The End of the Working Class and What Comes Next

Detail of a New Deal-era mural in the Coit Tower of San Francisco, California, January 6, 2009
Detail of a New Deal-era mural in the Coit Tower of San Francisco, California, January 6, 2009 (Thomas Hawk)

Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and the rising popularity of the National Front in France have all been explained as working-class revolts against urban, liberal elites (including by me.)

The Niskanen Center’s Brink Lindsey argues in The American Interest that this isn’t quite right. These democratic expressions of discontent should rather be understood as the convulsions of a working class that is dying. Read more

Russia’s Arctic Posture: Defensive or Offensive?

The Russian nuclear submarine Orel arrives in Murmansk, April 11
The Russian nuclear submarine Orel arrives in Murmansk, April 11 (Russian Ministry of Defense)

Many Westerners interpret Russia’s behavior in the Arctic as offensive, going back to 2007, when the country resumed air and naval patrols in the area and planted its flag under the North Pole.

Alexander Sergunin, a professor of international relations at Saint Petersburg State University, argues The Wilson Quarterly that the reality is more nuanced. On balance, he writes, Moscow’s policy is pragmatic. Read more

Macron, Unperturbed by Falling Popularity, Pushes Labor Reforms in France

French president Emmanuel Macron speaks with Xavier Bettel and Justin Trudeau, the prime ministers of Luxembourg and Canada, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25
French president Emmanuel Macron speaks with Xavier Bettel and Justin Trudeau, the prime ministers of Luxembourg and Canada, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25 (NATO)

The government of Emmanuel Macron has introduced its first labor reforms in France. They include:

  • Capping the damages judges can award to workers who have been wrongfully terminated at one month’s pay for every year of employment.
  • Raising the compensation for workers who are laid off for legitimate economic reasons by 25 percent.
  • Enabling employers to bypass union-dominated workers’ councils and call company-wide referendums on sensitive topics like overtime.
  • Allowing multinationals to lay off workers at loss-making French subsidiaries even if the foreign-based parent company is profitable.

After a summer of consultations, two of France’s three largest trade unions — the Democratic Confederation of Labor and Workers’ Force — have given their consent to the reforms. The hardline General Confederation of Labor remains opposed and has called a nationwide strike for September 12.

No matter the resistance unions put up, the liberalizations are almost certain to be rubber-stamped by parliament, which is controlled by Macron’s party. Read more

Chile Shows Better Way to Neighbors in Crisis

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Chilean president Michelle Bachelet attend a multilateral summit in Lima, Peru, November 20, 2016
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Chilean president Michelle Bachelet attend a multilateral summit in Lima, Peru, November 20, 2016 (Gobierno de Chile)

Whether change comes swiftly or slowly, a deafness to cries for change can discredit not just politicians or political parties but whole systems of government.

This has already happened in Venezuela. It’s in the process of happening in Brazil. Chile, however slowly, is showing a better way. Read more

Catalan Nationalists Are Not Campaigning “On Backs of the Dead”

A Catalan woman takes part in a demonstration against terrorism in Barcelona, Spain, August 26
A Catalan woman takes part in a demonstration against terrorism in Barcelona, Spain, August 26 (Adolfo Lujan)

Ramón Pérez-Maura has a blistering op-ed in Politico, where he takes the Catalan independence movement to task for “campaigning on the backs of the dead” of the recent terrorist attacks.

This is ludicrous. Read more

Trump’s “Unpredictability” Looks More Like Chaos

Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Andrzej Duda of Poland deliver a news conference in Warsaw, July 6
Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Andrzej Duda of Poland deliver a news conference in Warsaw, July 6 (KPRP/Krzysztof Sitkowski)

Karl Vick writes in Time magazine that Donald Trump’s off-the-cuff foreign policy is keeping diplomats up at night.

He gives four examples:

  • Threatening nuclear-armed North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” before consulting his advisors.
  • Announcing to the world that he has not ruled out a “military option” for Venezuela, although nobody asked.
  • Endorsing the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar, despite the presence of over 10,000 American soldiers in the latter.
  • Proposing to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, despite the country’s compliance and other world powers’ desire to keep it alive. Read more

Britain Forgot to Ask Europe’s Opinion of a Brexit Transition

British prime minister Theresa May poses for photos with the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, outside 10 Downing Street in London, England, April 26
British prime minister Theresa May poses for photos with the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, outside 10 Downing Street in London, England, April 26 (European Commission)

British politicians from the ruling Conservative and the opposition Labour Party agree there needs to be a “transition” between leaving the EU in the spring of 2019 and implementing a post-Brexit trade deal.

During that period, the United Kingdom would formally be out, but the rules of the customs union and the single market would still apply. Imports and exports would be unaffected. British companies would still be able to operate in continental Europe and vice versa. Economic disruption would be minimal.

It sounds great, but the British have forgotten one thing: to ask the remaining 27 member states what they think. Read more