Yanis Varoufakis: “It is time for Europe’s humanists to reclaim Europe”
Last year, I came to La Fete with a message from Greece. The Athens Spring had just been crushed by the Troika because Europe’s Establishment was planning to bring the Troika to Paris.
Since then, the Troika has come to Paris. Labour Laws have been passed by Presidential decree. Civil liberties have been diminished. And the magnificent people of Paris responded with Nuit Debout.
Yes, it’s true, Greece was the laboratory of misanthropy. And France must be the battleground where misanthropy is defeated.
Why are we here? We are here because we are humanists in an age of misanthropy.
We are here because the French are asphyxiating. The Greeks are asphyxiating. The Austrians, the Germans, the Spanish, the Portuguese are asphyxiating. All of Europe is asphyxiating.
We are here because our people are asphyxiating in a Europe that is disintegrating.
And our people will go on asphyxiating as long as Europe is disintegrating. And Europe will go on disintegrating as long as our people are asphyxiating.
So, we are here to stop the asphyxiation of our people, to stop the disintegration of Europe. A disintegration that feeds the beast of our era’s Great Deflation which, as in the 1930s, breeds xenophobia, racism, and nationalism.
We are here to minimise the human cost from the idiotic handling of this Europe’s inevitable crisis. It is only this that brings us here: An Urge. A Duty: To minimise the cost of human suffering. Our task is simple: Our duty is to do whatever it takes for people’s faces to lose their worry lines.
Let’s have no illusions. We are faced with determined, well-organised adversaries who do not put the good of humanity first. Who want only one thing: business as usual and a world that allows them to make endless amounts of money using the rest of humanity as a tool for doing so.
They are not persuaded by rational argument. They are not sensitive to ethical example. They loathe democracy. They know they can intimidate a large majority of humanity. But in their arrogance, like a stupid virus, their business as usual is destroying the organism they depend on.
Their business-as-usual is responsible for Europe’s disintegration.
Their business-as-usual is responsible for planet Earth’s slow ecological death.
Their business-as-usual is responsible for the fear and the hatred that is becoming again, like in the 1930s, the dominant political force on this planet.
So, this is why we are here. DiEM25, the movement that began with the crushing of the Athens Spring, before spreading all over Europe, is here. We are here determined to pay any price, bear any burden, oppose any enemy of humanity’s hopes. We are here to defend the French ideals of liberty, fraternity and equality and add to them hope, rationality, diversity, tolerance and, of course, democracy.
But, we must not be complacent. We must not fall in love with ourselves. We are nowhere near success. We are in the middle of capitalism’s worst crisis since 1929. And yet the forces of progress, the Left, genuine liberals, Greens, are defeated everywhere.
The defeat of our Athens Spring was globally significant. Podemos has lost momentum in Spain. The misanthropic Right is rising everywhere. New electrified fences are popping up across the continent. Hope’s candle is trembling in the cold wind of nationalism. In 2017, unless we perform a miracle, France will have a President even more reactionary than the sad Mr Hollande.
Why is this? Why have Europeans not turned to Progressives at the time of crisis? My answer: It is OUR fault. It is the fault of the Progressives, of the Left, of democrats, liberals and Greens alike.
Think about it: As capitalism is going through a major spasm, the Right is becoming passionate, vibrating with an anti-Establishment fervour that was, until recently, the preserve of the Left. Trump turns against TTIP, British Tories and Hungary’s Orban against the EU’s antidemocratic practices, Le Pen in defence of a working class abandoned by a failing euro and an absent Left.
Politics is undergoing a shake-up that the world has not seen since the 1930s. A Great Deflation is now gripping both sides of the Atlantic, re-kindling political forces that had been dormant for eight decades.
Passion is returning to politics – but not in the way we had hoped. Passion is now fuelling misanthropy. And it is our job to stop this. It is our job to harness passion for the benefit of humanism.
To do this we must first understand what is happening. Yes, the Left versus Right, labour versus capital distinction, is always relevant. BUT, Europe is now split into two blocs that have nothing to do with Left or Right.
One bloc represents the old Troika of globalization, financialization and neoliberalism. It is still in power, although its power is fading fast – as Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel, and David Cameron can confirm. The post-surrender Greek government, who are now serving the same Troika, can confirm this too. The European Commission. They are in office, but they are losing their power and legitimacy.
The other bloc, opposing the Global Troika of globalization, financialization and neoliberalism, is what I call the Nationalist International. Britain’s Brexiters, Poland’s and Hungary’s governments, the Alternativ für Deutschland, the despicable crypto-fascist that may become Austria’s next president and, of course, Marine Le Pen – a Wall of Xenophobic Nationalism is rising up against the global Troika riding on the coat-tails of our Great Deflation.
