Mathew D. Rose: Carpe “DiEM 25,” and Democratizing Europe

Lambert here: It’s interesting to see what Varoufakis has come up with now, and I read the DiEM 25 Manifesto. I’m not getting a lot of clarity on “Who, Whom”; that is, who, exactly, is preventing Europe from being democratized?

By Mathew D. Rose, a freelance journalist in Berlin

“The wind of change is blowing through this continent. Whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact.” These words of former British Prime Minister Harald Macmillan in 1960 with regard to Africa are just as applicable to Europe today. It is incontrovertible that a change is not only coming, it is already here. If this is a positive development depends much upon what ensues.

On the one side we have the ultra-right nationalist parties, the most prominent being the Front National in France and UKIP in the United Kingdom, which have not yet had the political breakthrough that was feared. In Scandinavia and the Netherlands there are a number of nationalist conservative parties that are strongly influencing the policies of their nations. More salient are Fidesz in Hungary and the Law and Justice party in Poland, both of whom are in government.

On the other hand there are leftist parties, such as the newly elected government in Portugal, as well as a surging Podemos is Spain. Add to this an increasing leftist awakening in Britain’s Labour Party trying to wrest power from Tony Blair’s venal votaries. I am intentionally excluding Syriza in Greece for the time being, yet believe we have not heard the last from the Greek people.

Last but not least there are the nationalist governments of Catalonia and Scotland, representing a broad political spectrum. There are many more parties, groups and movements forming in Europe, all of which I cannot mention within the framework of this piece, who are together altering the political map of the EU — for better or for worse.

All may not bear the label “nationalist”, but they all have something in common: their resistance to the political programme of the EU, better said, pitting the welfare of their own populace against the hegemony of Germany and its brutal neo-liberal blueprint.

A case in point is the issue of the refusal of many east European EU member states, which are unwilling or not happy about accepting refugees currently fleeing to Europe. Explanations, such as a lack of contact with foreigners or racism, doubtlessly play a role. More important is the fact that most citizens of these nations have been the victims of Germany’s policy of austerity for the EU. They have not experienced the prosperity that was supposed to be part of EU membership, unlike a small corrupt elite in their nation. They have lost faith in the EU, distrustful of any new measures coming from Brussels, correctly fearing a worsening of their own plight. Why should they welcome destitute refugees, when they themselves are destitute, with little perspective except migrating to the wealthy nations of the EU often to work for pittance, leaving behind their families, communities and culture? They too have become refugees, wandering through Europe in an attempt to keep body and soul together. I do not wish to be an apologist for xenophobia, but it is a label that often conceals relevant issues. Ambivalence, scepticism and outright antagonism towards the EU have become ubiquitous through large swathes of the populations of member states.

Enter a most unexpected figure. Most politicians who suffer a crushing defeat either fade away or lead an emotional, often irrational struggle to vindicate their reputation. Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s former Finance Minister, has instead started a remarkable offensive against the institutions that are responsible not only for one of the most nefarious political and financial events in the history of the European Union, but also for a perversion of the European dream.

On 9 February Varoufakis launched the movement “Democracy in Europe Movement 25” (DiEM 25) in Berlin, the capital of his principle enemy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkWwUG0p89Y&feature=iv&src_vid=cd4Owt05-ZM&annotation_id=annotation_767904811) . In its manifesto (http://diem25.org/) DiEM 25 discerns a rather stark alternative facing the EU: “The choice between authentic democracy and insidious disintegration.” In his speech at the launch of DiEM 25 Varoufakis went further, claiming that Europe was on the verge of a “postmodern version of the 1930’s” with the recrudescence of nationalism, extremism and racism resulting in dissolution of the European Union. Responsible for the crisis according to Varoufakis and the other speakers at Berlin’s Volksbahne is a phalanx of EU politicians and their accomplices in national governments together with financial and industrial conglomerates. The victim is the demos, the people, of Europe. Not only is democracy being sacrificed at the altar of  an “opaque decision-making process” of the EU government, but also the social and material welfare, as well as the health of the EU’s populace in the name of austerity.

