Is social democracy a dying ideology



Right-wing populism in Europe: the mutiny of the vested rights / Michael Ehrke; Lothar Witte - [Electronic ed.] - Bonn, 2002 - 23 pp. = 95 KB, text. - (globalization and justice)
Electronic ed .: Bonn: FES Library, 2002

© Friedrich Ebert Foundation



Right-wing populist parties throughout Europe were able to participate in
have seen spectacular electoral successes in recent years.
How can this trend be explained?

European right-wing populism has a specific target:
The political culture of modernized social democracy. The social democracy
is attacked on behalf of the unsettling upheavals that
with the transition from industrial to post-industrial society
are connected. Right-wing populism is less of a rebellion
The loser of modernization as a mutiny of the vested interests:
It is an appeal to bare self-interest, an invitation to
Defense of acquisitions to lower civilizational inhibitions.
The danger that emanates from it lies more in the targeted brutalization of the
Language and behavior than in the risk that he is in the government
could steer European societies into the abyss.

The right-wing populist potential will not be raised either through ingratiation,
nor through socio-political generosity or discursive education strategies
let defuse. A policy directed against right-wing populism must
primarily address the democratic majorities: by making apparent
Constraints transformed into political options and these with social interests
the majorities - the employees - linked.





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The term "populism" refers to two distinct phenomena. On the one hand, it denotes a political one style: An ingratiating address to the "people" who tries to establish a direct relationship between the political leader and the masses by eliminating mediating and representative bodies. Politicians of any direction could be characterized as "populist" in this sense. On the other hand, in the Western European democracies one has in recent years certain Type of political parties and movements profiled, for which the designation "right-wing populist" has prevailed.[In the following, the historical origins of populism in Russia, the USA and Latin America and the extensive literature on this phenomenon are not discussed.] This right-wing populism has emerged as a kind Third way on the right between traditional democratic conservatism and openly anti-democratic right-wing radicalism (which as a rule does not appear populist). The principle of this new right-wing populism is a dazzling lack of principles, so that it tends to elude a description in the established patterns of party-political classification. In part, the connection to the traditional radical right is still dominant (as with Jean-Marie Le Pens Front National or Gianfranco Finis Alleanza Nazionale), in part this connection is at least denied in public (by the party of Pim Fortuyn or the Forza Italia Silvio Berlusconi ). In any case, right-wing populism has become a permanent - albeit unstable, political reality in Europe, characterized by spectacular successes such as unspectacular decline and divisions. In Italy he gained government power, in other countries (Austria, the Netherlands) he came to power in alliances with traditional conservative parties.

Election results of right-wing populist parties in Europe

    * Presidential elections, 1st ballot

The brackets that bind the right-wing populist parties in Europe are those Montivewith which the voters are mobilized. These motifs are:

  • The presence of Foreigners in European societies it is rejected as excessive. The reasons for xenophobia range from openly racist and affluent chauvinist ("the boat is full") to migration policy (as with Pim Fortuyn) topoi. Beyond the presence of foreigners, the achieved degrees of economic and cultural internationalization / globalization are condemned. This nationalist orientation includes one with regard to the EU anti-integration attitude a: The achieved

    The state of integration or European integration as a whole are attacked;

  • In Austria and Italy (as with the radical right in Germany, which was less successful in national elections), nationalism is associated with storysrevisionist Motives or the reinterpretation of the fascist / national socialist past.
  • The supposed or real decline of the internal security is dramatized and lamented (often in connection with the presence of foreigners);
  • The Welfare state is selectively rejected, especially where his "boarders" do not belong to the collective addressed by right-wing populism.

These motifs come with a Anti-establishment attitude put forward that the right-wing populism in the contrast to the social democratic and democratic-conservative Mainstream-Parties (or the "political class" as a whole) represents. Right-wing populism is rebellious, but the rebellion should be risk-free for the self-appointed rebels, since they can know that they are in consensus with the majority of the "decent". The established politics attacked by right-wing populism is not attacked in the name of certain interests or values, but flatly denounced as colorless and remote from the citizenry. The anger directed against the rulers is not fueled by disappointment with their inadequate performance, on the contrary: a successful government policy has often been rewarded with a spectacular election success for right-wing populists:

  • The labor market policy of the Danish (social democratic) government is internationally exemplary, as it combines high wage replacement benefits with high mobility of employees and thus at the same time maintains an acceptable level of employment and protection for the unemployed. This did not prevent voters from voting out the government and bringing the right-wing populist Dansk Folkeparti into parliament.
  • The economic and social policy of the French (socialist) government succeeded in reconciling "left" labor and social policy reforms (such as the reduction of working hours) with growth and employment success. Nonetheless, right-wing extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen outpaced Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in the first round of the presidential election.
  • The Italian center-left government has mastered the Herculean task of reducing the budget deficit and debt, two chronic evils of the Italian economy, and bringing the national budget in line with the requirements of the European Stability Pact. She was voted out in favor of the right-wing populist coalition of Silvio Berlusconi (with the neo-fascist addition of the Alleanza Nazionale).
  • The "polder" model of the Dutch government (led by the Social Democrats) is internationally regarded as a model of a successful labor market policy that has not been bought at the price of a serious decline in the welfare state. In the 2002 parliamentary elections, however, the Social Democrats suffered a landslide defeat, while the list of the recently murdered Pim Fortuyn garnered almost 18 percent of the vote.

The examples are not intended to complain about the ingratitude of the electorate, but rather the lack of a recognizable connection between the comprehensible ones (based on growth or labor market data, for example) Services a government and the legal

Illustrate populist voter potential: Right-wing populist election victories are not a punishment for governments that are ineffective or unwilling to perform. The rebellious attitude is directed more against the "political class" as such than against specific political content / achievements.



