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Jacques Delors destroyed the European Left The French Socialist enabled the populist Right

The man who made Le Pen? (JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP via Getty Images)

The man who made Le Pen? (JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP via Getty Images)


January 1, 2024   7 mins

There’s a story European progressives like to tell themselves: that, after the horrors of the Second World War, their governments struck a quasi-utopian compromise between capitalism and socialism — only for it to be corrupted by the import of the cutthroat capitalism that defined Reagan’s neoliberal counterrevolution in the early Eighties.

It’s a comforting fable, designed to excuse their own failures. It is, however, completely untrue. Neoliberalism wasn’t exported to Europe from across the Atlantic (or from across the Channel, for that matter). It was a largely homegrown affair — one that was, in fact, spearheaded by European Socialists, and by one Socialist in particular: Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission from 1985 to 1995, who died this week.

To understand this tragedy, we need not return to 1945, but 1981. In May, the Socialist François Mitterrand was elected France’s president, after more than two decades of the Left being excluded from office. He went on to form a government that also included Communist ministers for the first time since 1947, prompting a widespread belief that France was headed for a radical break with capitalism.

At the time, such a notion was not inconceivable. Most European governments still firmly believed in the importance of economic dirigisme and the need for capital controls and regulated financial markets, which presupposed a high degree of economic sovereignty. Nowhere was this truer than in France: the French had always been particularly reluctant to agree to any supranational authority — a consistent position that had hampered progress towards an economic and monetary union. In general, there was still the belief that individual nations had the power to shape their own economic and political destinies — and even to challenge the capitalist system itself.

Nothing exemplifies this better than Mitterrand’s victory in the spring of 1981. The new president’s policy agenda embodied an ambitious reform programme of Keynesian economic reflation and redistribution. It also proposed extensive nationalisations of France’s industrial conglomerates. By implementing this platform, Mitterrand claimed, his government would precipitate a “rupture” with capitalism, and lay the foundations for a “French road to socialism”. It’s easy to see why this represented a moment of immense hope not just for the French Left, but for the entire European Left — of the kind not witnessed since.

Soon after the Mitterrand experiment began, however, it started to unravel. As a reaction to the Socialists’ ambitious plan for economic reform, capital started to flee France almost immediately. Despite the imposition of draconian capital controls, the government was unable to halt the flight.

This created a downward pressure on the franc (further exacerbated by the post-1979 global interest rate hikes), threatening France’s membership in the European Monetary System (EMS) — the system of semi-fixed exchange rates created in 1979. Under the EMS, the central banks of participating states had little choice but to shadow the Bundesbank’s restrictive monetary policy. Yet this was incompatible with Mitterrand’s reflationary programme — and Mitterrand found himself in a position where a decision had to be made about whether to leave the EMS or abandon his progressive agenda. Regrettably, he chose the latter path.

And so, in the spring of 1983, Mitterrand and the Socialists drastically reversed course, in what came to be known as the tournant de la rigueur (turn to austerity): rather than growth and employment, the emphasis would now be on price stability, fiscal restraint and business-friendly policies. A crucial aspect of this was the gradual rollback of virtually all capital controls and restrictions on financial transactions. And who was the main architect of this shift? Mitterrand’s finance minister, Jacques Delors.

The effects of this U-turn cannot be overestimated. Mitterrand’s victory in 1981 had inspired the widespread belief that a break with capitalism — at least in its extreme form — was still possible. Yet two years later, the French Socialists had succeeded in “proving” the exact opposite: that globalisation was an inescapable reality. Even though there were alternatives available to Mitterrand (such as leaving the EMS and floating the franc), the conclusion most people drew was that the “Keynesian road to socialism” had failed. Capital had won.

To make matters worse, the French Socialists, after having embraced neoliberalism at home, then proceeded to export their newfound views — on everything from capital movements to monetary integration — to the rest of Europe. Here, Delors was also central. “National sovereignty no longer means very much, or has much scope in the modern world economy,” he said. “A high degree of supranationality is essential.” This was a radical departure from France’s traditional souverainiste stance, which had already been seriously compromised by France’s decision to join the EMS, under which, as noted, the country was effectively forced to subjugate its own monetary-fiscal policy independence to the Bundesbank’s monetary policy.

For all of France’s historical concerns about supranational (that is, “European”) encroachment on its sovereignty on the one hand, and German hegemony on the other, few missed the irony of it being the Socialists who gave up that freedom — and to Germany of all nations. But by the late Seventies, French politicians on both sides of the political divide had come to accept that maintaining France’s status required them to remain firmly “in Europe” — that is, in the EMS — which in turn entailed adopting a low-inflation, stable-currency policy.

This brought about a distinct shift in attitudes among the Socialists towards Europe — a mood that Delors summed up in October 1983: “Our only choice is between a united Europe and decline.” As Rawi E. Abdelal, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, noted: ‘To the extent that the French Left continued to hope for socialist transformation, its members could see Europe as the only arena in which socialist goals could be achieved.” The problem was that, by 1983, they had little to offer in terms of a Europe-wide progressive alternative, since they had accepted the notion that social-political objectives should be subjugated to “price stability”.

And so, two years later, France strongly supported Delors’s nomination to the post of President of the European Commission — a position he would go on to hold for a decade, serving for three terms, longer than any other holder of the office. It is no exaggeration to say the Delors presidency was groundbreaking, giving the European integration process a momentum that had been lacking in the preceding decade. It is also the period in which the foundations of monetary union, and more generally of neoliberal Europe, were laid down — a development in which Delors, and the French Socialists in general, played a key role.

Their logic was the following: given that, within the EMS, the Bundesbank effectively set the interest rates for all participating states, and that leaving the EMS wasn’t considered an option, the French became increasingly convinced that there was only one way to preserve a low-inflation fixed exchange rate system while also wrestling control of monetary policy away from Germany: to push for a full European monetary union. For Delors, creating a single European currency became an utmost priority, and he set out to persuade his reluctant fellow European policymakers to embrace the idea. The first step was the signing of the Single European Act, in 1986, which set the objective of establishing a single market by 1992. Delors also proceeded to export France’s new views on capital movements to the rest of Europe, by pushing for the full liberalisation of capital flows across the continent — paving the way for a monetary union.

This brings the historical importance of the French Left’s neoliberal turn into stark relief: if the French hadn’t embraced financial liberalisation at the domestic level, they never would have offered their support for an integrated European financial market — and a monetary union would likely never have seen the light of day.

The Commission’s proposals were initially met with fierce resistance from a number of governments. But by the late Eighties, Delors had succeeded in radically changing Europe’s approach to capital controls — and in getting EU member countries to introduce full capital mobility by 1992, effectively making the free movement of capital a central tenet of the emerging European single market. This was a binding obligation not only among EU members but also between members and third countries.

In effect, Delors had succeeded in pushing Europe to fully embrace the “Paris consensus”, the European equivalent of the Washington consensus. The consequence of this was a European financial system that was, in principle, the most liberal the world had ever known. In this sense, the Europeans, far from being passive recipients of the free-market policies being concocted in Washington, actually preceded the Americans in embracing neoliberal globalisation, and promoting the spread of global capital.

