Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Left lost in winter?

Long interview with Femke Halsema in the Vrij Nederland this week. She makes a distinction between the good part of the seventies legacy: the emancipation of women, of gays, of minorities in general. Nowadays it’s fashion to blame individualism (and seventies multi-culturalism) for the big problems in our time, like criminality and anti-social behavior. She objects to that, claiming hedonism might be a better scapegoat. The individualism of the seventies was rooted in social engagement. Only in the eighties and nineties it turned from egocentric (who am I in this society) to egoistic (what do I get out of society?).

Even more interesting, she now notes the failure of parties to the left to adjust to closed timeframes (my autumn and winter periods). Left just went anti in the closed eighties: anti-nuclear, anti-racism, anti-everything. She has a point there: I notice that parties left of center have difficulty adjusting to closed timeframes, where people turn more value-oriented and conservative in their mind (“please, no more changes!”). Conservative does not necessarily mean right-wing. The swing towards environmental concerns (Al Gore!) can also be seen from a closed viewpoint: searching for clear roots. But most parties to the left keep their image of ‘anti-‘ or ‘need for change’. Especially Halsema’s Groen Links (Green Left) is portrayed as the sour cherry in politics, always wanting us to give up on something instead of getting more out of life.

The only party to the left that has found a solution to turn the winter timeframe into their advantage is the Socialist Party, which radiates strong leadership and, through statements like ‘what’s good for the hive, is good for the bee’, SP strives for egalitarianism (we are or should be the same). A statement Halsema would like to reverse: ‘what’s good for the bee, is good for the hive’. GL, therefore, strives for freedom. Must say I sympathize with her new liberal-left manifest: individuality and solidarity do not exclude each other. These days, however, she should stress the solidarity bit just a little bit more (and, how clever it may sound, she should not reverse other peoples’ statements: make some resounding shareable ones yourself. What are the positive things our society shares through Green politics while it’s winter, Femke? Or will you just wait for spring, just like Sophie In ‘t Veld of the liberal democrats..?

No comments: