A few days ago, I read in El País a remarkable article against the new political formation Podemos. In this article, the author Antonio Roldán stated firmly that we can’t associate Podemos with a serious left-wing political program. Every single measure of this party, like the 35 work hours per week, the revocation of all the pension reforms, the ilegalization of laying off workers in profitable businesses, the control of the European Central bank, or the refusal on repaying the public debt, would lead us to a deeper crisis than the one that we still are suffering. Instead of this, the author suggests what a responsible left-wing party should do.
The arguments that the author sets out for all these critics seem always reasonable and even quite rational, in economical terms. For instance, it has no sense to refuse repaying the public debt, when almost every month the Spanish state needs to go to the international markets and ask for more loans to keep the social services of his impoverish welfare state. But the problem is exactly this point. It’s useless to show a rational speech to a party that it’s based on the contrary. Podemos was voted by hope and despair, rage and anger; its electorate is mainly composed by people who have lost their faith in the system. So they cannot be convinced by nice words and arguments. They became too suspicious, after six years of crisis. I think, for instance, how easy should be to refute the article as a whole. If there are issues that a responsible left party can do –in a different way than the right positions, no need to say so- why haven’t they done anything in the last six years? Are sensible left-wing measures so weak and unpopular that they are not able to communicate any signs of hope to society?
But we could go further in the argument of the critics to Podemos. Even if we endorse the idea that it is not possible another politics than liberalism and austerity, with all the reasons that any conservative economist could give us, this would mean very little for this electorate. It doesn’t matter if in the long run, equilibrium and recovery comes back to economy; the problem is what will happen meanwhile, and who are going to be the winners in all the process. The farer the point of recovery is, the less attractive these politics are. As Keynes suggested once, in the long run we are all dead. Moreover, the less knowledge we have about the winners in the process, the less support we’ll have on the potential losers of the whole process. How attractive can be the idea of extreme austerity, if an important part of the unemployed will never get a job again? In that instant, rationality disappears in our social brain. Rationality turns into revenge. More than one will find attractive the idea of a complete rapture of all privileges, a direct attack on the system as a whole. They are not thinking any more in the advantages they get, but in the disadvantages they can cause on their enemies. So rationality means for them, how much damage I can inflict on the system and the people who are benefited by it –mainly the casta-, no matter the cost that it will take for me in the future. For a long time we have considered democracy choices linked to rationality, common sense and even social welfare. We can’t make this assumption anymore. Democracy, like in ancient Athens, or like in the 30s in Germany or Spain, can be dominated by revenge and death as well.
We can imagine our crisis as the sinking of a social Titanic. When the ship is still working, low and high are happy enough to tolerate among them. But in the sinking, the priviledged are the only enable to reach the lifeboats. The lower, seen that their salvation is impossible, will choose between two options, help the priviledges to save their live, or try to kill them as well. It is not the case of the old man who leaves his seat for a baby in order to preserve the future; it is the case of an unfair system in which priviledge people haven’t done too much to deserve the place they have in the lifeboat. In fact, some of those priviledged people could be seen as outrageous villains –all the political casta for instance-. If this tale is true, why are we going to support the politics of the common sense? What reasons and arguments can the main two parties hold their position? As we see with fascism and communism, there is beauty in chaos and destruction. And after wiping out the present, there are always places for new buildings to rise.