I must admit that I have been very hesitant about writing the article that follows. I remember that when I went to Moscow to work as a foreign correspondent it took me two years to understand the extent of my ignorance of Russia. I try not to laugh or lose my temper when so many of our foreign friends who come to Greece with good intentions do not seem so interested in asking questions, but nevertheless have answers for everything!
My knowledge of Britain is very superficial and I would like not to have to write about the country in question. If I do so it is because I want to share some thoughts which have emerged out of following the referendum debate, but also because the questions being raised now in Britain concern every European citizen. I admit that I have drawn extensively on my experience from three other referenda that I followed much more closely: in Cyprus (2004), France (2005) and Greece (2015). But I am ready to accept any criticism of having extrapolated from some of the tendencies I have discerned in other cases and then applied these findings to Britain.
In any case, I don’t believe I am in a position to give definite answers. I would be very happy if this text could be considered just once contribution to a wider, and very necessary, debate. If there are mistakes in it, even they could stimulate further discussion.
by Dimitris Konstantakopoulos (*)
“To be or not to be?”, was the question that tortured Hamlet. “To be or not to be in Europe?” is the question the British put to themselves time and time again, usually only to avoid giving an unambiguous answer. For the French writer Andre Maurois, England is a country “alone but not isolated” (insulaire mais pas isolée). “We should always remember that we are neighbours, but not part of continental Europe”, was the advice of Bolingbroke (and De Gaulle would be in complete agreement!) And a top secret memo prepared for MacMillan on the post-imperial strategy for Britain, was very clear: “We should not come into a position where we would have to choose between one of the two Atlantic coasts”.
This “ambiguity” is also a dominant characteristic in other fields of the British “collective subconscious”, where coexist the memories of the Empire, but also of the Trade Unions, born in Britain in their modern form, and of its huge workers and socialist movement.
The British “revolt” against the EU is quite similar to other “revolts” in Europe. Cypriots, French, Dutch, Irish, Icelanders, Danes, Greeks etc. have repeatedly expressed their outrage at European institutions and both national and European policies (national elites are, after all, also strictly controlled, as are European institutions, by the “Empire of Finance” and by NATO and the USA, but the mechanism of control has not achieved the totalitarian perfection of the EU). And all those “revolts” included social, political and national elements.
But the British revolt seems also quite different from the previous European revolts, in some important aspects.
For instance in most of the other referanda-revolts people were not refusing European Union, they were implicitly asking a different Union. There was more clarity and less confusion in the debate. Usually, but not always, the ideas of the Left were dominant in initiating and shaping the debates. In the case of the British referendum, a split inside the British ruling class seems to have met a current of unspoken popular reaction to where Britain and the world are going. Those currents are still articulated around ideas created under different conditions, and this is probably one of the reasons there is so much confusion around the British referendum. I wonder for instance, if the strong underground currents which propelled Corbyn into the leadership of the Labor Party are not in fact very similar to the ones that legitimized suddenly some rather marginal rigth wing politicians, propelling them to champions of a national cause. (the same happened also in the United States with Sanders and Tramp supporters some times hating each other but also sharing some common element of anti-establishment revolt.
It is not Corbyn in the Left, or Farage and Johnson in the Right who can create “radicalism”. Radicalism exists in some form and is usually marginal in any given society, until many people feel they need it, either to replace an order they cannot tolerate any more or to defend themselves against a coming, unacceptable and threatening order. We are in the second scenario. People feel it deeply, before they are even able to spell it. They feel it by an instinct of imminent danger all humans (and indeed all animals) we dispose and which, in critical times, can be far superior than any intellectual analysis. Of course, what will happen afterwards, depends very much on the “subjective” factor, on how “radical” politicians are navigating in the sea of conflicting currents, if they want to serve or just to sell ideas they adopt at a given moment. The revolt is grown out of human reaction to what people perceive as a threat or a hope. What will happen with a revolt depends much on the politicians and intellectuals who will be propelled in central roles.