Probably Varoufakis knows better than the other speakers, which included leftist members of the European Parliament of various parties, activists from Spain, among others, what lies behind the forces that rule the EU. If one has followed his interviews since he resigned as Finance Minister, he has provided explicit glimpses into the abyss, be it in fragments. Things look much worse than many of us feared. The EU is not beset by chaos, or just kicking the can down the road, but has a clear plan for destruction of democracy and social gains of post-war Europe.

In its manifesto DiEM 25 sees the European Union member states confronted with only two alternatives: a “retreat into the cocoon of our nations-states or the surrender to the Brussels democracy-free zone”? DiEM 25 offers a third path: re-democratising Europe.

One wonders, if this analysis is too fatalistic with regards to nationalism. Probably one of the great surges of democratisation in the EU in this millennium was Scotland’s plebiscite. The vote may have been lost, but Scottish society has as a result been politicised, especially in those classes that had long lost their political voice. Of course the Scots could now go on and campaign for the re-democratising of the United Kingdom, whose politics make those of the EU look humane, or they can achieve independence — and it is around the corner — and serve as a tangible example of a Europe of the demos. The same process seems to be playing itself out in Catalonia.

Probably the most sanguine moments of the DiEM 25 evening in Berlin were the speakers from Spain’s recently elected anti-austerity, activist municipal governments of Barcelona and La Coruña. These victories are the result of political processes that may not be saving the rest of Europe, but are certainly providing a palpable respite for many of the cities’ denizens from the ravages of neo-liberalism.

DiEM 25’s concept is the creation of a very, very broad pan-European coalition of democrats, a political movement, not a party, to “forge a common agenda, and then find ways of connecting it with local communities and at the regional and national level.” This coalition, so Varoufakis, should contain “radical democrats, left wing democrats, social democrats, green democrats and liberal democrats”; all those who wish to put the demos back in democracy. How broad this coalition should be was demonstrated by the speakers from Germany. Most are elements of the status quo, not the forces of change.

Such an extensive coalition may well be necessary, as the 19 “aspirations” of DiEM 25’s manifesto not only entails a re-democratisation of Europe, but a political revolution. Its goal of creating a new, democratic constitution for the European Union is to be achieved by 2025, thus the 25 in the organisation’s name. The first step has already been defined: “Full transparency in decision-making.” This includes live-streaming sessions of important EU bodies, such as the EU Council and the Euro group among others; the publishing of the European Central Bank’s minutes and documents pertinent to crucial negotiations (e.g. trade-TTIP, “bailout” loans, Britain’s status); and, a comprehensive register of EU lobbyists. Following a number of intermediate steps 2025 is to see the “Enactment of the decisions of the Constitutional Assembly.”

At the conclusion of the event in Berlin members of the audience fielded questions. One of the first was how to proceed from here and now? Varoufakis’s answer was to organise assemblies for democracy in Europe’s cities, which seemed a bit vague for Germans, a nation of panglossians, where all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Varoufakis brought together many impressive intellectuals from throughout Europe to thrash out DiEM 25’s priorities. Germany’s intellectuals however are seen by many here as of doubtful integrity and being too close to power, as most of them are employed or financed by the state or have joined the predominant political parties to enhance their careers. The major German unions are considered more a force of repression, not emancipation. The wind of change in Germany is currently at best a slight breeze. In other nations that are bearing the brunt of German hegemony things are looking very different.

Yanis Varoufakis is probably not a great pragmatist and during negotiations with the EU did little to help his own people. Maybe he never had a chance. Maybe he did not know how to use the one he had. On the other hand, he may end up being one of the great European political thinkers of this decade. What Varoufakis may not comprehend is that DiEM 25 will not lead the forces of change in Europe. The Europeans have had enough of “great leaders” like Merkel, Schäuble, Juncker, Cameron and all the others. Still, DiEM 25 may well be a major influence as the demos put itself back into democracy.

