Austerity fuels the rise of the extreme right

BY:Andrew Stewart| April 10, 2019

Political education needs to admit the very real grievances of the workers of this country have been caused by bipartisan consensus. Denying this and blaming it only on the Republicans is equivalent to telling these workers that they are liars and a further compounding of their grievances. Austerity policies always cause reactionary politics to fester. A political educator doesn’t have the moral legitimacy to designate who has legitimate grievances and who doesn’t when the standard of judgement is determined by party affiliation. Bill Clinton’s destruction of Welfare was just as vile and racist as it would have been had Reagan implemented that policy and those who argue for some large moral gulf existing between Clinton and Reagan on that issue are doing a favor for the reactionaries.

The example of the German Communist Party and the Third Period bears merit here. The German party made mistakes, yes, and those were noteworthy. But the fact is that the split between the German Social Democrats and Communists was far more complex than the simplistic narrative suggested by most Trotskyist narratives. The German Socialists were supporting and implementing austerity policies that were pushing German workers further to the right. The lesson of the era therefore is not about sectarianism, it is about austerity. The Versailles Treaty’s austerity mandates upon German workers bore more responsibility than the German Communists for the rise of the Nazis.

This is why American workers vote for Donald Trump. The eight years of austerity under Obama fueled a reactionary current that only Bernie Sanders was willing to challenge. Hillary Clinton’s promise of preserving those policies and her refusal to disown the job-killing Trans Pacific Partnership treaty drove people to Trump.

There are certain realities that are not going to be changed. The Keynesian paradigm has been abandoned completely and the Fordist era is over. The effort by Sanders and the Democratic Socialists of America to change this is a Quixotic escapade. But a continued endorsement of austerity is an act that supports the growth of the right, as the German example shows us.



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