Can Europe make it? https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/9711/all cached version 14/02/2019 17:35:54 en Open letter to the women of the world from Leyla Güven https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/leyla-g-ven/open-letter-to-women-of-world-from-leyla-g-ven <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"All the women of the world need to be saying enough to fascism, enough to dictatorship!"</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40470374.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40470374.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Kurdish people demonstrate in Rotterdam for the liberation of Abdullah Ocalan and other political prisoners in Turkey, on January 05, 2019. Utrecht Robin/ Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>Dear Women,</p> <p>Despite our geographies being split by thousands of miles, I'm glad that you have heard my voice. Even when we are from very different corners of the world, as women, we have always recognised each other. As Hypatia says, “none of us look like one-another, but the things that unite us are greater than the things that separate us”. We are all sisters. The thing that unites us the most is our freedom struggle, our resistance against all kinds of fascism, dictatorship and the patriarchal mentality.</p> <p>Women who resist and struggle, always become symbols – Clara Zetkin, Rosa Luxemburg, the Mirabal sisters, Sakine Cansiz, Leyla Qasim and many other women become symbols through their struggle. As women, we constitute half of the world’s population. Yet, we are all oppressed. When we start fighting for our rights, we are labelled as terrorists.</p> <p>All the women of the world need to be saying enough to fascism, enough to dictatorship! </p> <p>The killing of women through domestic violence, female circumcisions, child marriages, women tried with the death sentence in prisons of Iran – Zeynab Jalalian is one of them – the Kurdish women who had their mother tongue banned, the Arab women who have fled war, all point to femicide. As women, who are prepared to die, we can stop this femicide through the connection of our struggles. For as long as we are determined in our struggle. </p> <p>Dear Sisters,</p> <p>I am a Kurdish woman. My consciousness of the injustice against women developed thanks to Mr A. Öcalan. It is through the importance of the struggle Mr Öcalan placed on women’s freedom and comradeship, that millions of women have developed strong willpower. The women experienced an awakening. And I am one of these women. I learnt to be at peace with my gender, to fight against the patriarchal mind-set, and I learnt to be a feminist. By learning from Mr Öcalan that a society will only become free when the women are free, I conducted a struggle for women’s freedom for many years and I will continue to do so.&nbsp; </p> <p>Mr Öcalan, whom I owe my own awakening to, has been locked in a room in isolation for the last 20 years. To call for a removal of the isolation of Mr Öcalan, who millions of Kurds see as representing their political will, I started a hunger strike. Mr Öcalan is an important actor in the efforts for creating peace in the Middle East and the world. As a prisoner, against both national and international law, he is denied all his rights and freedoms. </p> <p>To ask for these rights to be recognised, we as Kurdish politicians of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Democratic Society Council (DTK), called for an end of the isolation. We said such an isolation is a human rights crime. However, to silence us, theAKP (Justice and Development Party) and MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) locked many of us up in prison. They specifically targeted women. More than half the MPs imprisoned are women. The same is the case for the mayors of cities, who were put in prisons. The mentality that does not accept the quota of women in politics, implemented a policy of 60-70% quota of women in prison. </p> <p>I was in prison for about one year until I was released at the end of January on Day 79 of my hunger strike as a result of international solidarity and support. A prisoner has nothing but their own body. That is why I started this hunger strike and despite the state’s attempts to break my action, I will continue until my demand – the end of the isolation imposed on Mr Öcalan – is being met. To this end, I have written letters to European institutions that can hold Turkey accountable for its neglect of human rights and violation of international law. </p> <p>Now, along with me, in the prisons around the country, hundreds of friends, political prisoners, have started an indefinite-irreversible hunger strike. In different parts of the world, such as in front of the European Council in Strasbourg, hunger strikes are ongoing. Our health is increasingly deteriorating in the face of this global silence. </p> <p>Hannah Arendt once wrote something along the following lines: “Freedom means action. Because freedom can only be attained through action. Action drives the movement that resonates amongst the people”. </p> <p>The demands of my action are legitimate and rightful. If our demands are not met, hundreds of people can lose their lives. If this happens in the twenty-first century, it will not only be the shame of Turkey but a shame for all of humanity. For the world not to be faced with such a shame, the women of the world need to do whatever they can. And without losing any more time. We will continue to resist. Resistance will help us win. Our belief in this is infinite. In this respect – I call you all to resist. </p> <p>Long live the solidarity of the peoples and of women. </p> <p>Leyla Güven&nbsp; </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Turkey Civil society Culture Democracy and government Equality Ideas International politics Leyla Güven Thu, 07 Feb 2019 10:34:23 +0000 Leyla Güven 121610 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Jordan Peterson – reluctant darling of the radical right? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/cathrine-thorleifsson/jordan-peterson-reluctant-darling-of-radical-right <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>His thinking appeals to men who seek an encompassing, empowering theory of the world where they do not need to feel guilt and are not designated as oppressors.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/jordanpeterson.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/jordanpeterson.jpg" alt="Jordan Peterson speaks in Texas, June, 2018. Wikicommons/Gage Skidmore. Some rights reserved." title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jordan Peterson speaks in Texas, June, 2018. Wikicommons/Gage Skidmore. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Jordan Peterson, Canadian psychology professor and self-proclaimed Professor against political correctness has struck a cord amongst the radical right. For his radical right audience, Peterson is not only a viral self-help guru, but a thinker whose views about male identity endangered by “cultural Marxism” and feminism aligns with theirs.&nbsp;</p> <h2>The diagnosis</h2> <p>In his lengthy video lectures watched predominantly by a male audience, Peterson confronts the forces he deems threatening to traditional, masculine ideals. He refers to biologically rooted and ”natural” gender roles and hierarchies that decades of post-modern ”cultural Marxism”, cultural relativism, feminism, radical left-wing identity politics, political correctness in academia and media threaten to destroy.&nbsp;</p> <p>Peterson argues that fundamental concepts for social justice advocates, such as the existence of patriarchy or other forms of structural repression, are illusions. “The idea that women were supressed throughout history is a terrible theory. Islamophobia is a word created by fascists, white privilege is a Marxist lie and believing that gender identity is subjective is as bad as claiming that the world is flat.” These utterances have attracted more than 1.8 million subscribers to his YouTube channel. And they partly align with and reinforce the world view of his radical right followers. &nbsp;</p> <h2>The solution<span>&nbsp;</span></h2> <p>Peterson claims that inequality is natural and inevitable and structural oppression is a lie. This view can appeal to men who feel alienated by the language of social justice and seek an encompassing, empowering theory of the world where they do not need to feel guilt and where they are not designated as oppressors.&nbsp;</p> <p>Since hierarchies and structural inequality are natural, the solution Peterson offers is psychological advice. In his best-selling self-help book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos Peterson prescribes tools for how to cope in a world characterized by suffering and natural hierarchies. With insights from the Bible and German and Romantic spirituality (Jung and Nietzsche) and mythology, he attempts to uncover key moral structures, which in turn act as basis for practical advice. His key insight is that life is suffering. Only by taking personal responsibility for your own life and chaos, by being upright and self-disciplined can you find meaning, improve yourself, your status, your manhood and by extension your surroundings.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Heroic masculinity to the rescue</h2> <p>Peterson’s ideas appeal to a diverse and broad audience that include Christian conservatives, liberals, a general interested audience, but also supporters of the radical right. Particularly his ideas about gender studies as “socially destructive” and the existence of national hierarchies and gender roles can explain his appeal amongst radical right actors. Much research has demonstrated how the perceived threat or actuality of an endangered male role is a central driver for male support of radical right parties and movements. <span class="mag-quote-center">Much research has demonstrated how the perceived threat or actuality of an endangered male role is a central driver for male support of radical right parties and movements.&nbsp;</span></p> <h2>The co-optation of Peterson by the radical right</h2> <p>The Norwegian ultra-nationalist and anti-Semitic fringe party “The Alliance” has embraced Peterson as a way of giving their ideology intellectual gravitas. The political party founded in 2016 uses vigilante rhetoric against political opponents referred to as national traitors, who they claim plan to destroy Norway through mass immigration. &nbsp;</p> <p>When Peterson visited Oslo, the anti-Semitic radical right party arranged a pre-party, took selfies with him and enthusiastically posted his rules for life online. The Alliance has borrowed Jordan´s project of individual betterment, and applied it at a collective, societal level. In such a transition between scales – from individual betterment to the betterment of society, the British political liberalism Peterson identifies with swiftly disappears. Instead, ressentiment is channelled through exclusionary nationalism and xenophobia towards racialised minorities and migrants. The appropriation of Peterson´s ideas by the radical right result paradoxically in the very identity politics Peterson warns against.&nbsp;</p><h2>Dangerous ideas?&nbsp;</h2> <p>Peterson as an intellectual is not dangerous, but the appropriation and (mis) use of his ideas in white racial identity politics are. The idea of a threatened male identity can be a powerful trope to invoke in calls for violent action. Combined with Peterson’s lobster logic (that just as there are natural hierarchies between lobsters there are natural hierarchies between humans) this can be used to justify racial hierarchies and processes of far right dehumanization.</p> <p>Numerous of Peterson’s ideological critics characterise him as an ”alt-right” figure.&nbsp; Peterson himself rejects the label, claiming that his theories and rules for life can hinder the continued growth of the far right and radicalisation of disenchanted men dissatisfied with the present.&nbsp;</p> <p>He replies that if men are pressed to feminize, they will become more interested in hardcore, fascist political ideology. Peterson might be reluctantly hijacked by the radical right. At the same time he does not seem to sufficiently distance himself from them either. The lack of condemnation or engagement with critics who present evidence of the radical right co-optation of his ideas can of course embolden radical right actors who have already found their favourite guru.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Visit the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com/">Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right</a>&nbsp;(#CARR).</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/james-smith/steven-pinker-jordan-peterson-neoliberalism-radical-right">Steven Pinker and Jordan Peterson: the missing link between neoliberalism and the radical right</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/hans-georg-betz/everything-that-is-wrong-is-fault-of-68-regaining-cultural-hegemony-by-trashing-left">Everything that is wrong is the fault of &#039;68: regaining cultural hegemony by trashing the left</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/sara-garbagnoli/matteo-salvini-renaturalizing-racial-and-sexual-boundaries-of-dem">Matteo Salvini, renaturalizing the racial and sexual boundaries of democracy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Cathrine Thorleifsson Wed, 06 Feb 2019 12:09:01 +0000 Cathrine Thorleifsson 121563 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Tha Brexit, Tha Owns It https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/tha-brexit-tha-owns-it <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If North of England Labour MPs end up voting through a Tory Brexit, then the resulting decline and despair of the region will be their fault.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/cross gates_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/cross gates_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="443" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Brexitometer in Cross Gates, East Leeds - a Leave stronghold.</span></span></span></p><p>The Brexit debate already has quite enough angry invective, especially from somewhat gammony middle-aged men. But unfortunately what the Westminster village is serving up now, with just 52 days left on <span><a href="http://daystobrexit.co.uk/">the Brexit countdown clock</a></span>, demands fury. So, with apologies to Lynsey de Paul for pinching her lyrics, here’s a blast of anger from the North of England.</p> <p>If you break it, you own it. If North of England Labour MPs end up as the crucial votes to get Theresa May’s Brexit deal over the line, then the inexorable decline and despair of the region resulting must be hung around their necks like the albatross.</p> <p>It’s not complicated. Tory Brexit offers not one single thing that will help fix any of the North of England’s problems in any way. It will just make all of them massively worse. For Labour MPs this should be absolutely basic.</p> <p>Yet, last week in the House of Commons, Northern Labour MPs played a vital part in passing ‘the Brady amendment’, the bad taste joke that sends Theresa May back to Brussels to negotiate ‘alternative arrangements’ to the Irish border backstop that neither Brady, May nor anyone else can describe.</p> <p>It’s a debacle that destroys what little remained of the UK’s international diplomatic reputation and – unless reversed - will in time destroy the United Kingdom itself.</p> <p>It’s hard for anybody who gives a damn about our country’s future not to despair. But whilst there remains any slim chance of stopping Brexit, there is no better option than to soldier on. The indefatigable Brexitometer volunteers are an inspiration.</p> <p>Our message is simple: in the North, the 2016 Brexit vote was never about the EU, it was about the state of us. So let’s take a long hard look at ourselves, and get serious about our choices. Amazingly, there is still time to drop Brexit and get on instead with addressing our actual problems - our society, our environment, our economy and our democracy. Or we can choose Tory Brexit and ruin.</p> <h2>This shit is our shit</h2> <p>Say what you like about Sir Graham Brady, but the Salford-born MP for Altrincham, Chairman of the Tory 1922 committee and former Chairman of the Durham University Conservative Association, is unquestionably a Northerner. As is Tadcaster-born former Yorkshire miner and Rother Valley MP Sir Kevin Barron. And Tynemouth-born former Northumberland miner and Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell. And Beswick-born, global warming-denying Labour MP for Manchester Blackley, Graham Stringer. The three Labour MPs are all working class boys made good, and they are all well rooted in the communities they represent. They are also three of the Northern MPs who voted with Brady last week.</p> <p>And it’s not just the pale, male and decidedly stale. Laura Smith, 34 year-old former schoolteacher and now Labour MP for Crewe &amp; Nantwich, and Liverpool-born Labour MP for West Lancashire Rosie Cooper, are both unquestionably Northerners too. They were among the 14 Labour MPs who voted against the Yvette Cooper and Dominic Grieve amendments that would have wrestled control of the Brexit process away from Theresa May and her Tory minority administration, and given it back to parliament. These 14 Labour MPs exactly cancelled out the 14 Tory Remainer rebels and gave Theresa May all the votes she needed to retain power over parliamentary business. These 14 Labour MPs are personally responsible for an excited Boris Johnson being able to bounce onto live TV to tell the nation to rejoice for the great achievement of a reunified Tory party.</p> <p>In other news in the last week, Nissan announced that it is not investing further in its Sunderland plant, Airbus as good as announced that it is leaving as soon as possible, and the European Medicines Agency left London for Amsterdam, which spells the beginning of the end for Britain’s competitive edge in pharmaceuticals. In a single week, we have seen the death sentence pronounced on three of the four remaining jewels in the North of England’s manufacturing crown. This will leave the North with one last world class manufacturing industry: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/lydia-noon/brexit-is-good-news-for-those-in-business-of-war">warplanes and weapons</a>.</p> <p>Brexit. Call it the craziest own-goal in football history, call it a self-indulgent, weirdly camp, masochistic act of self-pity borne of a misplaced sense of both superiority and grievance (© Fintan O’Toole), call it what you like, but we Northerners own a big piece of this shit. The North of England voted for Brexit, by approximately 56%-44%.