Τρίτη 6 Ιανουαρίου 2015

The European economic crisis as a tool for the transformantion of Europe and the possible answers




Six years since the outbreak of the great financial and economic crisis of 2008-09, none of the core roots behind it has been addressed. On the contrary, European governments and EU institutions have expanded their policies of “liberalization” that are at the very root of the crisis, further “liberalizing” an already completely deregulated economy. They refused to apply (a healthy) anti-cyclical intervention, adding up to the already enormous public and private debt in Europe, while they further increased social inequality and poverty in the continent. In addition, in some “pilot”-states they dismantled in a radical way social welfare state and undermined, in an equally radical way, democracy. They established a deeply unequal and even colonialist relationship within the European Union.

For half a century the major  argument of the West against “Soviet communism” was the welfare, the high living standards, security and public liberties enjoyed by Western citizens and consumers. Third world countries were asked to follow the example of developed western countries, not that of communism, in order to raise their standards reaching gradually western levels.

Already with the fall of Soviet communism in 1989-1991, large parts of the once “Socialist  world” have fallen to the “Third world”. A new wall has replaced the fallen Berlin Wall in Europe – a taller if invisible “Wall of Money”. After the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008-09, for the first time in history, the issue of the Third world was reversed. We do not look any more for ways of approaching “Third” to the “First” World, to its level of prosperity and freedoms. In the name of “competitivity”, the dominant forces in our continent are searching for ways of approaching the standards of the “First” to the social and political standards of the “Third World”! Forces of capital, especially of the financial capital, and their political representatives, are now asking European people to abandon their most significant social, political and cultural achievements. Debt mechanism and “troikas” of creditors take over the government of sovereign countries and tend to
 nullify the nominally still democratic political and state institutions of Europe – the very same institutions that the West was so proud of in its war against Socialism during the Cold War era. Even in countries without “troikas”, national parliaments and governments are either directly dependent on Finance, or they are legislating under the sword of Damocles of a manipulated market “automaticity” of the “Markets”, in fact of a world “Empire of Finance” ruled by the big families of the Wealth substituting now the Kings of the era before the French revolution.

The situation we described above represents the most serious threat against living standards, popular sovereignty, social, but also political, human and national rights of European peoples which has appeared after the Second World War and the victory over fascism. Not only was the economic and social crisis not dealt with, thus threatening to come back much stronger than in 2008-09, but this very crisis has been used and it is used against European peoples in accordance with the classic neoliberal “shock strategy”. The countries of European periphery, in fact half of Europe, have witnessed an unprecedented regression. In the case of Greece, a test-subject state for the whole continent, the economic and social destruction that took place as a direct consequence of a neo-colonial administration by a “troika” of Creditors and an Orwellian program of so called financial “rescue”, has already reached, in terms of GDP fall and unemployment, the historic records of the Great Depression in the U.S.A. and the Weimar Republic of the period just before the rise of Hitler to power. And all this happened without achieving at least a reduction of the country’s public debt. Greek sovereign debt has increased by nearly 50% as percentage of GDP, between 2010 and 2014. Even more important than the material were the moral losses in the Greek case, the use of methods reminding us of Kafka to crash any self-confidence and self-esteem of the Greek people, its belief to its capacity to govern himself, that is the very foundation of democratic claim in modern times. 

In reality, an alliance between the higher classes of “Euro-Germany” and the global “Empire of Money” with the assistance of institutions like IMF, ECB and the European Commission, has used the crisis to undermine the basic rights of the European citizens that were gained after their victory over fascism in 1945, if not the achievements of the Enlightenment and the great European revolutions. We witness in fact the beginning of a deep moral and cultural “counterrevolution” in Europe, which is planned to lay the foundations for the Rule of Finance in the continent. A rule by the monstrous, irrational, backward and totalitarian forces of Finance – a Finance that has now little to do with value, production, society and Man. If this “counterrevolution” doesn’t meet shortly the resistance of the people, we are in danger of facing a new and perilous form of post-modern  totalitarianism, the likes of which has been described by writers such as Zamyatin, Huxley, Orwell or Kafka.    