This also profoundly influenced the construction of the monetary union. In short, Delors succeeded in convincing European governments that, by joining the EMS and liberalising capital flows, they had effectively already lost much of their economic sovereignty; they therefore had little choice but to embrace monetary integration as a way to regain some sovereignty at the supranational level, by “having a say” in Europe’s collective monetary policy. It was a shrewd argument, but a fallacious one: as history would show, by ceding their monetary policy to a supranational central bank, European governments simply ended up losing what little sovereignty they had left.

However, Delors was aided by the fact that, by the early Nineties, even the German establishment had come round to the idea of a monetary union — and indeed, national elites in most European countries had come round to the notion of a supranational central bank, fully immune to democratic pressures, as a useful way to insulate economic policy from popular contestation. By 1989, the Delors Committee had published its hugely influential Delors Report, which essentially acted as a blueprint for the construction of monetary union in the coming years.

The final act of this democratic tragedy came three years later with the Maastricht Treaty. This didn’t only establish a timeline for the establishment of monetary union (in line with the Delors Report), but also created a de facto economic constitution that embedded neoliberalism into the very fabric of the European Union. By the time the Delors Commission came to an end, in 1995, much of the groundwork for the techno-authoritarian and anti-democratic juggernaut that the EU would later become was laid — and, to a large degree, we have Delors, a French Socialist, to thank for that.

Ironically, this didn’t just lead to the demolishing of the Left’s cherished European social model, to the benefit of financial-corporate interests (and, of course, Germany), but it also paved the way to the demise of the European socialist Left — and to the rise of the populist Right. More than anyone else, it is the latter who, today, should pay tribute to Delors.


Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator. His latest book is The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Toby Green.

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fjbernal
FB
fjbernal
3 months ago

And since then, the European Left has contented itself with promoting token causes such as supporting the “poor” Palestinians or fighting for the right to call yourself a helicopter, instead of pushing for workers rights and things that actually mattered.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  fjbernal

Denouncing the current genocide in Palestine does not need to talk from the Left, suffice from a Humanitarian vision.

Peter Lee
PL
Peter Lee
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Do you know of what you write?

Jerry Carroll
JC
Jerry Carroll
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Seems not.

T Bone
T Bone
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Cliche, Cliche, Repeat Cliche, Virtue Signal, Smug Humanism…repeat.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

You act as if this “genocide” sprang from a vacuum. It didn’t. There is and was a group determined to wiping out Israel and all traces of Jewry, which sounds very much like, well, an attempt at genocide.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

You talk as if the terrorism of Hamas sprang from a vacuum as well

Frank Sterle
FS
Frank Sterle
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

And then there’s the ugly external politics of polarization, perhaps in part for its own sake, through which one can observe widespread ideological/political partisanship via news and commentary. Within social media the polarized views are especially amplified, including, if not especially, those of non-Jews and non-Palestinians.
While the conflict can and does arouse a spectator sport effect or mentality, many contemptible news trolls residing outside the region actively decide which ‘side’ they hate less thus ‘support’ via politicized commentary posts. I anticipate many actually keep track of the bloody match by checking the day’s-end death-toll score, however lopsided the numbers are.

Kathy Hayman
Kathy Hayman
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Evidence? You either know absolutely nothing of the history of the formation of Israel and the Balfour declaration before it and the handing over of 56% of the Land of Palestine to the newly formed Israeli government by the UN or you’re in willful denial. I suspect the latter but easily could be the former. There’s never been a genocide on Jews in Israel absolutely never but there’s been massive attempts at ethnic cleansing by the Zionist state. 700,000 Palestinians thrown off their land shortly after the formation of the state of Israel which formed the bulk of the Jordanian refugees whose offspring are still there today nearly 100 years on, Foreign settlers moving into territory that was Palestine and sieges being set up in Gaza. One rule for the Jews another rule for the Palestinians; roads for Jews; roads for Palestinians almost certainly not maintained. Snipers shooting at children in Gaza who have absolutely no escape, snipers shooting fishermen, people being thrown off their land, houses being occupied by idf soldiers, old women being pushed around and children being sent to jail for throwing stones. How you can even think about a genocide on the Jews is beyond credibilit. The Times of Israel and Haar’retz have both reported on netanyahu’s support for Hamas many years ago with the intention of breaking the Palestinian authority so that the secular side which was at that time more authoritative would be reduced and Hamas would become dominant. You need to bother to check the history before you blather on a lot of nonsense

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

There were more Jews made refugees in 1948 than “Palestinians”.
The numbers of Hindus and Sikhs genocided or forced to flee in Pakistan, or Armenians in Turkey, were far higher. With none of the drama that we see in Israel.

Which shows that a) human rights warriors have no issue with human rights as long as it’s non muslims at the receiving end and b) Concern for the Palestinians is merely a fig leaf for hatred against Israel for surviving. They would have loved it Hamas and co were strong enough to genocide the Jews.

Sayantani Gupta
SG
Sayantani Gupta
3 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

There was another Pakistani genocide in 1971 in the erstwhile East and unspeakable crimes against Bengali Hindus as well as anyone who didn’t support the Pakistan army. But of course some lives are less precious to the ” human rights” lobbies of the West.

Stevie K
Stevie K
3 months ago

Thank you for being this up. It was an important and devastating conflict often conveniently forgotten.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
3 months ago
Reply to  Stevie K

Tragically it is being repeated in large areas of Baluchistan but you won’t hear it in the Western MSM…

Frank Sterle
FS
Frank Sterle
3 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

It’s atrocious that so many Palestinian non-combatants have been prevented from crossing borders to safety since Israel began unrelentingly bombarding Gaza and its citizens, sometimes even as they fled their homes upon Israeli insistence. 
Not surprising, U.S. Republicans went into their ‘Christian’ mode, admitting that humanitarian aid for the Palestinians was not their concern. [I can imagine Jesus is spinning in heaven.]
The general western corporate news-media’s ‘coverage’ of the Israel-Palestinian conflict has long been very wanting. This includes their reporting on the current and past violence but especially their non-reporting on the consequential anti-Palestinian social injustices that continue in between every military flare up over decades of Israeli occupation.
Palestinian suffering and deaths in their entirety have not been justly represented. Their great suffering and deaths may somehow seem less worthy of our actionable concern as otherwise relatively civilized nations. …
Apparently, while some identifiable groups have been brutally victimized throughout history a disproportionately large number of times, the victims of one place and time can and sometimes do become the victimizers of another place and time.
Indeed, people should avoid believing, let alone claiming, that they/we are not capable of committing an atrocity, even if relentlessly pushed.
Contrary to what is claimed or felt by many of us, deep down there’s a tyrant in each of us that, under the just-right circumstances, can be unleashed; and maybe even more so when convinced that God is on our side.

Jae
Jae
3 months ago
Reply to  Frank Sterle

“Not surprising, U.S. Republicans went into their ‘Christian’ mode, admitting that humanitarian aid for the Palestinians was not their concern. [I can imagine Jesus is spinning in heaven.]”

What evidence do you have that this happened? Please provide a link. Otherwise you’re simply displaying your own hate towards others.

By the way, international law requires a country that’s been attacked, such as Israel, is not required to provide succour to the enemy, its attacker. It only needs to allow a third party to do so, which Israel has done.