</p> <p>If we’re honest with ourselves – and it is time to be honest with ourselves - it’s part of any Northerner’s comfort blanket to blame London for the misfortunes that befall the North. But although this colossal fuck up is being enacted in Westminster, it is being done by ‘England-outside-London’ for England-outside-London. For once, London didn’t do this to us; we are doing it to ourselves.</p> <p>Every single one of those Northern Labour MPs, whether young and diligent, or old, tired and cynical, did what they did safe in the knowledge that they had enough voters in their own constituencies behind them. Some did it because they think their duty is to be their constituents’ voice even if they don’t agree with them, some did it simply to help their chances of getting re-elected. Some did it from a perfectly preserved 1983 ‘Lexit’ stance, some did it some did it because they are just dodgy old rogues. But in all cases it is absolutely wrong to say that what they did was not democratic politics in action.</p> <p>Although there is <span><a href="https://northernumbrellablog.wordpress.com/2018/08/17/the-tide-turns-in-the-north/">good evidence</a></span> that working class Northerners are among the people who have changed their minds the most on Brexit between 2016 and today, and although opinion polls show that t<span><a href="https://whatukthinks.org/eu/opinion-polls/euref2-poll-of-polls/">he UK would vote by 54-46</a></span> to remain in the EU if another vote was held, the fact is that the vast majority of people have not changed their minds.</p> <p>Such is the state of madness we have got ourselves into, that it doesn’t matter that neither these Labour MPs nor anybody else is able to describe what tangible good Brexit will do for anybody’s actual lives, because Leave voters themselves are not asking this question. All that seems to matter is whether the Leave vote, the will of the people, is being seen through to the bitter end.</p> <p>An image-canny, ideologically flexible MP like Doncaster’s Caroline Flint can see this, and so prepares the ground for getting into bed with Dominic Raab by emoting about respecting the vote.</p> <p>Pro- or anti-Brexit is now a political tribal identity as strong as ‘right wing’ or ‘left wing’. As strong maybe (whisper it) as Northerner or Southerner. And when someone accuses your tribe of being thick, or deluded, or even just honestly mistaken, the general tendency is not to examine the evidence behind the accusation but to fight back on the emotional level and double down on the original point of view.</p> <p>Let’s admit it: we supposedly wonderful, honest, caring, funny, plain-speaking, well-meaning, hard-working, passionate but common sense-loving Northerners are not averse to a spot of tribalism.</p> <h2>Is God to blame?</h2> <p>Most Northerners who voted for Brexit did so in what for them was good faith. Yes, some Northern Brexit voters are nasty white supremacists, or absurd empire nostalgists. But most were good people acting in good faith.</p> <p>Yes, they were conned and deluded by the shameless lies of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/dark-money-investigations-what-we-ve-found-out-and-why-we-re-looking">Bad Boys of Brexit</a>. But they were conned and deluded partly because they wanted to be conned and deluded. They wanted to believe. They wanted to believe in their own country as a place that would help them and their families, rather than a country that would continually rip them off and ruthlessly attack their dignity in times of need. ‘Believe in Britain’ was as powerful as slogan as ‘Take Back Control’.</p> <p>They wanted to believe so much, that they were willing to overrule the evidence of their own eyes that Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson were obvious shysters. Or to be more precise, they knew they were being lied to, but they chose to believe it anyway. It’s so similar to religious TV in the USA, it’s scary.</p> <p>I am haunted by a conversation with a 20-something, working class, lesbian Yorkshirewoman, who told me that “Come Brexit”, deep rooted but austerity-ravaged community facilities in her neighbourhood were going to stop closing, and things in her life were going to get better.</p> <p>Subconsciously she was harking back to a more religious Northern past, when people were happy to believe that “Come Glory” wrongs would be righted, the last would be first, and justice would be done.</p> <p>On referendum day, she and millions of others took back control and promptly handed it to Liam Fox to hand over to Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trump, and the rest of the vicious, banal, planet-destroying international kleptocrats, who are lying in wait to right royally do her, and the rest of us, over.</p> <p>It was and is a giant mistake. Nobody likes to admit to a mistake. But it’s preferable to being screwed by Donald Trump.</p> <h2>Where are we? Rock Bottom. </h2> <p>Let’s be clear where we are now. We’re in the mire.</p> <p>Labour and the Tory European Research Group have bullshitted on for months about going back to the beginning with the EU to renegotiate an exit deal, but back in November Theresa May got it dead right when she said there were only three possibilities still left in play: her deal, Brexit with no deal, and No Brexit.</p> <p>What happened last week was that Theresa May disowned her own deal. The EU won’t renegotiate the Irish border backstop not only because - to their credit – they won’t sell the Irish down the river, but also because it is not meaningfully logically possible. If there is a border customs arrangement acceptable to both the UK and the EU that can be found, then it will be found during the two years of the transition period, and the backstop will be unnecessary. But if there isn’t, it won’t, and that’s why there needs to be a backstop.</p> <p>Those who support sports teams prone to relegation will know well that point in the season where your fate is no longer entirely in your own hands. That’s what happened last week in the Brexit process.</p> <p>Even if Theresa May comes home from Brussels with something that looks like a concession from the EU, and puts her vaguely amended deal back to parliament, there is now no longer enough time for a legally orderly Brexit on 29 March. There are too many pieces of legislation needing to go through the British parliament, never mind the vagaries of getting the amended deal through the 751-member European parliament. So we will shortly be going back to the EU27 on our knees pleading with them to extend the Brexit day deadline, not for a public referendum to ratify the original deal (which they might grant), but simply to help us out with some crummy amended version of the deal. They may extract a price. Or they may have lost patience with us and decide to toss us over the cliff.</p> <p>The only action that is still entirely within our own hands is to unilaterally revoke our notification of intention to withdraw from the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. And looking at last week’s parliamentary arithmetic, that looks like it is going to require a mathematical miracle. A point in the season that those who support sports teams prone to relegation will also be well familiar with.</p> <h2>Tragedies, we got ‘em</h2> <p>Brexit is going to go badly wrong. No Deal Brexit, particularly if it happens on 29 March, will be carnage from the off. By contrast, if we do sign Theresa May’s deal after all, then it won’t be so bad in the early days – there will be food on the supermarket shelves and medicines in the chemists. But the North’s economy will go into a steady, inexorable decline.</p> <p>The trade talks with the EU, which only start when we leave, will be horrible, and will go on for ever. People tend to forget that the withdrawal agreement was the easy bit. The EU is waiting for the UK to become a third country before it really starts playing hardball with us.</p> <p>The one great achievement of Maggie Thatcher’s economic policy, the selling of the UK to Japanese manufacturers and others as a stable, reliable base for them inside the EU single market, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47120759">has now been killed and can’t be revived</a>. With No Deal, most non-military advanced manufacturing will be gone within months. With May’s deal, it will be run down more gradually over a few years.</p> <p>A truly impressive achievement of the New Labour years, the creation of the image of Cool Britannia as an open, welcoming country for international university students and researchers, has been profoundly damaged. The North’s university campuses, which have been doing so well even as much of the rest of the North has struggled, will cease thriving. Because universities are now over-leveraged businesses rather than groves of academe, many will go bust. Expect to see vice-chancellors and other professional administrators sprinting for the exits with holdalls full of cash. In some Northern cities, it’s going to be like the last chopper out of Saigon.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the Trump White House is literally standing in line waiting to shaft us. Chlorinated chicken for tea will be the least of our worries. Northerners’ pensions and financial assets, and the region’s accumulated social and physical capital (<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ournhs/nhs-theresa-mays-dowry-gift-to-donald-trump">for example, our NHS</a>) will become a kind of financial strip mine for Wall Street. They will extract everything they can and then walk away, leaving behind penury.</p> <p>But the thing we can be absolutely sure of is that when Brexit goes wrong, Rees-Mogg and Farage won’t be blaming themselves. They’re going to blame literally anybody and everybody else.</p> <p>The tragic irony is that, deep down, a large proportion of Brexit voters don’t even really want to leave the European Union. Their comfort zone is to be inside the European Union, enjoying their pensions and Spanish holidays and fully-stocked supermarket shelves, with the luxury of someone else being to blame for betraying them, and keeping them in the EU against their will. That is most probably the real ‘will of the people’.</p> <h2>Remedy? Why don’t we rub it out and start it again</h2> <p>Lesley Riddoch wrote a fantastic <span><a href="https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/lesley-riddoch-direct-your-rage-at-westminster-not-the-eu-1-4859519">opinion piece in The Scotsman</a></span> calling on Northerners and Midlanders to direct their rage at Westminster, not the EU. (What a shame that we have to go to Scotland to get a decent newspaper independent of London.)</p> <p>Representative democracy is the right answer, but we need a better version of it than the antiquated and unfit Westminster system.</p> <p>The core of the problem is the single seat system with first-past-the-post elections. This creates the tendency towards a two party duopoly in which Labour conspire as much as Tory to deny real democratic choice.</p> <p>Few want a general election - look at the Brexitometer results. One reason that <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/corbynism-has-wasted-opportunity-to-transform-labour-and-democracy">a general election does not arouse much enthusiasm</a> (contrast for example with the hundreds of thousands of people coming out to march for a fresh referendum) is that it is not really a very democratic exercise.</p> <p>Westminster seats are all single member seats and the vast majority of them are safe for one of the two parties. Therefore the campaign only really takes place in the marginal seats. And even in the marginal seats, the experience is too often not about voting for a candidate or party you feel enthusiastic about, but rather about voting tactically to keep out the candidate of the party you are against. Negative campaigning dominates.</p> <p>During the campaign, tactical voting is encouraged by the two main parties, squeezing the vote for independents and smaller parties - lend us your vote, don't waste it! But then as soon as the vote is in, those votes are presented by them to be genuine support, locking in the two party system. Theresa May delights to say that in 2017 80% of people voted for parties who promised to leave the EU. They did indeed, but she draws the wrong lesson from it.</p> <p>We should reform to the Irish system for Westminster and local council elections, and for a new regional government assembly for the North. In the Republic of Ireland, each constituency elects 4 or 5 members, and voters list all candidates in order of preference (single transferable vote). This means that everybody’s vote counts, everybody gets to express a preference for the person as well as the party label, and every candidate has to give the voters a positive reason to vote for them. When the election is done, the support for each party is proportionally represented in parliament, and almost every voter feels that they are represented by a person they expressed a preference for. It is noticeable that the Irish appear to be much more content with their democracy and their politicians than we are.</p> <p>Getting reform to the system won’t be easy, and Labour will be as much an obstacle as the Tories. The status quo is protected by the majority of MPs who have safe seats. This means that they have to fight a competitive election just once in their political career – the selection meeting of their local party for their candidate for the vacant seat – and then they can settle back, often for decades on end. The system does throw up some good people, but sadly, not enough.</p> <p>Getting rid of the system may require destroying the Labour machine. This is what it took in Scotland, and nowhere was more solidly, reliably Labour than there. For Scotland, it’s been worth it, and things are looking up for communities across that country, although of course they will be hammered by Brexit too.</p> <p>Maybe that will be no great loss, because it looks like the dream of a radical, reforming Corbyn government has died in recent weeks. Corbyn simply left his pivot from constructive ambiguity to loud ‘n’ proud backing for the young people of Britain (who are 80% for Remain) too late. It’s a tragedy and it’s also an irony: who would have guessed that, of all things, triangulation would be the ruination of Jeremy Corbyn! But that’s what a two party system does to everyone.</p> <p>Maybe it’s not too late for Corbyn, but it feels like it is. Had he pivoted to Remain earlier, so many young people (and older citizens willing to pound the streets for votes) would have done anything for him. Now, it may well be that whatever he says, he won’t be able to get them to listen to him any more. Let’s wait and see.</p> <p>Meanwhile, trusting the Labour party and trusting the existing electoral system is about trusting John Mann to negotiate with some random Tory minister to get serious new money for coalfield communities. Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.</p> <h2>With sympathy – oh I get it. Harmony - you said it. </h2> <p>The prospect of Brexit is so bleak that there really is no point this side of 29 March in doing anything else than keeping fighting, and hoping for our miracle.</p> <p>The Brexitometer volunteers are the heroes of the hour. Going out in all weathers, to engage the people in discussion and seek their views on the big Brexit questions of the day. Only they can save us now.</p> <p>Here is the result from Cross Gates in East Leeds, a working class stronghold of Leave in the city of Leeds.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/cross gates_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/cross gates_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="443" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Here is the result from Wombwell, near Barnsley, pit village and former stronghold of Arthur’s Army, which voted massively for Leave in 2016.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/wombwell.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/wombwell.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="620" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>Both a bit different from what you might expect listening to the BBC’s narrative of what is going on.</p> <p>Back in July 2018 Eloise Todd told <span><a href="https://northernumbrellablog.wordpress.com/2018/07/28/24-july-meeting-in-manchester/">a public meeting in Manchester</a></span> that the 10 Downing Street game plan was to disappear Remain as an option. The narrative would be, it’s either Theresa May’s deal, or the bloodcurdling prospect of No Deal.</p> <p>The BBC has stuck religiously to those instructions through thick and thin. It simply blacks out news that doesn’t fit the narrative. Rest assured that the BBC will not be honestly reporting that revoking Article 50 is enjoying widespread and growing support, even in some of the most strongly pro-Leave areas. The Scots have been through all this before with the BBC.</p> <p>But if the Brexitometer volunteers keep going, and keep getting information about the results they are getting out through social media, eventually even the BBC will be forced to play catch up and report what is happening. Here are the <a href="https://twitter.com/PeoplesvoteSWY/status/1091699924914397184">Barnsley Brexitometer volunteers’ takeaways</a> from a chilly Saturday in Wombwell: Firstly, Barnsley folk are warm &amp; friendly regardless. Secondly, no amount of evidence will change some views that we're scaremongering, or in any case "we'll be right, we've survived worse!". Thirdly, something needs to change in our political system. And finally - lots of support for Remaining!</p> <p>Let’s take heart from that. There’s no future for England without bringing places like Wombwell with us.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/steve-hanson/brexit-has-revealed-northern-powerhouse-as-colonial-enterprise">Brexit has revealed the Northern Powerhouse as a colonial enterprise</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk UK Democracy and government Brexit William Bolton Tue, 05 Feb 2019 16:45:25 +0000 William Bolton 121580 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Who gains from Trump trashing the INF Treaty – Putin and Lockheed Martin! https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/rebecca-johnson/who-gains-from-trump-trashing-inf-treaty-putin-and-lockheed-marti <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As Trump suspends the 1987 INF Treaty, Putin retaliates.&nbsp; What can be done to prevent a new nuclear arms race from endangering Europe – and the world – again?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40957286.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40957286.