In Greece for instance people did not vote for SYRIZA because of what SYRIZA was, but in spite of what it was. They felt they needed an instrument to save themselves and their country and SYRIZA was the only available. They did not vote No in July 5th, 2015 because they were persuaded by any campaign (nearly all campaign was for a Yes vote). They did not do it out of any thoughts and rational arguments or calculations. They did it because they felt deeply inside them they had to protect their own dignity, which remains still a basic human need. The fact that sometimes dignity and other moral qualities get in the way of modern politics is, by the way, a source of deep confusion for most established politicians and pollsters, as they are not well acquainted with such notions.
The roots of all recent revolts
European revolts are social in character because of what is called Globalization.
The term is in reality misplaced. We are not facing some kind of “neutral” internationalization, or just a decay of states and nations. We are facing the advent of a global dictatorship of Finance, in alliance with big multinational corporations and the US military-industrial complex. This particular kind of globalization (and of European integration, which is not so much a means of defense against it but rather a way of implementing it), is clearly threatening living standards, post-war social welfare system and any democracy everywhere. It is doing that even in the countries which seem to be its own capitals and the pillars of modern military and financial imperialism, like Britain and even the United States!
European revolts are political because no person in his right mind in the Western world in any way trusts its politicians and Eurocrats, who, even when they are still formally elected, seem in fact to have been selected and appointed by the Empire of Finance (with NATO probably also having a say on whether an appointment should be consented to or vetoed). Everybody understands that popular sovereignty has evaporated. This is happening on the national level and even more so at the level of the EU.
Invoking the necessities of integration, European decision makers are moving more and more powers away from the member states, not for them to reappear at any federal level, but for them to be “lost” in the Brussels bureaucratic labyrinth. The extremely well paid Brussels bureaucracy is intellectually and ideologically completely at odds with what most European citizens believe. The Commission for instance is a machine programmed always to do two things: “liberate the markets” and “enlarge” the Union indefinitely. The strategy is defined (by whom?), the personnel are educated to implement it and the politicians are needed to deflect popular opposition from what they are doing! This is why they prefer the term governance, which means governing the masses, as opposed to government, which means the people governing its fate, be it on the national or the European level.
(French citizens voted overwhelmingly in May 2005 to reject the European Constitutional Treaty. In the aftermath of the referendum I asked two friends who held rather high posts in the OECD and the EU how French people working there had voted. They told me that everyone had expressed an opposite view to the majority of the French population and were even ashamed of the way their compatriots had voted)
This is the EU’s famed “democratic deficit”. But there is not any power deficit. The national parliaments’ power of decision making is being siphoned off to the Brussels institutions. And it is not staying with the executive branch. It is going to the real decision makers, Goldman Sachs and a number of other mega-banks, the IMF, a handful of multinationals, NATO etc. When a group from the Left in the European “Parliament” asked to be informed about the negotiations on TTIP (a Treaty affecting all fundamental conditions of life for hundreds of millions of citizens), it was allowed to send one deputy in a room to read the relevant documents, without the right to take notes! I doubt that even the CIA is applying such a procedure for US Senators. And by the way, if they are preparing something so good for humanity, why they are hiding it in this way?
European revolts are also national ones. Of course European nations are today a shadow of what they once were but they still represent a formidable psychological and ideological reality, which is not going to change just because some believe it is obsolete. Humans feel the need to belong somewhere and also the need to give a meaning to their existence. The former need is especially strong in a context of massive crisis. The latter pushes people back to their traditions, as all modern paradigms, including the promise of prosperity, of Europe or of socialism have either collapsed or are suffering very serious crises. (The fact that very often some feelings and ideas are just kept in the personal and collective “unconscious” and they are not usually expressed, does not weaken them. On the contrary, being unconscious they are not subject to logical control and if they find the necessary conditions they may escape from where they are with great force and rather primitive character).
Read also: TTIP – Putting Europeans under the rule of Big Business and USA
But the reasons for people everywhere going back to their national identities are also very real and practical. There is not any other level than the national one in which they can hope to exercise some control over the powers that rule them and enjoy some kind of social protection.