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Did the allies commit ‘genocide’ against Germans and Japanese during Ww2? Perhaps all wars are contested between competing genocidaires? Look up what the word means

Peter Hill
PH
Peter Hill
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

There is no genocide in gaza. Gazans are arabs who are in no danger of genocide. From another direction – less than 1% of gazans are war casualties while 66% of jews in europe in the 1940s suffered a real genocide.

Jae
J
Jae
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

The problem is neither the Left nor the so called “Humanitarian” factions couple the denunciations with denunciations of the Palestine/Hamas pogrom in Israel. Let’s not pretend Palestinians didn’t applaud and celebrate in the streets when Israelis were butchered. Plus they voted in Hamas, and apparently would do so again, who use them as human shields in war.

Last edited 3 months ago by Jae
Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
3 months ago

I am not sure it was intended, but this is a very strong endorsement of the wisdom of Brexit.

Aidan Anabetting
AA
Aidan Anabetting
3 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

Except that the reason that we left the EU was not because it was neoliberal but because it was not neoliberal enough for the Britannia Unchained Brexiteers who saw Europe as a a regulatory drag on their global Britain free market vision.This is the aporia at the heart of Brexit that Mr Fazi deftly glosses over.

Ian Barton
IB
Ian Barton
3 months ago

More anonymous waffle. To be fair I wouldn’t want to be associated with it either.

Last edited 3 months ago by Ian Barton
Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago

I have always respected the EU for managing to be despised by the Left (for being too neoliberal) and by the Right (for being too socialist).

Last edited 3 months ago by Martin M
Aidan Anabetting
Aidan Anabetting
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

well put

Simon
S
Simon
3 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

Not sure about your Brexit point, but it is an excellent summary of French economic policy in the 1980s, except, that is, for the wistful hope that Mitterand had stayed the course and Built Socialism in One Country, to coin a phrase. That was never a possibility given the imperatives of the EMS and the nascent globalization that was in train. Mitterand thought he was De Gaulle at the beginning of the 1960s. The world had changed.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
3 months ago

Setting aside the socialist v neoliberal economic issues, this excellent essay is a salutary reminder of the cancer that has crippled & devoured Europe and the UK to this day – top down dirigisme and the insulation/elevation of a self selecting Elite set above and freed from democratic oversight. We are plagued with it still in the coercions of unmandated Net Zero and the catastrophe of Lockdown. The Blairite Left in particular embraced Delors and his social contract as a way to have progressive policies eschewed by the people imposed from aboce. As the absurd EU federal dream drifts further into systemic failure, we in the UK are left still with the legacy of this monstrous Soviet like authoritarian method of governance. It is a poison in the bloodstream.

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

To call it “Soviet like” is hyperbole. Gulags? Still, never enough of that on this forum…..

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Perhaps – we do not yet send dissidents to Gulags, I agree. But our permanent Progressive State and detached Blob/Establishment – and their dysfunctional failures – are perfectly recognisable to the Communist Party appartniks of the 1980s USSR with their wealth, dachas and special Zil Lane privileges. They are kindred arrogant out of touch spirits. Familiar too is the growing addiction to coercion & control and top down diktat as expressed in their unmandated devotion to Net Zero impositions, the extreme DEI equality cult, unworkable human rights excesses and the unforgiveable repressive two year Lockdown to protect the NHS.

Jae
J
Jae
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Only a matter of time. It is after all a “long” march.

Frank Sterle
FS
Frank Sterle
3 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

A few successful social/labor uprisings notwithstanding, notably the Bolshevik and French revolutions, it seems to me that the superfluously rich and powerful essentially have always had the police and military ready to foremost protect their power/money interests, even over the basic needs of the masses.
Even today, the police and military can, and probably would, claim they must bust heads to maintain law and order as a priority; therefore, the absurdly unjust inequities and inequalities can persist.
Thus, I can imagine there were/are lessons learned from those successful social/labor uprisings — a figurative How to Hinder Progressive Revolutions 101, perhaps? — with the clarity of hindsight by the big power/money interests in order to avoid any repeat of such great wealth/power losses.
P.S. By “successful”, I mean they won their little wars. However one judges the ‘success’ of their ideological movements in the longer term is another matter.

T Bone
T Bone
3 months ago

As much as I disagree with Fazi, I admire his tremendous writing ability.  But here’s the deal, Socialism does not work. Its never worked and it never will work.  When Socialists become “Neoliberals” they are actually just ideologues responding to economic reality.

Countries are always proportionally Capitalist to Socialist but every time you increase the percentage of Socialism past a certain threshold (probably 30%) you get inflation.  Once you get inflation, you get demands for wage increases and demand for government benefits increases.  You also get social disorder because the quality of life decreases. So your options to resolve inflation become: price controls, rapid capital expansion otherwise known as Growth” or reduced spending which Socialists have termed “Austerity.”

“Neoliberals” recognized price controls would just limit the supply of available goods and cause more inflation, so they opted for economic growth paired with reduced government spending. 

At some point, there is a conflation between Neoliberalism and NeoConservatism. I don’t doubt there’s overlap but Neoliberals spreading trade and the wide availability of consumer goods did not cause a regression in quality of life. It created abundance that raised an extremely high percentage of the world out of poverty. Reasonably regulated Capitalism itself is far from the cause of social upheaval. Social upheaval is caused by the totalizing ideology of Utopian social planning.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

What has neoliberalism achieved though? We’ve been following it now for the best part of 40 years, and in that time we’ve seen homeownership rates plummet, productivity and wages have been largely stagnant, personal and government debt has soared, inequality sits at record levels, public transport and utilities are as expensive and useless as ever….
I’m certainly not going to pretend Communism is the answer to anything but neoliberalism leans much too far in the opposite direction, enriching a few at the top to the detriment of those who are paid for their labour

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
3 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Neoliberalism only works if you can trample over people to get to the top. If people refuse to be trampled on, then it can’t work.
Communism is the very same except that the people who get to the top learn to hide their wealth from prying eyes.
What is Socialism, except an idea of Communism where its proponents don’t like to say the ‘C’ word? Does anything but a Dictatorship really work? A Dictatorship, communist or otherwise, allows the suppression of dissenting voices so people can’t actually say how bad they feel.

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
3 months ago

The problem with socialism (to me anyway) is that it’s so ill defined that the description is essentially meaningless. I’ve seen it used to describe everything from the Soviet Union, all the way through to a certain German regime of the 30’s and 40’s.
I’ve always thought of it as left wing capitalism (similar to that of the Scandinavian’s) of high taxes and well funded public services, and where certain key industries (energy/water etc) and natural resources (Norwegian Oil Fields) are state owned.
For others though socialism is just the Gulags and Great Leap Forward, so it’s hard to have a conversation on the good and ills of it as a system as everybody is arguing from differing starting points

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
3 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

For me socialism is the idea of everybody being equal, or at least more equal.
So, those who haven’t picked up education need some kind of support to help them to fight at the same level as those who have learned things. Those who don’t have an inheritance have to be given an ‘artificial’ inheritance to help them to compete. Those who aren’t as physically fit need aid to allow them to be the same as those who are fit. Etc.
This is a very cosy way of thinking but the downside is clearly that the average goes down into free fall. What can halt the fall when it doesn’t help you to learn or buy things as an investment or work harder to get ahead of the crowd?
For me, neoliberalism is a thing of the past because it allows the idea that one section of society can be better off than others. We will never have this again, despite the wishful thinking on this site.