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protest against the dissolution of the INF Treaty by activists outside the American embassy in Berlin, Fb.1, 2019. Omer Messinger/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>On <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-withdraw-united-states-intermediate-range-nuclear-forces-inf-treaty/">1 February the White House announced</a> US "suspension" of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev signed in 1987. A day later Vladimir Putin announced Russia would suspend as well.&nbsp; Freed of the Treaty's restraints, Russia is now posed to deploy a new generation of medium-range nuclear weapons on its territory again. </p> <p>Once again, Donald Trump has played into Putin's hands, to the detriment of US and European security.&nbsp; Unless wiser heads prevail in the next six months, the Putin-Trump team is set to destroy this successful Treaty that halted the US-Soviet arms race,&nbsp; pulled Europe away from the brink of nuclear war, and paved the way for the cold war to end. </p> <p>Trump's excuse for suspending US compliance is Russia's apparent violation of the Treaty with tests on a new ground-launched cruise missile – designated 9M729.&nbsp; Moscow denies that the missile violates the prohibited range of 500-5,500 km, and counter claims that "Aegis Ashore" US missile defences in Romania could be adapted in the future to violate the treaty and threaten Russian cities. &nbsp;There are legitimate security concerns attached to both allegations.&nbsp; And both the US and Russia are worried about China's arsenal of intermediate-range missiles, which are currently exempt from the INF constraints that apply across Europe.</p> <p>Instead of giving Putin what he wants by suspending the Treaty, a sensible US Government would have piled on the pressure diplomatically.&nbsp; If reconvening the Treaty's "Special Verification Commission" is not enough to resolve the problems – which as former Soviet president <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mikhail-gorbachev-my-plea-to-the-presidents-of-russia-and-the-united-states/2017/10/10/36225a60-ade2-11e7-a908-a3470754bbb9_story.html?noredirect=on&amp;utm_term=.a6a81ed82a43">Mikhail Gorbachev noted in 2017</a> were more political than technical – there are other constructive ways to address the compliance challenges, rebuild confidence and develop a process to resolve and prevent future problems.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">If mobile land-based weapons return to Europe...&nbsp; the risks from violent extremists as well as miscalculation, mistakes and accidents would increase exponentially.</span></p> <p>If mobile land-based weapons return to Europe, as would happen if Donald Trump, his "<a href="mailto:https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2019/02/01/inf/%3Ffbclid=IwAR18rUZ2nOmyfK7FPsSMDt8rLzTV1wL_vZK46YGxQuAi4JjgHhat4TlQyRU%26noredirect=on%26utm_term=.fe24f0ffa89e">serial arms control killer</a>" security adviser John Bolton, and Vladimir Putin succeed in trashing the INF Treaty, the risks from violent extremists as well as miscalculation, mistakes and accidents would increase exponentially.</p> <p>Here in Britain we need to remember the Cruise Missiles based at Greenham Common and Molesworth in the 1980s. Authorised by NATO, these were driven by the US Air Force on huge "transporter-erector launchers" around the roads of Berkshire, Wiltshire, Cambridge (and beyond) at dead of night.&nbsp; Billed as "melting into the countryside", these nuclear convoys were in fact highly visible and vulnerable to accidents or attack.&nbsp; With warheads packing the equivalent of 25 Hiroshimas each, they were meant for "first use" and nuclear war fighting in the "European theatre", from the Atlantic to the Urals. </p> <p>The <a href="mailto:http://www.yourgreenham.co.uk/">Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp</a>, CND and Cruisewatch argued in the US and British courts that these inhumane and dangerous weapons should be banned.&nbsp; Equipped at most with porridge and paint, these protestors were nonviolent, seeking only to mark and expose the dangerous nuclear convoys on Britain's roads.</p> <p>It is now known that when President Reagan and Gorbachev met in Reykjavik in 1986, they were impelled by the years of public protests in Europe and information from scientists and doctors about the risks and humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons being used by intent or mistake, including "nuclear winter".&nbsp; They also had been told by then about the miscommunications and miscalculations that nearly turned the 1983 NATO exercise "Able Archer" into a real nuclear war. And both were militarily and fiscally overstretched, though at the time this was a much heavier burden for Gorbachev than Reagan. Is this what Trump and Putin want to go back to?</p> <p>The INF Treaty was a big step forward. One of its major contributions to arms control were the on-site inspections whereby Soviet and American inspectors visited the relevant bases in each other's territory to verify that the silos were emply and the missiles eliminated. These on-site verification inspections were an important confidence-building measure, which was put to good use in several Treaties that followed. &nbsp;</p> <p>Since then, US and Russian arsenals decreased from over 50,000 in 1986 to current levels of just over 13,000, with around 1,000 in the arsenals of the other seven nuclear-armed governments. Still far too many, of course, which is why the United Nations negotiated the multilateral <a href="https://www.un.org/disarmament/wmd/nuclear/tpnw/">Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons</a> (TPNW), with the aim of drawing all the nuclear-armed and nuclear-free nations into a collective endeavour to stigmatise, ban and eliminate all nuclear weapons. </p> <h2><strong>What can be done?</strong></h2> <p>As usual, there are personal, political and financial reasons why leaders take decisions that heighten their countries' security and defence risks. In the slew of articles from US and European analysts following Trump's withdrawal, there are three major themes:&nbsp; </p><p>–&nbsp;&nbsp; US withdrawal from the INF Treaty would make Europe much more vulnerable;&nbsp; </p><ul><li>–&nbsp;&nbsp; Putin and China would be the major beneficiaries of the Treaty's collapse (along with Trump's wilful destruction of other collective security and environmental agreements); and</li><li>–&nbsp; US military contractors like cruise and ballistic missile makers, Lockheed Martin, are licking their lips at the prospect of even bigger profits from a new arms race.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</li></ul> <p>Under the INF Treaty, Russia eliminated some 1,800 missiles and the US eliminated around 800. The disparity is because INF weapons are more useful to Russia than to the United States (at least in theoretical and strategic terms). Giving carte blanche to an accelerated arms race, as Trump is doing, would therefore be more advantageous for Putin than for NATO. The INF range enables Putin to threaten or attack anywhere in Europe.&nbsp; From the US mainland, such missiles could nuke Canada or Mexico; or is Trump planning to deploy them in Alaska to hit Siberia and East Asia?&nbsp; </p> <p>Trump may be hoping to foist a new generation of land-based nuclear missiles on Europe. If so, he needs to be told that this isn't going to happen. The UK and other NATO governments need to make clear that they would refuse to deploy medium range cruise or ballistic missiles in the future, or participate in providing facilities or assistance in redeploying further nuclear weapons in Europe in any form, for any reason.&nbsp; </p> <p>There is already mounting pressure on NATO governments to remove US B61 bombs based in Germany, Turkey, Belgium, Netherlands and Italy, which Washington is trying to update. If the INF Treaty's vital prohibitions on medium range nuclear weapons in Europe are being eroded and threatened, the best security response is to multilateralise and strengthen the prohibitions on all nuclear weapons.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">Gorbachev has proposed a high level summit between Trump and Putin. Experts in the field argue that the INF Treaty should be expanded to include China and others with missile capabilities. </span></p> <p>Gorbachev has proposed a high level summit between Trump and Putin. Experts in the field argue that the INF Treaty should be expanded to include China and others with missile capabilities. Recognising that the US, Russia and nuclear-armed counterparts are not yet ready to join the UN's international nuclear prohibition agreements, the UK – as a P5 Member of the Security Council – could at least propose bringing the major nuclear-armed governments together to discuss how to save and expand the INF Treaty prohibitions. </p> <p>Remember US General Eugene Laroque's warning in 1982: "We fought world war one in Europe, we fought world war two in Europe, and if you dummies let us we'll fight world war three in Europe".&nbsp; </p> <p>Time is of the essence to prevent those fears and dangers from taking root again. Unless sensible security leadership is exercised, the INF Treaty could be dead in six months, with disastrous consequences for all of us.&nbsp; Britain and Europe need to play a more active part in preventing the new arms race that is now poised to happen. The first step is to convene the relevant government leaders as a matter of urgency, to examine the evidence and drivers causing the US and Russia to suspend their participation in the INF Treaty, and to take appropriate steps to return them to compliance and reinforce international security and the rule of law. </p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk Conflict Democracy and government International politics Rebecca Johnson Sun, 03 Feb 2019 13:04:27 +0000 Rebecca Johnson 121543 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Labour and the trade unions can unite people against a no-deal and push for a radically reformed, social Europe https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/michael-rafferty/labour-and-trade-unions-can-unite-people-against-no-deal-and-pus <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The holding of the first referendum was the real boon to the far-right, and any outcome of the Article 50 process is one in which they gain ground.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40923339.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40923339.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the party's chief whip Nick Brown walk through Portcullis House in Westminster, London, to Prime Minister Theresa May's office. January 30, 2019. Stefan Rousseau/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Theresa May seems to be quietly benefiting from a bizarre, instinctual deference from wearied senior journalists covering Brexit, the political equivalent of an endless wait at baggage reclaim. The source of this deference possibly arises from a repetitious familiarity with all six lines of the script, or the vicarious predictability of her statements both to parliament and to the media, in all their patrician, pedestrian emptiness. </p> <p>Whatever the explanation, this cap-doffing is becoming increasingly difficult to explain to inquirers on the continent, who rightly point to the untenability of May’s position and are exasperated at the gall of someone who denies that she faces undeniable checkmate within three moves. Jeremy Corbyn has astutely manoeuvred Labour into a position where he can illuminate an alternative outcome, but is both constrained by this deference and overshadowed by others more convincingly articulating unworkable silver bullets such as a second referendum. But an opportunity presents itself right now for Corbyn to set out a radical but realistic agenda to remain and reform the European Union. Offering socialist policies as solutions to Europe’s growing problems, it could unite a pragmatic coalition of Leave and Remain voices and oust a zombie Conservative administration.</p> <p>The outcome of last Tuesday’s parliamentary votes will be quickly forgotten in the coming weeks, not least because they are likely to be rehearsed soon in some scantily disguised variation, but primarily because they only negligibly alter the choices the government faces. One positive outcome, however, is that the chorus for a second referendum was confronted with some&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jan/29/eu-rule-out-brexit-renegotiation-brady-amendment-pass?fbclid=IwAR2kTZp7q5MjXtJVIojrGWMUBx2w6dBZUA32HsGV7YbU6r6xIhRRhgZLmGk">cold facts</a>&nbsp;from Brussels on Wednesday.&nbsp;</p> <p>A second referendum would require an Act of Parliament, which would take months, assuming there is a government that can successfully deliver it. There must be around a dozen competing combinations of questions, responses and voting methods in contention. The small issue of actually having a campaign seems to have eluded scrutiny – are the most ardent Remainers actually confident the odds would be in their favour? The first referendum would be remembered as a paragon of transparent, evidence-based debate and considered, critical analysis beside the reductive, shouty binary of the second. Regardless of how many questions or ballot papers, the entire campaign would be a straightforward, grotesque brawl with immigration as the one and only item of debate, conducted with all the patience and finesse of a Westminster far-right protestor aggressively “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/09/harassment-mps-parliament-stifle-brexit-debate-femi-oluwole">just having a chat</a>” with passing journalists and MPs. The thought of another referendum is a frightening prospect for some of the UK’s most vulnerable people – refugees and migrant workers and their families – yet from the moral uplands of Westminster it is thoughtlessly promoted as the only way out of the mess. What would happen if Leave won, again?&nbsp;</p> <p>The presumptions around extending Article 50 also seem to go unchecked. It is hard to envisage any circumstances in which the EU would permit an extension to allow for the full second referendum process. The scope for extension is so short as to be pointless – a few mere weeks before the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/factsheets/en/sheet/21/the-european-parliament-electoral-procedures">European Parliament elections</a>&nbsp;present legal obligations in the event of continued UK membership. And if Brussels managed to fudge some kind of extension, they will surely be keen to avoid offering flexible and convenient Article 50 packages to Viktor Orbán and the Italian Five Star Movement. To what end? Europe is fed up to the back teeth repeating that the (UK-manufactured) backstop and the rest of the Withdrawal Agreement will not be reopened.</p> <p>While UK commentators and parliamentarians opine on the inevitability of extending Article 50, it is not hard to see why there is opposition to it in the EU27. It is, in the end, a “hair of the dog” strategy designed only to delay pain. The second referendum argument might carry weight among Scottish and Northern Irish remainers, but it is now time to set it aside given its irrelevance to the task at hand, at a time when the indisputable priority across the broad liberal and left spectrum in the UK is to remove the no-deal billionaires’ utopia as an option. </p> <p>The disappointment of Tuesday’s amendment votes in Parliament is outweighed by the opportunity for Corbyn to emerge from meetings with the Prime Minister eliciting the unavoidable conclusion that she is content to redraw red lines while the UK sails into the social emergency of a no-deal Brexit. </p> <p>If parliament is still willing to indulge this histrionic spectacle, then the waves of popular support that saw him (re-)elected to the leadership of the Labour Party need to resonate in the country once more to jolt parliament into the real world, and to oust a no-deal government. General Strikes are already making a comeback in 2019, from&nbsp;<a href="https://jacobinmag.com/2019/01/india-strike-bjp-congress-party-unions">Kerala</a>&nbsp;to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.counterfire.org/news/20111-yellow-vests-join-unions-to-agitate-for-a-general-strike-in-france">Paris</a>.&nbsp;Corbyn, Momentum and the trade unions should get ahead of the curve and call one in mid-February if no-deal is not categorically taken off the table. Such situations might make for more winnable votes of no-confidence in Her Majesty’s Government, and produce the General Election that the Labour Party have been calling for. Were that election to elevate Corbyn to No. 10, the stark, inherited choice would be to revoke Article 50 or crash out without a deal – an impatient EU is not going to substantially reopen negotiations on May’s deal at this stage.</p> <p>Think of the political capital PM Corbyn would accrue from revoking Article 50 in this Hobson’s Choice scenario. The European Union is a changed place since David Cameron embarked on his failed “reform” initiative preceding the referendum. The refugee crisis of 2015 has been compounded by a crisis of neoliberalism in 2018, instigated by resistance to Emmanuel Macron’s deepening of privatisation, austerity and labour market liberalisation. In France, at least, the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/11/gilets-jaunes-protests-continue-despite-macron-concessions"><em>gilets jaunes</em>&nbsp;are winning</a>. The EU’s top brass had thought until recently that austerity measures had weathered the 2008 financial crisis, that the rise of the far right is only a temporary wobble in an otherwise sound political economy. They have still not been disabused of this notion and meanwhile the far-right profit from the low-wage, debt economy proliferating in post-industrial urban centres across Europe for two decades. Attempts to conflate the various strands of Europe’s crises into ‘populism’ demonstrate this denial of reality quite clearly.</p> <p>The result is precisely what conservative and liberal national governments in France, Germany and elsewhere are now contending with. Neoliberalism has reached its limit and is undermining the foundations of the post-Cold War political settlement. The electoral and street-politics gains of the far-right have shaken one pillar of the Union – free movement. Now the whole building is shaking.