Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Germany

National Self-Determination is Overrated

I have a new piece out for Current Affairs about the importance of political unions in the 21st century. Here’s the link:

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/11/national-self-determination-is-overrated

The original title was “In Praise of Unionism: What the European Left Can Learn From America,” but we souped it up a bit. It’s a bit longer and more comprehensive than the stuff I usually do here. The folks at CA are delightful to work with. They’re putting out some really terrific long-form pieces that dig into things more deeply than a lot of what we see on the web these days.

The German Green Party Faces Political Oblivion

It’s the worst possible outcome for Germany’s Green Party–Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to form a coalition with it! At first blush, this may not seem so bad. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Greens got some experience governing? Isn’t the whole point of a political party to get itself into government? But recent European electoral history tells us that whenever a left-wing party becomes a junior partner in a coalition led by a right-wing party (and contrary to its international reputation, Merkel’s CDU is quite right wing), it’s the thin end of the wedge. Here’s why.

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Angela Merkel is Not Fit to Lead the West

Each time there’s an international summit, I see the same articles over and over, arguing that America no longer leads the west–Germany does. It’s understandable why people make this argument–President Trump is rather uninspiring, to put it mildly, and Germany is the last of the major western powers to retain the leader it had before the 2008 financial crisis. Chancellor Merkel has been in power for nearly 12 years. In that time, the United States has had three presidents and Britain has had four prime ministers. Merkel seems to offer stability in a world that’s increasingly off its rocker. But seeming is not being–in truth, there is no western leader who has done more in the last decade to contribute to the political instability that has brought about Trump and Brexit than Angela Merkel.

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Good Cop, Bad Cop: A Political Strategy for a Better Europe

The European left is in disarray when it comes to Europe, with a protectionist, euroskeptic left arrayed against an internationalist, integrationist left. The family feud between these two factions has fractured the left and made it impossible for it to compete. In France, the left is split between Jean-Luc Melenchon’s protectionist faction and Benoit Hamon’s internationalist faction, and because of this both candidates are likely to fail to make the top two in the first round, resulting in a two-way contest between the French establishment (embodied by either Macron or Fillon) and the right nationalists (Le Pen). In Britain, internationalist Labour supporters (including many young activists) feel betrayed by Jeremy Corbyn’s willingness to accommodate Labour to Brexit. In Greece, SYRIZA has gone along with austerity measures rather than risk the fallout of leaving the Euro, disappointing many of its supporters who elected it to stop the pain. We’re killing ourselves and our movement over this and we need a new strategy–if we don’t get one, the left is not going to offer coherent alternative to the right and it’s not going to win.

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4 Reasons Why the European Left Has to Stick Up For Immigrants and the EU

Last week we talked about British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s cunning plan to allow Brexit to go forward in the hope that he and his party might take power in 2020 or 2025 and use restored national powers to move Britain sharply to the left. It’s politically tempting for some on the left to return to the nation state–many working class people in many countries want to see tighter controls on immigration and a renewed emphasis on national sovereignty, and if the left triangulates on these issues it might make itself more competitive with these voters in the short term. Some on the left now believe that international institutions are irredeemably neoliberal, that there’s no prospect of regional or global cooperation to restore the tougher tax, wage, and regulatory policies of the post-war era. Right nationalists are doing well, and the fight between nationalists and internationalists seems to be one the internationalists are likely to lose. So why chain ourselves to creaking neoliberal institutions like the European Union? Surely this is an albatross the left can do without, right? This all may sound plausible, but it’s a big mistake.

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