May 27, 2019

Denmark leads the way on left realignment toward immigration restriction and anti-globalization

Denmark's political regime cycles are similar to our own in America, as well as Canada and the UK (though not our Anglo cousins of the South Pacific). These regime cycles are the opposite of those in the Mediterranean (including France), which have seen the same overall outcomes unfolding, but with the dominant vs. opposition status of the left-wing and right-wing coalitions switched around.

In Denmark, the neoliberal era since circa 1980 has been led by the more right-wing of the two coalitions, beginning with Prime Minister Schluter in 1982. The left coalition led the government during the 1990s (Poul Rasmussen) and the early 2010s (Thorning-Schmidt), but they did not overturn the basic neoliberal order begun by the dominant right-wing side -- similar to Clinton and Obama during our Reaganite era.

Before this era, it was the left who was the dominant coalition, going back to Stauning's rule in the late 1920s. He was like FDR here, and also won one election after another during the Great Depression. We can call these regimes proto-socialism. In Denmark, that order ground to a stagnating halt during the 1970s, just like it did everywhere else. The end of that era was presided over by an ineffectual would-be reformer of the dominant coalition, Jorgensen, who was like our Jimmy Carter.

Toward the end of the current neoliberal era, a populist attempt to radically reform the system from the right appeared from seemingly out of nowhere -- the Danish People's Party, which enjoyed major success not only in Danish parliamentary elections, but also in their European Parliament elections, in the middle of this decade. They supported the incumbent Establishment right-wing government, similar to how the supposed Trumpian populists have generally bent the knee for the Establishment GOP after Trump took office.

The DPP has collapsed, just like the "Trump movement" has here, with some going back to the Establishment right, and others back to the mainstream left -- like what the Obama-Trump voters will be doing in either the 2020 or 2024 election. We just saw the DPP get wiped out in the European Parliament election, and they are poised to do poorly in the upcoming Danish general election in about a week. Imagine if Steve Bannon or Stephen Miller tried to run for office right now, instead of in 2016. They'd go nowhere.

However, those who flocked to the DPP because they were dissatisfied with the status quo have only returned to the mainstream left party, the Social Democrats, because they have realigned their positions on the economy -- greater social democracy -- and on immigration -- heavy restriction of legal immigration, all but ending asylum, and forcing cultural integration among those who do get in.

They have linked the two parts ideologically by saying it's about protecting the vulnerable in society that the Danish government has jurisdiction over, responsibility to, and influence over -- namely the working and middle classes of Denmark, not foreigners and not the rent-seeking elites who want cheap labor immigration. It is a classic Social Democrat position, not a contradiction.

This is not the same party from 5-10 years ago, when it was more like the Democrats under Obama. But that is because the regime dynamics have changed -- they are no longer in the consensus phase, since the attempted populist changes of the DPP have dealt a fatal blow to the popular mandate of the dominant coalition and their continuing of the nearly 40-year neoliberal agenda.

The mainstream left can no longer win by simply promising neoliberalism with progressive values -- they have to go where the voters are, and they want to reclaim the egalitarianism that has been eroded by neoliberalism, and they want Denmark for the Danes. That is not to say, bombing the hell out of foreign peoples, but just keeping their society homogeneous so that it can continue to operate smoothly, instead of becoming fragmented into atomized and alienated individuals by immigration of drastically different foreigners.

The left has stolen the major issue for dissatisfied voters from the right-wing party -- immigration and inequality, which always go together. (See our own Gilded Age inequality linked to Ellis Island immigration, then our New Deal egalitarianism and closed-border immigration policies, and then our return to Gilded Age / Ellis Island outcomes since the Reagan Revolution.)

As a result, they stand ready to clobber the weak and ineffectual right-wing coalition in the upcoming general election, and the figure responsible for forcing this realignment on immigration, Mette Frederiksen, will become the Prime Minister (the youngest ever, a late Gen X-er, and a woman). The closest figure in the US would be Tulsi Gabbard, although Tulsi focuses less on the immigration aspect of anti-globalization and more on the anti-imperialism aspect (a more pressing concern for a declining major global empire like America, and unlike Denmark).

Bernie has a far greater chance of winning than she does, of course -- I mean that the situation in Denmark is as though Tulsi were poised to win her party's nomination and the general election in a landslide. I keep saying our disjunctive phase is going to last at least two terms, so this outcome will have to wait until 2024 in the US.

We also see how useless the Greens have been in Denmark. They have higher numbers than earlier in the century, but they are still a small minority, and they have fought against the new immigration restrictions proposed and implemented by their fellow left-wingers in the now realigned Social Democrats. They are trying to push for the "New" Left positions of 1968, which heralded the downfall of the working-class paradise of the Midcentury, the rise of libertarianism during the '70s, and the neoliberal hegemony of the '80s and afterward. As long as they get concessions on cultural laissez-faire, they are content to take more economic laissez-faire.

The closest thing we have to the Greens here is the DSA, whose representatives in government -- AOC, Tlaib, and Omar -- are only capable of pursuing neoliberalism with progressive values, rather than stealing the anti-globalization issues away from the failed Trump movement (i.e., anti-imperialism, anti-immigration, and re-industrialization).

Bernie is distinct from them in being a moderate on social-cultural issues (most notably on gun rights) and for having been on the record opposing open borders as a libertarian oligarch's policy, not one for the working class. If he and his people could push even harder for the immigration positions of the Danish Social Democrats -- the Scandinavian model for what he supposedly thinks socialism should look like -- they would wipe out the stagnant GOP in the coming years, stealing the disaffected populist voters who chose Trump over Clinton.

If they're not going to call for a shut-down of immigration, they at least need to call for a shut-down of the American empire. And a return of off-shored manufacturing to American soil. The longer they punt on these major issues, the longer they delay the realignment and prolong this stagnating disjunctive phase. Ignore the affluent rad-libs of the DSA in Brooklyn and the Bay Area, and focus on the working class of Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee. Legions of Trump voters are willing and eager to defect, but only to a realigned Democrat party -- not the one of Obama or Clinton.

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