However the French presidential elections turn out in the coming weeks, the campaign has produced one memorable moment—when François Hollande, the Socialist candidate, delivered a sharp critique of the austerity measures imposed on Greece by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Since the Greeks don’t vote in French elections, this was a rare expression of internationalist solidarity. Of course, the policy of the EU and the IMF is largely dictated by the German government, which makes French opposition something less than heroic. It is important, nonetheless. On the German Left, there have been critical voices (see Norman Birnbaum’s report on p. 9), though not from a party leader in the middle of an election campaign. In the United States, Paul Krugman has led an intellectual assault on the austerity doctrine and its ideological underpinnings. But the leader of the Democratic Party, who is already campaigning for re-election, has been silent. In Greece itself, the Socialist Party is part of the government coalition trying desperately to do what the EU and the IMF are demanding. It isn’t leading the protests in the streets, though its militants will certainly welcome Hollande’s critique.
What should socialists and leftists generally (and American liberals, too) be doing at this moment? In countries like Greece, it seems to me, they shouldn’t be serving in the government. Maybe there is no choice, given the balance of power in Europe, bu...
For just $19.95 a year, get access to new issues and decades' worth of archives on our site.
Print + Online
For $35 a year, get new issues delivered to your door and access to our full online archives.