Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The Rise and Fall of Labour

Since about 1800, countries adopted voting rights for their citizens (Wiki). Before 1800, the situation was very different: feudalism until about 1500, and absolute monarchies from 1500 to 1800. The centuries before 1800 were determined by inequality: labour vs capital, and also men vs women. In many countries, voting rights for women took at least 100 years after 1800.

As a result, since 1800 the great political divide has been between Labour and Conservatives. In Europe, Labour has been (very) successful in improving the position – and lives – of workers: unemployment and working hours decreased, while salaries and vacation days increased

In the 1950s, television arrived in Europe, although in (very) small numbers. In the early 1960s, my parents bought their first TV. In the Netherlands, political parties created their own broadcasting stations in order to control the information flow to their members. 

The economic recession of the 1980s may have been a turning point for Labour as it deemed workers’ income more important than workers’ jobs. Consequently, company management had to look for alternative solutions due to the loss of competitiveness (eg, offshoring, outsourcing). Labour won the fight against inequality but lost the war on its voters’ loyalty.

Rising European equality implied that other topics became more important, like animals (Animal parties), climate (Green parties), immigration (Nationalism), and anti-Islam parties. The decline of Labour and the surge of small and often extremist parties drained the center and sparked political fragmentation. It’s increasingly difficult forming coalitions in European multiparty countries.

The Great Recession of 2008-2013 seems to have ended the expectation that each (global) generation was better off than the previous one (Pew-2017). In 2016, Stanford University found that “today’s children face tough prospects of being better off than their parents“. On 10 September 2018, Tilburg University arrived at a similar conclusion for the Netherlands (FDTelegraafTU). 

The death of the American Dream for today’s generation, coincides with a surge of the American Left (eg, Guardian-2018, HF-2017Survey Monkey). In my view, this is a long overdue phenomenon as inequality in USA is exceptionally high (GPF-2018). Also see my blogs: fair inequality vs unfair equality (2018) and a new Moscow on the Hudson (2015).

The surge in the American Left is related to the surge in European Labour between 1800-2000. I think, feel and believe that the American Left is more likely to win than the 45th President‘s American nationalism. Ultimately, this is just a numbers game, despite the U.S. Electoral College system that benefits scarcely populated states with nationalistic views.

Each product has a lifecycle, including politics. At this moment, we see the simultaneous fall of European Labour and the rise of the American Left.

Rise and Fall (2003) by Craig David featuring Sting

artist 1, artist 2, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2, Wiki-3

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise


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