Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Yanis Varoufakis

Varoufakis and DiEM25: No to the Left Against Brexit.

leave a comment »

Image result for diem25

DiEM25: No to the Left Against Brexit!

Yanis Varoufakis condemns ‘toxic’ campaign for a second EU referendum.

The Sovereigntist and ‘progressive’ Pro-Brexit Morning Star reports.

FORMER Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis condemned the “toxic” public campaign for a second referendum on British membership of the European Union today.

The economist, who served under the left-wing Syriza government in 2015 when it confronted the EU over enforced austerity politics, accused anti-Brexit campaigners of dumping left politics.

In an interview for Jacobin magazine, he said he had campaigned on the Remain side during the 2016 referendum, but he explained: “I think that we should respect the outcome of the people’s vote.

“I really despise the way that [second referendum campaigners] talk about a ‘People’s Vote’ as if the first one was the wrong people’s vote.

“This kind of toxic language does not suit progressive politics.”

Mr Varoufakis said he backed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s calls for a fresh general election and added that the “silver lining” to Britain leaving the EU was that a Labour government could nationalise industry “more easily.”

Is his interview to the ‘progressive’ Jacobin magazine the former firebrand, speaking “as progressives” he rejected the Left Against Brexit call for a Second referendum, said,

.. let’s not re-run the referendum debate: I think that we should respect the outcome of the people’s vote. I really despise the way that they [campaigners for another referendum] talk about [the need for] a “People’s Vote” as if the first one was the wrong people’s vote. This kind of toxic language does not suit progressive politics.

To me what is now essential is for Britain — and this is possibly something Jeremy and I don’t agree on — to maintain freedom of movement. The Left should always fight to keep borders away and not to create new borders among people. So, for me a “Norway plus” solution would be ideal for Britain and even if that doesn’t happen, our New Deal for Europe, proposed by DieM 25, details how even after a hard Brexit [the UK breaking from all EU-related structures] British institutions and European institutions could coordinate in such a way as to simulate a European Union in which Britain is an integral and progressive part.

DiEM25 members now have the option of choosing between two versions of the “Progressive” acceptance of Brexit.

For DiEM25 to support this important initiative, its members must be consulted and the call must be made compatible with DiEM25’s long standing position in favour of a Norway Plus agreement, as per our all-member vote in the autumn of 2016. The two versions that members are now being asked to endorse differ in the following main way:

Option 1.
Take A Break From Brexit to Give Democracy the Time it Deserves
Proposed and defended by Andrea Pisauro of the thematic DSC justifies the one-year extension of Article 50 by calling not just for a general election, but also to permit the UK’s participation in the European Parliament elections of May 2019, participation to which this extension opens the doors.

Andrea Pisauro’s Call to Take a BREAK FROM BREXIT to give democracy the time it deserves.pdf

Option 2.

Take A Break From Brexit for a General Election
Proposed by Yanis Varoufakis, aims at a campaign for extending by one-year the Article 50 negotiations solely in order to enable a general election to take place so that a new government, with a real mandate, can complete the UK-EU negotiations.

Yanis Varoufakis’ Call to TAKE A BREAK FROM BREXIT for a general election.pdf

As an alliance with the ambition to reshape European politics, in (you guessed it) a “Progressive” direction  DiEM25 is busy building a Europe-wide front for the 2018 elections to the European Parliament.

DiRM25’s latest catch is the French ‘party’ Nouvelle Donne.

Led by  Pierre Larrouturou this new hand of old cards originated in a centre-left current in the French Parti Socialiste, expressing its admriation for the ‘progressive’ US left under the name of the Collectif Roosevelt,. It managed to score 11.5% of the internal congress vote in 2012.

Nouvelle Donne  has laid (optimistic) claims to 11,000 members.

In the European elections of 2014 it won 2,90% of the vote. They backed, after failing to secure support for their own candidate, the sovereigntist  Jean-Luc Mélenchon in 2017. Standing 20 candidates in the Parliamentary elections that followed some are said to have won more than 1% of the ballots cast!

The ideology of Nouvelle Donne, is inspired by the American New Deal, progressisme, l’écologie politiquehumanisme, participatory democracy, and, some say, an element of democratic socialism.

They are also kind to flowers and animals (I just made that bit up.

It has had  two elected figures: David Derrouet, Mayor of the small town, Fleury-Mérogis until 2017, and Fabienne Grébert,a regional councillor in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

Onwards and upwards DiRM25!

Advertisements

Sanders and Varoufakis to launch ‘Progressive International’ “Green, Radical Left and……..Liberal”?

with 5 comments

Nobody could accuse them of lacking ambition!

Sanders and Varoufakis to Launch Progressive International

Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are teaming up to launch a new initiative for common international action by progressives.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is teaming up with former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to formally launch a new “Progressives International” in Vermont on Nov. 30, Varoufakis said in Rome on Friday.