The Left and the Nation
It is now that the difficulties begin to appear. A large part of the Left, having been incorporated into “globalization”, has obediently followed the liberal discourse on nations and even legitimized it. It has demonized or devalued the very notion of the nation and does not know how to handle the question when it arises. It even overlooks the fact that nearly all leftist revolutions of the 20thcentury were of course social but also, and very much so, national revolutions! Its attitude often remains unaffected by the fact that nations are not giving way to some sort of democratic or progressive international structure – they are just being swept away by world financial totalitarianism.
SYRIZA during its rise was something of an exception to this. It was able to adopt a rhetoric incorporating – implicitly, not explicitly – the national with the social and the European element. Tsipras was able to do this by copy-pasting ideas originating from outside his party and in this way acquiring the ability to claim power. You can secure hegemony only if you have solid national backing, only if you can propose a project for your nation. As it is said in America “all politics is local”.
They are local, but they are also very much global. This is the limit of nationalism, as a reaction to nowdays threats, and this why European leftists a long time ago should have elaborated a regional and international strategy. The EU is already halfway to being a state, but also most economic protections of a given policy have been abolished on the international level. You cannot make policy disregarding the national factor (what many leftists like to do), but you also cannot make policy pretending there are still nation-states as we knew them in the past (this is what both leftists and nationalists are often doing).
Only people blinded by “political correctness” and “left” or “right” liberalism could believe that historic, ex-imperial nations such as Britain or France, (or nations who have resisted Hitler as few in Europe, like Greece), would not react, sooner or later, one way or another against both the Brussels dictatorship and German ambitions. The British, as is often the case with nations exercising trade, cherish their freedom. Britain was able to enjoy more freedom, and for much longer, than most European nations, because the Channel and the Royal Navy protected it from outside threats. The islands were never occupied after 1066.
Even if their politicians would not say so, the British, and everybody else, have also been witnessing how Berlin has been acting since the beginning of the crisis, reserving to itself the right for the final shaping of European policy, behaving like owners of the European Union, deciding which countries deserve to remain, or not, inside the Eurozone (tomorrow the EU), and even which countries will be completely destroyed or just subjected to pressure.
The fact that the leaders in Berlin hide their nationalism behind “economic reason”, moralistic discourse and the alliance they have forged with Goldman Sachs and the IMF, does not improve anything. It makes things worse. Nobody needs to go through Berlin or Brussels to arrive in the orbit of Washington and New York. There are direct flights.
None of this is usually present in the “official” public debate, it erupts there only rarely. Most people are just in a state of panic and don’t in any way wish to cross swords with the devils that destroyed Europe twice in the past century. But those devils will not disappear just because we don’ talk about them. They will reappear, and indeed they are reappearing, sometimes in the most ugly and destructive forms. In today’s “Animal Farm” that the European Union has become, some animals are certainly more equal than others. But there are also animals that will never accept the status assigned to them.
If some kind of European integration or even co-operation is to be preserved, that cannot mean the abolition of existing nations, especially in crisis conditions. It must mean clear arrangements between the existing European nations, with respect for every one of them.
To attribute the whole situation to the influence of Johnson or Farage is not only an aberration; it is also an enormous gift to the British right and extreme right. In fact we should not overestimate the role they have played. For the political collapse of the European Union, whatever role was also played by the defeat of the European Left in Greece in 2015, the essential responsibility lies with European national and EU leaders. The EU political leadership intervened massively in all referenda to advise people how to vote and frighten them with the consequences to be suffered if they ignored the advice. In all cases this was more than enough to persuade people to do the opposite of what they were being advised to do! Nobody could be more effective than Donald Tusk, or Wolfgang Schaeuble or the IMF to persuade the British to vote for Exit.
In fact, it seems that if Bremain wins finally, very strange as it will be, it will happen not because of the campaign its supporters are doing, but because somebody, who normally would wish the opposite result, has murdered the young and distinguished militant and MP Jo Cox. We live definitely in interesting times.
Corbyn is too recent to be sure about the way he will handle the question of the “nation”. But up to now all “national” questions were the domain of the Right, which was left to play alone. It is more useful to analyze the reasons of the problems, than discuss the sometimes unpleasant or even disgusting results.
