Saturday, April 27, 2002

The Le Pen success in the recent French election run-off is driving France into a sort of frenzy. Le Pen actually got no more votes than he normally does, and the whole controversy seems to be the French leftists agonizing about their apathy over the election and their failure to vote. In fact, the real problem goes much deeper than Le Pen, and affects leftist parties everywhere. There has been a gradual shift in the left away from class issues to 'identity politics' issues. This shift has gone so far that right-wing politicians like Tony Blair can call themselves leftist based on their views on issues which have nothing to do with economics. The issue of immigration is worrying a lot of people in Europe, people who are not necessarily racists. Many Europeans have no experience with mass immigration and are genuinely fearful of the effects of the social changes caused by it. Due to the concentration on 'identity politics' by leftist politicians, these issues cannot even be discussed by the left, as even discussion of immigration levels is considered racist. Right-wing politicians thus are left with the issue to themselves. Ironically, once elected, these right-wing politicians rarely adjust the levels of immigration, as the immigrants reduce the cost of labour for their industrialist supporters. Rather, they concentrate on social programs (reducing them or eliminating them) and taxes (reducing them), catering to their supporters and making things much worse for the vast majority of the population, including the immigrants. It seems to me that the class battles have not been won, and indeed are being lost every day, and it is the height of foolishness for the left to concentrate on 'identity politics' to the exclusion of class politics. In fact, once the class issues are dealt with, most of these other problems will probably take care of themselves.