Varoufakis, who made the announcement during a Friday press conference in Rome, told BuzzFeed News they were also inviting incoming Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador to join the new movement. (López Obrador spokesperson Jesús Ramírez told BuzzFeed News he had received no “formal invitation” to “join a “progressive international” front.)

Varoufakis described the initiative in part as an attempt to counter the work that Steve Bannon, who also made an appearance in Rome last month, has been doing to help nationalists forge a united front in elections for the European Union’s parliament next spring. Varoufakis also accused immigration critics like Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer of being part of an extremist alliance.

“The financiers are internationalists. The fascists, the nationalists, the racists — like Trump, Bannon, Seehofer, Salvini — they are internationalists,” Varoufakis said. “They bind together. The only people who are failing are progressives.

Sanders and Varoufakis Announce Alliance to Craft ‘Common Blueprint for an International New Deal’

The pair hopes to promote a “progressive, ecological, feminist, humanist, rational program” for not only Europe, but the entire world

After arguing in a pair of Guardian op-eds last month that a worldwide progressive movement is needed to counter the unifying rightwing “that sprang out of the cesspool of financialized capitalism,” former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis announced in Rome on Friday that he and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) plan to officially launch “Progressives International” in the senator’s state on Nov. 30.

Varoufakis told BuzzFeed News that the movement aims to challenge an emerging extremist alliance of nationalist political figures—from immigration critics such as Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to President Donald Trump’s ex-White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who is working to garner voter support for rightwing parties ahead of the May 2019 European Parliament elections.

“The financiers are internationalists. The fascists, the nationalists, the racists—like Trump, Bannon, Seehofer, Salvini—they are internationalists,” Varoufakis said. “They bind together. The only people who are failing are progressives.”

As Sanders wrote in the Guardian, “At a time of massive global wealth and income inequality, oligarchy, rising authoritarianism, and militarism, we need a Progressive International movement to counter these threats.” Warning that “the fate of the world is at stake,” the senator called for “an international progressive agenda that brings working people together around a vision of shared prosperity, security, and dignity for all people.”

Varoufakis, denouncing the global “brotherhood” of financiers and “xenophobic rightwing zealots” who foment divisiveness to control wealth and politics, said in the Guardian that those who join the movement “need to do more than campaign together,” and proposed the formation of “a common council that draws out a common blueprint for an International New Deal, a progressive New Bretton Woods.”

In addition to the forthcoming progressive alliance—which incoming Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO, will reportedly be invited to join—Varoufakis is leading the campaign efforts of European Spring, a new progressive political party, for the upcoming European Parliament elections.

As a European Democratic Socialist – and leftist – it is hard to know what the  term “progressive” means.

In our Continent, the word still has associations with the old Communist Parties and their fellow travellers, often called ‘progressives’. Or, to put it simply, progressive was used to embrace a broad swathe of potential allies. For very obvious reasons this usage is not just out of fashion today, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

More recently. the right-wing of Labour (Progress) , and Emmanuel Macron, are fond  of calling themselves ‘progressives’ .

Both of these usages would put off many left-wingers for a start!

The word reeks.

Yet, apparently in the US ‘progressive’ is  linked to the most liberal wing of the Democrat Party.

I believe that in its origins in US political thought  progressive refers to a broad stream of thinkers, from Transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, to advanced liberals like John Dewey and, more recently Barack Obama.

If it has any meaning the word appears to signify,  “support for or advocacy of improvement of society by reform””, which does not get us very fa.Not when just about privatising fiddle in the UK is called a “reform” for the better.

Still, ‘reform’ could, at a pinch, be extended with more hopeful connotations, to the left, including Sander’s wing of the Democrats.

The Democratic Socialists of America use the word, “the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is the largest socialist organization in the United States. DSA’s members are building progressive movements for social change while establishing an openly democratic socialist presence in American communities and politics.”

The European Spring alliance promoted by the Greek former Finance Minister certainly is “progressive” in this sense.That is, if one talks up ‘movement’enough to include self-important commissions and top-heavy public events.

This ‘alliance’ was built originally by DiEM25:

DiEM25 is a pan-European, cross-border movement of democrats.

We believe that the European Union is disintegrating. Europeans are losing their faith in the possibility of European solutions to European problems. At the same time as faith in the EU is waning, we see a rise of misanthropy, xenophobia and toxic nationalism.

If this development is not stopped, we fear a return to the 1930s. That is why we have come together despite our diverse political traditions – Green, radical left, liberal – in order to repair the EU. The EU needs to become a realm of shared prosperity, peace and solidarity for all Europeans. We must act quickly, before the EU disintegrates.

But how many on the left, who  identify with the various strands of democratic socialism, would wish to be in an alliance with liberals? Or indeed, for all the fact that there is  larger constituency who identify with the US Sanders left, or are at least encourage by the fact that it exists, at all, how many  would wish to drop their allegiances to parties like the British Labour Party, and the very long list of European left parties, to join up with a movement headed by these  two individuals on the strength of a few articles in the Guardian?

