I'm referring here to the political situation in Europe after the weekend just gone.
Not as bad as it could have been but only a fool would think it had been, in any way good. Though to look at some of the main stream media and politicians commenting on Austria you would have thought it was a magnificent victory. If you were a half blind, drooling idiot without the first idea about events, or a politician desperately trying to deny the disaster that is rolling in with the inevitability of a killer asteroid in a disaster movie.
We are living in interesting times, interesting as in the Chinese curse.
We are watching the end result of decades of rampant crony capitalism and exploitative globalism, all carried out to maximise corporate profit without regard to the human consequences, combined with a western political class that across multiple nations and languages has spent many years divorcing itself from the population and now is not only aloof, elitist and widely separated from the general population, but actually seems to revel in that separation.
It almost seems that our politicians have given up caring that we find out about the corruption, the abuse, the self serving attitudes, the fraud, the lies. Either that or they are so utterly incompetent they they keep making the same mistakes year on year and simply forget they got caught the last time.
But then why would they care, when was the last time anyone saw a politician sent to prison?
Anyway, not as bad as it could have been, Austria hung on by its fingernails while Italy charged past the finish line and gave the PM a damn good kicking. So it could have been worse, we could be looking at an Austrian far right President.
But this was no great victory for the Left, this was a narrow victory that clearly marks the change of politics across Europe. The Far right candidate didn't win because ONLY FORTY SEVEN PERCENT of the Austrian voters who are motivated enough to vote picked a far right candidate who would have been a good fit for 1930s Germany.
Hours after the vote was declared I was seeing the establishment in total denial, the end of Austrian nationalism, total defeat for the far right, sanity prevails, the media were making these comments on every TV channel. A victory for the EU, nothing to worry about, the far right was driven off and will never be seen again!
That's not a total defeat of the far right, that's a close run battle and a narrow victory. This isn't the end of nationalism, it's a sign of how close they are to power and it will embolden them across Europe. The comments coming from the political left show that they either don't have a clue or are desperately trying to make the best of a very narrow win.
When almost half your population votes for the Nazi candidate there is no if or but, you're country is doomed unless you do something radical.
Sadly this is only a reprieve not an end. A setback but the all but inevitable rise of the Hard Far right continues.
During the 2010 elections the Austrian Far Right party was at 25% of the votes, here they pulled in 47%, unless that increase changes they will be strolling to victory at the next set of elections.
47% of the population of Austria voting for a Far right political party, history alone screams a warning about that. But coming on top of the situation across Europe and the UK, it's just one more sign that the shit is neck deep and rising. France and Germany have their own elections in the near future, the Hard right and Far right are fighting each other to take the French presidency while there seems to be no one from the centre or left even in the running. Germany, even if the central / left remains in control what nightmare are we looking at if 47% of Germans voters choose the Far Right?
We are in a pivotal political moment, the west has swung to the right politically and continues to do so, our nations hang on the edge and while some still cling on others are over the side and falling. Discontent in the ruling class is at an all time high, in real terms wages are down and apart from the lucky or wealthy few most have seen no change or an actual fall in spending money over the last decade and are looking forward to worse in the future if the bank of England's reports of the biggest FALL in actual income since the 1860s is accurate.
Yes, fall, a decade long crash, the worst since the 1860s. The line isn't just going down, it's gone into the red, negative figures, a decade, what Mark Carney call Britain's first "lost decade" of economic growth for 150 years. And yet nothing changes, the politicians called the fact that ONLY 47% of the electorate in Austria voted for the far right candidate a VICTORY ! ! !
And then we have Italy. Goodbye Mr Renzi, fallen on his own sword, resignation official at the end of the week after the budget has been delivered. He called a vote on trying to take back power from the various elected and legislative bodies and reform the system. Then he put his job on the line by promising he would quit if the vote failed.
The opposition jumped on this like a starving man jumps on a table piled high with food. The hard and far right managed (easily) to turn it into a vote not against the changes but instead against the system, they made it an anti establishment, anti Euro, anti EU vote. Which means that the almost 60% of Italian voters who said no to the changes were also saying NO to the establishment, the Euro and the EU.
59.1% of the vote. This is a solid win, almost two thirds of the votes cast. Not the slightly move than half Austria scrapped by with. 59.1%.
NO to the establishment, the Euro and the EU.
Which is exactly how this is going to be spun, the hard and far right across Europe were quick to herald the victory. Brexit, France looking at a right wing president after the all but total collapse of the centre and left. Austria came so close, Italy a significant win for the Right / Anti establishment.
And it's only going to get worse.
Unless our politicians take a hard look at why so many millions of people are voting for anti establishment parties they will lose, if not this time then next time. Of that I have no doubt.
But they refuse to do that because they refuse to accept that people are unhappy with the way they, the centre left EUcrats are running things. Instead they continue with more of the same. All this does is leave huge swathes of the population ready for the honey words of the extreme right and its anti establishment agenda.
You can't preside over decade after decade of failing economies, falling or stagnant incomes and rampant corporate cronyism and exploitative globalism that has left well over half the population of Europe behind to deal with an ever increasing poor and an ever wealthy rich and expect there to be no consequences. Europe isn't nations or governments or corporations, it is 800 million people. People who are getting fed up of being treated as secondary to those rich people and those corporate profits and political agendas. When so many millions are suffering there are going to be consequences.
Well here we are, these are the consequences. The political establishment is seen to be failing, all across the UK and Europe people see Greece crushed under austerity that makes the UKs look mild in order to maintain the corporate profits of Germany. Strangled by the Euro they should never have been part of. Italy is experiencing the same pressures and just responded. They aren't the only ones creaking under the pressure.
But it's the EU, the mighty European powerhouse. Germany, France, Britain, all big, rich economies working together with other nations for the betterment of all. It's too big to fail.
Except that it isn't. The EU and the Euro are riddled with cracks, Brussels and Europe's political class have been denying the problems and papering over the cracks for years. The rot has spread from the walls to the foundations and soon the entire house will come down but far too many politicians continue to deny there is a problem instead of trying to repair the damamge. Instead the Hard and Far right is allowed to exploit the situation and rise to power everywhere, walking into the power vacuum created by the failure of our existing politicians to even admit there is a problem, never mind try to resolve it.
So Britain voted for Brexit and the foundations rumbled and those cracks became wider. Austria wasn't a victory, it was a desperate effort to plaster over a gapping chasm. Italy was people noticing the cracks and deciding they would make a good way to get outside.
Europe. Too big, too rich, too powerful to fail.
Something to remember. Years ago I grew up and lived in a world where NATO armies sat in Western Germany waiting for the end of the world to start with an invasion by Soviet tank divisions. The Soviet Union wasn't rich but it was powerful, big, militarily terrifying. It colapsed and died in a day and a night.
The end of the EU and the Euro could be just as quick.
Unless there is a significant opening of political eyes the EU is fucked.
Interesting times indeed.