Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mainstream Wins in Austria, But for How Much Longer?

When all the absentee ballots were tallied yesterday, Austria ended up electing the pro-European presidential candidate, Alexander Van der Bellen, over the ultra-nationalist Freedom Party candidate, Norbert Hofer. It was close: 50.3% for Van der Bellen, compared to 49.7% for Hofer.

Like the National Front's performance in France's regional elections in December, Austria's Freedom Party wasn't able to follow up an impressive first-round showing by closing the deal with the voters in the final round. The mainstream media shields the status quo and is able to provide the margin of victory in close elections, as Alison Smale hints in "Austrian Far-Right Candidate Norbert Hofer Narrowly Loses Presidential Vote":
The parties of the center left and center right that governed for most of the past 30 years in ever-duller grand coalitions were trounced in the first round of the presidential elections last month, when Mr. Hofer stunned rivals by reaping 35.1 percent, well ahead of Mr. Van der Bellen with 21 percent. 
Sunday’s runoff turned into a cliffhanger as the popular vote was counted and showed an ever-narrowing lead for Mr. Hofer. The Austrian public broadcaster ORF projected that Mr. Van der Bellen would win by just 3,000 votes when the record number of requested mail-in ballots was counted on Monday. 
That projection — and the tone of some of the ORF reporting on the election — was heavily criticized by the Freedom Party. It was not clear if there would be legal consequences, but the party’s attitude illustrated the country’s deep divisions.
The same dynamic is discernible in the campaign against Brexit. Fear of the unknown is amplified. The specter of capital flight is sketched. The Leavers are cast as callous capitalist Bentley-driving playboy real estate moguls (Brit mini-Trumps). But nowhere is heard a sonorous call for a united Europe. Best to avoid the topic of what the European Union actually stands for. The European Dream that was peddled in the aughts turned out to be a grift. There must be a rupture, as Stathis Kouvelakis explains in "What’s Next for Nuit Debout?":
I also believe at a more programmatic level that this is the challenge we’re confronted with at the current moment: we cannot settle for an anti-neoliberal platform listing a set of immediate demands — in reality, a trade unionist–like program. What we need is a real political alternative, identifying the points knotting together the current situation and the class adversary’s own strategy. 
That means, for example, that we must absolutely aim at the end of presidentialism and of the Fifth Republic, but also at the dismantling of the European Union, which is capital’s genuine war machine at the continent-wide scale. Without a rupture with the EU we will never arrive at any solution, as the disaster of Syriza in Greece definitively confirmed.
Bernie Sanders must take his campaign all the way to Philadelphia, and we need a Chicago-'68 type of eye-opener there.

We're at a 50-50 split in the West. Corporate domination of the media adds weight to the status quo half creating the illusion of a majority.

But it can't last too much longer. The status quo isn't anywhere near granting even the smallest "trade unionist–like program" of reform that might buy the rulers a little wiggle room. The direction we are headed promises even more wars, more refugees and less stable employment. The economy coming our way is the gig economy where we compete with robots to do piece work organized by a smart phone app.

We might not be there yet in 2016, but the revolution, some kind of major upheaval, is coming.

No comments:

Post a Comment