Assuming that they have read them…..a brief trawl in the French language reveals no trace of this ‘international’ to begin with.

The European Spring Alliance, of “democrats of all political persuasions” does not seem to have much of a basis either.

Their support, such as they are, include (indeed is limited to) for France  Nouvelle Donne.

We are informed the party was named after the US ‘new Deal’ (which is not how I would translate a term normally referring to a ‘new fact*), an experience far from the forefront of the French Left’s collective memory.

Nouvelle Donne is  a classic French political ‘club’, around Pierre Larrouturou. He and his friends have  spent a couple of decades on the fringes of the Parti Socialiste (unsuccessfully bidding for influence  as a ‘current’) and the French Greens, to mention only a few. It has had two elected figures, David Derouet,  who was the Mayor of Fleury-Mérogis until 2017 and Fabienne Grébert, a regional councillor in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

A more serious force, Génération.s, (which claims, optimistically, 60,000 members), one MP, three MEPs and one Senator, was founded by former French Socialist Presidential candidate  Benoît Hamon (6.36% of the vote in the first round), also forms part of the  DiEM25 sponsored European Spring.
That is, after trying for an alliance with the French Greens (EREV) and,  and various leftist  strands described as “« altereuropéennnes »..At one point Mélenchon offered him negotiations .

Two days ago we learnt that Hamon has called his own list of “citizen candidates” outside of the old party machines. He is now  negotiating with the centre-left intellectual Raphaël Glucksmann in the tradition of Michel Rocard (he is also the son of the New Philosopher André Glucksman).

Le mouvement Générations fondé par Benoît Hamon a lancé lundi un appel à candidatures citoyennes pour une liste aux élections européennes située “en dehors des vieux appareils partisans”, une initiative compatible avec la création de “Place publique” par Raphaël Glucksmann

Européennes : Générations de Benoît Hamon lance un appel à candidatures citoyennes

Génération-s may maintain links with The European Spring (though it is unlikely the presence of Nouvelle Donne is welcome).

Facing at least 5 (f not more)  other left-wing or green lists in next year’s European elections, very few people give Hamon’s group and allies much of chance of winning seats.

Experienced commentators (that is, my good self) predict Hamon is going nowhere.

The forces that could be brought together by this new international could include the European Spring. This, at least according to Wikipedia involves  such strange bedfellows as the substantial  Czech Pirate Party the Danish Green splinter party, Alternativet and a Spanish initiative Actúa which seems largely a discussion and networking group (“un espacio de reflexión, debate cívico e intervención política”) outside  the main force of the left, Podemos. Not to mention others…. I’d lay a hefty wager they are not part of the central core of the European left….

Any residual sympathy one might have for this lot evaporates at the sight of this list of supporters behind DiEM25:

Nor is this just a matter of a few signatures:

The more I find out about this, the less I like it:

Tue 10, 2018, 
Update: * Nouvelle Donne according to my trusty Petit Robert, means the, snappy, ” new hand of cards “.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 30, 2018 at 6:21 pm

Jeremy Corbyn backs ‘a social Europe for everybody’ and consults DiEM25 Movement’s Varoufakis

with one comment

Corbyn: Labour leader backs ‘a social Europe for everybody.

This is really really good news!

 26 February, 2016 KOOS COUVÉE. Islington Tribune.

LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn has dismissed claims he is a Eurosceptic at heart, making the case for a “social Europe”.

Speaking exclusively to the Tribune, the Islington North MP acknowledged his historically lukewarm personal feelings towards the European Union, but said: “Labour Party policy is to try and get the best deal out of Europe for this country and a social Europe for everybody.”

However, Mr Corbyn expressed concern about the EU’s “democratic def­icit”, the economic strategy of the European Central Bank (ECB) and its power over austerity-stricken countries like Greece.

The Labour leader spoke before Prime Minister David Cameron  announced his renegotiation deal in Brussels on Friday, which included restrictions on in-work benefits for EU migrants and protection for the City of London from regulations that could put British-based banks at a disadvantage.

Dismissing Mr Cam­eron’s renegotiation as “a lot of smoke and mirrors”, Mr Corbyn said: “The real issue David Cameron is concerned about is a dispute within the Conservative Party.

“It’s essentially a lot of smoke and mirrors which hasn’t actually achieved a great deal. And on the question of temporarily curtailing in-work benefits, I think there’s an equality issue about that. I believe if people are in work they should be getting the same conditions.”

The central point is this:

“Labour would instead be making the case for a “social Europe”, Mr Corbyn said.

“The case I’ve put forward is one for workers’ rights, and for Britain and Europe being more similar, because British workers have far lower levels of rights at work.