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About Lambert Strether

Lambert Strether has been blogging, managing online communities, and doing system administration 24/7 since 2003, in Drupal and WordPress. Besides political economy and the political scene, he blogs about rhetoric, software engineering, permaculture, history, literature, local politics, international travel, food, and fixing stuff around the house. The nom de plume “Lambert Strether” comes from Henry James’s The Ambassadors: “Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.” You can follow him on Twitter at @lambertstrether. http://www.correntewire.com

39 comments

    1. Steve H.

      Thank you for this, I didn’t see this when I posted my comment below. V is significantly clearer in his scope in this interview.

      However, there is something that cuts counter to the message of the post. I get the sense that he is arguing from the perspective of being a European. But the surge of national identity is a reaction to the complete integration of the EU with neoliberal policies. This helps explain why Syriza was willing to take exiting from the EU off the table quicker than Obama dumped single payer. Varoufakis is talking up local demos but is captured by the concept of a united Europe. I’m not sure those are compatible perspectives.

      1. Synoia

        This helps explain why Syriza was willing to take exiting from the EU off the table quicker than Obama dumped single payer.

        I understand the Greek Electorate wished by a large majority to remain part of the EU. It seems that dichotomy following was not well articulated.

        Syrzia had small conflict. Regain sovereignty, while continuing to be a vassal of the Euro Zone.

        And no path to return to the drachma, absent a huge, expensive and lengthy IT effort – many of which fail.

        It would have been interesting if the Greeks had taken the German offer to exit from the Eurozone with the condition that the Germans pay for the bank system conversion back to the Drachma. I wonder how quickly the Germans would backed off from that large IT expense.

      2. susan the other

        i always get that feeling about varoufakis – he is not a nationalist, but a democrat in the first sense. and he wants europe to be so too. i often wonder if europe has been such a high bastion of progress and privilege (and colonialism) that they really distain demos… regardless of the security it creates.

  1. Keith

    You reap, what you sow.

    Einstein’s definition of madness “Doing the same thing again and again and expecting to get a different result”.

    For the rational amongst us, what we are seeing is entirely predictable:

    1920s/2000s – high inequality, high banker pay, low regulation, low taxes for the wealthy, robber barons (CEOs), reckless bankers, globalisation phase

    1929/2008 – Wall Street crash

    1930s/2010s – Global recession, currency wars, rising nationalism and extremism.

    When you let reckless bankers off the leash, everyone suffers.

    In the 1940s you get global war, something to look forward to.

    1. Synoia

      Those who don’t know their history are condemned to repeat it.

      I believe these people do know their history, but hope to kick the shit storm down the road.

  2. Moneta

    Varoufakis had the guts to stand in front of a moving train.

    Change does not happen with 1 person, it happens one idea and one person at a time, building momentum. And when the tipping point is reached, the one in power reaps all the glory just because he/she is at the right place, at the right time, with the right package… I guess we humans just can’t live without heroes.

    After the war, Germany and Japan got propped up by the US, creating a huge disequilibrium in Europe. Many dish the weak countries not thinking about how the US contributed to growing this discrepancy in productivity.

    The common link in this global monetary disaster is giant US tentacles.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I agree that Varoufakis should be respected for his courage in stepping forward for Greece, even he was part and parcel of the deluded Syriza notion that they had some sort of leverage over north European governments.

      But I think its going too far to blame the US for current problems in Europe. For all its faults, at least deep down the US (and UK) establishment knew austerity was a con and so never followed through all the way. Europe is hamstrung by what can only be considered a weird German led pathological obsession with a moralistic housekeeping notion of economics which has to potential to drag everyone (including the Germans) down with it. The Finns, where were even harder line that the Germans are now suffering badly in recession, they may well not be the only north European country to find out the logical end point of refusing to accept the logical requirement for fiscal expansion, public capital investment, and fiscal transfers within Europe.