The electoral successes of right-wing populist parties in Europe are largely due to specific national power constellations. The rise of right-wing populism in Italy is closely related to the factual disappearance of Christian democracy. Jörg Haider's electoral successes in Austria can also be seen as a reaction to a long-standing conservative-social-democratic coalition. In Belgium and Italy, the successes of the Vlaamske Blok and Lega Nord, parties that gain popularity from defamation of their own citizens, can be explained by country-specific "ethnic" or regional tensions. In some cases right-wing populism may be the only chance to articulate diffuse protest. In many cases, right-wing populism attracts voters who, in other constellations, would give their vote to the traditionally conservative parties - or to no one else.

The common denominator of the different variants of European right-wing populism lies less in the "demand" of the voters than in the "supply" that the populists provide. Only in this sense can one European Speak trend. Right-wing populism is explicitly directed against one throughout Europe specific "political culture": that of the modernized Social democracy, which is not limited to social democratic / socialist parties, but has rubbed off on green and moderate-conservative forces. Ralf Dahrendorf once described the 20th century as the "social democratic century" - a designation that hardly applies to the first unfortunate half of the century, but characterizes the decades after 1945 all the better. When the "political culture of social democracy" is mentioned at this point, what is meant is not the welfare state consensus, which was the basis for changing governments in almost all western and northern European states until the end of the 1970s, as was the case with Dahrendorf, but rather a policystylewhich has crystallized especially since the 1980s, i.e. after the emergence of neoliberalism. One could compare this modernized social democratic policy with the concept of Third way - try to describe the course pursued primarily by the British Labor Party "between" or "beyond" social democratic tradition and neoliberalism. However, this could be misleading: important social democratic and socialist European parties have explicitly spoken out against the "Third Way", and in the present context it is about politicsstyle - in other words, neither a label nor a program - which, as I said, is not only characteristic of social democratic parties. Its elements can be roughly named:

  • The explicit renunciation of a policy towards capitalism systemalternative offers, not even within the framework of the democratic constitution (the goal of traditional reformism). Capitalism is not only accepted as given, but given a positive normative connotation;
  • A basic one economic and cultural openness, a normatively justified rejection of both economic protectionism (which does not exclude individual protectionist measures) and cultural self-sufficiency; an essentially positive evaluation of the term

    "Globalization" to subsumed economic and cultural developments;

  • The importance of the cooperation as an approach to solving political problems on an international - global as well as European - level; this includes the increased use of power political (military) instruments as part of international cooperation not from;
  • A certain level Tolerance and political liberality in the domestic as well as in the international debate; a limited openness to ecological and social issues (also on a global level);
  • Acceptance of a minimum Welfare state, the far-reaching respect of the given constellation more organized Interests and a fundamentally integrative Approach to conflicting interests;
  • A orthodox monetary, financial and economic policy (which again limits the scope for shaping the welfare state);
  • The Dispensing with a "narrative", a major political draft, the recognition of narrow political room for maneuver, in which politics appears more as permanent crisis management and an incoherent series of individual reforms than as the product of a normatively founded vision of a more just or otherwise preferable society.

Right-wing populist or right-wing radical parties on the fringes of Western Europe's political arena are not a novelty - see French Poujadism or the German NPD - but the latest right-wing populist surge that has just broken out in political "cultures" (the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark) that are strongly influenced by social democracy, has a specifically anti-social democratic thrust in the sense outlined above. It is no accident that this latest resentment rebellion comes at a time when the modernized Social democracy had become the politically hegemonic force of EU Europe. No more than two years ago, the Social Democrats were proud to discover that they had held leadership positions in twelve out of 15 European governments. Today they see themselves - with the exception of New Labor in Great Britain - after a surprisingly short time on the defensive again, under pressure not only from the usual suspects from the traditionally conservative camp, but also from the new right-wing populists and the various informal and formal conservative-right-wing populists Alliances.



The Modernization of social democracy - whether it was undertaken under the label of the Third Way or not - is itself the answer to a perceived upheaval that has been labeled with the label of "globalization": the transition from an industrial to a post-industrial society, whatever qualifies. This upheaval brought the European social democrats to the conviction - formulated differently in the various countries - that the policy in the "golden age" of capitalism, that is, in the fifties to seventies of the 20th century, did not pursue taking over government power under the new conditions , still allowed successful governance.

The modernization of social democracy was and is synonymous with a fundamentally positive reference to changes, which many consider Dissolution process

(of traditions, interpretation patterns, social milieus, ways of life and normal employment) and thus as Krise are experienced - as a tangible deterioration in one's own living conditions (e.g. as a result of the transition from an employment relationship to unemployment), as an alleged or real threat to vested rights that are believed to be certain, or as the uncertainty of firmly established normative orientations. Right-wing populism reacted and thus reacts to two phenomena: The crisis of the transition to a post-industrial society and the attempt of social democracy to manage this transition politically. The political class receives the status of a scapegoat, which is beaten on behalf of elusive processes of social change. Because in the process of transition, what is new is only vaguely outlined. An image of society emerges in which unemployment, astronomical fees for racing drivers, the perceived unsettling presence of foreign cultures, the wars and civil wars on the edge of Europe, the neoliberal high performance, flexibility and mobility demands and the transition from Peter Frankenfeld to Verona Feldbusch do not exist add to a coherent pattern but create confusion. Since the donkey of the globalization crisis is difficult to recognize, let alone hit, right-wing populism is thrashing the social democratic sack all the more angrily. In the form of social democratic politicians, the dreaded and unsettling but intangible crisis takes on faces that can be slapped in the face.

Social modernization always creates losers, and losers express their anger by voting for right-wing extremist or right-wing populist parties as voters or by opening the hunt for other people as passers-by. Extreme right-wing parties and movements are an unsavory but permanent accompanying phenomenon of modern democracies that is not dangerous as long as the large majorities are socially and politically dangerous Mainstream can be integrated.The upheaval to which current right-wing populism is reacting is not, however, the crisis as a permanent phenomenon accompanying modern societies the crisis of modernity (industrial society) itself - and a social democratic policy that tries to manage this crisis. This does not mean that right-wing populism of today has to be more dangerous than comparable movements in the past - on the contrary: The equation of right-wing populism with European fascism, which is repeated over and over again according to the motto "fight back against the beginnings", gives the opponent the dark reflection of the demonic, which may make him even more attractive to the frightened rebels. Nevertheless, the explanation of today's right-wing populism presupposes that it is understood as a reaction to a specific crisis and a specific form of social democratic crisis management.