“Secondly, I would want to challenge the Fourth Railway package [opening up rail services to private companies] over the privatisation issue. I’m concerned with the way in which the railways are run in Europe and I believe they should be publicly owned.”

He added: “The other point is the right of countries to keep or take into public ownership certain services, and the question of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership [a proposed trade agreement between the EU and the US], which is not part of the renegotiations.”

“Most trade unions in Britain, but not all, want to remain in the EU from the point of view of trade and the jobs that go with it, and that’s the view of the party which I’m putting forward.”

The story continues,

Three weeks ago, Mr Corbyn met Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, leader of the leftist party Syriza, to discuss EU reform and the European anti-austerity movement.

Asked how close he is to Mr Tsipras politically, the Labour leader said: “We both want to see an economic strategy around anti-austerity, and we’re both very concerned about the activities and power of the European Central Bank, although Britain is not in the Eurozone and isn’t likely to be.”

Mr Corbyn also revealed that Yanis Varoufakis, the former Syriza MP and Greek finance minister who resigned during the negotiation on an EU bailout package for the debt-stricken country last year, has met Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and will advise Labour in “some capacity”.

Mr Corbyn said: “Varoufakis is interesting, because he has obviously been through all the negotiations [with ECB, European Commission and the International Monetary Fund].

“I think the way Greece has been treated is terrible and we should reach out to them.

“I realise we’re not in the Eurozone but it’s a question of understanding how we challenge the notion that you can cut your way to prosperity when in reality you have to grow your way to prosperity.

“So all of our emphasis and work and campaigning is about an expanding economy and investing in an expanding economy.”

CNBC   adds,

The leader of the U.K.’s left-wing Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, revealed to his local London paper that Varoufakis had met with shadow chancellor John McDonnell and would advise the party “in some capacity.”

Varoufakis’ view on the referendum:

Yanis Varoufakis: “The UK should stay in the EU to fight tooth and nail against the EU’s anti-democratic institutions”

Comrade Varoufakis has also just answered the anti-EU UK left on the issue of Greece: Is Greece not another compelling reason to vote for Brexit on 23rd June?

Last July the European Union completed a brutal coup d’état against the freshly elected Greek government, imposing upon it another huge, unsustainable ‘bailout’ loan that would, with mathematical precision, prolong Greece’s six-year-long Great Depression.

If there was ever any doubt that the EU’s institutions are deeply contemptuous of democratic process, and unabashed about their readiness to ride roughshod over rationality and over the will of a sovereign European people, the events of July 2015 dispelled it.

In this light, it is natural and right to ask two questions in the run up to the 23rd June UK referendum:

  • Was the treatment of Greece last summer not another piece of decisive evidence that the EU is governed in an authoritarian, irrational and anti-democratic manner?
  • Should voters across the UK (especially after the way Greece was treated last summer) not vote in favour of LEAVE as an important step in reclaiming their Parliament’s sovereignty and their democracy?

My answer to the first question is a decisive YES and to the second an unequivocal NO!

Those of us who detest the EU’s way of doing things have a moral and political duty to (a) jettison the illusion that Brexit will have positive consequences and (b) stick together (across national borders) to fight shoulder-to-shoulder in order to democratise the EU through an almighty confrontation with its current, inane, authoritarian rulers.

 

For a different spin on the last part of the story….

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is advising the Labour party on the economy, Jeremy Corbyn has revealed.

The controversial ex-minister, who was forced to resign after his country plunged into a debt crisis, has met with shadow chancellor John McDonnell, the Labour party leader said.

The news came as Paul Mason, the former Channel 4 journalist and strident anti-austerity campaigner, announced he has joined Labour’s economic lecture tour.

The journalist and film-maker revealed his departure from the state broadcaster as part of a plan to “work for a while outside the impartiality framework” dictated by the channel.

In an interview in the Islington Tribune newspaper Mr Corbyn spoke of being interested in Mr Varoufakis because of his experience in Europe.

He said: “I think the way Greece has been treated is terrible and we should reach out to them.

Reports the Telegraph.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 29, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Yanis Varoufakis: DiEM25 Launched In Berlin, “Europe will be democratised, or it will disintegrate.”

with 7 comments

Official site:  DiEM25

‘Erratic Marxist’ takes on ‘confederacy of myopic politicians’

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has launched a pan-European movement designed to “democratize” the EU within a decade. Naomi Conrad reports from Berlin. Deutsche Welle.

Tuesday’s event at Berlin’s imposing Volksbühne, famous for its long tradition of radical left-wing productions, had been long sold out. Yanis Varoufakis, a self-proclaimed “erratic Marxist” who promised to take on the European Union was the reason for the rush.

It was his “duty” to do so, he told a packed audience. Otherwise, the EU would “disintegrate”.

The economics professor rose to fame when he was appointed as finance minister by Greece’s left-wing Syriza party last year. He famously clashed with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schäuble, as he tried to defy German-backed European austerity policies.