Rob C
Rob C
3 months ago

But people aren’t equal. And they can’t made to be. It sounds like you believe in equitarianism rather than equality of opportunity.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob C

They deserve an equal opportunity though surely? Or as equal as you can make it anyway.

Andrew F
AF
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I am all for it.
England had Grammar Schools which were destroyed by Labour in cause of delivering equal opportunities for all (OK, some survived in places like Kent).
In its place we have a system of private schools and buying places in good comprehensives if you can afford expensive house.
Obviously hypocrites in Labour Party like Abbott, Harman and Blair were buying better education for their children while claiming that comprehensive miseducation was great for other people children.
Problem is any selection results in some people loosing out.
Most people don’t want to accept that their little Johny or Juliet are a bit thick.
So they will never accept selective state education.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago

….because it allows the idea that one section of society can be better off than others. – Surely that has applied to every society that ever existed.

Andrew F
AF
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

What you describe as socialism is social democracy.
Socialism is much more restrictive in terms of personal freedom and size of business one person can own.
Many Soviet Block countries like Poland never claimed to be communist.
They were Socialist Workers Republic on the way to communism.
However, even Sweden reduced their level of taxation because of brain drain of 70s and 80s.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
3 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

“…and in that time we’ve seen homeownership rates plummet…”

And what is stopping developers & private landowners from building new homes to service this demand? It certainly isn’t “capitalism”.

“inequality sits at record levels”

You got to be joking. Compared to when? 50 years ago? 100 years ago? When there was a large proletariat rather than the vast amorphous modern bourgeoise of today?

Michael Cazaly
MC
Michael Cazaly
3 months ago

Quite so, Perry!
Without the restrictive development controls there would be no fall in home ownership rates…
Of course, effectively unrestricted immigration creates huge demand…restricted supply creates inflation in prices…it’s not difficult to understand.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Yes unrestricted immigration is the major problem.
But it is the feature of current capitalist model to create global pool of labour to drive wages down.
It clearly benefits asset owners in the West at the expense of most wage earners.
What made this model viable is collapse of communism and complete failure of parties of the left to defend interests of working people.
Instead left affectively aligned itself with capital by advocating mass immigration and dividing people along racial, religious and gender lines.
I think current situation will result in civil war in the West within 20 years.
Our betters clearly believe they can control situation.
Most likely they will regret what they did on the way to giloutine or the gulag.

Alex Lekas
AL
Alex Lekas
3 months ago

And what is stopping developers & private landowners from building new homes to service this demand?
You mean other than a mountain of govt rules and regulations that govern building?

George Scialabba
George Scialabba
3 months ago

No joke. See section two, “Broad Trends in Income Inequality:: https://www.cbpp.org/research/a-guide-to-statistics-on-historical-trends-in-income-inequality

Richard Pinch
RP
Richard Pinch
3 months ago

The report cited refers to the USA.

Most economic measures of inequality for the UK show it steady in the long term, at levels pretty much the same as the EU, and noticeably below the levels of the US.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

It skyrocketed in the UK when the neoliberal reforms of Thatcher took effect snd started to plateau at that new sky high level around the mid 90’s. It’s risen slightly since then but it’s still considerably worse than during the post war period leading up to 1980

Peter B
Peter B
3 months ago

Our ultra-restrictive planning laws were introduced under Attlee’s government after WWII. Can’t blame capitalism for that then.
There’s a basic fallacy in Caradog Wiliams’ comment which assumes that economic growth is somehow a zero sum game. That may be true in a stagnating socialist paradise like the 80s Soviet Union where you have no growth or economic dynamism. But not in the West.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

I thought you were about to say “….a stagnating socialist paradise like the 70s Britain….”

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
3 months ago

It’s not government regs that are forcing land banking from large developers. The private sector alone will never build enough houses to cause a large drop in house prices as it’s not in their interest to do so. Why make x amount of money building twenty houses when you can instead drop feed the market and make the same amount of money by only building ten?
I’ll admit the planning system is a mess that needs fixing, but to me the bigger problem is the complete dereliction of duty of various governments for their ideological belief that the market will magically fix all the countries problems. The government shouldn’t be afraid to step in when this clearly isn’t happening

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
3 months ago

Compared to 50 years ago yes, inequality climbed enormously from 1979 onwards. It has flatlined in the last 15 years (not dropped though) but it’s still considerably higher than it was during the postwar period

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago

I think he compared it to a period of about 40 years ago before Reaganomics/Chicago School and globalisation became prevailing orthodoxy.
Fact is that house ownership is down and wages of working class and middle class people stagnated in that period.
You don’t have to be of the left to see that current globalisation model is only benefiting about 20% of the people in the West.
Obviously, replacing it with socialism is going to create more misery, but it doesn’t mean that current model works.

T Bone
T Bone
3 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Why do you assume an International Bureacracy is Neoliberal? I’m saying the term “Neoliberal” has been hijacked, labeled as a bogeymen and conflated with other concepts like Keynesian policies. As I understand it, Neoliberalism is just Supply-Side Economics originally from the Austrian School. Hayek, Von Mises then Friedman at Chicago to Politicians like Reagan and Thatcher. Reagan and Thatcher were not Internationalist Bureacrats that wanted to tie monetary policy to other countries. Did they want global trade? Yes, because it keeps down the cost of goods and creates abundance. They didn’t want trade administered by any government bureacracy. You can’t conflate supply-side free trade economics with an administered economy.

Communism is an international ideology. It’s meant to spread and colonize because it can’t pay for itself in a domestic setting. It runs out of money that it mishandles as does every unaccountable international bureacracy.

Last edited 3 months ago by T Bone
Martin M
MM
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

What has neoliberalism achieved though? – The aqueduct and sanitation?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

That would be the sanitation that gets dumped in the sea due to underinvestment in infrastructure?

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The aqueduct is “infrastructure”, surely.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

“Neoliberals spreading trade and the wide availability of consumer goods did not cause a regression in quality of life. It created abundance that raised an extremely high percentage of the world out of poverty.”
Is that true? Certainly in the late 90’s the rapid fall in price of consumer goods in the UK gave the impression of prosperity, but what was really happening was that we were off-shoring our manufacturing base and increasingly funding the country, and the standard of living of its citizens, by borrowing. So what happens when the Government can no longer borrow and the country’s tax base is exhausted?
In truth our problems began during and after the end of the WWI when our elite began to put their own interests ahead of those of the country. The problem accelerated after the end of WWII when an emboldened elite started impose their own values over those of the country – the NHS, mass migration, state education joining the EEC, gay marriage, the Equality Act, net zero….
They were supported all this by a compliant press who undermined and attacked opponents, tarring their opinions as low status rather than addressing the arguments and labeling them extremist.
And they would have got away with it to but for those pesky kids, or rather the economic wheels having fallen off the bus, the public have lost faith in the ability of our elite to deliver, see the elite prosper as they struggle and are no longer prepared to accept the lead of elite on social issues which run contrary to their instincts and commonsense

Last edited 3 months ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
T Bone
T Bone
3 months ago

Some of that is true but you’re not drawing the distinction between administered international bureaucracies and free trade. Yes off-shoring is a byproduct of Free trade but its magnified by heavy regulations Western bureacracies imposed on their own people. Net-zero is not a voluntary market policy created by Capitalists. Its a Command Economy steered by an International “Stakeholder” Bureacracy that determines what products consumers should want, not what they do want. These Corporations are complying with dictates not operating voluntarily. The benefit of their compliance is market dominance. So it’s Crony Capitalism where only “green compliant companies” with hundreds of Lobbyists get to operate in the market.