Of course it is much more easy to defend your nation if you are for instance a Greek leftist, as Greece is now clearly a nation suffering from a post-modern form of foreign occupation and oppression. Britain and France are nations which are somehow oppressed by the system, but in the same time they are very much part of its center. If their Left is to succeed it has to find a way to address the whole nation, in the same time avoiding to make compromises with its imperialistic characteristics, which would alter its very nature. Easy to say, difficult to implement. (This is also true for Germany, where its history and the role its leaders claim in Europe makes things even more difficult. But the remark is also valid for Germans and Germany).
In this context came the refugee question, which is a very difficult one, reflecting as it does the difficulties the Left has with Nation and Identity. Our full solidarity with the victims of the war we, Europeans and North Americans, have started, is a demand of elementary human dignity. We should try to help them where they are now. But mass immigration of millions of people to Europe is no solution to anything. Even if some believe the refugees have the right to establish themselves wherever they wish, Europeans will not accept it. And such emigration would consummate the ruin of their countries of origin.
The only possible answer to this problem is of course to take care of people in need, but also completely to reverse Western policy in the Middle East, organizing a huge Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of the countries our air forces and proxies have all but erased from the map.
Is the radical Left radical?
The collapse of USSR was a terrible blow to Leftist ideas worldwide, even for forces that were hostile to the Soviet Union’s bureaucratic regime. It facilitated the replacement of socialist ideology by “Europeanist” ideology, by the ideology of human rights and by support, sometimes, for supposedly democratic imperialistic interventions. (There was another tendency, a minority one, but one that is getting stronger by the day, especially in France, for socialism to be supplanted by uncritical nationalism).
Some people may still refer to the works of Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Gramsci; they may wear T-shirts with the portrait of Che Guevara on them, but their real psychology and mentality is the total opposite of that of these figures to whom they pay lip service. Deeply inside themselves, they believe in the stability of the system. They are conservatives even if they call themselves radical. They want European capitalism more or less to be preserved. They don’t believe that something radically different could replace it. Their inner ambition is to humanize and reform it and the role they reserve for themselves is to constitute its conscience.
Read also: The face (and the fate) of Europe
History is playing very painful jokes on humanity. Twenty years after the implosion of the Soviet Union, interpreted as the “End of History” by some Western ideologues (of very poor intellectual background, by the way), the economic and geopolitical forces that triumphed in 1989-91 have entered their own very serious crisis, which is in fact the most serious since 1929.
It is this crisis that is provoking the EU’s crisis, not the other way around. But who in Europe is radical enough to draw the appropriate conclusions and adapt his policy to this environment of crisis. Sometimes it seems that only bankers are! Leninism has migrated from the Left to the upper echelons of a world power concentrated as never before in history.
Their terrible illusions about the EU and inner belief in the system was also one of the main reasons for the failure and devastating defeat of SYRIZA in Greece. SYRIZA was right to try to find a compromise, a solution permitting at least some stabilization of the country, given the international correlation of forces and the situation in Greece. But it avoided, at every point, even trying to imagine the prospect of a clash in the event that such a compromise could not be found.
(We should notice at this point that if the majority of the Left clings desperately to the EU, even when it seems very likely that this structure is doomed, there is also a smaller ultra-leftist tendency which believes that everything will be automatically fixed if a country leaves the euro, returning to an impossible paradise of nation-states. The lack of a real transitional program, belief in one’s capacity to implement it, and the will to try, is compensated for by hoisting the national flag.)
British nationalism, its character and its contradictions
It is impossible nowadays to defend your society without defending your nation. This is the mistake typically made by the Left. But the opposite is equally true. You cannot defend your nation without defending its people. After all, the nation is not an abstraction. It consists of real people. And that is true not only of nations like Greece that are patently under neocolonial rule. It can often also be true of nations much higher in the geopolitical-economic pecking order.
It is obvious that a part of the British ruling class believes it can obtain more of the advantages of globalization from being outside the Union. It is using the “anti-globalization” and “democratic” element of the revolt, not to put in any doubt “globalization”, but to claim for a different set of arrangements for Britain inside the globalization. For the time being this seems a tiny minority in the international establishement, as Obama, NATO, Soros and Rotchild were blunt: They need London inside, not outside the EU.