Finally, with a third bailout on the table, which imposed further rather than less austerity measures, Varoufakis resigned his post and broke with Syriza.

But now the economist turned maverick politician is trying to reclaim the political arena with Berlin launch of his grassroots pan-European movement. Varoufakis calls the movement “a broad coalition of radical democrats,” which intends to “democratize” the European Union – and indeed revolutionize the 28-member bloc.

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has launched a new pan-European umbrella group that aims to pull together leftwing parties, grassroots protest movements and “rebel regions” from across the continent.

….

He was joined on stage by leader of the left-wing party “Die Linke,” Katja Kipping, British MP Caroline Lucas and Irish MEP Nessa Childers, among others.

The movement is not without its critics: In an open letter published on his website, Sven Giegold, a member of the European Parliament for the Green Party, called Varoufakis’ comments “disrespectful and populist.” He also slammed the manifesto for lacking transparency, pointing out that it was unclear who decided on the final version of the document.

But nevertheless, the number of those who signed up to the petition continued to grow on Tuesday evening. By late evening, more than 3,200 people had signed up.

The Guardian reports.

At the launch on Tuesday night, Varoufakis said that the new DiEM25 movement would “shake Europe – gently, compassionately, but firmly”. “Europe will be democratised, or it will disintegrate, and it will do so quite fast”, the self-described “erratic Marxist” said, warning of a return to a “postmodern version of the 1930s”.

The evening at Berlin’s Volksbühne theatre, also featured speeches from Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau, British Green MP Caroline Lucas, representatives of Germany’s Blockupy movement, as well as musician Brian Eno, philosopher Slavoj Žižek and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. “When parliaments become theatres, we have to turn theatres into parliaments”, said Miguel Urbán Crespo, an MEP for Spain’s Podemos party.

In an article published in the Guardian last week, Varoufakis said the DiEM25 group would lobby for more transparent processes in European decision-making, including live-streaming of council meetings and full disclosure of trade negotiation documents.

“Our medium-term goal is to convene a constitutional assembly where Europeans will deliberate on how to bring forth, by 2025, a full-fledged European democracy, featuring a sovereign parliament that respects national self-determination and shares power with national parliaments, regional assemblies and municipal councils”, said the economist academic, who resigned from government in July last year after a series of run-ins with other European finance ministers.

“One simple, radical idea is our motivating force: to democratise Europe in the knowledge that the EU will either be democratised or it will disintegrate at a terrible cost to all.”

In the run-up to its launch, DiEM25 drew some criticism from activists, some of them asking whether it represented an agenda already covered by other pro-transparency and anti-austerity party groups in the European parliament. Sven Giegold, a German Green MEP, called Varoufakis “populist and disrespectful” in an open letter. In another open letter, a Blockupy activist criticised DiEM25 for charging €12 (£9.30) for its launch event.

DiEM25: Der Zerfall Europas muss gestoppt werden

Neue Bewegung beginnt Debatte über Demokratisierung der EU von unten / Warnung vor neuem Nationalismus.

Neues deutschland

This is important:  A Critique Of Yanis Varoufakis’ Democracy In Europe Movement (DiEM25)  on 9 February 2016.

Before reading this it is well to bear in mind that Fazi avoids the potentially dangerous trap of talking about “sovereignty”.

How many gallons of pen, Biro and printers’ ink have been spilt over the idea of that a sovereign ‘general will’  is the basis  of democracy will never be counted. As a philosophical construct it has never been pinned down. It took a liberal Benjamin Constant to point out in the 19th century that Rousseau’s concept had never been seen in the flesh for all its rampages in the mouths of politicians  (Principes de politique applicables à tous les gouvernements représentatifs1815). The sovereignty of Nations should have gone the way of Sovereigns. That it s a Monster, something we glimpse out of the corner of the eye in books, is all too rapidly seen when rears its head as a blood spitting beast in Wars. Its use is doing intolerable damage to debate about the European Union.

Democracy, the free capacity to make, through majorities, through voting,  collective decisions, is about majorities, and mundane institutions, not abstractions, nations and Sovereignty.

As a democratic Marxist this Blog tends to agree with Hal Draper,

Marx and Engels always saw the two sides of the complex of democratic institutions and rights which arose under bourgeois democracy. The two sides corresponded to the two classes which fought it out within this framework. One side was the utilization of democratic forms as a cheap and versatile means of keeping the exploited masses from shaking the system, of providing the illusion of participation in the state while the economic sway of the ruling class ensured the real centres of power. This was the side of the “democratic swindle”. The other side was the struggle to give the democratic forms a new social (class) content, above all by pushing them to the democratic extreme of popular control from below, which in turn entailed extending the application of democratic forms out of the merely political sphere into the organization of the whole society.

