Over the years, the significance of May Day has greatly declined. As the middle classes grew in numbers, the belief also spread that nobody is a worker and everybody is one. This undermined the sense of a solidarity among working people. May Day celebrations rode on this sentiment to generate enthusiasm.
Meawhile European unions have continued to weaken. Many ended up active only in the public sector. And there too, their strength is still being curtailed.
Clearly, it is the big bosses of big companies which have benefitted from all this. They were given a leg up by governments, including socialist ones, when these insisted on the view that the best measure of how things are doing well or otherwise, is provided by the free market.
May Day should be an opportunity for explanations to be given about how we have reached this point. Obviously that will not happen. There is little to no interest in explaining how power structures are still anchored to the principle that those who have more power, inevitably still get things done their way.
At long last, matters really seem to be improving. Not only is there no member country that is inches away from bankruptcy, but the eurozone as a whole seems to be riding a good roll of economic growth.
This should have strengthened the appetite to continue with changes that have achieved this improvement and not let them remain half finished as they are at present, but proceed with them to the end. Up front in such an approach, would be the banking union programme. European banks have been placed under a common supervision, while if they come close to collapse, there is a European authority with the power to ensure their survival or decide on their demise. Now, a final measure needs to be launched.
It would be to introduce a European scheme to guarantee the funds that citizens deposit with their banks. Everybody agrees that this measure should be implemented fortwith – except Germany.
A lost battle?
The National Front leader Marine Le Pen has no chance at all of winning the second round of the French presidential elections. All opinion polls agree.
So why is this lost battle arousing so much interest and anxiety?
It is the second time that the extreme right has reached the second round of the election. There hasn’t been the shock that was felt when it happened before, with Le Pen’s father fronting for the National Front. On that occasion too, all other parties turned against him. He ended up with less than 20 per cent of the popular vote. The expectation is that his daughter will get well over double the vote he obtained.
That kind of result would demonstrate the progress that radical nationalism has made among French voters who find they are being overburdened and exploited by globalisation. I am unconvinced that they will feel less so under the new President Emmanuel Macron.
He believes in economic liberalism, and considers that France would do well out of it if she learns how to play the game well. Up to now, there is little evidence to show that Macron takes good account of the social costs that arise when neo-liberalism is allowed to run its course.