      1. Moneta

        From my understanding, the US supported the re-industrialization of Germany after the war… Had this industrialization effort been a little more spread out, perhaps Italy, Greece or Spain would be a little more competitive today…

        The US might not be to blame but it played a significant role in getting all these countries in a pickle.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          They certainly supported re-industrialisation (after initially testing the idea of the exact opposite), but the Marshall Plan was aimed at all the former combatants, although curiously the Plan did not include writing off UK war debts – something that crippled the UK economy for many years. It was often argued that Germany benefited from essentially starting from scratch in building up a modern economy – it had all the know-how for engineering, but wasn’t burdened with lots of out of date plant, unlike the UK and France.

          There was a satirical film made in 1955 based on the premise that the Marshall Plan only helped warlike nations – it was called the Mouse that Roared, about a fictional mini-country which decided that the only way they could get aid from the US was to invade. So the notion that the Marshall Plan was a bit unfair goes back a long way. But I really don’t see what relevance it has to modern Europes problems.

            1. different clue

              And how exactly was America supposed to “germandustrialize” countries which were not “germandustrial” to begin with before the war?

          1. EmilianoZ

            IIRC, Varoufakis had a post here (he was still persona grata back then) that said that the US plan was for Germany to become the industrial powerhouse and for the rest of Europe to be the customers. There was a similar plan for Japan with the US being the customer.

            According to Oliver Stone’s “Untold History”, FDR and Stalin agreed that Germany, having already caused two WW, must be de-industrialized and returned to the agricultural life. FDR’s death should be a national day of celebration in Germany. Truman was a classic anti-commie. Of course, the country he wanted to reinforce most was the country the Russians feared the most.

        2. susan the other

          I think you are right. We were so freaked out by the devastation of WW2 that we were even freaked out by our own brutality. Leaving us in a quandry for the next 75 years. Because they could do to us what we had done to them. It was just a matter of time unless integration could be achieved. Our MIC ruled. We practiced palliative solutions and used Germany to keep some stability. The europeans never really liked us but they had no choice and that shows up now as we panic over the possibility of the EU trading with and becoming closer with Russia and Asia. Becoming democratic.

          1. different clue

            Many ordinary Americans would not mind if Europe dissolved NATO and created its own NEATO ( North East Atlantic Treaty Organization). That would be part of the independent-mindedness which would also show up in NEATO Europe deepening trade-and-culture ties with East Europe and Russia.

            A Europe unwilling to distance itself from NATO is also unwilling to distance itself from a US-centric political and economic orientation. This is a choice which Europeans are free to make.

            1. digi_owl

              The biggest issue there is that Turkey has the biggest standing army after USA in NATO.

              You would need to add up the next 5-6 members to match Turkey’s contribution, never mind USA.

            1. Vatch

              Franco’s Spain didn’t get anything, but they didn’t fight in WWII. Greece and Turkey were the first nations to get a significant amount of assistance, although I don’t know how much they got.

              Of course you are referring to the current financial crisis in those countries, so I guess I’m not really responding to your comment, but, whatever.

          1. Yves Smith

            The US gets more credit for the Marshall Plan than it deserves.

            A massive amount of flight capital had come from Europe to the US, far more than could every be deployed in the US. We were just recycling that $.

            Having said that, it was still way more forward thinking than anything our leadership seems capable of now.

  3. Steve H.

    – Yanis Varoufakis is probably not a great pragmatist

    On the vanguard of a recrudescence of postmodernism.

    He’s giving up his leverage of credibility, which is in finance, by diddling in politics. Yves punched CalPERS mismanagers in the teeth by knowing what she was talking about. The Bank Whistleblowers United superfriends are talking politics, but within their frame of expertise.

    DiEM25 looks like a fun club. I’d hang with Brian Eno. We could sing songs about freedom. I was a member of the Banana Splits club when I was a kid. But one credible local victory in a financially oppressed region is more important than a stageful of songsters for the revolution.