</p> <p>Far from being aloof, Corbyn has identified the priority for the UK correctly – to understand why people voted Leave and address that through investment, instead of accepting the immigration rhetoric peddled by the far-right. This is not achieved by flashy tinkering with policy or a rehearsal of the losing arguments of the first Remain campaign – it needs transformative economic heavy lifting in everything from welfare to the NHS, energy to public transport. People voted Leave in 2016 as much out of having&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/30/martin-nothing-lose-vote-leave-unemployed-benefits-sanctioned">nothing to lose</a>&nbsp;as for half-baked prescriptions for restoring sovereignty through restricting free movement. These are lessons with relevance to several of the EU27. </p> <p>The risks? Revoking Article 50 would be seen as illegitimate and embolden and anger the far-right. Well, the same goes for every other option, including a second referendum. The holding of the first referendum was the real boon to the far-right, and any outcome of the Article 50 process is one in which they gain ground through waves of reaction on the street, goaded by the Brexiteer elite. The conversation needs to quickly move to interrupting their stride—and in this regard Labour’s putative programme of social investment is robust, fresh and timely.</p> <p>What should his gambit be? Here’s one idea: a new EU Treaty for a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.socialeurope.eu/">Social Europe</a>&nbsp;to replace Lisbon, not only democratising the EU’s institutions, but rolling back austerity dressed as “fiscal discipline” and the straitjacket of privatisation and outsourcing in public procurement (removing the perceived barriers to renationalisation of industries and services). And rolling out a realignment of the State’s role in the economy towards social security and environmental protection, with more power to harness industry to innovate towards social ends and to address serious threats such as climate change.</p> <p>If Corbyn was rebuffed or obstructed by Brussels in his efforts to negotiate a new Treaty with other left and social-democratic EU Council allies, Article 50 would be the threat, this time not because of some Etonian playground fisticuffs spilling into national politics – rather for jumping ship before the EU disintegrates under the weight of its own inertia in failing to reform its way out of its growing problems.</p> <p>European neoliberal hegemony is entering a major crisis in 2019, and the resulting opportunities for major reform need to be seized on. Corbyn could lead that charge and deliver to the UK electorate what Brexit simply cannot.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Ideas International politics Michael Rafferty Sat, 02 Feb 2019 16:14:33 +0000 Michael Rafferty 121541 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Turkey: the lion that the hyenas did not kill https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/manuel-soares/turkey-lion-that-hyenas-did-not-kill <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The president of the Portuguese Judges Association published the following article about Turkish judge, Murat Arslan, in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.publico.pt/2019/01/30/opiniao/opiniao/leao-hienas-nao-mataram-1859807">Público</a>, here in English.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/murat.arslan2.Jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/murat.arslan2.Jpeg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Murat Arslan.</span></span></span></p><p>Murat Arslan was arrested on 19 October 2016. He is in a prison cell in Sincan, Ankara, with 16 other detainees: 8 beds and the floor to sleep on, a carpet to pray, one shower, one washbasin and two toilets. 20 litres of water a day to wash clothes and the body, half an hour a week for visits, through a thick dirty glass, half an hour a month to hug the wife Sevilay and the sons, Burak Emre and Yigit Eren, 16 and 13 years old, with a phone call every two weeks, an hour a month to play football, and a weekly order of books and canteen food.</p><p>Murat is Turkish, 44 years old and was a judge and president of the Association of Judges and Prosecutors (YARSAV), member of the European Association of Judges and MEDEL – European Magistrates for Democracy and Freedoms.&nbsp;</p><p>In a country engaged in totalitarian drift, he has stood out in the fearless and courageous defense of human rights, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. Even before the attempted coup d'état of 2016 – the gift that, according to Erdogan, God gave him to purge “traitors” – there was a price on Murat and 4500 other "rebel" judges and prosecutors’ heads.</p><p>Only a few days after the "coup", YARSAV was dissolved by the first state of emergency governmental decree. Murat was in London with his family. Against the advice of friends, he chose to return to be arrested: "If the road to freedom has to pass through the bars of a prison, I will return to confront evil head on" – he said. Everything was taken away from him: his job, his home, his money. His wife and sons survive now with the help of the wider family. But Murat did not cave in.&nbsp;</p><p>In a letter to his brother Mustafa and sister Leyla, he wrote: "In this dark empire of fear, I may have lost my freedom, my bread, my loved ones, but within the hunger, darkness, and screams, I have never lost faith in bright days that will come knocking at our door; never. Every day I go to sleep with hope of better days and inner peace; every morning I wake up smiling."</p><p>On 9 October 2017 the Council of Europe awarded the Václav Havel Prize for Human Rights to Murat Arslan, who sent this message from prison: "We must not fall into despair. The existence of our children does not allow us to lose hope. "</p><p>On 18 January, a special court, with judges loyal to Erdogan, sentenced him to 10 years in prison for terrorism. The trial was a farce. The decisive evidence was the download of the ByLock application to his mobile phone. As the Gulenists used ByLock to prepare the "coup" (although the application was deactivated 104 days earlier), every downloader is a terrorist.&nbsp;</p><p>The prosecutor argued that the fact that there is no evidence of any connection of Murat to the Gulenists only shows that he hid his secret very well and that he is guilty. A striking reasoning ... The angry cry of Murat's wife to the three silently shrunken judges still echoes on the walls of that room: "I wonder how you are returning to you homes and looking your children in the eyes; shame on you!"</p><p>Murat always knew he was going to be convicted. In his closing speech in court he remained dignified: "I am very well aware that I am talking against a brick wall and it is futile to do this. In the void of nonsense, the only thing that we hear is again our own voices. This seems a little bit discouraging but the existence of our children who are our future does not give us a reason or right to kneel down or surrender”. “You cannot hear the voice of truth in the cacophony of darkness”. “You will be ashamed of what you did when we build new Turkey with all free people. The future is ours and we will win”.</p><p>Erdogan wants to make an example of Murat. He is right in this. Murat is already an example. A friend who shared imprisonment with him (whom I do not identify for security reasons) told me that he did not sign the confession papers because when he saw Murat smiling he gained a new strength to continue.</p><p>Arslan means "lion" in Turkish. The hyenas of dictatorship are trying to kill the lion of freedom, but he resists. The Platform for an Independent Judiciary in Turkey, formed by European magistrates' associations, does not allow him to be forgotten. From here the voice of the Portuguese judges joins together. While Murat Arslan and other companions are in prison, there will not be a single judge who is truly free.</p><p>(Supportive messages to Murat to&nbsp;correio@asjp.pt).</p><p><em>This article was published in the newspaper Público on 30 January 2019.</em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Turkey Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Turkish Dawn Manuel Soares Fri, 01 Feb 2019 21:52:14 +0000 Manuel Soares 121535 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Hungarian paradigm shift: how right-wing are Fidesz supporters? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/katherine-kondor/hungarian-paradigm-shift-how-right-wing-are-fidesz-supporters <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It is clear that the Fidesz government is truly what the Hungarian people desire, their success not simply a matter of effective propaganda. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35866480.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35866480.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Fidesz supporters take part in the last rally of the Fidesz party before general elections in central Hungary, April 6, 2018. Attila Volgyi/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The end of 2018 was not uneventful for Hungary and Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party (<em>Fiatal Demokrat</em><em>ák Szövetsége</em>; Alliance of Young Democrats). Increasingly strengthening their hold on Hungary, in the April 2018 national elections Orbán and his party again succeeded in attaining a majority government, now essentially wiping out the opposition and effectively creating a one-party state. The elections were followed by several red-flag events (which I covered <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com/2018/04/27/hungarys-fidesz-secure-another-term-with-two-thirds-majority/">here</a> and <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com/2018/06/13/hungarys-population-crisis-more-babies-and-less-migrants/">here</a>), including the creation of a list of ‘Soros agents’, the criminalisation of ‘helping migrants’, and a crackdown on NGOs and intelligentsia.</p> <h2><strong>New year, new laws</strong></h2> <p><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46651428">Protests</a> have been ongoing in Budapest since December 2018 against the new <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/11/orban-hungarys-new-slave-law-risks-first-general-strike-since-fall-of-communism.html">‘slave law’</a>, a law stating that individuals can be required to work 400 hours of overtime to only see payment in three-years time. </p> <p>Protests involving thousands resulted in a <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hungary-protest/hungarians-protest-at-state-tv-to-demand-independent-public-media-courts-idUSKBN1OG0RE">sit-in by Hungarian opposition leaders and representatives at a local television station</a>, demanding but five &nbsp;minutes of airtime to voice their concerns; the sit-in was live-streamed on Facebook (in several videos, for example <a href="https://www.facebook.com/szelbernadett/videos/d41d8cd9/2258809004365239/">here</a>) by ex-LMP (<em>Lehet M</em><em>ás</em><em> a Politika</em>; Politics Can Be Different) leader Bernadett Szél. Opposition leaders and representatives were eventually ejected from the building the following day without succeeding in securing airtime.</p> <p>The question is, was this ‘slave law’ smoke and mirrors for the arguably more serious events going on in the background? While people were on the streets protesting this new law, Fidesz swiftly passed a law allowing the creation of a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/12/world/europe/hungary-courts.html?smid=fb-nytimes&amp;smtyp=cur&amp;fbclid=IwAR1QO50u0MmrKcCFFlJLM8xYzkdBDuVDiit4webbj1LG2Eekzm2_OMmzCqw">new administrative court system</a> with judges to be appointed by Fidesz. These administrative courts would take over cases dealing with elections, taxation, and protest. Needless to say, this does not bode well for the future of the freedom to protest and any chance of a change in government in Hungary.</p> <p>When putting it all together, it paints a bleak picture for Hungary: a war on the intelligentsia, a complete takeover of the media, and a law that has criminalised ‘helping migrants’, almost immediately followed by the creation of new government-controlled administrative courts. While one should not jump to hyperboles and extremes, for many Hungarians it is difficult not to liken the current atmosphere in the country to the regime of the Kádár era (1956-1989).</p> <h2><strong>How right-wing are Fidesz supporters?</strong></h2> <p>Are the Hungarian people really so right-wing? Has Fidesz’ propaganda succeeded in indoctrinating so many? </p> <p>Prior to Fidesz taking over the radical right sphere of politics in Hungary, that terrain was in the firm grip of the Jobbik party (<em>Jobbik Magyarorsz</em><em>ágért Mozgalom</em>; Movement for a Better Hungary). However, as Fidesz began a more notable shift to the right with their xenophobic and nativist characteristics, Jobbik took on a more <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/43137b62-ff25-11e6-96f8-3700c5664d30">centrist image</a>. Since the national elections in April 2018, Jobbik has since fragmented, with a portion of the party forming the radical right <a href="https://mihazank.hu/">Mi Hazánk</a> (Our Home) movement. Yet, much of the scholarship and literature on the radical right in Hungary still focuses on Jobbik, while some Hungarian scholars have <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/hugary-right-wing-trading-places-fidesz-jobbik/">described the parties as being quite similar</a>.</p> <p>A quick look at the survey data can reveal much about the states of mind of the Hungarian people. Using the <a href="https://www.europeansocialsurvey.org/">European Social Survey</a>, data from 2015 (Round 7) and 2017 (Round 8) was used to analyse political placements versus which party an individual most supports. More specifically, the survey analysis looked at a variable measuring where an individual would place themselves on a political scale, ranging from extreme left (0) to extreme right (10). This was then compared to which party the individual ‘feels closest to’.</p> <p>A simple analysis revealed a change from 2015 (Table 1) to 2017 (Table 2). Both the 2015 and 2017 data show the popularity of Fidesz and Jobbik, with Fidesz attaining 42.9% of support from survey respondents in 2015, and Jobbik 22.3%. In 2017, 62.6% of survey respondents felt closest to the Fidesz party and 14.2% to Jobbik. In both years, these two were the most popular parties. To examine the proportion of far-right supporters, values 9 and 10 on the political scale were considered as ‘far-right’. </p> <p>It must be remembered that these are self-placements on the scale, meaning that respondents identify themselves in this way (as opposed to being labelled by an external source). In 2015, 18.3% of respondents who felt closest to Fidesz were far-right compared to 37.5% of those who felt closest to Jobbik. In 2017, 28.7% of Fidesz supporters were far-right and 31.0% of Jobbik’s supporters. </p> <p>Looking at these numbers, it is clear that there is a rise in far-right support for Fidesz and a decline of far-right support for Jobbik, although it is still substantial. When comparing overall numbers, in the 2017 data 77.6% of far-right respondents supported Fidesz and 19.4% Jobbik.</p> <p><em>Table 1: 2015 Hungarian ESS Data (Round 7) of participants’ self-placement on a political left-right scale versus the party to which they feel closest.</em></p><p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screenshot 2019-01-30 at 14.22.41.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screenshot 2019-01-30 at 14.22.41.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></em></p><p><em>Table 2: 2017 Hungarian ESS Data (Round 8) of participants’ self-placement on a political left-right scale versus the party to which they feel closest.</em></p><p><em> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screenshot 2019-01-30 at 14.24.20.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screenshot 2019-01-30 at 14.24.20.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></em></p><h2><strong>Less of a focus on Jobbik</strong></h2> <p>These results indicate a frightening shift not just in Hungarian politics, but among the Hungarian public. The implication is that Fidesz supporters aren’t just brainwashed and indoctrinated, but many actually self-identify as being far-right. It is clear that the Fidesz government is truly what the Hungarian people desire, their success not simply a matter of effective propaganda. </p> <p>Consequently, the continued focus of scholars and academics on Jobbik deducts from the seriousness and impact of Fidesz, and the amount of damage Orbán’s party has caused. Jobbik may have paved the way for the contemporary wave of fascism in Hungary’s parliament; however, they are now extremely small fish in the Hungarian political ocean, which is now completely polluted by Orbán’s regime.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Visit the <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com">Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right</a> (#CARR).</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Hungary </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Hungary Katherine Kondor Wed, 30 Jan 2019 14:21:47 +0000 Katherine Kondor 121497 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Lines of tradition: Europe and far right concepts after WWII https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/samuel-salzborn/lines-of-tradition-europe-and-far-right-concepts-after-wwii <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>‘Nation Europe’<strong> </strong>is based on the rejection of a multi-cultural society of a kind which the right-wing extremists still particularly identify with the USA.<strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-1190504.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-1190504.