Sunday, August 24, 2008

Extraordinary European Summit

Nicolas Sarkozy has convoked an extraordinary session of the European Council to fix a policy vis-à-vis Russia in the wake of the Georgia crisis. I trust that the ministers will have read Ronald Steel's counsel of calm before convening. Steel offers some sensible observations to "hyperventilating politicians and commentators":

The limits of Russia’s post-cold-war retreat have apparently been reached, and the reversal of the power equation has gone too far to be sustained. Today’s leaders in Moscow are determined to protect what they perceive as their vital interests. The task for American leaders is not to pretend that these interests do not exist or can be safely ignored. Rather, it is to work out a modus vivendi based not on wishful thinking or dreams of even greater glory, but on the sober facts of power realities.

The End Is Nigh

Olivier Besancenot has no need of new ideas for the Left (see previous post). The old ones are good enough for him: "There's a ruckus in store because French capitalism and capitalists are crumbling. What they need is a good old revolution." Once that small detail is out of the way, the LCR--er, make that the NPA--can get on with its rather less dramatic program "for another Europe: an ecological, feminist, humane Europe with a minimum wage for all. A Europe of public services, too, and an open Europe." This by way of resolving "the crisis of capitalism, which this time is serious, profound, grave. The most serious of the past 50 years. There's overaccumulation of capital, overproduction. Believe me, the bosses are in a serious panic. The proof? They no longer agree with one another."

What an astonishing amalgam! What mind-boggling syncretism! It's like the building of a Christian church atop a sacred paleolithic spring. The old runes--revolution! crisis of capitalism! overaccumulation of capital!--have been overlaid with new hymns: ecology! feminism! humanism! In the post-revolutionary paradise all goods are compatible, all evils have ceased to exist, and everyone rides the buses for free.

Anyone who cares about the Left should be concerned that this appears to be the only sign of life in its corner of the woods this summer. To be sure, there is talk of a unified Green front around Daniel Cohn-Bendit. But I for one would be hard put to describe a troika of Nicolas Hulot, José Bové, and DCB as a party of the Left. It would be sui generis, probably ineffective, and of dubious potency at the polls. The Left, as far as I can see, remains divided between Socialists still scrabbling like crabs in a basket (Delanoë up a point! Royal down a point! on s'en fout royalement!) and the NPA, still picking off the disaffected and expanding its media presence by way of Besancenot's cannily uncalculated blend of revolutionary gruel and politically correct pablum.