A common explanation of current right-wing populism refers to the "failure of social democracy" in social policy. The social democracy was and presented itself in the past as a political representation of the less privileged, historically the industrial workers, in the decades of the post-war prosperity of the dependent employees. Their concept of integration was (not fundamentally differentiated from that of the conservatives) that of the Participation of everyone in economic prosperity, which could include a limited political evaluation and government correction of the distribution results of the market. The modernization social democracy, on the other hand, includes recognition of the fact that economic growth is current and

in the foreseeable future will no longer favor everyone in the same way, but rather lead to polarization, be it because certain basic institutions of social security - primarily: long-term employment relationships - are eroding in the face of globalization, tertiarization or the like, be it because the Options for secondary redistribution are restricted by the state (or are perceived as restricted). In the concept of modernized social democracy, the state partly abandons responsibility for the social and employment biographies of individuals and assigns them to them itself. The successes of social democratic / socialist governments in Europe (see above) hide the fact that the partial rapprochement of the social democrats to neoliberalism - so the criticism - left the globalization losers in the famous rain. By swiveling into a center that was always defined, they "betrayed" the victims of structural change, that is, those who were laid off into unemployment or forced from a secure employment relationship into a precarious one. The losers saw themselves no longer represented by the established political forces (parties and trade unions) and consequently turned to some "pied piper" who promised everything that social democracy could no longer promise or wanted. The political offerings of the right-wing populists and right-wing radicals met the demand of the declassed, neglected by the social democrats, who, in their frustration and political immaturity, chose anyone who lied to them.

This explanatory approach, which is reminiscent of August Bebel's rather belittling characterization of anti-Semitism as the "socialism of stupid fellows", is problematic in several respects. It is true that one can prove that the modernized social democracy, especially in the programmatic writings on the justification of the Third way, avoids rather than answers the question of social inequality. However, the program discussion should not be confused with the politics of social democratic governing parties. This is - as neoliberal professors and the spokesmen of the employers' associations keep pointing out to you - straight Not characterized by a continuous dismantling of social security, but rather by the attempt to maintain a less spectacular balance between social security needs and (perceived) economic requirements. As excited as the debate about the "dismantling of the welfare state" is, empirically marginal corrections have been made. And other social security institutions - from civil servant status to guild regulations to agricultural and coal subsidies - have survived the transition from industrial to post-industrial society surprisingly well. Social democracy, along with other forces, has undergone intensive modernizationdebate which may have increased the level of excitement about the great upheavals of our time, but their political practice tended towards the preservation of the social status quo out.



Against the argument that the "failure of social democracy" opened the door to right-wing populism is the fact that the electorate of right-wing populism - as empirical analyzes show - does not consist disproportionately of the declassed, the unemployed or those who are actually threatened by unemployment . Rather, it reflects society as a whole in its stratifications. Above all, however, the rhetoric of right-wing populism does not address the declassed, it does not articulate the needs of the worse off, but rather confirms complacency

the established ones. Right-wing populism appeals to those who have something to lose (at least more than their chains) and who see their status more vaguely than manifestly threatened. He openly appeals to the brutality of those who are ready to defend with tooth and claw what they have achieved or what they are entitled to (whatever that may be), its core is the request To break down inhibitions that moderate the ruthlessness of naked egoism could. Therefore, the principle of "moderating" political culture of social democracy is also the target: The attempt to combine social and national interests in the narrow sense with "overriding" issues - European integration, preservation of the environment, solidarity with the disadvantaged, etc. - balance. Such restrictions on self-interest - from the net payments to the EU to speed limits ("my car doesn't need a forest!"), From development aid to social assistance, from the mineral oil tax to the required tolerance towards immigrants - are from the point of view of right-wing populism and its clientele Impositions.

Right-wing populism creates a short-circuit relationship between egoism, stripped of any civilizing fig leaf, and the state: the state should exercise the same ruthlessness in defending the interests of "its" citizens that individuals themselves are ready to show. Now every child knows that conflicting interests are not primarily based on national, but rather within society. Right-wing populism appeals to egoism, but deliberately refrains from social Address differences of interest. Unifying band of populist rhetoric are not certain Interests (such as those of employees), but rather the rather diffuse commonality between the status and vested interests of those who raise or could raise new claims. What is defended is "the wallet" rather than the incomes (wages, profits) that fill it. As in traditional fascism, the internal social contradictions are whitewashed or replaced by a symbolic construct of fictional collectivity in which the Opel driver, for whom gasoline is too expensive, the young man, who is unsettled by the women's emancipation efforts, is the owner of the house in the green, who insists on the mileage allowance, the troublemaker who wants to withhold his taxes from "those up there" as well as the "anti-social" and the yuppie who considers the social security of his Filipino domestic help to be social kitsch, can feel equally lifted. Hence the - one could say: strategic - role of foreigners and xenophobia for populism. First of all, the presence of foreigners makes it possible to draw a clear line between "us" and "those" who take no account of differences of interest within society and thus create the collective of "citizens". The well-intentioned hint that "in reality" the foreigners do not take our jobs and apartments away from us is misleading, as real differences of interest are hidden at the moment. Second, foreigners and other minorities can be used to demonstrate that one is prepared to let go of civilizational inhibitions in defending one's interests: tolerance, respect and liberalism are dismissed as sentimentalism by an intellectual elite that only prevents "us" from doing To effectively protect "us" achievements.