So when you have Bureacrats making choices for Consumers and creating shortages, then turning around and blaming Free Trade you have an immaculate gaslight.

Last edited 3 months ago by T Bone
Phil Mac
Phil Mac
3 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

There are no problems that come from a true free market but when it gets manhandled by the State into protectionist Corporatism, that’s when you get the garbage we see.
Ever remember the Monopolies Commission? Now there was a good idea!

Last edited 3 months ago by Phil Mac
T Bone
T Bone
3 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

Yes, you’re talking about administered economies. People are conflating State Capitalism with Austrian Economics and the two couldn’t be more different.

Leonel SIlva Rocha
Leonel SIlva Rocha
3 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

“There are no problems that come from…”
Or simply remove “There’s” at the beginning…

Phil Mac
PM
Phil Mac
3 months ago

Thank you! I wonder why the auto-correct didn’t pick me up.

AC Harper
AC Harper
3 months ago

And yet there are still people who want to rejoin the EU.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
3 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Joining the EU is an effort to make all countries equal; it is a communism of countries. Just like communism, voting lacks power because unelected people rule the roost. Just like communism, countries go downwards towards the Lowest Common Denominator instead of upwards to the Highest Common Factor.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 months ago

No it is an effort to ensure Franco/German hegemony

j watson
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Or even join for the first time, despite the UK example – Ukraine, N Macedonia, Moldova, Albania, Bosnia, and maybe even Serbia in due course. And Leavers other than ourselves?
There will be a sizeable number who want UK to re-join but it’s not happening anytime soon. Re-joining the Single Market and/or Customs Union more likely over next decade, albeit will probably be re-branded. And if we don’t formally re-join v close alignment inevitable such a re-join in all but name. Brexit ideologues had their chance and made a proper hash of it. Majority now know that.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Plenty of time to undo the “hash” now that we have the authority to govern ourselves.
We’ve dumped the Brussels-based elites, and now we can move on to dumping the U.K. based elites.

Last edited 3 months ago by Ian Barton
Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Starting with the present ‘shower’ as TT would have said.

Peter B
Peter B
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Cannot agree more !
The UK elites have been hiding behind the EU smokescreen for over two decades. Their uselessness is now in plain view. If nothing else, Brexit has exposed that.

Simon Blanchard
SB
Simon Blanchard
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

That could indeed be the only benefit. Although we already knew it really.

Ian Barton
IB
Ian Barton
3 months ago

Presumably by “we” you mean the more myopic Remainers.

Andrew F
AF
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Great idea.
But how do you do it in practice?
ALL major political parties in uk support current globalisation policies, mass immigration, net zero and woke gender nonsense.
So it will not happen under the FPTP system.
Even under proportional representation it is unlikely because existing parties will form coalition to stop, so called, populists.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Ukraine, N Macedonia, Moldova, Albania, Bosnia, and maybe even Serbia
All basket cases and all seeing the opportunity to get their snouts in the trough. Do you think any of them would be queuing up to join if they were expected to be net contributors for say the first 20 years.
Just like those illegal immigrants arriving by boat, they are not coming because they think UK is a great country or because they want to contribute to British society. They are coming for the free stuff

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

“Hark, hark! the dogs do bark,
Beggars are coming to town.
Some in rags, some in jags,
And some in velvet gowns.”

Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

“Ukraine, N Macedonia, Moldova, Albania, Bosnia, and maybe even Serbia”
What would be their net financial contribution (positive or negative) to the EU, I wonder…

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Rather similar to Greece’s, it must be said.

Peter B
PB
Peter B
3 months ago

But the European social model has not been demolished. That’s still on the to do list. It continues on, blind to its uncompetitiveness in a world where we must now compete with a Far East unburdened with unfunded and bloated welfare states and the broken families these encourage.
Thomas Fazi seems unaware of Mitterand’s dubious history (started on the right, member of the Vichy government, the Observatory Affair). Mitterand was basically interested in power and his own glory. Any “socialism” came second.

denz
denz
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

The story I remember about Mitterand, is that there was a banquet at which a rare bird, a delicacy, was on the menu. This was, however, a protected bird, illegal to kill, so the attendees all wore a cloth over their heads while they ate, as then there would be no witnesses to the act.
Seulement en France hein?

Sylvia Volk
SV
Sylvia Volk
3 months ago
Reply to  denz

If you’re speaking of ortolans, it’s traditional to wear a cloth over one’s head while one eats them. They’re described as an exceptionally messy but delicious dish.

denz
denz
3 months ago
Reply to  Sylvia Volk

Yes, Sylvia. Ortolans, those are the birds, and the dish also. Thank you. However since the bird is force fed millet, drowned in Armagnac, and then consumed whole, the “messy” explanation of the cloth ritual falls short.

Roland Jeffery
RJ
Roland Jeffery
3 months ago
Reply to  Sylvia Volk

Ortolan was, at Mitterand’s particular request, his final meal. It was not then illegal, though already endangered by gourmets, and only subsequently was hunting them banned. They are munched whole except the legs and the larger bones are spat out, which is the reason for the cloth. It is traditional not to spit the skull, bar the beak, as the brains are the tastiest morsel. Even when shrouded the sounds might be difficult for nearby diners.

Last edited 3 months ago by Roland Jeffery
Sylvia Volk
Sylvia Volk
3 months ago
Reply to  Roland Jeffery

Yes. I read Anthony Bourdain’s description of eating ortolan in New York circa 2005. It was illegal then. Even fattened, an ortolan makes just one bite (a single bite! amazing) and you eat them whole, but from what he wrote, nobody would want to look at the face of somebody eating one, and nobody eating one would want to be looked at either. His was so flambe hot that the experience was a balance between ecstasy and squirting bird-juice blisters all over the inside of his mouth. Sorry, vegetarian readers! But, still. Wow.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Roland Jeffery

Thank you for that excellent description!
I think I shall have to stick to ‘live monkey brains’ Chinese style, or even perhaps live frogs, again courtesy of the Chinese…….who else!

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  denz

That is agreat metaphor for the vile hegemony of billionaires and political hacks destroying freedom worldwide.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

The Vichy government was on the left. It was run by the National Socialists, yes?

Michael Cazaly
MC
Michael Cazaly
3 months ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Indeed! National Socialism is a Left political movement.
In fact the dichotomy of Left/ Right is entirely mistaken; the true divide is between freedom and tyranny.

Peter B
Peter B
3 months ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

No. Petain’s Vichy regime was nationalist and not National Socialist.
It’s a matter of historical fact that Mitterand started off right of centre and [in my view opportunistically] drifted ever further left over his career. Mitterand was one of the least trustworthy politicians I’ve ever read about.