This could change in two cases. One is the scenario B. If the EU and the neoliberal order is going to collapse, without a different a more democratic European order replacing it, then national antagonisms will be used to dominate the continent, to legitimize authoritarianism, go on with social regression and prepare outside wars against Russia, Islam, China later etc.
Now there is a problem. Can you have a vision for your nation, without having a vision for the world? The nation is nowadays admittedly under ideological attack, but this is not the crux of the matter. The fact is that the nation is also under very practical, material attack from Finance. Brussels “dictatorship” is one form of rule by Finance. But the same rule is organized also for countries outside the EU.
British nationalists say they are anxious about the “invasion of refugees”. But they tend to forget that these refugees are the direct product of NATO bombings and the support Wahhabis receive from the main Western powers! Successive British governments bent over backwards to follow the Middle Eastern policy of the most extremist forces inside the international establishment. Britain participated in all interventions in the Middle East, even when the Germans and French were opposing them, and even when Obama himself indicated some reluctance, as with Libya.
Some British Tories say they are afraid the inclusion of Turkey in the EU will result in millions of refugees coming to Europe. But again it is London that has been, along with Washington, the most stubborn supporter of enlargement of the EU to include Turkey, in order to destroy Europe as a political project, multiply US Trojan Horses inside the EU, “stabilize” the role of Turkey for Middle Eastern interventions, incorporate its cheap labor into European markets and put an end to European agricultural policy. Are they now protesting about the results of their own policies?
I don’t know if British jobs, social infrastructure and salaries are threatened by these unfortunate refugees. They are certainly threatened by neoliberalism, which will use refugees to reduce workers’ rights and lower their living standards. But again, it has been London all along that has insisted in imposing the most extreme neoliberalism on the EU. It is London that refused any tax or social harmonization in the EU, which was hostile to the agricultural policy and which has struggled very successfully to transform the EU into a mere free exchange zone. This is also the stated aim of Cameron in his Bremain campaign.
Finally, the main question that nationalists and pro-Europeans, leftists and rightists, not only in Britain, but in all Europe are not answering satisfactorily: how can a given nation or a group of nations be protected from the formidable economic and political forces of globalization?
(By the way, it may not be useless to underline the following, because it is of great political importance: the European Union is not yet an accomplished totalitarian structure. It is in the process of transformation from a democratic to a totalitarian structure, both on the level of its functioning and in terms of its ideology. The right of national veto, for instance, has been retained for a number of cases, in theory making even possible a policy like the one to which De Gaulle resorted at one point. In such a situation it makes sense, at least in theory, to push for “reform” rather than proceed directly to “revolution”. The time for revolution is when reform has already proven impossible. Many people believe Greece has proved that this is impossible. Probably yes, but this is still a prediction. Nobody knows what would have happened if the Greek government was prepared not to capitulate. Brussels, Berlin and Washington knew what Tsipras would finally do and this provided them with the certainty they were not taking enormous risks. We don’t know if Mrs. Merkel, the other European leaders, the financial and NATO establishment would be ready to take the risks (political, financial, even geopolitical) of a protracted conflict. They behaved like they behaved because they were sure they were controlling already enough the SYRIZA leadership, at least in a degree to neutralize its capacity to resist, even if it chose to do. Anyway, the problem is not so much to make safe predictions about future crises. It is rather to acquire a sound political strategy. SYRIZA was absolutely right not to advance slogans for the exit from Euro and the EU (especially given that debt and the Memoranda have been more tangible threats than participation in Europe, which provided also Greece with political and institutional weapons it could use if it had the will). But it should have been prepared to quit the eurozone and block all EU functioning if the EU insisted on capitulation. Events in Britain have taken a different turn, for various reasons, one of them the defeat of the European Left in 2015 and the subsequent fact that the initiative for the present British referendum has come from the Right.
The politics of confusion
All the above contradictions are reflected in the extremely confused and incoherent way that the British debate has taken place, in sharp contrast to what happened in France for instance, in May 2005, leading to the rejection of the European Constitutional Treaty and the end of neoliberal-euroliberal ideological domination in this country.