    “One banana, two banana, three banana, four…”

  4. Cybill

    Interesting counter-argument with concrete theoretical backup on Diem25;s and Varoufakis’ “Democracy” and their misinformation concerning the very nature of the EU and the Transnational Elite, the role of the neo-nationalist movements in Europe and how to truly transcend pseudo-Democracy of Varoufakis’ type with a Democratic Community of Sovereign Nations. Worthwhile to read it even if you are not for radical change.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-diem25-manifesto-democratizing-europe-or-perpetuating-the-domination-of-the-eu-elites/5508950

    1. Steve H.

      Hmm. 31 reference notes. And this line:

      “Therefore, the ultimate aim of the process envisaged by DIEM25 is PURE DECEPTION, and Y. Varoufakis has shown in his career as a Finance Minister that he is a master of this.”

      Better documented than my thoughts, and more extreme in its conclusion. Thank you for posting this.

    2. GlobalMisanthrope

      The author of the piece you link to, Takis Fotopoulos, is a proponent of a, utopian in my view, model of economic democracy for a stateless, marketless and moneyless economy.1 He believes, therefore, that the likes of Varoufakis and the DiEM25 movement he is spear-heading, won’t bring about democracy, as he defines it. Fine. He should say so, make his arguments and leave it at that.

      Sadly, however, a close reading of the piece against the DiEM25 Manifesto reveals Fotopoulos’s trading in deceptions, misrepresentations, unsupported claims and outright lies.

      For instance, he starts right off saying that, “there is no mention [in the DiEM25 Manifesto] of the various international economic institutions which are controlled by the Transnational Elite…namely the EU, WTO, IMF and World Bank, and their role – behind the scenes – in determining the EU’s decisions.” He then goes on to quote the Manifesto as naming “The EU’s] hit-squad inspectorates and the Troika.” First of all, is it really possible that Fotopoulos doesn’t know what institutions comprise the Troika (that is, the EU, the ECB)? Or is he betting that his intended audience doesn’t? Here’s the full statement in the Manifesto:

      [The EU’s] hit-squad inspectorates and the Troika they formed together with unelected ‘technocrats’ from other international and European institutions. 2

      Fotopoulos goes on in that vain, truncating, eliding, generalizing, speculating and mischaracterizing at will. I would have to write an analysis three times as long as the Fotopoulos hatchet job in order to address all such manipulations in the piece.

      It’s worth mentioning that the piece is obviously aimed at an English-reading audience that doesn’t understand the basics of EU history and, in particular, its history since 2008. My wife assures me (she’s French) that Fotopoulos’s disinformation would jump off the screen to any European who reads English at that level unless they already agreed with his ideological position.

      1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takis_Fotopoulos
      2. https://diem25.org/

      1. GlobalMisanthrope

        In a cut-and-paste error, I omitted the IMF from my list of institutions comprising the Troika.

        1. Cybill

          Slicing the writing of an author in order to extract some supposed (and much-needed) “contradiction” is an unfair way to argument. You read very selectively the related thesis of Diem25 and that of Fotopoulos in favor of a globalist liberal “leftist” perspective, because F., –if you read the para you mention, as a whole, and not selectively,– criticizes indeed the fact that Varoufakis’ “problem” and rationale with these institutions is that they comprise of…”unelected ‘technocrats’”, -and not the very nature of these institutions that inherently don’t give space for democratic decision making (political, economic and cultural, as Fotopoulos stresses). And this because, from their very nature, they impose concentration of economic and other power–this assumption has not much to do with the question whether their technocrats are “elected” or not as you simplistically miscontrue Fotopoulos’ thesis. This is why he stresses that the very issue of Varoufakis’ manifesto rationale is that it deliberately neglects….