“Markets” and, behind them, those who control the big financial capital, put European peoples in front of the danger either to be forced to submit to a European Union which is becoming a substructure of a totalitarian “Empire of Money”, either to face the offensive of the Markets in a separate, weak and unequal way. At the same time, an alliance of neoconservatives (the most extremist forces of international establishment, directly responsible for the wars, the chaos and the destruction of almost all the Arab world), and of a wing of the American “deep state” (Brzezinski), has greatly contributed, through its interventions in the internal affairs of Ukraine, to ignite the fire of a civil war at the very heart of Europe, shaking up in a very strong way the relations between Western Europe and Russia. We have to go back to the Berlin crisis in order to find such a hostile atmosphere in Europe. Even at the time of Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev the West had better relations with Russia than it has today! As for the big European media, which are also controlled by a financial oligarchy, they have launched a vicious campaign against Moscow at a level reminiscent of the Cold War, reflecting indeed the great regression of democracy in our societies. 

Since the time that President De Gaulle was talking about a Europe “from the Atlantic to the Urals”, or Chancellor Willy Brandt was adopting the famous Ostpolitik, or Chirac, Schröder and Putin were uniting against US warmongering in Iraq, the entente between East and West in Europe has been the most important precondition for European prosperity and independence. On the contrary, “war debts” inside EU, the civil war in Ukraine and the cold war against Russia can have only one possible outcome if they continue to worsen and deepen, and that outcome will be to facilitate the domination of external powers in the European continent – as was the case in the First and Second World War. The ever worsening intra-European conflicts, in concert with the “war against the European welfare state”, the most important achievement of European civilization, and against European democracy, pave the way for a Europe dominated by the powers of Finance and the U.S.A.

While all this is happening, the dominant forces of European Social Democracy, of trade unions, of social movements, but also the political forces which represented in history a relative European dignity, independence and some social sensitivity (like the French Gaullism for instance) look to have entered an age of deep decline. Either they submit themselves to the power of Finance, or they look unable to define an effective strategy to counter its plans, being desperately limited to a national context which is in the long term inappropriate for confronting a financial oligarchy disposing an integrated regional and global strategy and the corresponding means.  By the way, this is one of the most fundamental differences we have with the extreme right, which often appropriates in a demagogic way the notions of Nation and of People, arguing that there can be an exclusively national solution to the problems created by the international offensive of Finance on a European and a world level. This is not said to deny to a country or a group of countries, put in an unsustainable position, to look for an immediate “national” solution to their problems. It means that we hardly can hope for a lasting, sustainable solution “in one and only one country”. Such a solution requires at least to be found at the level of several European countries.

Under such conditions it was long ago necessary to coordinate much better the forces wishing to really resist this unprecedented attack against European civilization. But unfortunately we seem to remain still in a situation not much better than during the first years of the First World War, when the large majority of the European socialist movement was giving ground to the warmongering sirens and was voting enthusiastically the war credits. Back then, it was only a handful of socialists, who stayed true to the idea of peace and met at the historical conferences of Zimmerwald, Kendall and Stockholm to face and confront the manslaughter. Precisely as a century ago the majority of European politicians  had not resisted militaristic policies of capitalist governments, in our days a very large part of the political forces of our continent has already surrendered to the Empire of Money. This fact makes extremely imperative the need for the forces which oppose this direction to meet again, trying to coordinate their action and work towards the elaboration of a European alternative to liberal globalization and “capitalism of the catastrophe”, in order to give courage to the peoples who receive the bulk of the offensive of the financial capital. 

It is extremely important to create an overall alternative proposal for Europe (Keynesianism, protectionism, social and environmental “supplementation” of Maastricht, banks and derivatives, the future of growth). We should answer to what must be done in the case of the failing “debt colonies”, Greece and Cyprus, to the  issue of debt, to discuss in a deeper way the question “in or out of Europe”, to see if we can propose a different, alternative structure for EU and its political institutions, how to struggle for a social and ecological Maastricht, for an independent Europe, friend and parter of Russians.


There is a need to create a stable, permanent, open network for ideas and actions, of a European scope, where we will be able continuously to discuss issues as the aforementioned ones, without excluding a priori any ideas or people, with the participation of politicians, militants, trade unionists, intellectuals, scientists, personalities and movements holding similar ideas.

If we fail, if we prove unable to raise a wall of resistance against the marching totalitarianism of the markets, then it is very likely that a possible new wave of the financial crisis will lead to new forms of authoritarianism, totalitarianism and fascism. And also to new wars in Europe, whether financial or conventional, cold or hot. Such an evolution will greatly help the dominance of totalitarian forms of global governance, or a geopolitical and environmental chaos over the entire planet, or both!


Dimitris Konstantakopoulos




November 2014

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