The Left is in the ascendant

Berlusconi lost in Italy. The government of France was forced to cave to protestor’s demands. Governments in South America are headed sharply to the left. Bush and Blair are in serious trouble, even with their once-loyal base.

Antiwar sentiment is mainstream. The immigrant rights movement just exploded out of the grassroots and now commands front page headlines. These are huge changes from even a few months ago.

As blogged here recently, the Left is now in the ascendant, with the US (and world) entering a new period of radicalization. The Right is furious and uneasy. They thought they had control, now they see it slip, sliding away.

For those who say demonstrations don’t accomplish anything, the immigrant rights movement has just conclusively proven that they do. People in the streets, not faxes to Congress, is what makes change happen.


  1. While I respect the enthusiasm shown by this post, the three data points offered do not come close to supporting the conclusion.

    Prodi won by fewer than 25,000 votes in Italy. It didn’t look like he was going to get the Senate, and he still may not, given how byzantine Italian election laws are. Prodi was leading by about 5 percent going into the election, and the result is a virtual tie. Very hard to govern with that; hardly a landslide for the left.

    France had a lot more to do with the failure of Villepin to line up support before he sprang the CPE on the country. There doesn’t seem to be anybody in the Socialist camp (think Social Democrats elsewhere) who looks like a viable challenger even with the embarassment. The students have had their fun, they’re back studying for exams, and the impact will be minimal.

    The situation in Peru is far from clear. They’ve only counted about 87% of the ballots, and more are doubtless coming in from abroad. While Humala Primer has a lead, he has less than 31% of the vote, with runoffs to be schedule for May or June. The right wing and center parties (Flores and Garcia, respectively) have more than 48% of the vote. (As of today, it looks like former President Garcia has a lead of about 1% over Lourdes Flores, the candidate of the right, who hoped to be the first Peruvian female president.) Americans also need to understand that populism in Latin America, especially among military men, usually starts on the left and moves quickly to the right when the general (or, more appropriately here, the lieutenant colonel) gets in power and sees what gooides he can have. Perón of Argentina is probably the archetype of this; starting with vaguely pro-labor policies and a huge WWII surplus, he ended up supporting the anti-communist (read, anybody to the left of Attila the Hun) death squads. Similar arcs have been followed by others. Primer is also implicated in a number of political murders which, if true, rival the dirty war of the 1970’s in the Southern Cone. And in any event, it’s not wise to count one’s elections until they’re actually one.

    If we’re looking for data points, it’s interesting to see that the Lopez Obrador, the PRD candidate for president in Mexico, has had his lead virtually wiped out by the PAN TV ads associating him with Chavez. Apparently Chavez has been rather heavy-handed in trying to intervene in the Mexican election, and the Mexicans like that about as much as when the Norteamericos do it. Duh! The PANistas are hardly left-wing (most would consider them to be right-wing), and to have eroded a long-standing lead that quickly does not auger well for the PRD or AMLO. Even if he wins, the Mexican congress has now approved a bill that will cement the Televisa monopoly in television that will make the American mainstream media seem positively diverse and locally-owend by comparison, not exactly a progressive measure or development, much less a left-wing one.

    Each of these situations is extremely different and depends largely on local conditions that have little in common. To say that it shows a general resurgence of the Left is entirely too reductive. Indeed, such an argument mirrors the analysis of the neo-cons, who believe that local conditions are irrelevant. A truly delicious irony, that!

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