Right-wing populism is a call to the guardians of the vested interests to lower the barriers to civilization. He redefines attitudes and views that are considered offensive in a liberal political culture into legitimate popularity. It is an attack on the power of political judgment: political judgments, like taste judgments - and unlike scientific statements - are never universal and binding. Nonetheless, every political (like every aesthetic) culture defines a space of acceptable judgments (the image of the

roaming deer is no art, even if you can argue about taste). Right-wing populism expands the space for possible political judgments by openly or covertly making non-democracy-compatible (e.g. racist) statements socially acceptable. The danger that emanates from him lies more in this effect on political culture than in the possibility that he could take over government and steer the democracies of Europe into the abyss. Let us remind you of the analyzes that Norbert Elias carried out at the beginning of the 20th century in the milieu of German fraternity students: The targeted brutalization of language and behavior did not lead directly to National Socialism, but created the collective dispositions among the young German elite, which could be used as raw material by National Socialism.



With its attack on the political culture of social democracy and its selective rejection of the welfare state, right-wing populism shows a certain proximity to neoliberalism, whereby "neoliberalism" in the present context is not understood as a particular school of thought in economics, but rather a political projectwhich in Western Europe was basically only realized in Great Britain under Margaret Thatcher. The connection between right-wing populism and neoliberalism is most evident in Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia. Other right-wing populist parties have emerged from originally liberal parties, such as Jörg Haider's FPÖ and the Pim Fortuyn list (a split from the Dutch right-wing liberals). In Germany, there is a similar development at the F.D.P. at. It is no coincidence that the "most modern" variant of right-wing populism (Fortuyn, Haider and Berlusconi in contrast to Le Pen) is not only related to the decline of neoliberalism political The project follows, but takes up some of the motifs of neoliberalism in terms of content.

There are unifying motives for both political directions

  • The general Public hostilitywhich is paradoxically linked to the exaggeration of the nation state. As politic Neoliberalism could only become effective when it appealed against its economic logic to nation, family, tradition and religion - entities that the market inexorably deified by neoliberalism disintegrates. The combination of nationalism and public hostility is mainly used by Margaret Thatcher ("I want my money back!") embodied, who in this respect is also a prototypical figure for right-wing populism.
  • A combination of economical libertarian and politically authoritarian Motifs. As a rule, "modern" right-wing populism does not represent any corporate models of the organization of the economy and society (for example based on the example of historical fascism or Spanish Francoism), nor does it openly advocate them in Europe (unlike Pat Buchanan in the USA) Protection of national economies through trade barriers, although this might be in the economic interests of some of his clientele.
  • The appeal to that Self-interest, which above all should be protected from the state - from the tax authorities. Neoliberals and are right-wing populist parties Tax cutparties, whereby the tax levied by the state, which is for the claims of other people (the disadvantaged, foreigners, etc.) or interests

    aside from undisguised egoism (environment, development, European integration), it is denounced as a kind of human rights violation. The same applies to social security, which is not recognized as a collective arrangement to ward off social risks that is also in the interests of the individual, but is condemned as an "attack on the wallet" organized from outside and above.

  • (more as an attitude than as a program) die intended brutalization of social relationshipswhich, in contrast to everything that constitutes civilized humanity, are either reduced to market relations or simplified to a war-like distribution struggle of fictional collectives ("we" against "them").

The expression of the Differences between neoliberalism and right-wing populism depend on consistency with which the neoliberal project is being implemented. Basically a consequent neoliberal would not only be positive about economic globalization, but would also welcome one of its most visible consequences - international migration. In a certain sense, the immigrant is a particularly praiseworthy market subject, since he reacts rationally to supply and demand, turning away from his local environment, and goes where his labor is in demand. Even more: Neoliberalism is at least in principle the natural enemy of all traditional vested interests, which right-wing populism often insists on: the market subject has to prove its competitiveness anew every day, only those who, thanks to a large fortune, are allowed to take a break from competition or can enjoy it as a game. Right-wing populism, on the other hand, appears - to try again by Bebel - as neoliberalism of the "stupid fellows", it addresses those who have something to lose but are not released from the daily struggle for existence, who are exposed to social risks, and which might fall by the wayside if the market really was unrestricted.[This assignment basically leads back to a renewed version of the fascism theories of the thirties, which assumed the social basis of European fascism in the middle class threatened from below (the workers) as well as from above. This sociological definition may be a bit simple, as it threatens to misunderstand the shares of both the working class and the upper classes in fascism. Nonetheless, it opens up a perspective that, under radically changed conditions, could also help explain current right-wing populism.]
He cannot articulate a clear regulatory policy option in the sense of neoliberalism, because a relevant part of his clientele would benefit from free markets, provided that it is about relationships with customers, employees, etc., but at the same time from non-market protection mechanisms (guild and Professional codes, subsidies, etc.) receive increased income and collateral. As with neoliberalism, its program is social cuts - but social cuts for "the others" who are not part of the fictitious collective of those who protect their status and property. Right-wing populism embodies an opening of neoliberalism "downwards" and takes the motif of one uncertainty to which only the owners of large fortunes, the actual addressees of neoliberalism, are not exposed.



In the right-wing populist appeal to undisguised egoism, the loss of traditional supra-individual orientations is reflected, the dissolution of social milieus, which offered the individuals binding interpretations and orientations, defined requirements and individual achievements with the expected social gratuities.

onen or - in the case of refusal to perform - put punishments in a clear context. In Western Europe, the industrial workers and the Catholic rural social milieu (with their close ties to the large "people's parties") provided these services, which were integrative and socializing from the point of view of society, and orientated and compensated (comforting) from the point of view of the individual. With the dissolution of social milieus, including the major religious or ideological systems of interpretation, society expects individuals to take responsibility for their own biography; With modernization, individuals have to cope with unquestionable, tradition-bound orientations through the reflexive processing of the demands placed on them.In the course of the de-traditionalization that goes hand in hand with modernization, everything is tending to become questionable. What was given becomes an option, the object of individual decisions, for the consequences of which the individual must also take responsibility. It has therefore often been noted that modernization for many also involves a basic cognitive and practical Overwhelming What is connected is that the relapse into "simple truths", as the right-wing populists offer them, is to be understood as a kind of natural urge to reduce complexity. This relapse into "simple truths" threatens to take a malicious turn, since the preservation of the self-evident things that have already been broken down by modernization requires an even more dogged use of mental energy.

