In The Great Transformation, Karl Polanyi argued that fascism and social democracy (e.g. the New Deal) both arose in the 1930s as reactions to the collapse of the free market order. It’s 2012, and we’re four years into another big economic downturn affecting wide swaths of Europe and the US. Peripheral European countries have especially suffered, with Euro fetters replacing the Golden ones of yore.
And, this week, we see that Greece’s neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn,* has gained its largest vote share yet – though still only 6-8% – and will have representation in parliament. I don’t know what happens next, but the political reactions to the contemporary economic crisis are going to be scary. We may see the emergence of new socialist** movements – the Occupy Wall Streets of the world – but also of fascism and other repugnant sorts of rejections of the free market.
* Note that Golden Dawn rejects the characterization of fascist or neo-Nazi. They are, however, right-wing, nationalist, anti-immigrant and totalitarian, as far as I can tell.
** In a broad, not specific sense.