          >>…who the elites exercising economic power are and what their role in manipulating the decision-making process of the EU.
          That is, there is not a single word about the Transnational Corporations (TNCs), particularly those of European origin like the European Round Table of Industrialists, which consists of the main Transnational Corporations (TNCs) running the EU.
          Similarly, there is no mention of the various international economic institutions which are controlled by the Transnational Elite (i.e. the elites that are based in the G7 countries), namely the EU, WTO, IMF and World Bank, and their role – behind the scenes – in determining the EU’s decisions (economic and political as well as cultural).
          In fact, the Manifesto does everything possible to stress the supposedly purely political nature of the “democracy” (which it mostly identifies with human rights!), as when it points out that “the European Union was an exceptional achievement…proving that it was possible to create a shared framework of human rights across a continent that was, not long ago, home to murderous chauvinism, racism and barbarity”.
          Even when the Manifesto tries to allude to economic elites, again it does not put the blame on the vastly unequal distribution of economic power on which the EU elites thrive, but on the unequal distribution of political power which, supposedly, makes it possible for the economic elites to exercise their power <<

          1. Cybill

            That was for a misrepresentation of the article.

            The rest of the “arguments” GlobalMisanthrope used is comprised of a series of unfortunate aphorisms and generalizations, which show the commentator has no clue of Fotopoulos’ work. e.g. As about democracy (which only has a meaning if it is also economic), this is not an “idea” someone came up with in a dreamy night. There is the historical tradition of autonomy/democracy which has been progressed through the social movements for centuries. F. has tried to advance it theoretically, with references to existing tendencies and according to the developments of our era (globalization etc.) into a new emancipatory project, the Inclusive Democracy project. All this came after loads of dialogue and contemplation with radical socialist libertarian thinkers and activists for 25 years (e.g. in the journal “Democracy and Nature” et al. )

      2. Cybill

        Slicing the writing of an author in order to extract some supposed (and obviously, much-needed) “contradiction” is an unfair way to argument. You read very selectively the related thesis of Diem25 and that of Fotopoulos in favor of a globalist liberal “leftist” perspective, because F., -if you read as a whole the para you mention and not selectively,- criticizes the very fact that Varoufakis’ “problem” and rationale with these institutions is that they comprise of…”unelected ‘technocrats'” -and not the very nature of these institutions that inherently don’t give space for democratic decision making (political and economic and cultural, as Fotopoulos stresses). And this because they impose concentration of economic and other power–this is something which has little to do with the question whether their technocrats are “elected” or not as you simplistically miscontrue F. thesis. This is why F. stresses that the very issue of Varoufakis’ manifesto rationale is that it deliberately neglects…

        1. Cybill

          For some reason the complete para from Fotopoulos’ article that I am trying to quote is not showing up and is constantly “waiting for moderation”. I have not entered any indentation etc., so I can’t understand why it is not appearing. At least is it possible that it can be moderated and approved by the administrator? Thanks.

        2. Cybill

          “…who the elites exercising economic power are and what their role in manipulating the decision-making process of the EU. That is, there is not a single word about the Transnational Corporations (TNCs), particularly those of European origin like the European Round Table of Industrialists, which consists of the main Transnational Corporations (TNCs) running the EU.4
          Similarly, there is no mention of the various international economic institutions which are controlled by the Transnational Elite5 (i.e. the elites that are based in the G7 countries), namely the EU, WTO, IMF and World Bank, and their role – behind the scenes – in determining the EU’s decisions (economic and political as well as cultural).
          In fact, the Manifesto does everything possible to stress the supposedly purely political nature of the “democracy” (which it mostly identifies with human rights!), as when it points out that
          “the European Union was an exceptional achievement…proving that it was possible to create a shared framework of human rights across a continent that was, not long ago, home to murderous chauvinism, racism and barbarity”.
          Even when the Manifesto tries to allude to economic elites, again it does not put the blame on the vastly unequal distribution of economic power on which the EU elites thrive, but on the unequal distribution of political power which, supposedly, makes it possible for the economic elites to exercise their power”

          That was for a misrepresentation of the article.