The trouble with the clash between the Global Troika and the Nationalist International is that it is both real and misleading. Brexit showed that it is real. Yet it is misleading because the Global Troika and the Nationalist International are accomplices, not enemies.
The Global Troika and the Nationalist International are just reflections of our Great Deflation – of the deep crisis of European capitalism.
To break this Unholy Alliance, we need a Progressive Internationalism. It is this Progressive International that DiEM25 is building in Europe.
DiEM25 is here with a solid agenda for progressive change.
DiEM25 is here to oppose business as usual – like we did in Athens, like we do at Nuit Debout – in every village and every city throughout Europe.
DiEM25 is here to oppose the social democrats’ calls for ‘more Europe’. Under the present EU regime and institutions, ‘more Europe’ and gradual reforms, will result into the legalisation of Europe’s Austerity Union.
What Hollande and his people are calling for is, essentially, a speeding up of the Schäuble Plan for a fake federation that turns Europe into a permanent iron cage.
DiEM25 is here ALSO to oppose those on the Left who want us to adopt the Nationalist International’s objective of dismantling the European Union
DiEM25 offers the only genuine antidote to those who claim, falsely, that in the European Union there is no alternative – the euro-TINA dogma:
- At the national level, a progressive French, Greek, Spanish, Italian government should offer the people a comprehensive Plan A – a glimpse of how, under the current system, hope can return to the nation.
- At the same time, a progressive national government must have a Deterrence Plan in place for when the ECB and the troika respond to the progressive government’s Plan A with threats of bank closures, liquidity squeezes etc.
- And, lastly, a progressive national government must have a plan in place for when/if the ‘centre’ engineers an expulsion from the Eurozone.
These are the three Plans that I had when in Greece’s finance ministry – Plans A,B&X my team used to refer to them. Now we need governments everywhere willing to stick to them.
This is what DiEM25 proposes at the national level.
At the pan-Europen level, DiEM25 believes that we must offer Europeans a European Plan A for Europe. A Progressive Agenda for Europe. A European New Deal – a glimpse of how, in a few weeks, under the current Treaties, hope, development and democracy can make a comeback.
At the same time, DiEM25 is preparing a Plan for managing as well and as smoothly as it is possible the disintegration of the Eurozone and of the EU.
To summarise, DiEM25 is adamant that:
- We lead with a Plan A everywhere, at the national level and the pan-European level: A Plan A, or European New Deal
- That we prepare a Deterrence Plan to confront the Troika’s threats
- And that we prepare a pan-European plan for managing the disintegration of Europe that will surely come if the Deep Establishment manages to reject our Plan.
The EU will be democratised. Or it will disintegrate!
We, the members of the Democracy in Europe Movement, will bombard them with rationality – with constructive proposals – with economic plans that are modest, practical and can be implemented tomorrow.
We will shower them with moderation.
But we will also look at them in the eye, ready to say to them when they threaten us like the troika threatened me in 2015:
Bring it on!
We shall not retreat!
Europe’s future depends on us resisting your incompetent authoritarianism.
If they say to us “You must accept business-as-usual or leave the European Union, leave the euro”, we answer: “We are not going anywhere!” “YOU LEAVE!”
To their business-as-usual we respond with CONSTRUCTIVE DISOBEDIENCE. WITH A COMBINATION OF MODEST PROPOSALS AND DISOBEDIENCE. This is what humanism demands of us today.
To our comrades who urge us to adopt EXIT as an objective, I ask them:
Do you truly believe that, today, the Left can win the battle for hegemony against the xenophobic Right by endorsing the Right’s call for building new fences and ending free movement?
But enough for now. It is now time to get down to work!
DiEM25 has already began work on compiling a Progressive Agenda for Europe, a Green New Deal for Europe.
A committee of top economists is already at work. Next week, on our website, we shall announce our work on the euro, investment, banks, fighting poverty, dealing with debt. And YOU will be invited to participate.
By February 2017, our Green New Deal for Europe Policy Paper will be ready in draft form. And then all of us will come back to Paris, in the last week of February.
- To present our pragmatic, radical and comprehensive economic policy proposals to the people of France.
- To put our New Deal for Europe Policy Paper to the Presidential candidates.
- And to ask them: Will you adopt it? And if not, why not?
- This is how DiEM25 will work in every European country.
- This is how DiEM25 works toward a Progressive International. Towards a Pan-European Alliance of democrats, socialists, liberals, Greens, feminists, utopians who understand that the only alternative is a dystopia.
For too long we have allowed, France, Greece, Germany, all of Europe to be governed by “accident and force”, rather than by “reflection and choice.”
For too long we have allowed what was once the Enlightenment to fade “into darkness.”
It is time for Europe’s humanists to reclaim Europe.
PARIS, 10th September 2016
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