Andrew F
AF
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Yes, all true.
But European social model could be, just about, sustainable, if it was not for mass importation of low IQ savages from Muslim countries and Africa.
These people are just locust on the West.
They have no real contribution to make.
Not even that; they don’t appreciate what they are given.
They somehow believe they deserve more and resent Western culture and society.
It is not going to end well.
I hope it is for them and not for us.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 months ago

Apparently, these are the key features of Neo-liberalism
Neoliberalism involves the belief that greater economic freedom leads to greater economic and social progress for individuals. It supports:
Free enterprise, competition, deregulation, and the importance of individual responsibilityOpposition to the expansion of government power, state welfare, inflationMinimizing government control of industry and boosting private sector ownership of business and propertyFree market capitalism and the efficient allocation of resourcesGlobalization rather than heavily regulated markets and protectionismA reduction in government spending and lower taxesLess government control over economic activity to enhance the efficient functioning of the economyAn increase in the impact by the private sector on the economyA reduction in union power and greater flexibility in employmentGovernment intervention when it’s needed to help implement, sustain, and protect free market activities
As a Canadian, the only items on the menu that we got were globalization and some government intervention. The article suggests that Britain and the EU didn’t much more than that either. Perhaps the problem is that unlike the Reagan-era US, most countries took the a la carte route rather than prix fixe.
The full neo-liberal experience was always going to be a problem for those used to an expensive and expansive welfare state. Globalization demanded critical self-examination of exactly where the money comes from. The Anywheres were always going to do OK but what keeps the Somewheres employed to a standard that pays the bills and leaves enough left over for a pint?. What does your country have or produce that is a) exclusive b) cheaper or c) better than what can be obtained elsewhere?
In Canada, Ontario was the economic engine for decades because of auto-manufacturing because of the Auto Pact, a 1965 agreement between Canada and the US that guaranteed the Detroit Big 3 built cars in Canada. Many thousands of good-paying jobs. In 2001 the WTO declared that agreement violated free trade agreements and manufacturers -and the Golden Goose- instantly fled to cheaper jurisdictions. Governments continued to spend like it never happened. The Canadian auto industry is a shadow of its former self with the biggest news being the recent government subsidies of almost $30B in EV battery plants which is a gamble to say the least. And aren’t government subsidies simply a charade? A handout to the Anywheres that supposedly will benefit the Somewheres?
From what I can see it doesn’t look like anyone really embraced neo-liberalism at all. It looks more like WEF-inspired neo-socialism: Strong government central planning control partnered with technocrats and oligarchs. I guess it’s a sign of the times that calling attention to that fact is now deemed to be far Right populism.

leonard o'reilly
LO
leonard o'reilly
3 months ago

So, post the 1970s, a period of economic malaise and the highest inflation in 50 years, brought on by a half-baked ( I use the term advisedly ) Keynesianism and an “overly easy monetary policy” ( Federal Reserve Discussion Series 2022-037 ), the socialist Mitterrand proposes, in the interests of economic sovereignty, the following: reflation, nationalizations and redistribution.
Then, mirabile dictu, what ensues is capital flight from France. Who would have thought it possible? Perhaps people reasoned that repeating the mistakes of the 70s would repeat the economic outcomes of the 70s?
Whereupon, Fazi laments, Delors and the supranationalists step in, “and rather than growth and employment, the emphasis was on price stability, fiscal restraint, and business-friendly policies”.
Are we to believe that reflation and nationalizations, as Mitterrand wished, would promote growth and employment, and sound monetary and fiscal policies would not? This is obviously, exactly backwards.
The EU may not be anybody’s idea of a supranational success story, but the reason is not because the French failed to pursue socialist economic policies. The reason it is not a success is because it is a Rube Goldberg contraption, bureaucratic, and undemocratic to boot. At least Fazi and I can agree on that last.

Leonel SIlva Rocha
LS
Leonel SIlva Rocha
3 months ago

I had to look up on Rube Goldberg.

“Goldberg is best known for his popular cartoons depicting complicated gadgets performing simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways. The cartoons led to the expression “Rube Goldberg machines” to describe similar gadgets and processes.”

Very apt, humorous description of the Bureaucratic monster that is the EU…

Jerry Carroll
JC
Jerry Carroll
3 months ago

The progressive views expressed here by the writer are slowly being repudiated as voters return to the nation-state model. They have been disillusioned by the coldness and sluggishness of a remote and unresponsive bureaucracy. Political decisions are best made closest to home where feet can be put to the fire when rulers go astray. Deride it as “populism” if you like, as the political caste does, but it has worked better than such ramshackle assemblies as the Soviet Union or the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires.

Phil Mac
Phil Mac
3 months ago

Thank God we escaped. I know, I know, people will say we are still entangled and that the Rejoiners haven’t given up but stand back for a bit and it’s obvious it was an irrevocable split; some may wish we hadn’t left, but one word of currency union and rejoin becomes a fantasy. The British people just won’t have it.
Thank You Nigel Farage for your long fight, thank you Dominic Cummings for your genius campaign. And thank you to one former Conservative PM, for being so deluded that you thought you could negotiate a new settlement, then parade it to disbelieving public as a triumph, and attach your credibility to the Remain campaign. Thanks David Cameron.

Last edited 3 months ago by Phil Mac
Ian Barton
IB
Ian Barton
3 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

You forgot to thank our fine public school system that instilled the utterly misplaced self confidence in Lord Pigsha**er of Bullingdon when he was younger.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Is it his daughter or perhaps sister who has recently been ‘elevated’ to the Upper Chamber?
At my age I tend to get rather confused!

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

You forgot to thank Cummings for COVID and LOCKDOWN!
BTW isn’t it Lord Cameron now? Gone to join his other ‘toadies’ Lord Fellowes and Lord Roberts or so it seems.

Phil Mac
PM
Phil Mac
3 months ago

I don’t thank him for lockdown, just Brexit.
And I don’t think he cooked up COVID. That was made in Wuhan.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

Agreed he didn’t ’cook up COVID’ it was the Chinks that did it.
However his hysterical overreaction was the progenitor of LOCKDOWN, for which he should be hanged.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago

But it was not Boris histerical overreaction which caused lockdowns.
It was pressure of MSM, Labour, unions and so called medical and scientific establishment which drove uk into lockdowns.
I lost many friends over Brexit and many more over covid.
Reality is that uk population was very supportive of lockdowns for whatever reasons.
Sad, but true.
If we need to hang people, maybe we should start with many others before Boris.
If it was not for Boris, uk would had had another lockdown in December 2021.
Even in May 2022 in Munich we had to wear FFP2 masks on public transport.
But not at hifi show or restaurants (plain cov8d idiocy)
In uk these restrictions were gone.

Douglas H
Douglas H
3 months ago

As Mrs T would have said: “I fought Delors – and Delors won”

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
3 months ago
Reply to  Douglas H

It was Boris Johnson who said that of Margaret Thatcher…

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Want the battle cry “Up yours Delors”?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

Excellent analysis. Living in France, I remember personally the immense hope raised by Mitterrand’s election in 1981, and the as huge disappointment we felt when he turned round 180 ° off his electoral commitments.
To those who say Socialism does not work, I would respond that, thanks to the liberal Left, we missed an opportunity to test it. Now we are experiencing the neoliberal hardship, leading soon to a Far-right regime.

Last edited 3 months ago by UnHerd Reader
Peter Lee
Peter Lee
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

It has been tested and found wanting in so many countries or was Mitterrand’s socialism different?

