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On 2018-02-19 19:31, Louis Proyect via Marxism wrote:

Why European workers are turning to the radical right.

Well I'm not so sure that is the case. Not that this is a bad article, but it covers two themes. First is the matter of the far-right adopting populism in order to appeal to the traditional left's constituency (and the willingness of some leftists to reciprocate) about which we have had much discussion. But secondly it suggests that the far-right is succeeding in attracting the working class, which I don't think is very well supported. The same issue has come up in the case of the US and Trump, and there has been considerable talk on this list and articles contributed which strongly challenge the idea that the US working class massively turned to Trump (but of course with a very close election, even a small boost for Trump was enough to change the result).

The main attraction of the far-right to European and US voters has been the appeal of explicit bigotry. Yes, the bigotry is always combined with an economic argument ("the migrants are taking our jobs, depleting public services" etc.). However I haven't seen that the far-right is winning over workers based on any of these economic promises beyond the ones who were so bigoted in the first place (which is not a small number). And the voting statistics supplied were not very convincing either:

"Working-class voters now represent between 60 and 75 percent of the radical right’s electorate in Austria, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, while they represent only between 44 percent and 54 percent of all voters in these countries."

You have to wonder how the author defines "working class" if it only includes half the voters. But instead of asking how much of the far-right vote came from workers (according to some definition), the real question is how much of the working class DOES support the far-right. And, as I asked, how much of that isn't mainly motivated by bigotry/nationalism. One of the countries he discusses is the Netherlands (the article was written before last spring's election) where the far-right Geert Wilders is here mainly known for his anti-Islam and anti-migrant positions. After the Trump shock, Wilders' vote in the election dropped to 13%. However you define "working class," one would still have to conclude that well over 3/4, if not 87%, of working class voters REJECTED Wilders despite any supposed economic appeal. Unlike in the US, appeals to reduce taxes do not get an enthusiastic reception, and appeals to save money at the expense of refugees and the poor are just seen as cruel except by those already consumed by hate.

It is true that social-democracy has largely lost its appeal (after participating in so many right-led governments!) but I really don't see that the far-right has picked up working class support, beyond what is motivated directly by hate.

- Jeff


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