Here is Fazi:

…much as I share the movement’s spirit, I also consider its strategy and general goals – as presented in the manifesto and in various interviews by Varoufakis – to be rather problematic, for reasons that I will try to explain. The idea that the European Left should aim for a radical, progressive overhaul of Europe’s institutions – rather than their rejection – is not new, of course, and has actually been the consensus among European progressive/leftist movements all throughout the crisis – and still i.s, I would imagine, despite the recent rise of left-wing euro-scepticism.

Discussing the problems of ‘oligarchic capture’, which Fazia argues affects the European Parliament even more than the already compromised national ones, he observes that cultural and linguistic differences exacerbate the problems in Europe. He then states, ” any debate about the ‘parliamentarisation’ of the EU needs to take into account the crucial difference between the formal electoral-representative process and true popular control”. He notes the ” lobbying and to the revolving doors issue – not just between big businesses and regulatory agencies but also between big businesses and elected offices.”

“In general terms, they point to a wider crisis of electoral-representative democracy. It is widely agreed that in recent decades we have witnessed a ‘hollowing out’ of democracy and sovereignty at the national level. In the long-established democracies of Western Europe, electoral turnouts are in decline and membership is shrinking in all major parties. This is particularly evident in Europe, for obvious reasons. Colin Crouch coined the term ‘post-democracy’ to describe this new normal, defined as a society that continues to have and to use all the institutions of democracy, but in which they increasingly become a formal shell, and the energy and innovative drive pass away from the democratic arena and into small circles of a politico-economic elite. There are generally two ways of framing this phenomenon. One is that this is a somewhat inevitable – one may even say ‘natural’ – result of economic and political internationalisation, which has seriously eroded the ability of individual countries to decide their own destinies, and thus of national electoral-representative systems to formulate a general will that can bend the institutions of public power to sovereign ends. According to this narrative, the shift – in the European context – from a multiplicity of (increasingly powerless and non-sovereign) national democracies to a single (and truly sovereign) European supranational democracy is inevitable, whether we like it or not.

This really is a big issue. But internationalists have no way of avoiding the issue: is super, or supra-national democrcay possible?

But there is another way of framing of the shift towards post-democracy. And that is that this isn’t the inevitable consequence of ‘global dynamics’ but – as acknowledged even in the DiEM25 manifesto – the result of an explicit process of ‘depoliticisation’ aimed at removing macroeconomic policy from democratic control and putting crucial areas of administration – such as monetary and fiscal policy – outside of political contestation. In this sense, the EMU can be considered the most extreme form of depoliticisation ever attempted. According to this narrative, the depoliticisation of individual nation states – including through a self-imposed reduction of their ‘sovereignty’, understood as the expression of popular will  – can be understood as a way to roll back the democratic and social/economic gains that had previously been achieved by subordinate classes. If that is the case, are we sure that further ‘democratising’ the institutions of the EU/EMU is truly the best way forward?

I am not sure about “post democracy”, undemocratic would be a better term.

Moreover, even if we accept that the failure of national electoral-representative systems is a historically determined fact and that there is no alternative to democratising the EU – that is, if we accept DiEM25’s basic premise – I would question the effectiveness of the movement’s ‘pan-European’ strategy. DiEM purports to change Europe’s system of governance ‘from the outside’ – i.e., at an institutionally non-existent pan-European level – but effectively all the major decisions are still taken at the inter-governmental level. This means that, realistically speaking, any serious structural change – such as a true ‘democratisation’ of the system – requires national governments agreeing to such a change. If not, how else? And if so, isn’t a strategy that deems the national level to be politically irrelevant – as implied by Varoufakis – inevitably doomed to fail? Isn’t there a risk of creating a pan-European movement that is culturally relevant but politically marginal?

Or, to put it bluntly: what political forces can DiEM25 muster behind itself?

Before pointing to the need to read the full well-thought out article these are some crucial issues Fazia points to,

DiEM25’s manifesto offers little insight as to the position that European progressive movements should take with regard to the authoritarian, top-down ‘federal’ integration being proposed and pursued by the EU establishment (exemplified by Schäuble’s proposed ‘fiscal union’, for example). Would Varoufakis agree with the notion that any further integration should be considered desirable only if, when, and to the extent that it is accompanied by the enhancement of popular control at a local, national, and supranational level, and that the current processes of top-down integration should be opposed?

Finally, DiEM’s approach takes the survival of the EU/EMU for granted. But that remains to be seen. By concentrating on the reform of existing European institutions, isn’t there a risk for the Left of finding itself dangerously unprepared in the face of an unforeseen implosion of the monetary union? Especially if we take into account that there is little reason to believe that Germany and the other countries of the ‘ordoliberal bloc’ would yield to a reform of the EMU in a more Keynesian, progressive direction, even in the unlikely event that we could get a sufficient number of countries to back such a proposal. If such a situation should emerge, the most likely outcome would be a German exit from the monetary union (leading to a possible collapse of the entire currency system).