The French debate of that time was an authentically Cartesian debate, with people even in backstreet restaurants in working-class suburbs discussing questions that nobody would expect anyone but very educated economists and specialists to debate. They were able all the relevant information from analyses of very high quality found throug Internet. The decision that the French people took at that time was an absolutely conscious one.
Confusion is historically bad and worrisome. It is a sign that societies are unable to confront the real problems in a way that is both meaningful and acceptable.
Take for example the debate over whether the British economy will be better in or out the euro. Every side takes it for granted that the international economic (and political-geopolitical) environment is going to remain more or less stable. But that is not the way it is going to be, because we are still very much inside the biggest crisis world capitalism has seen since 1929.
A crisis of this severity has never ended before without a major war. That is not an absolute indication of an inevitable future, but it remains a dark reminder from the past. Given that the international financial and political system has enormous and unprecedented potentialities for control and manipulation, behind the seemingly chaotic automatism of the “markets”, it has been able to transform the crisis of the financial sector in 2008 into a crisis of the EU and then unload all the economic costs onto the backs of the PIGS, especially Greece, for which this policy has spelt ruin. The method in question is the politico-economic equivalent of a technique used in modern civil engineering, having been developed in the context of the theory of catastrophes. A huge building inside an urban center can be demolished in a matter of minutes, without there being any necessity even to stop the traffic in the area. One of the reasons the IMF and the German government are arguing about Greece, is that in Washington there is greater understanding of the fact that at some point the destruction process must be attenuated and some of the cost transferred to other European countries. Mr. Schaeuble prefers to continue destroying Greece at full speed and does not want to accept any transference of the cost.
Read also: In or out of the European Union? A tale of two referenda
By controlling and postponing solution of the crisis, they will not avoid it. They will merely make it worse. The crisis of the EU is not the reason for the underlying economic crisis; it is its reflection. Unfortunately, most discussion of the Euro and EU nowadays is a debate about institutions, carefully segregated from consideration of the coming economic and financial tsunamis.
The EU was accepted as a vehicle for prosperity and democracy, plus – for some – independence. It is in the process of collapse because the liberal post-national order is not able to secure achievement of these aims. As a result, it is being de-legitimized politically, beyond the point of no return. This has become obvious in the past year, as confirmed in research by the Pew Centre, in the wake of the crashing of Greece and subsequent refugee crisis. In such conditions everybody tries to save himself, and revolt against Brussels or Berlin becomes generalized. We should not underestimate the explosive significance of the message that was conveyed last year to every person watching the TV coverage of the Greek crash. Even those who don’t like Greeks and/or are indifferent to their problems have seen European Union crashing one of its members. No Union in history has survived the destruction, colonization and looting of one of its members. By crashing Greece the European Union has also destroyed its political raison d’etre. When the next wave of the financial (or anyone) crisis will come, the whole structure is ready to collapse (or reform radically, as there is at least in theory such a possibillity, but it needs somebody to prepare it and there is nobody at sight.
The existing European Union seems hardly sustainable in the medium term. If the poor were unable to explode it, the rich will do it. The real question is not to support in any sense the EU, because the structure seems anyway doomed to a very probable collapse. The real question is what will be the new status quo in Europe. We witnessed what happened to the Soviet Union twenty-five years ago. It was an unacceptable structure for many people but its disappearance, the way and in the direction it was done, represented a huge step backwards, not forwards. It led to the decomposition of the Soviet economy and society, it has made possible all the catastrophic wars in the Middle East. Not many people in states like Moldova or Tajikstan, formally independent though they may be, are today enjoying their independence. They would just lough if you asked them how they feel havinb gained such independence.
The same is possible for the European Union. A possible collapse of it will not necessarily lead to anything better. It could lead to something much worse, with different countries competing for their shares of a shrinking demand and resorting to social dumping and authoritarian “nationalist” regimes to achieve it, all the while being more than ever at the mercy of International Finance and the USA.
We don’t describe such a worst case scenario as a meansHow toi of persuading anyone to stay in the EU, which is in any case collapsing under the weight of its inner contradictions. Only very deep and radical reform could save and there is no sign of anyone having made serious preparations for any such thing. What we wish to do is underline once more the necessity for building a national and international force able to advance a program that would be acceptable for most European peoples, or at least for a group of them.