De-traditionalization, the dissolution of traditions and social milieus, has been a constant phenomenon in modern societies since the industrial revolution. Accordingly, the political history of the industrial age is also determined by a large number of reactionary or (at least apparently) backward-looking movements, from the Russian and American archetypes of populism to the various variants of religious fundamentalism and nationalism to National Socialism / fascism. Modernization does not form a straight line from traditional to enlightened-reflective orientations, but turns out to be a zigzag pattern of limited progress and catastrophic relapses. But what distinguishes the current situation of upheaval - the transition from industrial to post-industrial society or, if you will, globalization - from the constant deconstruction and reconstruction of the industrial society's past?

New Economy Hype: The rhetorical dramatization of upheaval

Indeed, one may argue about whether the process of technical, economic and social change that can be observed at the moment differs fundamentally from the change processes of the past. Even if we ignore the great catastrophes of the first half of the 20th century: Is the transition from the 20th to the 21st century really that much more dramatic than the upheavals of the 1950s and 1960s? Is the introduction of the Internet a more serious intrusion into traditional lifestyles than that of television, cars or air travel that is accessible to (almost) everyone? As Paul Krugman noted: It may be a good thing to book a flight online, but the mobility of individuals has not been revolutionized by the airliner (the icon of which, the jumbo jet, has not changed since the early 1970s) by making it easier to reserve tickets. The upheavals in the world of work that can be observed today are not only the consequences of the information technology revolution, but also accompanying phenomena of a very long-term trend in industrial rationalization and economics.

economic tertiarization, which sociologists and economists had already observed in the 1950s.

What actually distinguishes today's upheavals, the importance of which should by no means be diminished, from earlier changes is their all-round dramatization in the form of a rhetoric of unlimited unreasonable demands. Politicians of all directions, mass media and economics professors shout almost continuously to people: Don't be sure! Do not expect that your qualification entitles you to enter the world of work - it is already out of date. Under no circumstances should you expect a long-term employment relationship and a secure income. Your pensions are not safe, and your money invested in the capital markets is not safe anyway. Those who are not ready for unrestricted flexibility and mobility, to take on high risks and to renounce supposed rights will quickly end up with the superfluous - so the message. The natural enemy of the rhetoricians of upheaval are "possessions": They pretend a security that the 21st century no longer knows. This habitual dramatization of the upheaval may be due in part to the dynamic of a media society in which news value only has what exaggerates and unsettles, a society in which politics and science also present themselves in the media and have to adopt their criteria. In part, it is in the interests of employers, whose associations and the press argue that the discipline of the new markets is against the "aspirations" and the "vested interests" of employees - following the rather primitive logic that insecure employees are more obedient.

The rhetoric of upheaval naturally relates to a real core: for example Labor market crisis - which is expressed in Europe in high unemployment rates - which in the normal state of the coming new economy is reinterpreted, a form of economy in which work and social life should be synonymous with an incessant and brutal selection process. Hence the ambivalence with which the media and politics deal with unemployment: It is on one side the great evils of our time; on the other hand, it only appears as the logical result of a selection that cannot be avoided under the new conditions of supply and demand.

As always real Consequences of globalization or the transition from industrial to post-industrial society are assessed: The uncertainty created consciously or unintentionally by the rhetoric of upheaval exceeds the changes that the majority of the population can experience, which are limited in the Western European (still) social states. And right-wing populism is more likely to react to that climate uncertainty, behaviorunreasonable than to the real experience of social degradation.

Achievement and reward

An important aspect of both the rhetoric of radical change and the changes that can be experienced is the (perceived) decoupling of performance and the subsequent reward / punishment. In this context too, unemployment plays an ambivalent role: on the one hand, it is one for the majority of the population lesson: Unemployment is the penalty for insufficient flexibility, mobility, willingness to take risks, etc. On the other hand, there is not the slightest plausible connection between services provided and the privilege of secure and well-paid employment. The idea that workers could get through

Wage restraint, high work performance and the renunciation of "rights" to keep your company and thus your job can no longer even claim validity as fiction. Rather, it seems that anonymous capital markets, with their overreactions and incorrect reactions, decide the fate of companies and those who work for them. A similar decoupling concerns the connection between the "investment" made for school and vocational training and its return in the form of secure and adequately remunerated work. Neither companies that last for generations nor a qualification that at least lasts one's own working life justifies the prospect of a stable career - in a situation in which an employment relationship is the only source of income for the large majority of the population and is the only source of social recognition and individual creation of meaning.[Talk of the increasing importance of post-materialistic-hedonistic values ​​is misleading: Anyone who, for example, in the interests of his family, renounces gainful employment and works as a `` housekeeper '' is considered a fool and, in case of doubt, also becomes so treated.]

The ideology (more than the reality) of globalization apparently introduces global standards for achievements and rewards / punishments, which are blatantly disproportionate to the ideas of justice rooted in one's own lifeworld: In the globalized economy - this is the wrong message of the globalization prophets The performance-reward ratio of the Chinese day laborer tends to become the standard against which the demands of European workers are also measured. The potential prospect of decline becomes bottomless, while at the same time the compensatory prospect of a continuous rise in living standards for all revealed as an illusion.

The decoupling of performance and rewards also affects the opposite side of the winners: The salaries and remuneration of managers have reached a dimension in the perception of the majority of the population that they do not have in any somehow have a justifiable relationship to the services provided. Their often obvious failure, which drives many employees into unemployment, is not punished by a loss of status or income, but in the worst case by a change from the board of directors to the company's supervisory board. The risk with which the astronomical remuneration of the managers is justified is not borne by them themselves, but by the victims of their strategies. Similarly incomprehensible are the incomes of the dazzling multitude of "celebrities" from the media, culture, sport and scandal world, the amount of which, bordering on the miraculous, has no recognizable relationship to their or any performance. What is still understandable with top athletes, whose performance is constantly checked, loses its plausibility entirely with a media star who owes his prominence to staying in a container.

