people, voting rights for non-citizens and engendering cosmopolitan anti-patriotism).

    In my view if these types of policies were enacted, they would take us down the path to a right wing libertarian dystopia. Capitalism doesn’t need borders or a cleavage to anything apart from self-interest. Social democracy does.

  6. Voting Tory by voting Brexit? Is that really voting Tory by voting for a third party and not voting Labour? Or is it voting something else? A first past the post system without any run off has to be the pits. Will the blue labour types get what they want or not? They may still be blocked. Will SNP get what they want? They will be blocked. I’ll wait for a bit to get what I want out of it when the pound crashes. I’ve orders waiting to go.

  7. Albanese should worry about losing his own seat. The greens put up a decent candidate for once he could be in a hell of a lot of trouble. Pissing off those who actually voted for you at the last election is dumb dumb dumb.
    Corbyn lost because he was just a road hump for the power elites who will, inevitably make societies increasingly dystopian. The question is not why he lost, its why he bothered. For that though, i salute him.

  8. So now the labour party in England will just become a centerist party that does the bidding of the powerful. Once defanged it might even be allowed a term in office. It will never be allowed though to stop the restless drive to inequality built into capitalism.

  9. Oh, and there was nothing anti semitic about corbyn. His sin was to support the palestinians and proposing radical change. All the crap about his personal defects etc is just an attempt to fool the boobs into thinking that someone with his platform had a chance. He never did.

  10. Thats a really disappointing result in the UK. It’s not Pasokification though given Corbyn and his socialist manifesto. Just a crap leader and anti democratic,elitist stance on Brexit. Hopefully the ALP draws the right conclusions. The working class may be racist, sexist, fossil fuel loving, xenophobic scum (sic) but you need their votes to win.

  11. Oh and if asked: What is required to get working class voters back, the answer is you probably can’t. The gap in culture between the modern ALP and working class culture is too wide. The only real possibilities are something visceral like a recession or another Work Choices.

  12. Oh, and what is modern ALP culture? It’s a mix of identity leftist social policies and soft neoliberal economics.

  13. Corbyn is a traitor to his country, a useful idiot and an idiot-at-large but I think his apparent racism was more about stupidity and gullibility than actual racial animus.

    It will be a great pity if British Labour ditch Corbyn’s better economic and social ideas and head back to the Blairite centre.

  14. “head back to the Blairite centre.“

    Tony Blair went 3-0 in elections, two of them landslides.

    The last Labour leader not named Tony Blair to win an election was Harold Wilson in 1974. That was a long, long time ago.

  15. I suspect J.Q. is just too depressed to comment on the U.K. election. I can understand that. When the Western democracies start voting in “leaders” like Trump, Boris and Scomo then you know the West is in trouble. Right wing extremism, populism and xenophobia are on the rise. This portends real strife.

    At the same time, the “left” parties and leaders in the West are a complete disappointment. They have capitulated to most of the neoliberal program and are incompetent to boot.

    The irony quotes are necessary. Our “leaders” are not leaders and our “left” is not left, just slightly less rightist and not even that on economic matters.

    Britain does need to Brexit. The EU is a complete neoliberal project and its one currency area is far from an optimal currency area without direct fiscal help (not loans) to poorer nations. It was a horrible choice the U.K. voters faced. They needed Brexit but they do not need Tories nor ineffectual, neoliberal Labor.

    One thing about neoliberal capitalism and its associated money-corrupted politics, it gives no real choices to the majority of people (only to plutocrats and corporatists). Something has to change, radically, or our civilization, Western and Global, collapses under climate change, plastic pollution, general toxic pollution and wrecking of the biosphere.

  16. Yes, the national turnout of 67%, of which 43.6% voted conservative, isn’t exactly a mandate. But it is what it is.

  17. Smith9:

    I’m all for a large increase in government spending to fund a better welfare state and social programs and a significant redistribution of income, which puts me further to the Left than Blair. However, it seems that most folk who support that suite of policies also (1) obsess about Zionist Jews (2) think patriotism is wicked and (3) want mass immigration, preferably from intensely reactionary ethno-religious groups that despise liberal values and have a penchant for terrorism, consequently fueling far right populism among the working class.

    Given that unholy alliance, I suppose I’ll have to settle on the Blairitres.

  18. Ikonoclast, IMHO, your characterisation of the EU:

    “The EU is a complete neoliberal project and its one currency area is far from an optimal currency area without direct fiscal help (not loans) to poorer nations.” is at best an extreme oversimplification.

    Not all member countries of the EU are EURO-zone countries. That is not all countries in the EU have the EURO as their currency. The UK, Denmark, and the more recent member states do not have the EURO. It is a historical fact that Greece applied to join the EURO-zone.

    JQ has classified the EU as social-democractic not long ago. I agree. In some EURO zone countries the term “social market economy” is used and the further qualification ‘ecological’ has been added for quite some time.

    In the more recent past, it is the right-wing so-called populists (eg AfD in Germany, League’s Matteo Salvini in Italy, among the EURO-zone countries) that have shouted against the EURO – in response to the GFC (which they conveniently forgot as a factor in the EURO crisis), exhibiting so clearly their superficial ‘analysis’. These same parties jumped on the migration ‘crisis’ (which so-called elitist parties, such as the social democrats (SPD) and the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Free Democrats (FDP) in Germany) handled in a professional and humane manner, as they did with the GFC (there was no austerity program in Germany as was introduced in the UK). Former East Block countries, notably Poland and Hungary, jumped on the migration-culture war propaganda wagon and they are in conflict with the EU regarding further policy measures that are said to be incompatible with the democratic institutional framework (eg separation of powers) in the EU contracts (constitution).