          The rest of the “arguments” GlobalMisanthrope used is comprised of a series of unfortunate aphorisms and generalizations, which show the commentator has no clue of Fotopoulos’ work. e.g. As about democracy (which only has a meaning if it is also economic), this is not an “idea” someone came up with in a dreamy night. There is the historical tradition of autonomy/democracy which has been progressed through the social movements for centuries. F. has tried to advance it theoretically, with references to existing tendencies and according to the developments of our era (globalization etc.) into a new emancipatory project, the Inclusive Democracy project. All this came after loads of dialogue and contemplation with radical socialist libertarian thinkers and activists for 25 years (e.g. in the journal “Democracy and Nature” et al. )

  5. susan the other

    I do wonder if ‘demos’ is the word that the ancient greeks used to define socialism. Or the closest they could come.

  6. digi_owl

    The single biggest issue is that the rising left is the same champagne left that has embraced the EU as some kind of pan-European peace and brotherhood project.

    They are willfully blind to the disruption it cases to the workers left, because they themselves are of academic backgrounds, and thus can set up shop anywhere they have a data connection and their credit card is accepted.

    This makes them perfect pawns for finance right that wants EU’s “free trade” so that they can crush unions and squirrel away the wealth in tax havens.

    1. Minnie Mouse

      “The EU as some kind of pan-European peace and brotherhood project” turned into a maximum financial systemic risk and contagion project. Why isn’t it OK for the “nation state” to act as a defacto safety firewall feature that simply makes it a whole lot tougher for the elites to screw up everything all at once?

      1. digi_owl

        Apparently because thats nationalism, and nationalism breeds war, yada yada yada…

        Bring up the issue on sites like reddit.com/r/europe, and you are likely to be carpet bombed by anecdotes about how wonderful someones experience with the EU’s Erasmus Programme was.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erasmus_Programme

        Note though how deep one has to be into the education system to be eligible, teriary-level.

        Welcome to the elite…

  7. Strategist

    Lambert said: I’m not getting a lot of clarity on “Who, Whom”; that is, who, exactly, is preventing Europe from being democratized?

    No, and unfortunately there’s not enough clarity in Mathew Rose’s article or in the comments. People are speaking too much in code.

    Here in London Varoufakis spoke at the London School of Economics tonight. http://www.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/events/2016/02/20160221t1830vSZT.aspx I don’t know what he said yet, but I’ll post a link as & when a report comes out.

    For what it’s worth, my answer to Lambert’s question is that the forces preventing the European Union being democratised are the European Council (the committee of the elected governments of the individual countries within the union), the European Commissioners (who are appointed by the member nations’ governing parties), and the European Commission (the kind of federal civil service, who serve the European Commissioners). The only direct elections are for the European Parliament, which has no real role in deciding who is the EU’s governing executive.

    I would say that of these the biggest culprits are the European Council – the elected governments of the member nations who have a vested interest in preventing Europe-wide democratic structures forming, in particular directly-elected EU political leaders. The British Government have always fought for the EU to be a negotiation between national governments rather than a democracy with directly elected politicians with a Europe-wide mandate.

    1. TheCatSaid

      You’re right about the institutions at the heart of the dearth of democracy in the EU and EZ. It was by design. The whole European project was about vested financial interests with a fig leaf of socially progressive aspects that successfully camouflaged the underlying intent.

      The EU was anti-democratic at its very foundational level. YV is thus incorrect to speak of a “re”-democratization.

      I support any serious moves towards transparency. However I think such moves, to be effective, must start at the local and national levels (as much corruption starts at these levels), with local/national passion and commitment to transparency at these levels first, rather than from what feels like a top-down approach.

  8. sd

    I read the manifesto. This jumped out at me as a top down system that in the end would still more or less align with what exists now, just with different faces.

    European democrats must come together first, forge a common agenda, and then find ways of connecting it with local communities and at the regional and national level.

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