The scandal society: deceived fraudsters

It seems as if burdens and compensations, services and considerations, privileges and unreasonable demands are unknown in today's society random-Principle distributed, as if the yardstick for average performance, reasonable performance requirements and for a hierarchy of activities that are socially assessed differently, has been lost.[S. Birgit Mahnkopf, Formula 1 of the new social democracy. Speech at the meeting of the SPD program congress, December 16, 2000] On the one hand, this results in an individual uncertainty with regard to one's own life planning (an uncertainty that

is no longer absorbed by social milieus), on the other hand, a violation of certain rudimentary principles of justice - although not the (possibly increasing) social inequality The cause of the disturbance is, rather, the lack of a binding measure of inequality.

The loss of standard, the vague idea that in this society "too much" and "too little" are asked, rewarded and punished at the same time, creates the image of an anomic robber system in which anonymous regular social relationships (between employees and employers, citizens and the state, contributors and beneficiaries, etc.) are displaced by corruption, clergy and deadweight effects. The "decent" citizen, worker and taxpayer becomes a specimen of an extinct species, whose biotope is surrounded by bargain hunters, tax evaders, speculators, illegal workers and scavengers of all kinds. The systematic evasion of rules seems to become the rule itself; the real confusion of society (the welfare state, the tax system) makes it appear as a stage on which scandalous pieces are incessantly and exclusively performed. Right-wing populism expresses outrage about these "conditions". However, he does not do this by demanding a new or old morality, but by implicitly calling on his clientele to imitate "those up there": self-interest is "as brutal as possible" (Roland Koch) and regardless of rules, morals and law to realize - a challenge that nobody symbolizes as well as Silvio Berlusconi. The outrage directed upwards corresponds to the fact that one turns a blind eye to supposedly equals - but by no means downwards. The right-wing populist outrage does not draw a line in principle between the denounced corrupt "system" and morality, but rather between "us" and "them" in a reality that is generally perceived as amoral. This border is defined both nationally and within society, as the dividing line between the defrauded and defrauding vested rights and status holders on the one hand and those who want their wallets on the other.

In the land of sleepers, on the frontiers barbarians

Uncertainty also emanates from developments beyond national borders or is triggered by them in the first place. The clear division of the world into container-like nation-states crumbles and turns into a difficult-to-understand network of national, subnational, transnational and international actors. The regression to the ethnically defined nation-state called for by the right-wing populists would restore the clear dividing line between "us" and "them", making the real unmanageability manageable. Populist nationalism can, of course, include the rejection of the existing nation-state: the Austrian right, particularly in its past politics, tends towards a Germanophile attitude that de facto calls the state of Austria into question. The Belgian Vlaamske Blok openly rejects the state of Belgium, just as the Umberto Bossis Lega Nord opposes the Italian state (but this did not prevent the neo-fascist Alleanza Nazionale from forming a coalition government with the Lega). Nationalism on an ethnic basis usually follows the affluent chauvinist impulse of a community of the established, which does not want to be taken away - not even by the worse-off citizens of its own state, let alone by the state itself. The nation-state is not attempted to restitute because it as a welfare state a framework for the realization of "social

Solidarity "gives or could give up, on the contrary: the state should not integrate, but rather exclude.

The most visible expression of the blurring of the boundaries between "inside" and "outside", "us" and "them" is the presence of Migrantswho are looking for work and life opportunities in European countries. The immigrant is a highly ambivalent figure for the local guardian of vested rights, who feels vaguely threatened: through his obviously lower status, he (like the unemployed or homeless) demonstrates his own possible fate. At the same time, however, the immigrant also stands for a willingness to take risks, which those who feel threatened in their status would not muster, for the ability to face the wretched fate in their home country with the unbelievable risk in a foreign country and hostile environment - often even successfully - to build a new existence. Even if the immigrant does not really compete for the vet keeper's job or home, because of his success he is one threatening Figure that illustrates one's own potentially weak position in the social selection process. The feeling of one's own inferiority must not be accepted, however, it must turn into the contempt of the stranger who performs, which one would never be able to do oneself.

The cross-border, primarily economically motivated migration to the European prosperous zones is also not a novelty, and the scandal denounced by right-wing populists lies not only in the migration itself, but also in the fact that migration Cultures which states and governments, at least implicitly, recognize as realities and have to be dealt with politically. Even if the majority of immigrants are not granted full civil rights, they do have certain rights as employees and self-employed, contributors and taxpayers, residents of cities, property owners, families, etc., which force governments to draw the line between "inside" and To blur "outside", "whom" and "us" a second time: through the allocation of social benefits and the provision of public goods to people born outside the country in which they live. Immigrants are also becoming a clientele of the (social) state - at a time when its financial leeway is perceived as increasingly limited. In addition, in the context of other globalization phenomena, migration is interpreted by established parties and governments as well as by entrepreneurs as a normal phenomenon that is even beneficial for their own society. Right-wing populism denounces not only the migrants, who are accused of whipping up, that is, of illegitimate access to what "we" have worked for, but also a political and economic elite that neglects "its own citizens" by making "strangers" "involved in services and public goods, in goods to which" own citizens " exclusive Claim to have my own. The threat posed by immigrants is doubled by the perception of a state that obviously no longer protects the assets of its own citizens without compromising.Therefore, the often openly racist motives of xenophobia are overlaid by negative welfare state claims: Objects of rejection are not only people of other "races", but also members of their own ethnic group (for Germany, for example: East Germans and resettlers), provided they only make claims and as be recognized as eligible. The object of the anger is not only the presence of "strangers", but also those who are officially, albeit shamefully and half-heartedly, operated integration (which also, because it is shameful and half-hearted, creates the so-called social hot spots)

Migration is also presented and perceived as a threat, because those who have already immigrated are only seen as harbingers of an unending wave that threatens to "flood" Europe in a new form of peoples' migration. Everyone has at least a vague idea of ​​the state of misery in the poor countries of the world: For billions of people from developing countries, even the lowest status in Western Europe would mean an economic and social betterment. In view of the "flood" to be expected - so the message - only the most brutal defense, ready for anything, can guarantee the self-assertion of European societies - and it is claimed that the established political forces are neither able nor willing to do so.