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Oswald Mosley after speaking in public for the first time since the war, London, November 1947.PA/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Already in the immediate aftermath of WWII, right-wing intellectuals attempted to reconstruct a <em>völkisch</em> Europe idea by falling back on (pre)fascist ideologies, crude “racist doctrine” and National Socialist propaganda. The right-wing ideology of a “Nation Europe”, which was to develop into the third superpower, was first raised by the British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, who already began to attempt to reorganise a brown international movement at the end of the 1940s. </p> <p>The strategic reference to Europe in right-wing projects also mirrored the Nazi propaganda of the Waffen-SS as a “protagonist” for a “united Europe”. In 1951, the former SS-Sturmbannführer Arthur Erhardt established a magazine with the programmatic title <em>Nation Europe</em> (later: <em>Nation &amp;</em> <em>Europe</em>). In his “political testament”, Erhardt explained that a “European major nation” centred around the natural leading power Germany – necessary because of a “far-reaching similarity in the essence of our <em>Völker</em> on bloodlines” – had been baptised in blood in 1945 in the fight by the “European comrades, the French legion in the battle for Berlin, and the Nordic, Flemish, East European SS comrades on all fronts”. A militant position was adopted here right from the beginning against the two superpowers the USA and the USSR. </p> <p>However, with the East European transformation, this contradiction moved into the background in 1989/90. This “European major nation” was now to rise up with a new sense of awareness, and after real socialism, must now also free itself from US hegemony: “The time is ripe for a fundamental reorientation of European <em>Völker</em> – away from regionally-foreign, pan-state global policemen, to a new supra-regional continental unit, which finally gives priority to European interests, and lifts up Europe again to the status of a major sovereign power.” (Karl Richter). </p> <p>The spiritual authorship of demands of this kind was and is evident: back in 1939 Carl Schmitt had already formulated a <em>Völkerrechtliche Großraumordnung mit Interventionsverbot für raumfremde Mächte: ein Beitrag zu Reichsbegriff im Völkerrecht </em>as the geopolitical doctrine of National Socialism – which in terms of power politics, was primarily directed against American influence on the continent.</p> <h2><strong>Pan-national structures</strong></h2> <p>The national peculiarities which have repeatedly caused the extreme right to agitate against the European Union (EU) as an institution, and against the Euro as a common currency, and which have led even up to the present day to successes in most European countries – particularly for populist right-wing extremists – have nevertheless so far hindered the development of institutionalised co-operation beyond national borders, or even the establishment of a pan-European far-right party. In addition to the personal vanities of the leaders in each case, this long-term co-operation also foundered on the different strategies with respect to the intended means of gaining political power, as was also shown by the politics put into practise by right-wing parties in the European Parliament. </p> <p>A certain exception with respect to the partial long-term creation of pan-national structures is only seen on the part of militant neonazism, which sticks to its original concept of a “white race”, and opposes the “common enemy of all <em>Völker</em>”: “international big business”.</p> <p>Right-wing extremists oppose the EU as an “American” form of integration, and counterpose it with their “Europe of the regions” or a “Europe of the <em>Völker</em>” and/or “<em>Volksgruppen</em>”. Regionalism as an ethnicising common ideology aims to replace (state) nationalism, and internally shape and structure the “Nation Europe” to be created. National-revolutionary ideologies oppose the EU with an indirect cosiness as a “vomit-inducing mishmash” and “McDonalds paradise” (Günther Nenning). The ideological workshop of the FPÖ states: “The Europe of the regions stands for roots in the homeland”. (Jürgen Hatzenbichler). This was not the case in a “pseudo national state”, which failed to “unite all members of a <em>Volk</em> within a state” (Hatzenbichler).</p> <p>The aim is to replace a pluralist political system with an authoritarian system which is to be based on an organic ideas of ethnic nationalism (<em>Volkstumsvorstellungen</em>). As a consequence, the freedom of the individual should be subordinated to the omnipotence of a European Reich (quasi as a “<em>völkisch</em>-regional antinational state”) as a consequence of the unconditional privileged status of the notions of unity, order and society. </p> <p>The “Nation Europe” as a central motif of far-right European ideology, formulates a claim to unrestricted dominion of the most omnipotent possible power, which is seen in political and military confrontation with American hegemony. At the same time, however, this also formulates a projection surface which is based on the rejection of a multi-cultural society of a kind which the right-wing extremists still particularly identify with the USA. The projection surface here is formed in a unifying way by the shared bogymen: the USA and the “globalisers” on the American “East coast” (an antisemitic code used ubiquitously in right-wing extremist circles). </p> <p>A Europe of small (<em>völkisch</em>) units and regions – as emphasised by the Italian Lega Nord for instance – has priority over a “Europe of high finance, profit-oriented industry, banks and major companies”.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Visit the <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com">Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right</a> (#CARR).</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? International politics Ideas Samuel Salzborn Wed, 30 Jan 2019 13:51:01 +0000 Samuel Salzborn 121496 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Rethinking divorce: the rights of UK nationals are at risk https://www.opendemocracy.net/brad-k-blitz/rethinking-divorce-rights-of-uk-nationals-are-at-risk <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The PM alone made the decision to leave the EU on the basis of the referendum result: Article 50 was invoked before setting out what type of Brexit the country would pursue.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40229611.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40229611.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Theresa May, UK PM, during European Council Summit, December 14, 2018. NurPhoto/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Brexit still poses a challenges to our human rights.</p> <p>One aspect of the Brexit negotiations that has not been given sufficient consideration is the potential violation of our human rights as a result of the revocation of EU citizenship rights. With the ruling of the Court of Appeal against the application for Judicial Review of the decision to withdraw from the European Union, this matter is now most relevant.</p> <p>There are many aspects of the Brexit process which have proved troubling for individuals but no more so than the question of citizen’s rights.&nbsp; Although the government has introduced the EU settlement scheme for EU nationals in the UK, the rights of UK nationals as presently guaranteed under EU law, are at risk. &nbsp;Specifically, the cancellation of the right to citizenship of the European Union, as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, may violate the rights to private and family life, as protected under the European Convention on Human Rights. </p> <p>Throughout the Brexit process, the relationship between European Union citizenship and the protection of our human rights has received little attention. There are several reasons for this. First, there is limited understanding of what European Union citizenship offers. Many of us primarily identify as nationals of particular states. We associate our nationality with our passport. Our national identities have been reinforced through schooling and other state institutions; that is not the case with EU citizenship. <span class="mag-quote-center">Although the government has introduced the EU settlement scheme for EU nationals in the UK, the rights of UK nationals as presently guaranteed under EU law, are at risk.</span></p> <p>Second, most people do not appreciate the scope of their citizenship rights until they are at risk.&nbsp; In several studies where individuals and groups have seen their citizenship withdrawn, either through a deliberate discriminatory action by the state, or as a result of an administrative failing, it was only when they bumped up against the state that they realise what they had lost. Citizenship tends to be most valued by those who have had to depend on it for practical protection of their human rights. </p> <p>Third, we have been distracted. Both before and after the referendum of 23 June 2016, the national discourse has focused on the sovereign right of states to control immigration, in this case by cancelling the right to freedom of movement.&nbsp; The most recent iteration of this is the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal Bill) which received its second reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday 28 January.&nbsp; Yet we do not have to look far to see how both immigration and freedom of movement are connected to our most intimate rights.&nbsp; Separated families, those tragic situations where spouses or parents are forced to live apart from their partners or children on other sides of the state border, understand this immediately. &nbsp;Immigration status bears directly on your enjoyment of private and family life.</p> <p>Arguably for many years, EU citizenship was largely decorative.&nbsp; EU citizenship was complementary to national citizenship. It really did not offer much.&nbsp; Equally, the right to free movement was not understood as a civic right but was described as a negative freedom which would remove barriers and enable the construction of the European single market. Although some legal scholars argue that early European Union case law reflected a concern to protect and respect the social and human consequences of migration, the primary rationale was economic.&nbsp; The movement of people across the EU member states was described in terms of labour flows, alongside goods, services and capital. Discrimination on the basis of nationality was prohibited, but the logic and language of European integration described people as aggregated inputs, not as individuals with rights. </p> <p>A handful did of course test their rights before the European Court of Justice but for many years free movement was restricted to workers, defined as those in a subordinate employment relationship and the self-employed, who could demonstrate that they had sufficient resources so as not to be a burden on the host state. Secondary legislation that aimed to promote the free movement of skilled persons was also drafted with economic criteria in mind. </p> <p>But that was then. A generation has since grown up to rely on the provisions included in the&nbsp; Maastricht Treaty which set out the rights associated with European Union citizenship which we enjoy as individuals. More important they have come to depend on the expanded rights included in the 2004 EU Citizenship Directive which enables family members of EU citizens to benefit from free movement.&nbsp; </p> <p>This fact has not been taken seriously by Theresa May’s government which dragged its feet and only now is introducing legislation both promising continuity to EU nationals in the UK and also ending freedom of movement once the UK leaves the EU.&nbsp; Yet, as Goldsmith’s University Law professor Dimitrious Giannoulopoulos argues, the delay, in itself, may constitute a violation of our human rights. &nbsp;Drawing on the 2006 case of Aristimuño Mendizabal v. France, he claims that the fact that EU nationals in the UK were left in a situation of prolonged uncertainty for more than two years may have violated the right to respect for private and family life as protected under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.</p> <p>Moreover, I believe there is an additional charge that has not been considered but which is now crucially relevant given the decision by the Court of Appeal and the nature of debate within parliament.&nbsp; The termination of our right to citizenship of the European Union may also constitute a violation of our human rights.&nbsp; </p> <p>There are two key issues: the impact of the cancellation of EU citizenship on our social identity; and, the manner in which Brexit is being carried out. There is precedent and it is worthwhile reviewing previous judgments by the European Court of Human Rights. </p> <h2><strong>EU citizenship</strong></h2> <p>In the 2011 case of Genovese v Malta, the European Court of Human Rights established that citizenship is an aspect of a person’s social identity and is protected under the right to private life.&nbsp; Canvassing public opinion over the past three years, it is difficult to dismiss EU citizenship as meaningless. The outcry from UK nationals, and others, over their relationship to the European Union – whether they identify as remainers or leavers -- is testament that to the fact that EU citizenship rights are not inconsequential but are materially important to their lives. Accounts published by EU nationals, for example in the collection <em>In Limbo: Brexit testimonies from EU citizens in the UK </em>regarding the impending loss of their right to free movement and citizenship of the European Union record at the very least an important sentimental attachment to these rights.&nbsp; They are not alone. According to a 2018 Eurobarometer poll, 58% of the UK still identify as EU citizens. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Further, in activating Article 50, the government may not have satisfied a test which has been affirmed by the European Court of Human Rights and which also deals with the rights of permanent residents. In Kurić and others v Slovenia, the Court examined the treatment of more than 25,000 people who saw their residency rights revoked by Slovenia shortly after it declared independence in 1991. The victims were described collectively as the ‘erased’ because not only did their status change from permanent resident to aliens overnight, but they were deleted from the population register. </p> <p>With the cancellation of their residency status they lost a host of associated rights, including access to free medical care, the right to marry, found a family, travel and have a bank account.&nbsp; The Court ruled that the revocation of residency rights irremediably affected the applicants’ private and family life and thus violated ECHR Article 8. The Court also ruled on the lawfulness of the action which brought about the change in residency status and concluded that in order to satisfy ECHR Article 8(2), the erasure law had to be sufficiently foreseeable and accessible. The Grand Chamber found that this condition was not satisfied.&nbsp; The erased individuals could not have reasonably expected, in the absence of an express legal clause, that their status as aliens would amount to them being considered unlawfully resident and result in the ‘erasure’. &nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">The erased individuals could not have reasonably expected… that their status as aliens would amount to them being considered unlawfully resident and result in the ‘erasure’.&nbsp; </span></p> <h2><strong>Foreseeable and accessible?</strong></h2> <p>The above case law may also inform the Brexit conundrum.&nbsp; With respect to the activation of Article 50, we might ask if there was an express legal clause which made the revocation of free movement rights foreseeable and accessible? The fact that more than two years after the 2016 Referendum parliamentarians are still debating the parameters of Brexit, including the possibilities of remaining within a Customs Union and/or Single Market, begs the question.&nbsp; </p> <p>This is a critical test. We note that in the case of EU nationals who moved to the United Kingdom, they did so with the expectation that they enjoyed rights which would be upheld. Further, we may ask if the decision to leave the European Union, which was enacted by means of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017, made clear that the rights currently enjoyed by EU nationals would be cancelled. Although the government has attempted to mitigate the loss of EU citizenship by introducing the EU settlement scheme, EU nationals will not enjoy the full set of rights they had before Brexit. Crucially, with respect to family members who arrive after the UK leaves the European Union, new immigration restrictions will apply, including conditions regarding their level of income and skills. </p> <p>The decision by UK courts in response to the Article 50 Challenge introduces further doubt about the degree to which the Article 50 process satisfies the requirement that the law be foreseeable and accessible.&nbsp; In his decision of 12 June 2018 in the matter of R. (on the application of Webster) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Lord Justice Gross established that the Prime Minister acting alone made the decision to leave the European Union on the basis of the referendum result and on 29 March 2017, the UK invoked Article 50 before setting out what type of Brexit the country would pursue.&nbsp; The Prime Minister’s decision subsequently left millions in a state of uncertainty. &nbsp;</p> <p>The request to judicial review the decision to exit the European Union may have been refused by the Court of Appeal but there remains another possible course of action. The matter could be considered by the European Court of Human Rights.&nbsp; We deserve to an answer to the question, did&nbsp; the Article 50 process and the decision to leave the European Union violate our rights to private and family life.&nbsp; While such a case may not prevent the UK’s impending departure from the European Union, it may force the government to rethink the extent of that divorce and the possibility that we retain more of the rights we currently enjoy as EU citizens. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Democracy and government Brexit Brad K. Blitz Tue, 29 Jan 2019 13:39:33 +0000 Brad K. Blitz 121484 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Let’s not crash out of or back into the EU: we need more time – a response to Yanis Varoufakis https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/andrea-pisauro/let-s-not-crash-out-of-or-back-into-eu-we-need-more-time-response- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Pushing away this fake deadline, which is effectively pointing a gun at the heads of the people of Britain, is extremely important, since it appears to control the entire political dynamics.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-20670398.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-20670398.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Big Ben. Yui Mok/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Yanis Varoufakis is one of the few intellectuals in Europe who has both the ability to think outside the box and the audacity to confront us with uncomfortable truths. This is why, before challenging one aspect of his reasoning on Brexit, I want to pay tribute to the coherence of his stance, powerfully expressed by his <a href="https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2019/01/yanis-varoufakis-britain-needs-people-s-debate-not-second-brexit-referendum">latest piece in the New Statesman</a>. As he puts it : “Britain is teetering on a knife’s edge: about to crash out of, or back into, the European Union” where “either outcome would represent a defeat for democracy in the UK and in the EU.” While he joins many progressives in denouncing the economic and political risk of a calamitous no deal Brexit on March 29, he is among the few on the Left who address the great risk that by stopping Brexit trust in democracy would be undermined. I think he is right.