 Which leads back to the issue already signaled: the need for a left majority in Europe remains in the shadow of an embedded policy of monetary orthodoxy.

How to shatter that is, to say the least, a major problem.

One thing is certain: in the UK leaving the European Union with an even more entrenched orthodox economic framework intact with the hard-right even more in the ascendant,  will make challenging it much much harder.

Meanwhile this French commentator, CÉDRIC ENJALBERT, (Philosophie Magazine) sees the DiEM25 movement as an extension of Kant’s Enlightenment Cosmopolitanism and Project for Perpetual Peace:

L’ex-ministre des finances grec Yánis Varoufákis lance un nouveau mouvement européen. DIEM25 entend revitaliser l’espoir démocratique en Europe en fédérant les consciences politiques de la société civile sur le continent, dans l’esprit cosmopolitique du projet de paix perpétuelle hérité des Lumières.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 10, 2016 at 2:05 pm

Left Manifestos for Europe: Diem25 – Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, Yanis Varoufakis and Transforming the EU.

with 8 comments

The Observing Greece site has performed a service to the left by providing links to the following Manifestos on Europe.

New Manifestos  For Europe!

Our Manifesto for Europe” by Thomas Piketty and 14 others.
A Europe that works” by the ALDE party.
We are Europe” by Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Ulrich Beck.
A Plan B in Europe” by Jean-Luc Mélenchon and others.
European Solidarity Manifesto” by european-solidarity.eu.

It also links to this, the most important of recent statements, Diem25 – Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 and their “Manifesto for Democratising Europe“.

Last October (2015) Yanis Varoufakis  announced plans to draw up this Manifesto.

One very simple, but radical, idea: to democratise Europe.” An interview with Yanis Varoufakis

He said,

So would Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party be welcome to join your movement?

YV: Absolutely. But you see it is important to make this point. This is not going to be a coalition of parties. It should be a coalition of citizens. They can belong to any party they want. This will not admit parties into it. It is not a party and it is not an alliance of parties. The idea is to create a grassroots movement across Europe of European citizens interested in democratising Europe. They can belong to any party. Of course they will be involved in other campaigns in their local communities, in their member states, in their nations. Maybe you will have people from different parties from the same country. I can easily imagine that, and actually I would like that. Because if the idea is not to replicate national politics, why can’t you have that? But personally, I count a lot on the Corbynites.

AS: Are you drawing up a manifesto?

YV: Yes. This is what we’re working on.

AS: Who’s writing it?

YV: I’m not going to give you names, and we will not sign it when we launch it. It will be a free floating text.

AS: Can you give us an estimated release date?

YV: It will be before Christmas.

AS: In the UK we are facing this referendum on whether we should leave or whether we should stay. openDemocracy has been discussing how this will be framed in the media and we think it may come down to something like this: “do we love business more than we hate immigrants, or do we hate immigrants more than we love business?”

YV: That’s an interesting way of putting it.

….

AS: Owen Jones is calling for what he calls Lexit – a left-wing exit from the EU. What would you say to someone like him who would support everything you say about Europe and democracy, but still wants to leave the EU?

YV: Well, I’m facing this kind of argument in my country with former comrades of mine in the government who left and formed the Popular Unity Party, who are saying exactly the same thing. We can’t have a genuine conversation with the Eurogroup, so exit is the only solution.

My argument is that there are no easy solutions. I wish that we could create an alternative universe in which it would be possible to have a degree of autonomy, autarky, that allows you to clean out the Augean stables. You can’t. The idea that we will go back to an agricultural pastoral life is absurd. Today, even combine harvesters are governed by electronics that our countries do not necessarily produce.

You cannot step back from the globalised market and especially from the Europeanised market. So if you exit without having any capacity to participate in the democratisation of that market, then you will always be subject to a market that is run by technocrats and you will have even less degrees of freedom than you have now.

I think it’s very important not to fall into the nationalist trap of thinking that you can recoil back into the nation-state cocoon. That doesn’t mean that we should go along with Brussels. I’m not in favour of staying within the EU and playing ball. I think I have proven this beyond any reasonable doubt. I believe in staying in to subvert the rules. Even to go into a campaign of civil disobedience within. That for me is the left wing strategy. Not “Lexit”.I’m not in favour of staying within the EU and playing ball. I think I have proven this beyond any reasonable doubt.

Owen Jones has taken this argument on board.

He now says, (Guardian 7th of January).

With Cameron in retreat, Labour can unite behind “in” while calling for a different EU. That means making it more democratic, more transparent and, above all, challenging how it is all too often hardwired to support unaccountable corporate interests rather than working people. There will be differences in emphasis in how this is achieved. For those on Labour’s left, there are two European initiatives that must surely be engaged with. One has been set up by Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister. In February, he will launch the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25), with the aim of democratising unaccountable EU institutions. Another is Plan B, set up by leftwingers such as Germany’s Oskar Lafontaine and France’s Jean Luc Mélenchon, which aims to coordinate European politicians, intellectuals, activists and NGOs with regular summits to chart a different way forward.