    Neoliberalism, as extensively characterised and discussed by JQ (and elsewhere), is still relevant in the sense that the long tenticles of privatisation, labour market reforms, financial market deregulation of the pre-GFC era still contain a sting in the form of housing market price bubbles and rental stress, income and wealth inequality and ongoing threats of further financial market chaos. However, this is not an EU phenomenon. On the contrary, EU countries, except the UK, were rather slow in following the naive market economic doctrine of neoliberalism (eg the then ‘conservative’ Kohl-CDU government introduced a wealth tax in Germany, which was later put on ice by so-called ‘progressives’. A stark reminder of confusing the labels associated with political parties with the characteristics of policies by whatever party is not helpful).

    The consequences of the 1980s to 2008 naive market doctrine now restrict the policy space in the environmental area; something politicians who are elitist in the sense of being knowledgeable and intelligent (but labelled establishment politicians for the wrong reason) are painfully aware of. For example introducing a higher CO2 price that is applicable not only to electricity generation but more widely is constrained by the income and wealth inequality that has grown over the past 30 years within EU countries. (Simple debt generated ‘growth’ isn’t going to be the solution, IMHO.)

    The UK has to leave the EU because of the referendum. Whether or not the outcome of this referendum was based on adequate information or not may well be discussed for a long time.

  19. What Hugo said. Reality is that the “competent capitalism with a human face” agenda is the only one that has any chance of competing with the “crony capitalism with an inhuman face” one. The socialist agenda is dead, dead, dead because the bulk of the population (including the now essentially nonexistent traditional working class) simply do not want it.

    So if the socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange is not imminent then if you want such production, distribution and exchange to happen you have to allow people – even a@@@holes – to make a quid from it. Then you can tax ’em enough to look after others not so fortunate.

    While the disaster of Trump’s election happened because of centrist and centre (center?) right elite incompetence, the disaster that has happened to UK Labour (and consequently to the UK generally) is the work of utterly unrepresentative, out-of-touch and deeply incompetent activists who should, as one Labour recently ex-MP said, “go back to their student politics”.

  20. Re Ernestine’s mention of the “right-wing so-called populists AfD in Germany” – Anna Funder writes that disgruntled ex Statsi claim victimhood;

    “ And today this amorphous sense of victimhood among former Easterners is being harnessed by the racist, xenophobic, nationalistic Alternative for Germany party (the AfD), which is winning a significant proportion of the vote in the former eastern states. The AfD articulates an inchoate, dangerous and misdirected malaise similar to that of Brexit or Trump supporters: the white patriarchal dispossessed, with their own narratives of victimhood. In this part of the world, history might look to a local like a spinning roulette wheel of black (Nazis) and red (communists), which is now veering back to black. Ordinary people place their chips, suspecting, despite their apparent choice, that the house always wins.”

    https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2019/december/1575205200/anna-funder/stasiland-now

  21. Akarog – excellent article.

    Between ‘let it burn down we are.going to heaven’ and ‘perfectionalise’;

    “you “perfectionise” a system in the service of an idea, the cost is in lives.”

    …we are left as always, and forever iy seems, with vigilance.

    Quote above from…
    https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2019/december/1575205200/anna-funder/stasiland-now

    Pasokification Perfectionalism… brrrr, chilling. ‘We perfectionalised the accounting not people’…
    JQ above…”party PASOK, which implemented austerity measures in the wake of the global financial crisis, ”

    Ernestine said; “Whether or not the outcome of this referendum was based on adequate information or not may well be discussed for a long time.” but unfortunately Anna Funder said (and the old joke science moves ahead on a death);
    “the Stasi files, says that 40 years of separation will need 40 years of healing, because true resolution is “not a matter of years, but of generations”. ”

    We still haven’t dealt with matters from 200+ years ago.

  22. After 18 years and 4 elections won by Tories.

    “Tony Blair went 3-0 in elections, two of them landslides.”

    Again, after 18 years of Tory Thatcherites!

    Subsequently the bliarite red tories lost two elections consecutively. ( 3 + -2 = 1 ? )

    Now corbynites have lost two elections consecutively – one loss by a narrow margin, another closer to the average.

    The average UK governing party seat majority margin is 65 following 14 subsequent elections since the 1969 voting age lowering to 18. Johnson’s 2019 winning seat majority margin now is 80. Cameron’s first and highest was 78 after voter disillusion with red tory bliarites. The governing party has changed 5 times in 49 years since the 1970 election (nominal fixed 5 year terms since 2011). Minority governments stand as Tory 1, Labour 1. Labour had 18 years in government during that 49 years. Bliarites formed government for 13 years from 1997. In the 22 years since then the corbynites have led Labour for 4 years only. Red Tories ran Labour for 21 years (1994 – 2015) before Corbyn’s 4 years.

    Fairness alone demands that judging of the corbynite electoral performance be delayed for 17 years until 2036. They may only be warming up at present, and voting low socio-economic oldies are dropping off the twig all the time. In the post-brexit future they may find themselves dropping off the twig rather more than before.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_Kingdom_general_elections
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leader_of_the_Labour_Party_(UK)

  23. Graphed: UK general election vote (not seat) share and resultant governments 1950-2017

    The closest any party winning government got to a simple majority was 49.4 in 1959, the furthest 35.2 in 2005. Tyranny of the minority: is that democracy or a game of whack-a-mole?

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