mardi 11 novembre 2008

Sarko bounce

The media have done their best to contain the ideological disruption the ongoing crisis is causing. Thay have to distract, lie and conceal a lot. Alas up to a point it seems to be working. The leaders Brown and Sarkozy are, incredibly, enjoying a burst of popularity. Witness, "Voters also approved of measures announced by Mr Sarkozy to rescue the French banking system, support small and medium companies and protect domestic industry with a new sovereign fund, the pollsters said.", and the recent Labour by-election win in Scotland.

How to explain this? The standard notion is that in times of economic downturn, the electorate turns against the government and its popularity falls. It seems unobjectionable enough reasoning. It's not a clear and distinct relation, remember the astonishing Conservative victory in 1992, but generally when spending power shrinks, unemployment rises and there is stark and radically unjust redistribution of money from the poor to the rich, a backlash against incumbent parties would be expected to follow.

There is reason to think that this recovery, though, is to be shortlived. The crisis is only in its formative stages and the full effects will not be felt until well into next year. The thesis that economics has the final say in political motiviation still holds. Further, people's political thinking is effected not only by bad news that is unfolds but also by the alternatives that are available to them. In Britain, there is the Conservatives and Liberal parties, both objectionable and obnoxious to the vast majority of people. Over here in France, there is an ineffectual and divided Socialist Party and a miniscule Communist Party. People become accustomed to the status quo's status quo. Resigned. Despirited. Passive aggressive even. Finally, the media does play an important role. The crisis has slipped off the agenda lately. Feel good items about what the government is doing (cosmetic and shorterm as they are) help to calm worries.

Now the novelty of the crisis is starting to wear off, the real work of the left must continue. The conversation must not be allowed to drift away - there is a class war raging around us.