Two other current phenomena intensify the perceived threat in migration: On the one hand, the fact that in the 1990s wars and civil wars reached the borders of EU-Europe. In the Balkans - surprisingly for many: it was not uncommon for it to be once favorite holiday areas - a potential for violence has been revealed that makes the need to lower one's inhibitions seem even more urgent. The wars and civil wars in the Balkans have shown how weak the barriers are between civilization and barbarism. The feared flood of immigrants is all the more threatening as it is spreading the seeds of violence in the (still) peaceful countries of Western Europe - a fear that seems to be confirmed by the existence of criminal migrant communities. Second, the general rejection of migrants begins with a culture war or a clash of civilizations to mix, especially since September 11, 2001 - although the history of this date and its influence on European politics has only just begun. The anti-Islamic motive is likely to characterize right-wing populism in the future even more strongly than it is today - and is repeatedly confirmed in the activities of Islamists around the world. With the figure of the Islamist "sleeper", a symbol of a deadly threat entered European society, the potential of which hardly any right-wing populist politician will want to do without its potential to generate diffuse fears and panic counter-attacks.



The question of which strategy the mainstream-Parties, especially social democracy, can counter right-wing populism, must initially be answered negatively. Little promises of success first a politics that seeks to pull the bottom out of populism by giving itself up to be populist, be it in the Style, be it in the form of a concession on the matter. Probably all politicians are subject, at least occasionally, to the seduction of populism, the temptation to override established language regulations and to talk "pompos", to address the supposed fears of the "little man" directly and to demonstrate closeness to the people. Such a policy would not remove the ground from right-wing populism, on the one hand because there are limits to ingratiation that the right-wing populist does not have to respect himself, and on the other hand because ingratiation triggers mistrust, especially among those you are trying to address. The established politicians are too closely associated with the establishment, which is perceived as elitist, for their sudden closeness to the people to be believed. Indirectly would be a mainstream-Populism support right-wing populism by making its topics and language socially acceptable. Compromising on the matter, on the other hand, would be burdened with high risks and hardly solvable follow-up prob-

leme. Even stricter requirements for future immigrants, for example, would not relieve politicians from integrating people of foreign origin in any form. Even restrictive measures would not dampen the anger of the populists, at least as long as they are not implemented with demonstrative brutality.

A second, one could say: a typical social democratic approach would be the enlightening discourse in the sense of Bebel. Just as the anti-Semitic stupid guys need to be informed that their protest is being steered in the wrong direction, so the potential supporters or victims of populism would need to be informed that the heralds of simple truths exaggerate the threats and have no viable alternatives to offer that theirs Fears are exploited and their real interests betrayed by the populists. Enlightenment is always right, of course, but one should not overestimate the effectiveness of a discursive strategy: Populism is the conscious one Waiver on discourse, differentiations and complex interpretations of the situation. The well-meaning hint that the situation is complex and that simple solutions are inadequate would only be denounced as a deliberate obfuscation; Discursive strategies themselves are condemned by right-wing populism as an attribute of an intellectual elite that provides an easily understandable reality with superfluous complexity in order to maintain its monopoly on interpretation and to be able to draw a clear line between elite and people (according to the motto: "Who to has to say, does not need long sentences "). Discursive strategies against populism hardly promise success if discursive thinking is itself an object of aggression.

A third Approach could be labeled "social policy": In order to pull the ground out of right-wing populism, the mainstream-Parties and governments pay more attention to the social concerns of the losers in modernization This is of course correct: it should be the task of every democratic party and government to protect the weaker - but a responsible and effective social policy can hardly be used as a strategy against right-wing populism. As indicated above, populism does not appeal to the weaker but to the established, it presents disintegrative instead of socially integrative recipes. From the point of view of right-wing populism, a responsible social policy - a social policy that addresses the needs of the weakest - would only increase the number of boarders in the state, whose ultimate goal is the purse of those who maintain their status and property.

A fourth One possible answer to the question of what can be done against right-wing populism is: Nothing. Right-wing populism poses no danger, either because it will either maintain a shadowy existence on the fringes of the political stage and at best can come to government in the coalition with stronger moderate political forces - or because it will be exposed to wear and tear on the government, which is its own Drastically diminishes attractiveness. In government, the populists would be exposed to the same pressures to cooperate and coalitions of interests, the same technocratic logic and the same dynamism of the apparatuses that they attack in the established forces. Even a Jörg Haider or Silvio Berlusconi has to act in a narrow corridor of political options and will become entangled in a web of conflicting interests and institutions, weights and counterweights, so that the originally announced Rabatz quickly leads to a meek policy of "small steps" and in the Result will result in a loss of popularity. This prognosis of "sanding down" the rough edges is probably correct - not least because populism, with its appeal to bare interest, systematically attracts people and groups who want their interests.

The populist party or government itself will also pursue a desire within and to the detriment of the populist party or government: divisions based on personal quarrels and vanities, activities in legal gray areas, shameless use of advantage and blackmail, ostentation and incompetence are not an expression of common human weakness, especially in the context of populism, but the core of the Business. Nonetheless, this forecast should not lead to the potential damage being neglected that a temporary involvement of right-wing populist forces in European governments could entail. In the first place - as noted above - the consequences for political culture, the brutalization of language and behavior, the lowering of civilizational inhibitions, which can be associated with real dangers not only for minorities. In addition, right-wing populism could permanently damage fragile international cooperation processes - European integration and expansion, the democratization of international organizations, international cooperation in the areas of the environment, development and conflict prevention - with ultimately unforeseeable consequences.



