The (ir)relevance of elections – Robin Hahnel on the Eurozone crisis

“[T]here is only so much any progressive government can do about this as long as most employment opportunities are still with private employers.”

Last May Alex Doherty from New Left Project interviewed Robin Hahnel, a radical leftist Professor of Economics at Portland State University.

Hahnel spoke of the (un)importance of the election of ‘socialist’ president Francois Hollande in France and the limited scope of action for any leftist government in a capitalist world run by private employers and financial markets.

Hahnel points to the challenges faced by the left government led by Mitterand in 1981 – far more radical than the one Mr. Hollande will lead today: “[I]nternational financial interests that were much less powerful then than they are today quickly forced Mr. Mitterand to abandon the progressive, expansionary fiscal policies he had campaigned on […] As a friendly interpreter, the American socialist Michael Harrington, concluded: “Within less than two years the Socialists were engaged in administering a regime of ‘rigor,’ otherwise known as capitalist austerity.””

So, although “more and more young people become openly hostile to the “ancien regime” ruling elites”, Hahnel says “victory for the anti-austerity movement is not just around the corner”.

More significant than the election of France is the rise of left parties in the Greek election, Hahnel says: “Greece may prove to be Europe’s salvation not its ruin. […] If Greece provides a jolt, and shows the way to a better path, those who dream of a peaceful, egalitarian, and prosperous Europe may well have Greece to thank years from now”.

Read the full interview on New Left Project: “The Eurozone Crisis – An Opportunity For the Left?” (May 16, 2012)

And visit Robin Hahnel’s Zspace page.