The world changes… and not always forward
purpose of seizures policies that the former British empire has experienced, before a paradigm of political stability and now with three prime ministers in less than three months, it is worth reflecting on the tendency to think that history is linear and governed by immutable laws, always pointing forward, when it is very different: it is random, fickle and contradictory. It is not a straitjacket tied to a political theory, it is not historical rationality, it is realpolitik.
A review of what has happened in the world in recent centuries – in two parts – will allow us to appreciate that there has been enormous progress, but also great regressions in terms of fundamental freedoms, social rights and institutional assets. No conquest is once and for all. Nor is any fall final.
Starting with Great Britain itself, land of the first political constitution, the first country in which the power of the monarch was limited with a bicameral and active parliament, which made the budget and the tax laws; the first country to develop a system of technical indicators and national accounts; the soil where the industrial revolution fermented and the greatest generation of added value in the 28th and 19th centuries; one of the three pillars of containment of Hitlerian expansionism in World War II, and the homeland of John Locke, the father of classical liberalism. Right there, we have seen, in the XXI century, the greatest authoritarian, autarkic and anti-democratic nonsense.
After being one of the main promoters of the European Union and having avant-garde social-democratic governments, like that of Tony Blair and his third way, Europe and the world – and the embarrassed British themselves – saw how Boris Johnson and a handful of latecomers Conservatives pushed through Brexit and isolated a previously open and pro-European country, causing immeasurable damage to its economy.
Then came Prime Minister Liz Truss, with the most regressive program in modern history: lower taxes for the rich and reduced social programs for the poor, which generated a financial crisis that in a few hours collapsed the pound sterling, for not to mention the social protests.
In Italy, after having the last great among socialist thinkers, Antonio Gramsci, the theoretician of the hegemonic bloc to broaden the struggle of the workers to the peasants and the popular middle sectors, we passed decades later to an oligarchic government of frivolity and telecracy, that of Silvio Berlusconi, to descend, in this 2022, to the most right-wing government since Benito Mussolini, and that emulates that regime: the new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, at the head of a neo-fascist bloc.
I said that history is not linear, and proof of this is the threat that today hangs over the social rights of the lowest-income deciles in Italian society, the rights of women to decide about their bodies, the right of each individual to their personal preferences and, above all, the greatest threat of all: a backlash against migrants.
In France, origin of the iconic revolution that established the rights of man and citizen, that transferred the royal powers of the monarch to the House of Commons, and that later devoured his sons Danton and Robespierre on the guillotine, accused of corruption and political crime, as well as Marat, murdered in his home in a fratricidal struggle that did not stop, but after all a revolution that bequeathed political freedoms to the world, the embryo of human rights and citizenship without patrimonial restrictions; That is why it is a land of enlightened lefts and rights, where François Mitterrand and Michel Rocard have figured the same as Charles de Gaulle and Giscard d’Estaing.
But a France that in the 21st century saw the birth, looking back, of two Le Pen, father and daughter, Jean and Marine, staunch enemies of the equality of human beings, fundamental freedoms, social rights and emigration in search of new opportunities. The world must thank those who have prevented the victory of these neofascist activists from being consummated, beginning with the current president Emmanuel Macron, a centrist indirectly supported by leftist figures such as François Hollande.
In Spain, we went from the dictator Franco to a civilian government, alternating between two blocks of right and left, agglutinated around the Popular Party and the Socialist Party. But now we see how far-right neo-fascist expressions have been emerging: factions of the Popular Party itself and above all the Vox movement, openly pro-imperialist, hostile to immigrants and disdainful of the pre-Hispanic cultures of America, whom it portrays as barbaric and uncivilized.
The lesson is clear, and we will deepen it in the following collaboration: progressive and democratic thought has won important battles, but the war is not won: the world will continue to change, but it does not have a pre-established format. The political struggle for fundamental freedoms and social rights will have to continue to be waged every day.
* President of the Colosio Foundation