Right-wing populism benefits from the depoliticization of established politics: from the accepted limitation of political scope to a narrow corridor of possible options. Politics in the era of globalization seems to be subject to a process of progressive desubstantialization: it is reduced to coping with practical constraints and managing crises. The lack of basic options undermines political competition and forces the dramatization of minimal differences, replacing them with symbols or the permanent production of mediaevents: When right and left can no longer be argued, the dress preferences of the candidates indeed become the only remaining subject of the argument. In an objectively thinned out public, populism produces its own kind of mediaevents, by deliberately breaking civilizational and democratic taboos. However, that does not mean that he is now bringing the questions that have been repressed, postponed or technocratically minutely worked out in public in everyday political life, rather his trick is to keep asking questions that are never clearly answered in one new Form themed - namely outside the spectrum of statements that are acceptable in a democracy. With an apparently bold tiger leap, he overcomes the barrier that separates civilized (liberal, tolerant) democratic culture from an authoritarian coordinate system. The apparent lack of options within the democratic spectrum is broken up by leaving the spectrum. As a rule, the anti-democratic or anti-civilizational impulse does not translate into explicitly anti-democratic statements (as is the case with right-wing radicalism), but rather into anti-democratic ones Subtexts: If, for example, the limitation of the influx of migrants is justified with the concern of integrating those who have already immigrated, the literal text can certainly move within the framework of the "politically correct". The addressees nevertheless understand it as it is meant: as an expression of a superficially cloaked, fundamentally hostile attitude towards "foreigners".

The desubstantialization of politics leads to the much-lamented "disenchantment", which is not only and probably not primarily expressed in an influx of right-wing populists. At least as significant is the trend towards abstention from voting or the weakening of voter loyalty not only to certain parties, but also to certain

agreed democratic beliefs. Populism becomes a problem primarily because the democratic parties no longer or only weakly integrate the majorities (including their own memberships) politically. Therefore, a policy directed against right-wing populism only promises success if it is primarily turns to the democratic majorities that have fallen into disaffection or threaten to fall into it. In other words, the fight against right-wing populism would only be the by-product of a strategy that does not address the populist voters (who are neither discursively nor through political achievements), but rather to the genuinely democratic potential that still exists. There are three key points to consider in this context.

First: As European history of the 20th century shows, the civilizational basis of democracy is fragile. The ambiguous and yet recognizable boundaries of the area of ​​acceptable political judgments in a democracy must be observed and protected by politics. The limits of political judgment are similar to those of taste (see above): They emanate a seduction that is difficult to deny to hurt them. However, it is not a matter of adhering to rigid language regulations, the breaking of which already triggers thieving joy, but of the uncovering of sub-texts that are also hidden behind formally correct statements. The brutalization of language and behavior driven by right-wing populism must remain taboo by democratic forces even if it appears to be popular. Resentment stoked by right-wing populism must be and remain with the stigma of being offensive.

Secondly: The competition between the parties is less and less about political Options than presenting the best candidates for the solution in frontgiven Tasks. The politics of the democratic parties and the cumulative expertise that stands in their service obscures the fact that in a multitude of the constricting constraints in reality Options What is hidden is that constraints are the result of past decisions and can become the subject of decisions again. In other words, what constraints and options are to a large extent decided by the political process itself. Of course, this does not rule out the fact that there is indeed a set in every situation given Data that cannot be influenced politically or only marginally. Switzerland, for example, does not have the option of becoming a major maritime power. But in many cases the only date that counts is what is accepted as such. The damage to the natural environment by industrial society, for example, was a fact in the 1950s that was beyond political debate; it was not until the ecological movement of the 1970s that the fact turned into a political option. Conversely, the limited redistribution of income and wealth was seen as a political option in the 1970s; today the distribution of income and wealth is seen as a fact that politics has to accept. The conversion of options into facts and their processing from a technical point of view outside the area of ​​political debate is sometimes necessary, politics relieving Function (an example is the handing over of monetary policy to a central bank that has been withdrawn from political debate); In the era of globalization in particular, however, politics tends to adapt itself to technical apparatuses and institutions that are subject to their own dynamics so that they do their own system theory no longer perceive the defined function of controlling society as a whole (including correcting the momentum of social subsystems) and at the same time your democratic Claims can no longer be redeemed. Converting alleged practical constraints back into options would be a prerequisite

for the revitalization of political competition that binds democratic majorities to democratic parties / options. The more clearly options within the democratic spectrum are visible, the less room is left for the pseudo options of right-wing populism outside the democratic spectrum.

Third: If it is the case that right-wing populism embodies a mutiny by the vigilantes rather than the uprising of the declassed or those who are genuinely threatened by declassification, if right-wing populism is an appeal to lower inhibitions in the brutal defense of self-interest, a counter-strategy can only be found in the definition more social Set interests that are to be opposed to the nationally defined overall interests of a fictitious collective of status and vested interests. The options to be profiled are to be linked to social interests, and in capitalist societies in which social inequality is reproduced on an enlarged scale, political options are located on the line of conflict between equality versus (superfluous) inequality or freedom versus (superfluous) rule. Social democracy in particular would only blur this fundamental line of conflict to its detriment and make it disappear in a constructed national interest or a center, however defined. That doesn't mean that the great alternative to capitalism is now on offer again.Rather, it is a matter of linking many small steps, individual reforms and projects into a program that ties in with the historical program of social democracy - the dismantling of superfluous inequality and rule. From this programmatic perspective, many of the apparently technical detailed questions, which politicians are continuously and unspectacularly working on, could again be offered as options.

An openly left-wing policy, a policy that did not subordinate the interests of the workers - the large majority of the population - to the interests of the ethnic group, the people, the nation or the location, would just as little eradicate right-wing populism as shoplifting and folk music and the physical illnesses. But it could mobilize democratic majorities and immunize them against the mutiny of the vested interests.

On the same topic:

Alfred Pfaller
Right-wing populism in Europe
What feeds the politics of resentment?
Political Info, June 2001

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Friedrich Ebert Foundation, International Policy Analysis, Godesberger Allee 149, D-53175 Bonn

Orders to: Helga Stavrou, [email protected]

International Politics and Society 3/2002
International Politics and Society 3/2002

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