</p> <p>Yes, a unilateral revocation of article 50 is technically possible, as clarified by the EU Court of Justice and advocated by many, <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/john-major-the-cost-of-a-bad-brexit-decision-now-is-too-great-please-stop-and-think-xlhq0099j">including former Prime Minister John Major</a>. But how would it be democratically justifiable? Anyone who thinks that Brexit can simply be annulled with such a magic wand needs to recognise the sense of betrayal that many Leave voters would inevitably feel. In fact, neither crashing out nor crashing back into the EU are viable options for democrats, despite momentous support from two entrenched fronts. </p> <p>Varoufakis is also right in warning against the risks of a quick referendum between May’s botched deal and an option to remain. Not only is there no agreement in Parliament over when and how to have it, but such a “People’s Vote” would also be met with significant opposition in the country, both from “no deal” supporters and from many who fear a resurgence of the toxic divisions that accompanied the 2016 referendum. To a large extent, Britain is not ready to decide what to make of Brexit and it instead needs <a href="https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/british-brexit-debate-democratic-opportunity-by-yanis-varoufakis-2018-12">a People’s Debate on the many interconnected crises that Brexit itself has revealed</a>.</p> <p>It was precisely for the depth of this rift between these entrenched fronts and the virulence of the debate among them that last September I set up a campaign to <a href="http://www.takeabreakfrombrexit.co.uk/">Take a Break from Brexit</a> &nbsp;by means of <a href="https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/235753">a significant extension of the Brexit deadline set by article 50</a>. I did so together with many friends who, like myself, are members of DiEM25, the pan-European movement founded by Varoufakis in 2016 to democratise the European Union. </p> <p>We recognised then that an extension is our only option if we want both to respect the 2016 referendum and offer an alternative to the choice between a catastrophic no deal and the toxic deal that Theresa May has forced on the country. The two months left before March 29, 2019 are not enough – either for this government to negotiate a new deal (which it does not want anyway) or to elect a new government with a clear mandate from a General Election. </p> <p>This is where my disagreement with Varoufakis begins. In his article he opposes an extension as he believes this would only buy Theresa May more time. But this would only happen in case of an extension limited to a few weeks. More than a 100 Tory MPs have rejected her deal and most of them are campaigning for a <em>no deal</em> outcome. All the hard line brexiteers are clear they expect Brexit to be delivered this March and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jan/04/most-tory-members-would-choose-no-deal-over-may-brexit-plan">a majority of conservative members support this view</a>. There is no way the government could retain its slim majority of a dozen MPs if Parliament voted to extend the deadline by several months. Delivering Brexit on March 2019 is Theresa May’s tenure. Failing to do so will be its end.</p> <p>But how significant should this extension be to allow for real listening, reconciliation and compromise? Varoufakis is right to remind us that an extension does not cancel the deadline. Which is why an extension should be as long as possible, <a href="https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/235753">as our campaign is demanding</a>. The reason is that the deadline of article 50 is not the date when Brexit must be delivered. It just sets the window allowed for negotiation. Article 50 allows Britain to exit at any point during that window as long as a withdrawal agreement with a certain exit date is approved. So, this date of departure could be either before or after the new deadline set by the extension. An extension, in other words, does not set the Brexit date, it just removes the pressure from Parliament to vote for an agreement before they actually support it.</p> <p>Pushing away this deadline, which is effectively pointing a gun at the heads of the people of Britain, is extremely important. All the more so as it appears to control the entire political dynamics. Since the day after the referendum the political establishment has been captured by a rush to deliver on a far-too-ill-defined will of the people. Leavers in favour of a <em>no deal</em> Brexit repeat obsessively “Out, now” refusing to acknowledge the possible consequences. Remainers, meanwhile, work around complex timetables to rush through a second referendum while no one is clear on how to bring this about. But if Article 50 is the White Rabbit of British politics, there’s no sign of a Mary Poppins ready to pause time and bring some order. There is, in fact, utter confusion and division at all levels.</p> <p>The reality is that everyone who believes that the rift in the country can be healed in a few weeks or even months is deeply delusional. If a government entirely devoted to delivering Brexit failed to do so in two years, how can we expect a solution with just a few more months, as in Yvette Cooper’s amendment? How can we hope to find a compromise between those who do not want Brexit at all and those that want an extreme version of it in the few weeks that would be gained to organise <a href="https://www.facebook.com/CompassGoodSociety/videos/528988800945219/">the national citizens assembly proposed by Compass and some Labour MPs</a>? No, if we are to get an extension, we should agree with another former Prime Minister, <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/e12ea82e-1f23-11e9-a46f-08f9738d6b2b">Gordon Brown</a>: we need at least one year. </p> <p>Some, including Varoufakis, repeat UK and EU concerns that such an extension would force British citizens to vote in the upcoming European Elections. How so? If an extension is indeed granted and therefore Britain is still in the EU in May 2019, it would be up to each individual citizen to decide whether and how to engage in such elections. Voting is a free choice. Can we really be so afraid of such democratic choices as to block a UK-wide debate – the only sensible solution to a constitutional crisis? In terms of the wider debate, doesn’t it in fact make sense that UK representatives in Brussels are renewed before the European Parliament discusses the Brexit deal, as the current MEPs were elected in 2014, when nobody knew what Brexit meant? </p><p> Britain is facing the most dramatic crisis of its democratic history. The entire United Kingdom is embittered, frustrated and divided and threatening to fall apart. There are no “emergency powers” in Brussels to help us see this through. Only time and democracy can heal the rifts. <a href="https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/235753">It is up to us to ask for it</a>. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Andrea Pisauro DiEM25 Tue, 29 Jan 2019 13:21:30 +0000 Andrea Pisauro 121483 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Greek visiting hours: touring a debtors prison https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/erik-edman/greek-visiting-hours-touring-debt-prison <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“This transformation, which has simultaneously shut people out from meaningful participation in politics and destroyed the economic basis of their prosperity, can lead my country to fascism.” </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35275398.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35275398.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The small village of Chora Sfakion, Sfakia, Chania, southern part of Crete island, Greece. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>“Those columns there,” he says pointing at the stone colonnade of the cosy village-square café we were sitting in, “my father built those. He was the better craftsman. I struggle to make ends meet.” He had picked the venue. I wondered if it was just to point that out.</p> <h2><strong>The craftsman </strong></h2> <p>He is one of hundreds of Greeks I have met in my tour of the country in the last four months. I have been visiting every prefecture capital to set up the infrastructure for our party, MeRA25, to run in the upcoming European (and almost certainly national) elections. A daunting task, both practically – 80% of the country is mountainous and getting anywhere involves a long, potholed, winding road – as well as psychologically. Nowhere is the crushing effect of the Troika’s near-decade-long austerity policies more depressingly obvious than in the deserted high-streets and squares of the country’s provincial towns and villages.</p> <p>It is not any difference in skill, talent, or dedication that accounts for the difference in professional success between this man and his father. Rather, it all boils down to living in a healthy economy, versus living in an economy in tatters. Yet, Greeks have been told that they are to blame for the apocalyptic fate of their nation: it is the direct result of the inherent indolence and corruption of Greek society. Some have had this slander repeated enough times to internalise it. Combined with the 2015 crushing of those who refused to believe it, the result is an economy and a society both in depression. This phenomenon shocked me the most: I attempted to describe it <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/erik-edman/first-rider-of-apocalypse-silent-taxi-driver">in an earlier piece</a> when I first moved back home after an 8-year-long absence. <span class="mag-quote-center">Self-loathing is a form of propaganda perfected by the New Democracy party as the representative of the Greek elite, but used extensively by many, including the country’s media.</span></p> <p>Self-loathing is a form of propaganda perfected by the New Democracy party as the representative of the Greek elite, but used extensively by many, including the country’s media. It consists of a number of stereotypes perpetuated within Greece and beyond it, that describe an uncultured, uneducated, work-shy, corrupt Greek people that deserves austerity and is to blame for the rightful subjugation of our sovereignty to the enlightened rule of western Europe. This rhetoric, although never explicit, has served to create a Greek mentality that places ‘Europe’ as a culture separate and superior to our own, and one towards which we should aspire, despite our ‘natural’ shortcomings. This world-view was also at the heart of the campaign against the Greek debt renegotiation of 2015 as well the YES vote in the Greek referendum of 2015, which portrayed the potential rejection of austerity as an existential threat to our ties with Europe and the triumph of the uneducated Greek masses who had been misled by populists. This is a mentality with which many progressives, who see themselves as European and their country as a problematic yet inseparable part of Europe, have been at odds since our socio-economic odyssey began. There is no “us and them” in Europe. We all <em>are </em>Europe.</p> <p>The most common way of dealing with the economic crisis, is by escaping from it. To migrate, to claim the bright future that you were promised in return for your studies and hard work. This promise has led thousands of people (educated at the taxpayers’ expense) to flee the desertification of their country for a brighter future in the flourishing European heartland: Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands. Since the beginning of the crisis, 700,000 people have left Greece; that is over 6% of the population, with a further 800,000 <a href="https://www.thepressproject.gr/article/137426/Entona-anisuxitikes-problepseis-gia-ti-meiosi-tou-plithusmou-ta-epomena-xronia">estimated to leave in the next 8 years</a>. This has brought back a trend of mass migration not seen in Greece since the late 70s, a phenomenon the country thought it had left behind for good. This draining of the European periphery in favour of western and northern Europe will not – indeed, cannot – last. It is economically, socially and politically unsustainable. Unless it is reversed through progressive policies that aim at redistributing Europe’s riches and creating opportunities across the Union, it will lead to the disintegration of the EU. And the EU will be remembered for its short-sightedness and delusions, rather than the great promise it held for peace, solidarity and progress. </p> <p>We must bring European prosperity to all of the continent’s craftsmen, regardless of where they live. </p> <h2><strong>The host</strong></h2> <p>Hospitality is one of those Greek clichés. Smiling people urge you into their humble abodes, carrying trays of local produce that nourish the soul with their pure flavour as well as with the openness and selflessness with which they are offered. This is one tradition that has lasted the test of time: you still come across it in Greece. We certainly have.</p> <p>Following our event in Corfu, where curious locals gathered in a popular taverna to hear what our new party was about, our member Spyros took us to his mother’s house in the heartland of the island. We were to be his guests.</p> <p>We arrived to a simple but hearty feast. Homegrown vegetables, the neighbour’s wine, meat from a friend in town, and some home-made <em>tsipouro</em> to help us digest it all and to get us talking. And talk we did. Spyros is a lawyer and has been practicing for well over 30 years. He has seen the country go through many phases, but none like this one, he says. There is a sense of unconditional surrender to the way with which people have removed themselves from political life. This is made all the starker by the juxtaposition to the people who had spent five years regularly taking to the streets, prior to 2015, to oppose the dismantling of their nation.</p> <p>And yet, it is far worse than that. The great success of the Brussels establishment was to convince Greeks that democracy cannot be allowed to affect economic decisions. The “Schäuble Doctrine” if you like. This has led a part of the populace, which is none the less indignant and frustrated, to use other issues, such as the Macedonian question, as vehicles for political expression. </p> <p>Multiple participants have spoken to me about how our country is being “sold off” to foreign interests, how we are being humiliated and brought to our knees by outsiders, lambasting the “traitors” who would rather act against the interests of Greeks than lose their positions of power. All of this was said about the agreement with FYROM and those behind it, but I could not help but hear, underlying it all, a suppressed criticism of Greece’s Sisyphean condition and their own political disenfranchisement. Once, such indignation was expressed through determined public demonstrations. Perhaps it is still, but now it masquerades as nationalism. This transformation, which has simultaneously shut people out from meaningful participation in politics and destroyed the economic basis of their prosperity, can lead my country to fascism. </p> <p>“I have no problem with anyone,” she will start, like they always do “<em>but</em> it just isn’t fair for Syrians to come here and receive 580 euros per month just for sitting on the beach all year long. We work hard and still we are hungry. My kids are forced to leave our country, and <em>they</em> come here and live like kings. We all have our limits.” They are of coursing repeating untruths, or “fake news” as we have taken to calling them. A refugee staying in the Moria camp in Lesvos will receive <a href="https://refugeeobservatory.aegean.gr/el/node/431">90 euros per month</a> (unless they are staying in facilities that require them to cook for themselves the amount increases to 140 euros per month). In any case, the amount does not rise above 330 euros per month, which is reserved for families with seven or more children. The money is allocated from the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), a body of the European Commission, not from the impoverished Greek state. For those who legally receive asylum in Greece, there is a governmental order that limits their allowance to “1 euro less” than that offered to Greeks deemed in need of social financial assistance.</p> <p>However, it does not matter if the above statement is based on even the remotest of truths; what matters is that for millions of desperate people, it feels true. One of the many mistakes of the left is assuming that those who vote for fascists, are fascists. They are not. They are desperate, often ill-informed, people who seek to be represented politically. Unless we can accept that the people we are addressing are potential voters for the far-right, and we do not morally condemn them for that possibility, we will always lose to fascists and we will never live-up to the obligation of representing the disenfranchised working class. <span class="mag-quote-center">Unless we can accept that the people we are addressing are potential voters for the far-right, and we do not morally condemn them for that possibility, we will always lose to fascists.</span></p> <p>The far-right cannot take credit for its own rise. If people are turning to authoritarianism because democracy has let them down, it is progressive democrats who have disappointed them and who are to blame for being unable to offer an ambitious, inspiring alternative that captures peoples’ imagination. SYRIZA’s failure to offer a progressive alternative to Greece’s financial woes and the pressure exerted on Greece by European leaders, has led many on the Left to conclude that such an alternative is altogether unattainable within the EU. Echoes of this conclusion <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/meet-europes-left-nationalists/">can now be heard across Europe’s Left</a>, and it is as dangerous as the extreme-right. It is by conceding defeat at the international level that the Left will become terminally incoherent. If the Left cannot find solutions to a world without borders then it has failed; it does not have the luxury to retreat to the nation state.</p> <p>These thoughts swirled around that bucolic night in rural Corfu, where the rise of the far-right, amid the olive groves, bleating goats and <em>tsipouro</em>, felt as far away as the economic and political crisis that was bringing it about.