Saturday, May 6, 2017

How France Has Come to the Brink of Electing a Fascist

Compared to the United States, France offers a robust social safety net, replete with quality health care for all, ample paid leave for new parents and universal pre-K among other essential benefits. Adults 25-54 are significantly more likely to find gainful employment than an American of the same age. It may not be a model social democracy like those found in Scandinavia, but French government has, for the most part, held up its end of the social contract with its citizenry. Why then did more than 21 percent of the country vote to elect as president Marine Le Pen, a right-wing extremist who has called for the mass closure of French mosques and named a Holocaust denier as her successor to lead the National Front?

Paul Krugman acknowledges the socio-political forces fueling a resurgence of Western fascism are complex, including an acute "cultural anxiety over Islamic immigrants," but lays a significant portion of the blame at the feet of the European Union and its free-market radicalism. In his Friday column, he derides the stunning "arrogance and callousness" that has marked its treatment of Greece during its debt crisis and its present divorce proceeding with Britain post-Brexit:

Even though Brussels and Berlin were wrong again and again about the economics — even though the austerity they imposed was every bit as economically disastrous as critics warned — they continued to act as if they knew all the answers, that any suffering along the way was, in effect, necessary punishment for past sins.         Read full post here 

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