2017 minus 1936 = 81, an untidy number, not even a prime number. 1936 marked the start of the Spanish Civil War that resulted in a long hiatus for the Spanish left, as well as the failure of Weimar Germany’s socialists to prevent Hitler from remilitarizing Germany. Strikingly, 2017 sees the entry of the neo-fascist Alternative for Germany Party into the Bundestag for the first time since the end of Hitler’s war, and the near simultaneous refusal of Spain to recognize the overwhelming vote for independence organized by Catalonia’s left-leaning government, provoking a massive general strike.
The main issue in Germany’s election was Merkel’s welcoming of almost a million Muslim immigrants in 2015, whom many Germans do not want to see in their midst, while left-wing Catalonians, like their cousins the Venetians who dream of leaving Italy, or the Corsicans who for decades have campaigned — at times violently — to leave France — want to reclaim their culture, their language and history. Catalonia’s Republican Left Party, founded in 1931, was outlawed by Francisco Franco after he won the Civil War in 1939, re-emerging only after his death in 1975. Coincidentally, that was the year in which West Germany became a founding member of the G6 Economic Forum, consolidating its new economic might. History may not repeat itself, but its left/right cycles come pretty close to doing so. In 2017, once again the left in Spain’s leading region is defeated, as it was in 1939, at the dawn of World War II, while in Germany, Neo-Nazis enter the Bundestag for the first time since that war ended.
Were it not for the Neo-Nazi controlled government in Ukraine, the success of Germany’s AfD Party would be of no more concern than France’s National Front, whose leader, Marine Le Pen, ran for President. But the EU leadership, in thrall to neo-liberalism (however much voters rebel against its austerity), continues in its assigned role in America’s campaign to bring down Russia’s popular president, Vladimir Putin by tempting the Ukraine with membership. (Rachel Maddow claims that Russia wants the world to ‘fall apart’, suggesting tanks rolling in to take control, but as usual, she is wrong. Russia is not interested in acquiring more territory, much less, as some claim a propos Ukraine, does it harbor the revanchist objective of putting former Soviet Republics back under Russian rule.)
When American journalists avoid consuming any direct information emanating from the Russian President — including, of course, his speeches — their intellectual tools are likely to be limited to 1940’s cliches. Vladimir Putin has repeated over and over his conviction that the 21st century world would be a more peaceful and prosperous place if it were administered by the half dozen strongest regional players acting in concert — referring to this as a ‘multipolar world’ — rather than by a unique hegemon that provokes hostilities around the world in the name of profit. He also knows that such a condominium can only be effective if it is coupled with ‘local democracy’, as sought by regional independence movements instead of globalism, which is a honey-pot for the few. While anti-globalists are not against international trade, they believe it should not determine the color and density of the many’s lives.
Washington claims that Russia is interfering in EU elections, after supposedly tipping the US scales away from Hillary; but for its own good, the EU needs to counter America’s anti-Russian campaign. If it wants to arrest the disaffection of its citizens, it needs to encourage local democracy and mark its support for the condominium context espoused by the Russian president.
To round off this account, let me mention that greater democracy — and hence control — is also being sought by the American states of California and Texas. In a 1975 novel called Ecotopia, still read by activists, California, Washington and Oregon succeed from the US in the name of individual freedom and a more ecological life-style. The fact that the originator of the “Calexit” campaign, Luis Marinelli, recently chose to live with his Russian wife in her country, where the simple life is still possible, can be seen as evidence of Russian support for his former project. However, Marinelli is only one of many Americans currently living and working in out-of-the-way places in Russia for political/quality of life reasons.
The bottom line here is that the US pursues hegemony at all costs — surely, we would be able to ‘afford’ universal healthcare if we stopped using taxpayer money to generate private profits from war! — while Russia and China are experimenting with various forms of social-democracy, that combines capitalist incentives with government protections, and encourages a flowering of local government.