Two recent reports by two important international institutions, the European Commission and the World Bank, have drawn the dark shape of the future of the right to work. In Employment in Europe 2010, the European Commission makes the following point: Unemployment in the European Union would be much higher shouldn´t it be for the flexibility of labour markets; this would explain the extraordinary unemployment rate in countries like Spain, near 20%, not at all characterised by the flexibility of its work market (although it is defined by the uncertainty of the short-term jobs for the youth). On the other hand, according to its Global Economic Prospects for 2011, the World Bank expects a progressive recovery of the economy this year, even when it acknowledges that “Unfortunately these growth rates are unlikely to be fast enough to eliminate unemployment and slack in the hardest-hit economies and economic sectors” (p. 14). Having said this, The World Bank opts for fiscal austerity and not for a stronger social protection for workers. Moreover, the Bank seems to present its ideology as an inevitable measure considering the unbearable weight of the current crisis.
How is the so-called ‘Left’ going to respond to these threats? For the time being, the traditional European social-democrats are not in the best position to lecture anybody. Labour Party lost power in the UK a few months ago, and the prospects of offering any hope long before, when something called ‘New Labourism’ was coined by Blair and his colleagues. The Greek PASOK is fighting to death due to the management of the previous Conservative government. And Portugal and Spain still have Socialist Parties in Lisbon and Madrid, even when their policies could not be more Neoliberal regardless of the cost. Other forces rule effectively, such as the market or other ethereal entities… Business as usual. Who or what is the alternative to this ‘there is no alternative’?