Paul Krugman's latest
predicts that the crisis in Europe may well lead to the end of the euro -- within months. Even if the European currency manages to stay intact, Greece will pull out of the system.
What interests me is the reaction of one of his readers, whom I will call Mr. Crank:
Paul Krugman, LOL!
what else are you going to claim now?
You are one clueless Keynesian economist, nobel prize became a joke after you award and Obama's...
Mr. Crank goes on and on like that, spewing forth about everything except
for the euro. Which was, of course, the subject of Krugman's column.
The Crank reaction is unimportant in and of itself, but to me it seems emblematic of a much larger problem, one which makes all of our other problems unresolvable. Rational discourse has become a scarce commodity in the United States.
George Soros, whom the rightists consider an incarnation of Satan, backs the euro. Thus, Krugman is saying that Soros has chosen poorly and that Britain's Conservative party (which opposes the euro) was right all along. You'd think that the right-wing's Krugman Response Team would pick up on that fact, maybe have some fun with it.
But...no. They're too clueless.
One of the most vocal euro skeptics has been the former Conservative MP Michael Portillo, who recently appeared in a BBC documentary on the Greek economic crisis. Thanks to a sneaky little device called a VPN, I was able to see this show. It was quite good -- and very, very
different from the kind of broadcast one would expect from an American conservative.
Throughout the show, Portillo presented his case in a calm and measured fashion. No histrionics. No propaganda. In fact, the lack
of Fox-style propaganda made his argument stronger.
Nearly everyone he interviewed in Greece and Germany advocated sticking with a single European currency. Although Portillo disagreed, he politely allowed his interview subjects to have their say. He sympathized with populist anger at austerity measures in Greece. He even came that
close to saying something nice about the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Portillo is, in short, a reasonable man. Someone worth listening to. Why can't we have right-wingers like him in this
Compare Portillo-brand conservatism with the domestic variety.
In America, the right has been caught up in a frenzy that threatens to plunge the entire world into chaos. Many Republicans engage in rhetoric so outrageous as to make the BNP
's guff seem comparatively tame. Conservatism in the United States has devolved into extreme paranoia, name-calling, demonization of all opponents, religious fundamentalism, disdain for science, outrageous historical revisionism, incessant propaganda, and the shameless embrace of underhanded tactics (such as using paid internet trolls and erecting barriers to keep minorities away from the ballot box). In conservative America, politics is not a matter of debate. The right wants Total War.
The world can, I think, survive the end of the euro. But we cannot survive the end of reason.