As enlightened arbiters of human interest and morality, socialists get angry when they don’t get their way. This unpleasant truth has been on very public display in Europe this week.
First, France. On Monday, infuriated by Air France’s necessary reforms to reduce costs and improve productivity, hundreds of airline employees attacked two of the company’s executives. Video of the incident shows the executives throwing themselves over a fence to escape.
While the French government has condemned the violence, it is not an isolated incident. Just a few weeks ago, Parisian taxi drivers waged a violent uprising against competition — smashing Uber cars and assaulting drivers. The cabbies couldn’t bear the possibility of passengers choosing lower fares, and they got their way. Uber is now banned in France.
Then there’s the United Kingdom. This week, Britain’s Conservative Party held its annual conference in Manchester. But while the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats held their 2015 conferences without incident, things were different for the Tories. It began Sunday, when a group of young conservatives became surrounded by a baying mob. That incident ended with the mob hitting the conservatives with flagpoles and an egg.
Then on Monday, a journalist from that well-known conservative outlet, The Huffington Post, was spat upon. Every day of the conference, attendees lining up outside have been subjected to swearing and intimidation. Yet as much as those incidents are shocking in and of themselves, they speak to a deeper truth. Socialism in Europe is increasingly defined by hatred.
In France, the alliance between labor unions and government has fostered a climate of special-interest privilege and lawlessness. (Sadly, this attitude is seeping into U.S. politics as well.) French labor unions are stretching the bounds of legality as far as possible. They’re escalating in response to efforts by France’s socialist government to empower the private sector and resuscitate France’s sputtering economy. Those government reforms, mild though they may be, have sparked the fury of French Leftists trapped between popular antipathy (the Uber ban has angered many), and economic reality (France’s economy is rotting). Unless they are stopped, Margaret Thatcher-style, French unions will up the ante, confident that violence will pay.
The British Left is in a similar crisis. Having suffered a political apocalypse in elections earlier this summer, Britain’s Leftist ideology is in the trashcan. For a normal political movement, this defeat would have meant a reorientation toward the new political center. Instead, the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party represents a push to the far left. Yet the Corbynites protesting the Conservative Party’s gathering this week ultimately reveal the Left’s impotence: in the face of rejection, the enlightened arbiters rant and railagainst reality. The Labour Party of Tony Blair, who governed with three successive majorities, now finds definition in delusional intellectuals, dancing hippies and drug-induced squeals of profanity.
Of course, while this week’s events in Britain and France are sorry tales, the leftist fury flows naturally from socialist ideology. After all, where capitalism empowers individuals to use their skills for common advantage, socialism encourages people to believe society is the state and that we’re all subjects to it. As a result, while capitalism provides for broadly shared human prosperity, socialism provides only for the subsidy of human suffering.
Tom Rogan is a contributor for Opportunity Lives and writes for National Review. He is a panelist on The McLaughlin Group and a fellow at the Steamboat Institute. Follow him on Twitter @TomRtweets.