</p> <h2><strong>The manager</strong></h2> <p>She came to the meeting three hours late. It was 11pm on a Wednesday and we were all tired and ready for bed. She had just finished locking up the local branch of a Greek supermarket chain that she manages, and although she had been working since 6am, she insisted on taking us out for drinks and a chat about what could be done to support MeRA25 in her city.</p> <p>Turns out she had lost her job as the regional manager of several luxury hotels in Greece at the beginning of the crisis. After a couple of years of unemployment, she found a job for the supermarket chain she is currently working for, and quickly rose in the ranks to become manager. She was looking for a “real challenge”. I cannot but smile when the stereotype of the “lazy Greek” comes to mind while speaking to people like her. She is a reminder of reality: Greeks are <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-17155304">the Europeans working the longest hours</a>. <span class="mag-quote-center">This has been the greatest outcome of this tour of ours, especially for an Athenian such as myself: coming face-to-face with “the rest of Greece”, and that outside the tourist season.</span></p> <p>This has been the greatest outcome of this tour of ours, especially for an Athenian such as myself: coming face-to-face with “the rest of Greece”, and that outside the tourist season. Meeting the farmers and small businessmen/women who make up the majority of our economy and whose work extends beyond the sunshine of August into long, difficult winters. It is a humbling experience meeting the people your party wishes to represent. One method for doing this effectively is by listening to them and that’s one of the goals of our tour. The other is by empowering them to represent themselves and that’s our second goal. MeRA’s local teams will not be coordinated by experts from Athens, but by these locals themselves. </p> <p>MeRA25 seeks to offer an alternative. The alternative can only be offered if the constituent parts of the party, and the way they interact, are free of old, corrupt and nepotistic elements. We will not reproduce the same old system in our effort to uproot it – that is to say, we will not be SYRIZA. In fact, the party has taken up so much of the collapsed PASOK infrastructure and personnel that many locals tell us how they are afraid of revealing their affiliation to us for fear of losing their jobs or facing repercussions from the local, ultra-partisan authorities. </p> <p>And yet, here she was, buying us our third drink of the night at her friend’s hotel lobby, in the crowded main square of her hometown. And we planned our resistance.</p> <h2><strong>The tour continues</strong></h2> <p>It is unacceptable that our citizens feel physically or psychologically barred from expressing their political views or from becoming politically active themselves. Our democracy is currently on life support, deprived of real choice and diversity that is its oxygen; a vacuum from which only the far-right ever triumphs. It is therefore not only our political mission, but also our historic duty, to continue our tours that seek to force open a space for political alternatives in the Greek electoral scene. To persuade Greeks that there can be hope for the future and that they should dare, once more, to believe in something.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/erik-edman/first-rider-of-apocalypse-silent-taxi-driver"> The first rider of the apocalypse: the silent taxi driver</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/yanis-varoufakis/mera25-new-greek-political-party">MeRA25: a new Greek political party</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/james-galbraith/straight-talk-on-trade-international-institutions-greek-austerity">Straight talk on trade, international institutions, Greek austerity and inequality</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Greece </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Greece Erik Edman DiEM25 Sun, 27 Jan 2019 11:11:18 +0000 Erik Edman 121463 at https://www.opendemocracy.net As long as it lasts: Latvia’s new coalition government https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-petsinis/as-long-as-it-lasts-latvia-s-new-coalition-government <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The rapid emergence of KPV hints at the growing relevance of economic Euroscepticism for a new generation of ambitious, anti-establishment, parties in the crisis-ridden parts of the ‘new’ Europe.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40790625.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40790625.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Latvian PM Krisjanis Karins speaks in Riga, Latvia, on Jan. 23, 2019, as new center-right coalition government is approved.Janis/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>After a long string of negotiations, since the parliamentary elections of October 2018, a <a href="https://eng.lsm.lv/article/politics/politics/latvia-gets-a-new-government-led-by-krisjanis-karins.a306967/?fbclid=IwAR0ew99n7AUG0XBscqmHUCCM14dLDKcZiHCzP-mD0MEEVlxgJdttpSxGvYI">new coalition government</a> was formed in Latvia (January 23, 2019). The new and rather heterogeneous government comprises three conservative/liberal parties of the centre-right (New Unity, New Conservatives and Development/For!), one national conservative party (National Alliance/NA) and most deputies from the populist Who Owns the State?/KPV party. This piece concentrates on the persistence of the <em>cordon sanitaire</em> around the, nominally centre-left, <em>Saskaņa</em>/Harmony party (the party that traditionally garners the bulk of the ethnic Russian vote); the weakening role of National Alliance as a partner in the governing coalition; and the rapidly emerging KPV. </p> <h2><strong>The <em>cordon sanitaire </em>around Harmony</strong></h2> <p>In contrast to, say, the ethnic Hungarian minorities across the Carpathian basin, the ethnic Russian communities of Latvia and Estonia tend to rally around parties with a civic profile &nbsp;(Latvia: <em>Saskaņa</em>/Harmony; Estonia: <em>Eesti Keskerakond</em>/Centre Party) instead of an explicitly ethnic one. Harmony’s appeal to ethnic Russians, as well as its calls for a foreign policy of appeasement vis-à-vis Russia, has rendered political rivals <a href="https://news.err.ee/635146/latvia-s-saskana-party-ditches-agreement-with-putin-s-united-russia.">skeptical</a> over the party’s motives and reliability. Harmony secured 19.80% of the vote and emerged as the strongest party, in its own right, in the October 2018 elections. This was also the case in the 2011 and the 2014 elections, where it garnered 28.36% and 23% of the vote respectively. Despite this successful electoral performance in a series of electoral contests, the (predominantly) Latvian parties maintain a <em>cordon sanitaire </em>around Harmony in a way that was once again manifest in the latest coalition government. </p> <p>The last few years have witnessed the emergence of an intra-party cleavage inside the ranks of Harmony. This consists, on the one hand, of a younger generation of cadres and political activists who desire Harmony’s transformation into a ‘proper’ party of the centre-left, in accordance with the contemporary trends of European Social Democracy, with a paramount stress on socioeconomic issues and social welfare. On the other hand, an older generation of cadres insists on the maintenance of Harmony’s physiognomy as a ‘quasi-ethnic’ party with a primary focus on the collective representation of Latvia’s Russophones. </p> <p>The repercussions of the Ukrainian crisis since 2014 generate further insecurities among the Latvian elites, as well as the country’s public, over Latvia’s geopolitical weight vis-à-vis Russia’s leverage as the ‘external homeland’ of the Russophone community. So too do the continuous accusations over Russia’s alleged endeavor to jeopardize Latvia’s security via information warfare, disinformation campaigns in the social media and even the sponsorship of separatism in the southeast region of Latgale. The sum of these insecurities has resulted in the projection of a <em>cordon sanitaire</em>, on the part of the (predominantly) Latvian parties, between themselves and Harmony as a party that insists on a foreign policy of appeasement towards Russia.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>The weakening role of National Alliance/NA</strong> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</h2> <p>Taking advantage of the <em>cordon sanitaire</em> around Harmony, NA has been accepted as a legitimate partner in three coalition governments (2011, 2014 and, most recently, 2019). Broadly fitting the profile of a national conservative party, NA has been insisting on protracting the securitization of Latvian-Russian relations and maintaining as intact the integrity of the nexus that consists of regional geopolitics (bilateral relations with Russia) and domestic ethnopolitics (the collective status of Latvia’s ethnic Russian minority). As a National Alliance representative at the Latvian <em>Saeima</em> (‘Assembly’) and the European parliament stated to me in an interview (October 2017): " Kremlin’s weaponization of the “Russian world” concept is visible in Latvia… the contemporary “Russian World” concept is reminiscent of the <em>Völksdeutsche</em> concept in the days of Nazi Germany." </p> <p>Throughout its participation in the halls of power, NA has in addition been promoting its policies on demographic issues and providing incentives for an increase in Latvia’s birthrate (e.g. a set of social benefits for young/single parents and families with many children); as well as spearheading its proposals for <a href="https://eng.lsm.lv/article/society/education/legality-of-latvias-education-reform-to-be-considered-by-constitutional-court.a277041/">Latvia’s educational reform</a>. The former policies channel support towards the party from the social strata in question. The latter proposals polarize public opinion and have been interpreted by ethnic Russian interest-groups as a subtle endeavor to ‘engulf’ Russian-language schooling institutions (2017-2018). &nbsp;</p> <p>The party-leadership objects to the ‘Eurosceptic’ label and, instead, contends that their chief objective is to ‘renegotiate’ the terms of Latvia’s participation in the EU via the revision of a euro-federalism doctrine which the NA regards as ‘seriously flawed’. Since 2015, the <a href="http://eng.lsm.lv/article/politics/politics/lawmakers-reluctant-to-take-in-refugees.a128591/">EU refugee quotas arrangement</a> has emerged as an additional bone of contention between NA and the European Commission. As the Secretary-general of the party told me in October 2017: "If you look at the UK or France, ghettoization, crime and the spread of Islamic fundamentalism constitute an explosive blend. Latvia is and will remain safe if it manages to escape the migration waves." One of the latest <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/index#p=1&amp;instruments=STANDARD&amp;yearFrom=1974&amp;yearTo=2018">Eurobarometer</a> surveys (no. 89, Spring 2018) found out that a large percentage of Latvian citizens are worried about terrorism and other asymmetric threats in Europe. </p> <p>This finding correlates with NA’s systematic capitalizing on public grievances over the EU refugee quotas since the second half of 2015. Nevertheless, the same survey equally points out that a large percentage of the Latvian public remain highly vexed about social security, unemployment and the cost of living inside Latvia. These socioeconomic realities largely account for NA’s decline of popularity in the latest elections (11.01% in comparison to 16.61% in 2014) and the diversion of a considerable chunk of the vote towards a new, anti-establishment party with a powerful stress on the economy: Who Owns the State?/KPV.</p> <h2><strong>Anti-establishment mavericks: Who Owns the State?/KPV</strong></h2> <p>Under the leadership of, former actor, Artuss Kaimiņš, <a href="https://kampiedervalsts.com/">KPV</a> was officially launched on May 6, 2016. Fashioning themselves as a ‘non-ideological and anti-establishment organization of political activists’, along the lines of Italy’s Five Star Movement, the party’s platform lays &nbsp;considerable weight on the economy including a touch of economic Euroscepticism. Conforming to the predominantly pro-EU inclinations across the party-spectrum, KPV does not promote a platform of hard Euroscepticism yet contends that EU budgetary policies cannot guarantee Latvia’s full recovery from recession; and that Latvia did not benefit from the introduction of the Euro because the cost of living has dramatically increased. </p> <p>Taking into account the persistent outcome of the latest recession (2009-2011), <a href="http://neweasterneurope.eu/2018/11/13/owns-state-latvian-anti-establishment-party-aims-power/">economic grievances and anxieties</a> abound in Latvian society and KPV clearly aimed at filling in this particular vacuum in the country’s political map. KPV’s high appeal among Latvian, mostly blue-collar, immigrants in western Europe, throughout the span of its existence as a party, is indicative of the financial insecurities within society as well as the aftermath of the recession as a whole. </p> <p>KPV duly jumped to a percentage of 14.25% in the last parliamentary elections making it Latvia’s second largest party in its own right. The rapid emergence of KPV hints at the growing relevance of economic Euroscepticism not solely for anti-austerity initiatives in Southern Europe but also for a new generation of ambitious, anti-establishment, parties in the crisis-ridden parts of the ‘new’ Europe (e.g. the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-petsinis/contrasting-euroscepticisms-in-croatia-and-serbia"><em>Živi Zid</em>/Live Wall</a> party in Croatia). </p> <p>A series of academic experts and political analysts have underlined the relatively high levels of fragmentation and volatility in Latvia’s party-system despite the general state of social stability. </p> <p>At this given moment, it is not an easy task to rush to sound predictions over the long-term prospects for the new coalition government to pull together. On the one hand, the joint endeavor to enhance Latvia’s geopolitical weight vis-à-vis Russia and resist information warfare certainly provides a common ground among all the partners, however heterogeneous. On the other hand, the management of vital areas such as the economy and social welfare are always likely to generate the kind of discord that also occurred rather recently in neighbouring Estonia (the dissolution of the previous coalition government in November 2016).&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-petsinis/contrasting-euroscepticisms-in-croatia-and-serbia">Contrasting euroscepticisms in Croatia and Serbia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-petsinis-stefano-braghiroli/estonia-s-populist-and-radical-right-how-rad">Estonia’s populist and radical right: how radical are they?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Latvia </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Russia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Russia EU Latvia Democracy and government Economics International politics Vassilis Petsinis Sat, 26 Jan 2019 19:14:53 +0000 Vassilis Petsinis 121460 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Catalonia: the trial will be about our ideological freedom https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/krystyna-schreiber/catalonia-trial-will-be-about-our-ideological-freedom <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>"This case is not about proving that specific acts constitute an offence. It is about the deactivation of an independence movement and of its leadership."</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33386782.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-33386782.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Carme Forcadell speaks in the Catalan Parliament after Rajoy announced the suspension of Catalan autonomy, October 2017. Jordi Boixareu/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In December 2017, Carme Forcadell received journalists in her fine wood-panelled office where photographs on the shelves told the story of the tireless commitment of the Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, as she then was, to her beloved Catalonia. For years Forcadell had drawn a devoted following as president of the ANC, one of the biggest civil society organizations pushing for independence. Then, in 2015, the dream of her many supporters came true when an activist like her was elected to the highest public office. Her opponents, however, saw her as "ideologically inflexible".&nbsp;</p><p>Today Carme Forcadell is sitting behind a glass partition, dressed in a grey suit, and speaking rapidly into a telephone handset as if worried that the prison guard might grab it out of her hand. Mas d’Enric prison, where Forcadell has been remanded in custody awaiting trial since July, houses around 700 men and 30 women who are serving lengthy prison sentences, many for violent crime or drug offences. It is a dull, grey concrete construction. Visitors pass through a filter system, consisting of eight security gates made of steel bars, successive corridors, two buildings and a large empty courtyard, before entering the visitors' area packed with what feels like a hundred glass booths.&nbsp;</p><p>She is as well as “can be expected under the circumstances”, Carme says into the mouthpiece. She looks fragile as she speaks. She has crossed off on a paper calendar each of the 280 or more days which she has spent in pre-trial custody. "Just like in the army", she jokes drily. This prison designed for men, located not far from Tarragona, is particularly tough, she says. She chose it because it is the only one close to her 90-year old mother and her grandchildren.&nbsp;</p><p>In Madrid, where she was in prison along with the former Catalan minister Dolors Bassas the regime was more relaxed with open cells. In Mas d’Enric Forcadell spends 16 hours a day confined to her 15 square metre cell. At night she is locked in. The other inmates have little in common with their MP fellow-prisoner. Here the ex-Speaker is one woman among many, whom she describes as "different" and "in some cases extremely aggressive". In the daily prison routine, no distinction is drawn between her, remanded in custody awaiting trial, and convicted criminals.