Graham Burnby-Crouch
Graham Burnby-Crouch
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Where and when

Phil Mac
Phil Mac
3 months ago

There’s never been socialism?

Andrew F
AF
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

So where did socialism work?
I find it amazing that after centuries of failed socialist experiments in dozens of countries, people like you still cling to this idea.
How many more millions need to die before the socialist ideology is discredited?
Btw. Auto correct forced to spell socialism with capital letter before my correction.

David Harris
David Harris
3 months ago

“By the time the Delors Commission came to an end, in 1995, much of the groundwork for the techno-authoritarian and anti-democratic juggernaut that the EU would later become was laid.”

Which is exactly why I and 17.4 million other Brits voted to Leave.

Michael James
Michael James
3 months ago

In short, Delors pushed for monetary union to neutralise the Bundesbank, but the manoeuvre backfired because Germany balances its budget while France has to struggle permanently to finance its budget deficits. If still in office Delors would now be pushing for fiscal union so that Germany could be made to bail out automatically the rest of the EU.

Last edited 3 months ago by Michael James
Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael James

Yes, monetary union was another French delusion.
French assumed that EU would be like French jokey riding German horse.
Reality was that French wh**e was getting roggered by German hunk and saying yes to “the same next weekend?”.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
3 months ago

“The final act of this democratic tragedy came three years later…”
It’s bizarre that some people still think “democratic socialism” (or even just “democracy”) is an alternative to economic reality.

Tharmananthar Shankaradhas
Tharmananthar Shankaradhas
3 months ago

It is the unexpected consequences of decisions that shapes our world. Interesting to note how socialists in EU and UK abandoned their traditional arguments in favour of sovereignty in the hope of saving socialism yet ended up with bureaucratic corporatism!

Stewart Cazier
SC
Stewart Cazier
3 months ago

Almost total rubbish. The European project was an attempt to make war impossible. The architects of the Euro knew its weaknesses, indeed that was their purpose. No monetary union had lasted without fiscal Union, at least to a material extent. They introduced the euro to force the European project. The only thing that changed was that their successors, unlike the architects, had not been adults during WW2 and so just drowned in the day to day.

Jimmy Snooks
Jimmy Snooks
3 months ago

Superb article, Thomas. I would humbly suggest that you write a Pt.2 about how (and why) the British Labour Party took in Delors’s ideas, hook, line and sinker, leading to Labour becoming champions of the undemocratic neoliberal juggernaut that the EU became.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

NB: As at 1745hrs GMT+1 Unreasonable censorship is being applied to this essay.

Andrew Armitage
Andrew Armitage
3 months ago

Delors’ single market worked well for quite a while, more than 20 years, so by the measure of any politician, or economic architect, he was a huge success.
But the structures he set up were conviction-based and rigid, which in the end became the problem. There were too many vested interests in the status quo for anything to change or adapt. There’s an entire ecosystem of academics and commissioners whose careers and funding depend on being entirely supportive.
There’s been a huge change in technology where Europe has been left in the dust, an also-ran. Whole domains abandoned where the sole innovation is reactive regulation.
It’s comforting but unhealthy to only listen to your own paid hagiographers.

Sandra Currie
Sandra Currie
3 months ago

The blind acceptance of Queer Theory, and all it’s implications, without realizing how regressive, authoritarian, and anti-democratic it is, has made the left ineffectual,and made it an accomplice in the world wide swing to the extreme right and totalitarianism.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
3 months ago

So what you are saying is that Jacques Delors directed a social-science double-blind experiment that conclusively proved that Keynesian, socialism, — general mucking about with the economy — could not work.
Only this is bad, very bad — because what does a grocer’s daughter like Thatcher know about the finer things in life — so let’s call it “neoliberalism” and hate on it for the next 50 years.
But oh, the humiliation of having the Germans run things. Not really out of the top drawer, old chap.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago

So Delors destroyed the European Left? I never much cared for him, but I’ll give him kudos for that!

j watson
JW
j watson
3 months ago

Strange angle taken here by the Author, albeit not his first. So Delors moved French Socialism away from Soviet style thinking towards a Third Way strategy combining the benefit of a single market with social protections (Remember he ensured the ECSR picked up a key role too, albeit UK opted out of elements). Thus he navigated a direction that was neither the Reagan-Thatcher form of Neo-Liberalism nor ‘past it’s sell by date’ State socialism.
With the Single Market and the Euro both part of his legacies, plus that which we often forget – the assistance and subsequent integration of much of eastern Europe into a western bloc after decades of dictatorship, it’s entirely understandable why his death has generated such interest. This was a politician who took accountability and drove/delivered massive changes. He was not a ‘destructive’ Populist in the fashion of a Farage – who’s never taken real accountability – but a politician who changed Europe. If the Author’s primary line of attack is he helped transform the old Left then it as much a form of praise as an attack.
Now one can debate the merits of the Single Market and the Euro. It is difficult to have a full pan-Europe counter-factual of course but the UK is offering some alternative evidence. It’s mixed at best.
What Delors would have done with the external population movements pressing Europe today we don’t know. That is for a different generation to find a solution. What he helped though was creation of a freer and more prosperous Europe than existed before.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Thank you for addressing the underlying snark, that is only matched by the implicit assumption that domehow French socialism would have worked better than, say, Russian, Cambodian, Cuban, Chinese, Romanian, Polish, Hungarian, East German, etc socialism. His largest failure was to not trust voters and for the bureaucrats in Antwerp to have unchecked power. So now Europe us in a cultural suicide because of wokism. But the author of this essay appears to think that is cool.

j watson
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Painfull this, but needs must – i) Unchecked power – can you give some examples that weren’t subject to votes in EU parliament, or ratification requirement from Council of Ministers, or not subject to the UK veto? Can you also give an example of a trade agreement we have that has no obligations on us as part of the deal.
ii) ‘Wokism’ – can you give an example of the cultural suicide you refer to.
Thanks. Then it’s easier to actually debate the points.

Phil Mac
Phil Mac
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

1) That’s a joke, right? The Worlds only Parliament that isn’t allowed to initiate legislation, a pretty solid definition of a rubber stamp. The initiators of course never need this inconvenience of direct election by the people, as a consequence I dare you to name 6 of them without cheating. I’ll give you Ursula as a start (I’d help more but I can’t without using Google).
As for vetos & so on, they come with consequences. Ask Poland what it’s like to step out of line.
2) Oh I don’t know, maybe open borders to mass human movement from the South & South-East (please don’t suggest there’s actual, real, blockage), Economic suicide from insane energy policies. Perhaps UR has more but I think those would have been on his list when he wrote.

Last edited 3 months ago by Phil Mac
Walter Marvell
WM
Walter Marvell
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

What? Freer and more prosperous since the 90s?? Utter nonsense! Prosperity was restored to the UK by the Thatcher Revolution. Since 2008 we have been living in a doped up lalaland fed by repeated magic money bailouts from a near bankrupt State which has warped and smashed market mechanisms in the energy labour welfare and housing sectors. Meanwhile the calamitous cackhanded introduction of the Euro has blitzed and ravaged the economies of the South. Perhaps you have forgotten the trauma of Greece, the youth exodus from jobless Spain and Italy’s perma non growth and stagnation?? And all that easy growth bought by Germany’s disgusting knee bowing dependence on imports of Putins gas and sales to Xi’s China. More freedom within the EU?? True freedom of speech and genuine liberty are threatened here and on the continent by the insidious progressive dogmas propagated by elites wedded to coercion (net zero diktats/public health/DEI) and utterly dismissive of their electorates and the mandates of national parliaments.

j watson
JW
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Where would you rather live then WM? Have you emigrated somewhere better? Therein lies the test.
I suspect you may inadvertently have become so blaise about all the freedoms you have you no longer notice them.
Did you travel through Eastern Europe much pre-1990? I spent some of my young adulthood stationed with the BAOR in NW Germany. The world is transformed my friend from those times, although much we must not be complacent about now too.

