Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

News & Supplemental  

Economic Collapse Driving People to the Right

Com­ment: Nobel-Prize win­ning econ­o­mist Paul Krug­man has tak­en stock of a dis­turb­ing fact–economic cat­a­stro­phe pro­pels elec­torates in a right­ward direc­tion. In numer­ous broad­casts, we’ve high­light­ed the deci­sive effect of the great depres­sion in win­ning hearts and minds for Hitler and his fel­low fas­cist dic­ta­tors.

Some­thing sim­i­lar is man­i­fest­ing itself today in the U.S. and Europe.

“Going to Extreme” by Paul Krug­man; The New York Times; 5/16/2009.

Utah Repub­li­cans have denied Robert Ben­nett, a very con­ser­v­a­tive three-term sen­a­tor, a place on the bal­lot, because he’s not con­ser­v­a­tive enough. In Maine, par­ty activists have pushed through a plat­form call­ing for, among oth­er things, abol­ish­ing both the Fed­er­al Reserve and the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion. And it’s becom­ing ever more appar­ent that real pow­er with­in the G.O.P. rests with the rant­i­ng talk-show hosts.

News orga­ni­za­tions have tak­en notice: sud­den­ly, the takeover of the Repub­li­can Par­ty by right-wing extrem­ists has become a sto­ry (although many reporters seem deter­mined to pre­tend that some­thing equiv­a­lent is hap­pen­ing to the Democ­rats. It isn’t.) But why is this hap­pen­ing? And in par­tic­u­lar, why is it hap­pen­ing now? . . .

. . . Right-wing extrem­ism may be the same as it ever was, but it clear­ly has more adher­ents now than it did a cou­ple of years ago. Why? It may have a lot to do with a trou­bled econ­o­my.

True, that’s not how it was sup­posed to work. When the econ­o­my plunged into cri­sis, many observers — myself includ­ed — expect­ed a polit­i­cal shift to the left. After all, the cri­sis made non­sense of the right’s mar­kets-know-best, reg­u­la­tion-is-always-bad dog­ma. In ret­ro­spect, how­ev­er, this was naïve: vot­ers tend to react with their guts, not in response to ana­lyt­i­cal argu­ments — and in bad times, the gut reac­tion of many vot­ers is to move right.

That’s the mes­sage of a recent paper by the econ­o­mists Markus Brück­n­er and Hans Peter Grün­er, who find a strik­ing cor­re­la­tion between eco­nom­ic per­for­mance and polit­i­cal extrem­ism in advanced nations: in both Amer­i­ca and Europe, peri­ods of low eco­nom­ic growth tend to be asso­ci­at­ed with a ris­ing vote for right-wing and nation­al­ist polit­i­cal par­ties. The rise of the Tea Par­ty, in oth­er words, was exact­ly what we should have expect­ed in the wake of the eco­nom­ic cri­sis. . . .


No comments for “Economic Collapse Driving People to the Right”

Post a comment