A Social Europe Must Be A Political Europe

Leonid Afremov(…..) This historic framework is important to keep it in mind when one discusses how to confront the present existential threat. A shift from top-down to bottom-up, yes, but how, what does it even mean? Take, for example, Beppe Grillo’s campaign for a total destruction of the ancien régime and dawn of a new, benevolent, populist order in Italy. History is full of warnings against this apocalyptic scenario. The Bottom-up brings spontaneity, which is important, but the fury and rage, frustration and despair which are floating all over Europe, the spectre that haunts the continent, needs organization + canalization towards concrete political goals aiming for more equality. Social protest must be given a political target; a target that can respond to the protest. Protest needs a voice, and the voice needs a listener who can act. Currently, European Union has none. The Commission and the Council are stuck in their legacies of opaque conclaves: no radical re-foundation can be expected to stem from there. More of the same will not break down the dictatorship of the financial markets. The Commission and the Council are de-legitimized in the eyes of too many European citizens, their recent U-turn from ritual invocations of the markets to a new language describing them as Europe’s most dangerous enemy, which has to be fought with bazookas and firewalls, is simply too big a conversion to impress. New desperate language is an expression of a paralysis rather than of the ability to act. When the leaders return from their overnight weekend meetings contemplating how to appease the markets, and then proceed to describe the situation as alternativlos, without alternatives, one can almost hear Carl Schmitt echoing from a dark past. They have overstretched the legal framework of the EU, which makes the situation dangerous, and themselves helpless. This is why new impulse must come from European Parliament, but through political rather than institutional reform. EP must be the forum to think about a more social Europe. The disembedding of the market forces, to use Karl Polanyi’s strong metaphor, must be met with their political reembedding, and the architecture of this new regulation must be designed through political contention and debate in the EP. There is no other forum for this necessary step towards a new Europe. It is scandalous failure of European left that it has neglected to identify and define European solidarity. The left has been stuck in its national happiness and hubris, and is now harvesting growing nationalism, which can only be confronted through concerted European action. This action must overcome mere anti-nationalism, and outline the credible contours of a new regulative order for social Europe. Such an agenda requires new European parties in true sense of the word, European election lists, constituencies and election campaigns of a new kind, where the issue of a social Europe and European solidarity are given a prominent place. To do this, EP must first stand for itself and demand a new place in the architecture of the EU. The current situation is scandalous: when Deutsche Bank director Ackermann advised the Council on bank crisis in a meeting, as always closed to the public, the Speaker of European Parliament was refused entry. The failure of the European left cannot be blamed on some inherent systemic logic. It is a failure of human agency. Only human agency, a push towards a more social conception of the economy, can save Europe. The markets are man-made, not self-playing pianos or inevitable historical facts. It is clear social reform through a stronger EP requires economic reform. A social Europe must be built on a strong, efficient economy. Plans for economic efficiency in a social Europe must necessarily confront the myth of Germany as only model to follow. The discussion on German economic efficiency has totally missed the critical question of the price of this efficiency; declining labour standards, rock-bottom wages, general employment insecurity through outsourcing. The Hartz concept cannot be a model for Europe. Economic efficiency must be defined in other ways (…..)

Link: http://www.opendemocracy.net/bo-str%C3%A5th/social-europe-must-be-political-europe

Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

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