The Soviet Union by the way collapsed to the direction it did, because there existed no political force with a sound strategy to reform it to a different direction.
How to unite Europeans
In 2011 I had a meeting with Mr. Tsipras and Mikis Theodorakis. I told them that it will be impossible to face the attack we receive as a nation, only based on our own forces. The Financial Empire had chosen Greece as the first target in a gigantic project of “regime change” in all Europe. We were in the first line of the attack, so we should become also the ones to take the initiative to organize the defense and the counter attack. They were both enthusiastic about the idea and they entrusted me with drafting an appeal to all European peoples, meant as a tool for organizing a large front of international resistance. It was signed by dozens of politicians, personalities and intellectuals around Europe, including the leaders of the German and the French radical left. Tsipras took it with him and read it at a Linke Congress in Germany, receiving also there an enthusiastic welcome. I believe this appeal greatly him to construct an international image.
The main underlying idea was that Finance is transforming its own crisis into a political crisis between European nations. As for national identity, its emergence was unavoidable in crisis conditions, the strategic question was not if national identities would be awakened, but rather to which direction this resurgence, and sometimes revolt of nations would be channeled. We should advance an opposite project, trying to unite European nations against the Finance, perceived as our common enemy. A common enemy is very useful for a union, but a union would be more solid if it had also a common vision. In the appeal there were the very broad outlines of our main aims.
“There is an urgent need for an immediate, cross-border coordination of action by intellectuals, people of the arts and literature, spontaneous movements, social forces and personalities who comprehend the importance of the stakes; we need to create a powerful front of resistance against the advancing “totalitarian empire of globalization”, before it is too late.
Europe can survive only if wepromote a united response against the markets, a challenge bigger than theirs, a new European «New Deal».
– We must immediately stop the attack against Greece and other countries of the EU periphery; we must stop the irresponsible and criminal policy of austerity and privatization, which leads directly to a crisis deeper than the one of 1929.
– Public debts must be radically restructured across the Eurozone, particularly on the expense of the private banking giants. Banks must be recontrolled and the financing of European economy must be under national and European social control. It is not possible to let the financial keys of Europe in the hands of banks like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, UBS, the Deutsche Bank etc. We must ban the uncontrolled financial derivatives, which are the spearhead of the destructive financial capitalism, and create real economic development, instead of speculative profits.
- The present architecture, based on the Maastricht Treaty and the WTO rules,hasestablished a debt production machine in Europe. We need a radical change of all Treaties, the submission of the ECB under political control by the European peoples, a “goldenrule” for minimum social, fiscal, environmental standards in Europe. We urgently need a change of paradigm; a return to the stimulation of growth through the stimulation of demand, via new European investment programs, a new regulation, taxation and control of international capital and commodities flows; a new form of smart and reasonable protectionism in an independent Europe, which will be the protagonist in the fight for a multipolar, democratic, ecological, social planet”.
There is an urgent need for an immediate, cross-border coordination of action by intellectuals, people of the arts and literature, spontaneous movements, social forces and personalities who comprehend the importance of the stakes; we need to create a powerful front of resistance against the advancing “totalitarian empire of globalization”, before it is too late.
Europe can survive only if wepromote a united response against the markets, a challenge bigger than theirs, a new European «New Deal».
What we did after proclaiming all that and stating the urgency of the situation inb order to realize them. Near to nothing! (A remarkable exception, as Kate Hudson indicated me recently, was Tony Benn, one of the noblest figures of post-war British and European socialism. Inspired by this appeal he made another one for the founding of the Greece Solidarity Campaign in Britain, which has raised and send many thousands of pounds to Greece for Medical Aid to Solidarity Clinics etc.)
If we had done something maybe the result of the 2015 crisis in Greece could be different and the European questions put now in a different form. Anyway it is never too late.
(*) Journalist and writer, ex-Secretary of the Movement of Independent Citizens, ex-Member of the Central Committee of SYRIZA, member of the editorial board of “DefendDemocracy.Press”