For too long, European movements aspiring to redistribute wealth and power have been fragmented, lacking in solidarity and coordination. Nobody believes that the EU – which has imposed calamitous economic policies throughout the eurozone – can be changed one country at a time. Syriza suffered a punishment beating for attempting to challenge EU austerity, largely because of the EU establishment’s fear that otherwise similar movements would follow its example. But Greece represents a tiny proportion of the EU economy, and was thus expendable. Before Christmas we saw the dramatic success of Podemos in Spain, which won a fifth of the vote after less than two years of existence and which is poised for further gains. A rightwing government has been deposed in Portugal, admittedly by a precarious leftwing coalition. There is a glimmer of hope for change in Europe.

You can get Varoufakis’s  latest views (in German) here:  Der Weltveränderer: Was Varoufakis wirklich will (24th January).

The Manifesto document is headed: To Democratise Europe or Abolish the EU.

Its central calls are,

  • To democratise the European Union.
  • To end the reduction of all political relations into relations of power masquarding as merely technical decisions.
  • To subject the Brussels bureaucracy to the will of sovereign European peoples.
  • To re-politicise the rules that govern our single market.
  • To restore sovereignty to our Town Halls and Parliaments.

Standing together for a Europe of Reason, Liberty,  Tolerance and Imagination, made possible by comprehensive Transparency, real Solidarity and authentic Democracy, the manifesto calls for a social, democratic, decentralised, pluralist  and united Europe.

 notes that the clearest demands are these:

Within 6 months: full transparency in EU decision-making (live-streaming of all important meetings, publication of ECB minutes of important sessions, publication of all important documents such as the TTIP negotiations, etc.).

Within 12 months: address the economic crisis. DiEM 2025 will present detailed policy proposals in the four realms where the crisis is housed: public debt, banking, inadequate investment and rising poverty. The policy proposals will “Europeanize all four while returning power to national parliaments, to regional councils, to city halls and to communities.”

Within 2 years: formation of a Constitutional Assembly comprised of representatives elected on trans-national tickets. The Constitutional Assembly will be empowered to decide upon a future democratic constitution that will replace all existing European Treaties.

Thereafter: enactment of decisions of the Constitutional Assembly.

These proposals are, as they say, “courageous”.

Keleingut notes the lyrical prose of the Manifesto.

Indeed: I have edited the references to the text, to avoid burdening the reader with too many adjectives about what kind of Europe should be built.

But better the sentence, “We join in the magnificent tradition of fellow Europeans who have struggled for centuries against the wisdom that democracy is a luxury and the weak must suffer what they must.” than the mean-spirited phrase-mongering of the ‘Brexit’ crew, ‘left’ and right.

A key theme of the document is the need to avoid the violation of democratic decisions by the European Union – a very clear reference to the austerity imposed against the will of the Greek electorate.

Observing Greece adds this  comment,

I think there will be a significant correlation between Varoufakis followers and personal IQ. Young students with socially-romantic dreams will fall for him, no questions asked. I think there will also be a strong correlation between Varoufakis followers and lack of practical experience in the real world. And, of course, all dreamers of a leftist victory over cold-blooded neoliberals will be among Varoufakis’ passionate followers regardless of age, IQ or work experience.

I think the big question is whether Varoufakis will succeed in lighting a fire relatively soon. A fire among his followers, within the media, within the public discourse etc. If he does not succeed with that, his movement will wither away relatively quickly. As a new Finance Minister, Varoufakis succeeded in lighting a fire throughout Europe literally from one week to the next (until he blew a fuse). We will soon know if he manages to accomplish the same feat also as a former Finance Minister.

As a pro-European democratic socialist, a supporter of a “European Social Republic”, who will be voting to remain in the EU, I can only wish Diem25 – Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (Facebook) well.

As even the the hard-bitten Tendance supporters say, “On s’engage, et puis on voit”, You commit yourself, then you see….

More: Yanis Varoufakis. On Podemos, Greece, and DiEM – Interview in El Mundo. Varoufakis Blog. January the 24th.

Yanis Varoufakis: we need a new movement for democracy in Europe

Yanis Varoufakis speaks to Nick Buxton about why he is launching a pan-European movement for democracy, to save Europe before it’s too late. Red Pepper.

… instead of going from the nation-state level to the European level, we thought we should do it the other way around; that we should build a cross-border pan-European movement, hold a conversation in that space to identify common policies to tackle common problems, and once we have a consensus on common Europe-wide strategies, this consensus can find expression of that at the nation-state and regional and municipal levels. So we are reversing the process, starting at the European level to try to find consensus and then moving downwards. This will be our modus operandi.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 26, 2016 at 1:29 pm