Published on Countercurrents.org, by Gaither Stewart, 15 December, 2007.
… For two hundred years Europe has experimented with a political system based on the interplay between the Left and the Right. Basically Left has meant the collective; Right, the individual. The result of this dichotomy is the heart of the European Idea. Today globalization is challenging that coherent system because a globally organized world creates new tensions and new difficulties for the survival of the old ethnic nations.
Still, the Left-Right principle survives. In the past the major countries of the Old World have overcome other phases of internationalization without discarding the open political debate between Left and Right. Markets and international finance, colonialism and imperialism, major migrations and conflicts with other cultures are after all familiar subjects for Europe.
Today’s situation is however different precisely because of the aggressive and unbound form of globalization economics and the entrance on the world scene of dynamic and overly dimensioned non-European economic powers.
In West Europe’s parliamentary systems the divergence and interaction between progressive and conservative have been consolidated since the revolutions of the 18th century. The conflict between the two political ideas was born together with concepts of individualism and liberalism and the fundamental idea that all men are equal. The Left has stood for redistribution of wealth to the collective, the Right for concentration of wealth in the hands of a few.
For two centuries the Left has pressed for political rights, equality of social and economic opportunities for all and a strong role for the state. The Right, in the name of tradition, entrepreneurial freedoms and the accumulation of capital, has resisted state controls and intervention …
… Is Europe’s Big Chance Around the Corner?
Michele Salvati concludes that it is strange that in our rapidly changing world thinkers concerned with the effect of globalization on politics do not also discuss the influence of politics on globalization and the future international political order.
The political sphere will have an enormous influence on the direction the planet will take in immediate future. In the vacuum left by an increasingly ugly United States, Europe has the opportunity of resuming its place as a fount of ideas and guarantor of social justice. Beyond the transmission of its political model to the new economic giants of Asia, Europe’s ideas on matters such as race and religious relations, the welfare state, world-wide elimination of capital punishment, universal health care and defense of the environment in Asia as a whole – which by the year 2010 will consume more energy than the USA – can be invaluable.
It is here in this democratic, Left-Right concept of society, that Salvati bases his hopes that the United Europe of the future, even with its half billion population still a midget in relation to the emerging global economy, will make its greatest gift to the world. (full text).