Last edited 3 months ago by j watson
Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Huh? It was the US military, Reagan and NATO that secured peace in Europe – the EU claim to have stopped war is standard Remainiac drivel (unless you of course cling to the embarrassing idea that the Hun are genetically programmed to make war on the soft Frenchies). I did travel a lot to Eastern Europe and of course communism devastated and impoverished its people. So what? Why do you not address any of the ten or so points I make about the EU’s miserable economic record?? Even in its diplomacy, the EU record is really appalling. It totally screwed up in the Balkans and its overt interference in the Maidan Revolution in Ukraine (with the fool Baroness Ashton on the streets) was reckless. Now the Germans are not supplying the Ukraine with arms. The EU simply is not working; stagnant economies and its ludicrous progressive agenda is driving a deep wedge with Poland and the Eastern states who got drunk on bailouts. Meanwhile back in the West, 2024 will see the flailing EU gave to confront the fury of its electorates over its open border insanity and migration crises. Finally, I felt more far more free in the eighties. This New Order uses diktat and coercion and promotes extreme state ideologies in ways that would horrify our ancestors.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Eastern Europe was liberated not by EU but by NATO and USA.
I was fine with EEC as a trading arrangement.
I turned against it after Maestricht Treaty and then Lisbon betrayal of Blair.
People voted against this direction of travel in France and Denmark and were not allowed to vote in uk.
Blair knew we would had left corrupt and undemocratic EU 16 years earlier.

Leonel Silva Rocha
Leonel Silva Rocha
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

“…Lisbon betrayal of Blair.”
That doesn’t read right, somehow. So Lisbon has betrayed Blair?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

The EU – which is not the same as Europe – has member states that each has a population who has reduced their level of freedom by handing decision-making rights over to the Brussels Reich.
Delors just continued the well established French tradition of surrendering to the Germans.

Last edited 3 months ago by Ian Barton
j watson
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Which freedoms IB? And as we have shown they can leave. It may be tricky but it’s entirely doable.
One always trades something for something. Can you name a trade agreement we have with anyone with no obligations on us that sometimes might grate?
People like to create paper-Monsters to aid their argument. Most are blown away by a little breeze.

Last edited 3 months ago by j watson
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

One example is the ability to set one’s own interest rates in order to establish a value for your currency that suits your domestic economic circumstances.
Trade agreements (made by free countries) are about choosing which compromises you wish to make – not allowing others to tell you which compromises they have chosen for you.

Last edited 3 months ago by Ian Barton
j watson
JW
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

BoE makes the decisions on Interest rates in the UK and none involved are elected and publicly accountable. Our politicians of course have a say in setting targets and making appointments, but that’s the same in the EU. The ECB is accountable to the European Parliament.
The ‘trade-off’ for EU countries was the benefit of all having the same currency – easing price competition, reducing costs, for the benefit of consumers etc. That’s the choice they made.
What trade agreement can you refer to without some obligation we have to follow?

Ian Barton
IB
Ian Barton
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

The rights to set interest rates was granted to the BOE by the U.K. Parliament. The U.K. Parliament can revoke that right whenever it sees fit. This would not be possible within the EU.
Only a small subset of EU countries have benefitted from having a common currency (i.e.Germany).
If you read my point on trade agreements again you will realise that your question is not relevant to a discussion of who gets to decide.

Last edited 3 months ago by Ian Barton
j watson
JW
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

The EU parliament and Council of Ministers has similar powers over the ECB. I assume what you dislike is that power is then shared with the elected reps from 27 other countries. It would be more honest if you conveyed that as your dislike rather than contend there is no democratic control at all. It’s the exaggeration in your point that weakens it. It is legit to argue that you don’t want to abide by decisions where other nations reps have a say too.
Slightly separate, but there is now inevitability that we’ll largely follow the rules made by EU without any say. A strange way of increasing British influence and power.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Your assumption is wrong, as is your accusation of dishonesty. I realise it is easier for you to maintain your argument by creating false beliefs on my behalf that you can then discredit – while also providing you with a way of avoiding addressing the points that I have made.
See you on another thread soon.

Phil Mac
PM
Phil Mac
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

As a lifetime advocate of the free market, I have great respect for the “old left”. Part of a well functioning market is the strengthening of the power of labour without which there’s no check on the entrepreneur and therefore poor incentives to drive true productivity. Look at what’s happening now – if only legal immigration was checked we’d see some strong wage growth and best employment practices as businesses had to compete for labour but instead we get open-doors policies advocated by the right for business, and the “left” for their social conscience vote.
True old lefties were important but they’re so abandoned by the Labour Party that some of them are now Conservative MPs. It’s not doing them any good though, they’ll probably go Reform.
The current left couldn’t care less about empowering labour, they’re ashamed of them and far more interested in intersectional societal disruption.

j watson
JW
j watson
3 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

Difficult to know who you are referring to in the ‘current Left’ but suspect those who tend to focus too much on Identity Politics? I would concur that the focus on Identity politics has become counter-productive but in some regards that’s an issue for the Right too.
Perhaps we would agree that the Reagan-Thatcher Neo Liberal decimation of organised labour had consequences that the Right failed to appreciate. One may well have been a push-back on cheaper imported labour deflating wages below what they might have been and the consequent widening of inequality? Without which just perhaps we’d have focused more on productivity. Another might have been a push back on the gig economy and the chronic uncertainty so many of our youngsters now experience.
The point at which the North-South divide in the UK exploded can certainly be traced to the Thatcher revolution which generated the unhealthy, almost toxic, over reliance on the City and Big Finance.

Last edited 3 months ago by j watson
Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
3 months ago
Reply to  Phil Mac

The New Left of the Progressive New Order DO have a new approach to empowering labour (alongside the identitarianism). Unions now dominate the public sector and Big State which has expanded to perhaps 50% of the economy. Forget the greedy rail unions. Union power and new Scargills thrive in this sector. The unshamed politicisation of the health unions and civil service (hello fibber Grey) is the most calamitious but inevitable consequence of 20 plus years of the Progressive EU legacy Regulatory State. The greed of our 100k consultants (a core part of our 1% Rich) and amoral Corbynista Red Guard Young Doctors has broken our social contract with the NHS. Greed and Me Me Leftist politics also now define the modern political civil service who so disgracefully sit in pjs at home plotting to overturn bullying Brexiteer Nasties. This is all very new. The public sector unions irrational demands (constantly lying about their golden pensions) are draining the public purse; the old capital v labour dynamic does not apply. They have us over a barrel. Both the Big State and its bloated taxpayer funded workforce are now wholly detached from and hostile toward the private sector. Expect more coercion from these entitled unions once/if the Starmerite Party of the State gains power.