&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>Fear of an unfair trial&nbsp;</strong></h2><p>If the forthcoming major trial against the leaders of the independence movement finds the 63-year old guilty of rebellion, she faces many years in prison. Had she taken prison into account when she deliberately ignored the orders given by the Constitutional Court? "When I stood for election on the Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) list in 2015, I never thought that I would end up in prison three years later", Forcadell replies. At most, she expected a charge of contempt of court, but never of rebellion. The peaceful ethos of the independence movement was generally acknowledged. "I allowed a debate in Parliament. I made sure that no Court could censor the will of Parliament. I cannot understand what that has to do with rebellion", she says.&nbsp;</p><p>Is she afraid? Forcadell hesitates: "I am afraid of not getting a fair trial". The State Prosecutor based his case solely on the report by the Civil Guard. "The charges even repeat the same mistakes, for example giving the wrong years for my activities in the ANC. On the other hand, none of my statements before the Court has been taken into account", she explains. Nor can she follow the logic of why her vote in the Bureau of Parliament should count for more than those of her colleagues, who have been charged with mere contempt of court for exactly the same decisions.&nbsp;</p><p>And there is no justification for the long pre-trial detention, she says. Forcadell had paid bail of 150 000 euros and scrupulously met all the conditions imposed by the Court for months. In her opinion, the reason why she was nonetheless sent to prison almost five months later was that she was continuing her political activities as an MP: "The situation did not change in the slightest between 22 March, when I voted as an MP in the investiture of the President of the Catalan Government, and 23 March, when I was put in prison." All five MPs facing charges were placed in custody at the same time, including the nominee for President. "They clearly have an interest in keeping us in prison," Forcadell says into the telephone.&nbsp;</p><p>After our visit, Forcadell's lawyer, Olga Arderiu, adds that she thinks her client has good reasons to worry. Never, in 20 years of legal practice, has she come across the politicization of justice like this. She confirms that there is no legal argument why Forcadell should be charged with rebellion and the others accused of the same decision with contempt of court. Moreover, the entire charge rests on alleged violence on the day of the referendum declared illegal by the Constitutional Court and during the protests outside the Catalan Ministry of Economic Affairs on 20 September 2017, which in neither case was on the scale defined in Spanish criminal law following the attempted coup in 1981.&nbsp;</p><p>Carme Forcadell sees one clear reason behind the charge of rebellion and it is not because of her decisions as Speaker of Parliament: “I am here because I was President of the ANC. That is the only qualitative difference between me and my colleagues and, in my view, the only objective explanation." Forcadell's lawyer stresses: "This case is not about proving that specific acts constitute an offence. It is about deactivation of an independence movement and of its leadership."&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>Trial to mark a before and after for civil rights&nbsp;</strong></h2><p>Amnesty International Spain calls the trial into question and has announced that it wishes to sit in on it as an observer. A few weeks ago the Spanish legal system suffered another blow when the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that the Basque separatist Arnaldo Otegi had not been given a fair trial in Spain. Forcadell and her defence place great hopes in the European courts. Forcadell is convinced that the Spanish judges will find her guilty. "Whether three years or seventeen, I will be given a prison sentence."&nbsp;</p><p>However, many Catalans feel that European politicians have left them in the lurch, Forcadell says. Between the referendum on 1 October 2017 and the symbolic declaration of independence on 27 October, they were hoping for support from Brussels, which never materialized. "Our movement has always been pro-European and we believe that self- determination is our right. The EU should support us, not for independence but for exercising our rights", explained the former Speaker.&nbsp;</p><p>This is another reason why Forcadell believes that the impending trial against the leaders of the independence movement will point the way: "It will be about our freedom of opinion and our ideological freedom. For the first time since the transition to democracy in Spain, these rights will be brought before a Court. That is what people should be afraid of." As for the causa – independence – Forcadell says: "For some time this has no longer been about independence, it is a question of our freedoms and rights. Laws may change, but our rights are untouchable. Otherwise, we, as a society, will be moving backwards. I refuse to accept that."&nbsp;</p><p>However, the political situation in Catalonia remains overshadowed by the lack of a common strategy on the part of the independence parties against the Spanish State. Nevertheless, Carme Forcadell does not feel left on her own in her cell: "We are all human beings. The repression weighs heavily. I do not condemn anybody for what they have or have not done in response to this repression", she says. Now people know what the price would be.&nbsp;</p><p>"Being in prison means you cannot be close to the people you love." Clearly, she believes that her situation and that of her fellow activists in prison can unite more people, not only in Catalonia but also in the rest of Spain: "Many people are against repression, even opponents of independence. And eighty per cent still want to exercise their right to self-determination. I believe it is never too late for dialogue." Naturally, she has no desire to become a martyr. "I want to regain my freedom and be back with my family" she answers pragmatically.&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>A saxophone in front of the prison&nbsp;</strong></h2><p>The common people support their Carme. For months, Oscar Cid has been playing his saxophone in front of the prison gates at seven o'clock every evening. Carme cannot hear his music, but Oscar tells us emotionally how she received him in prison to thank him for his gesture. A dozen supporters of all ages from the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDRs) join him. An older man sprays yellow vests with the Estelada, the Catalan independence flag.&nbsp;</p><p>Also the exiled former President of the Catalan Government, Carles Puigdemont, is striking a combative stance. He has co-founded a Council for the Republic to promote the Catalan Republic from Belgium. He has used the media coverage in his home country to send a message to Madrid and his own ranks: "They cannot touch us any more. We are not afraid and we will act without any restriction of our freedom of opinion." His successor as President, Quim Torra, echoed Puigdemont's words: "We are prepared to do everything to secure our freedom."&nbsp;</p><p>Meanwhile, Carme Forcadell in her Mas d’Enric prison cell is fighting for such mundane items as a hairdryer, which men's prisons do not provide. Or green paint to brighten up a wall with trees. She considers activities like these good for female inmates. "Even the prison world is dominated by men. Only if we stand strong together can we change things," she says determinedly.&nbsp;</p><p>As visitors leave the building, an extract from the Spanish Constitution written on the wall is there to remind us how to justify confinement: “Punishments entailing imprisonment and security measures shall be aimed at rehabilitation and social reintegration."&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/krystyna-schreiber/two-kinds-of-justice-in-spain">Two kinds of justice in Spain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/krystyna-schreiber-adri-alsina/spanish-politics-numbers-game">Spanish politics: a numbers game</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Spain Catalonia Krystyna Schreiber Sat, 26 Jan 2019 17:57:09 +0000 Krystyna Schreiber 121459 at https://www.opendemocracy.net National dialogue: post-Brexit, we need a UK-wide coming together https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/gabrielle-rifkind/post-brexit-we-need-uk-wide-dialogue <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>National dialogues operate outside the permanent institutions of government; moving beyond the Westminster bubble to listen to the communities who feel disconnected from government. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screenshot 2019-01-26 at 10.03.17.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screenshot 2019-01-26 at 10.03.17.png" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sceenshot: Citizens Assembly of Ireland, YouTube. April, 2017.</span></span></span></p><p>Brexit has morphed into a messy divorce that has exposed not only deep political divides but competing visions of Britain and what they should look like.&nbsp; Whatever the political outcome, the referendum has laid bare a fractured country, where the problems are deeper than the issues of Brexit and speak to nations divided about their identity and future priorities. </p> <p>In this febrile atmosphere, is there a place for national dialogue? In Britain this dialogue could be used as a preventative tool, to navigate away from our current poisonous atmosphere, enshrining dialogue as part of the political culture. Convened in the spirit of reconciliation, it could provide an opportunity to bridge our deep fault lines and diffuse our shrill debate; going beyond the current political divides, to deeper conversations relating to how we should live, how resources should be allocated and what the nature of tolerance and pluralism should look like in the &nbsp;twenty-first century.&nbsp; </p> <p>Across the UK, anxiety looms; most recently, this insecurity was devastatingly expressed by the governing classes when Theresa May’s Brexit plans experienced the worst parliamentary defeat in living memory. This unravelling of the political class is by no means exclusive to Britain; indeed, it has become symptomatic of democracies once idealised on a virtuous pedestal. In France the gilets jaunes protests have paralysed French politics and President Macron has called for a grand national debate; while in the US, the polarised recriminations surrounding the building of a wall on the Mexican border have led to a government shutdown. Politics must recognise that its own continually shifting landscape is exacerbating people’s anxiety. And so a more modern politics is required; one that better connects the government to the people.</p> <p>Those who voted to leave the EU did so for many reasons and from all walks of life, but many came from the poorer regions of Britain. There is a striking disconnect between the government and the people: many who voted felt they were not being heard, and angry hinterlands spoke to a deep sense of marginalisation that had been exacerbated by economic policies of austerity.&nbsp; </p> <p>The UN rapporteur Phillip Alston’s critical report on poverty was clear, ‘British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited and callous approach’. Moreover, according to the report, the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society will take the biggest hit from Brexit. Poverty cannot be ignored; to leave it unaddressed can only exacerbate resentment between different social groups.</p> <p>But the picture is complex and there are multiple sources of discontent amongst those who voted for Brexit. Whilst poverty is undoubtedly on the rise, some corners of Britain are richer and more comfortable and supposedly more connected than at any time in human history. Something more profound is happening where individuals are feeling more isolated, adrift and purposeless than ever before. Our societies are continually in flux; they breed creativity but at the same time they are acutely vulnerable to disruption. The bonds that held us together, be it the infrastructure of religion or the generational support within families, are fast eroding. Socia media promised new forms of community and connectivity, and yet,&nbsp; paradoxically, it seems to have fostered distance; exploiting our differences and breeding superficial relationships, devoid of intimacy.&nbsp; </p> <p>National dialogues are becoming an increasingly popular tool for conflict resolution and political transformation in broadening the debate about a country’s trajectory beyond the usual group of elite decision-makers. A key strength of national dialogues is that they operate outside the permanent institutions of government; the dialogue would seek to move beyond the Westminster bubble and listen to the communities who feel disconnected from government. </p> <p>The dialogue may be most effective if it were to be convened by a respected institution, such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Rowntree would be a relevant home for such a dialogue as it has had a reputation as a force for social good throughout the twentieth century, and may well correlate in people’s minds with values of fairness, equality, community and reform. Its legacy continues to resonate today. This Quaker family had a huge impact on social reform and justice and was a major influence on shifting our focus and understanding to the root causes of poverty and not just the treatment of its immediate symptoms. As a radical and visionary, Rowntree introduced an eight-hour day in 1896, a pension scheme in 1906 and a 44-hour working week and works councils in 1919. Rowntree had a profound impact on shaping social policy in the early twentieth century; and it is clear that, more than 100 years later, this kind of creativity is once again required. National dialogues would provide the space for such creativity and the consultation process may well propel new versions of such radical enlightened thinking.</p> <p>The imprimatur of the Queen or a senior member of the Royal Family would&nbsp;give increased legitimacy to such a process. She has not as yet called for a national dialogue, carefully attempting to avoid the politics of Brexit. But speaking&nbsp; at a local Women’s Institute she said "As we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view, coming together to seek out the common ground and never losing sight of the bigger picture …….to me, these approaches are timeless, and I commend them to everyone.” </p> <p>The Archbishop of Canterbury Justine Welby may also be helpful in terms of setting the climate for a national dialogue. He&nbsp;has urged the country to start 2019 in a ‘new spirit of openness towards each other’ and attempt to overcome the struggles and divisions of recent years. Importantly, the religiously diverse nature of the UK today would need to be reflected; involving voices from Rabbinic leadership and senior Imams in the Muslim community. But a secular voice will also be important and&nbsp;there could&nbsp;be a role for public figures who speak to large groups of people with cultural capital, who themselves could showcase a model dialogue process. </p> <p>Public engagement would likely adopt a mixed-methods approach, involving online and in-person dialogues, perhaps housed in town halls and community centres.&nbsp; Careful consideration would need to be given to those chairing the in-person dialogues. These should not be led by the usual ‘great and the good’, but those who are rich in a new form of power: those who are respected and trusted by the diverse membership of their community. To help elicit a collaborative dialogue, as opposed to a more oppositional debate, specialist training may need to be carried out: there is a need to break down the posturing, pervasive in too many of our current sterile conversations, to encourage communication hallmarked by more genuine listening.</p> <p>While it may not be the government who leads on delivering national dialogue, it has a responsibility to support the conversation and act on its recommendations. Practical ideas and their implementation would be the ultimate objective, with an overarching question of ‘what would improve community relations and what would create a strong sense of social cohesion?’ In the short-term, this must speak to the immediate divides uncovered by Brexit and in the long-term, this must look to building a more cohesive society. A structural shift is necessary, but there is also a need for deeper transformation:&nbsp; a shift in mind-sets, where individuals are personally invested in their community.</p> <p>A coherent vision is needed that speaks to three decades of change, globalisation and automation. It will require the kind of creativity that crosses party lines and comes up with new and imaginative solutions that address not only structural decay, but some of the deep-rooted problems that led to the current fertile bed of discontent. </p> <p>Currently, divisions are becoming more entrenched and the glue that has held us together is in danger of dissolving. The country will face an enormous challenge to come together again after the dust of Brexit has settled. What is needed is a concerted effort to hold a dialogue at all levels that seeks to promote greater understanding between our vastly polarised communities. This dialogue can help articulate our common interests and priorities and propel visionary, progressive and implementable long-term change to build consensus across the UK. It can embed a political culture that is more relevant to the twenty-first century; connecting the people and the government, where voices at a grassroots level are heard and integrated into policy making.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/brexit-can-be-good-crisis">Brexit can be a good crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/oliver-norgrove/interesting-brexit-experiment-worthy-of-analysis">An interesting Brexit experiment worthy of analysis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/neal-lawson/brexit-citizens-assembly-rising-to-crisis-in-democracy">Brexit Citizens Assembly: rising to the United Kingdom&#039;s crisis in democracy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Brexit Gabrielle Rifkind Sat, 26 Jan 2019 10:24:54 +0000 Gabrielle Rifkind 121455 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Can left nationalism stop the rise of the far-right in Germany? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/julian-g-pffarth/can-left-nationalism-stop-rise-of-far-right-in-germany <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Left-wing parties and movements across Europe employing anti-globalisation and anti-EU rhetoric are on the increase. In Germany, the new left movement Aufstehen has joined the trend.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-38346575.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-38346575.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sahra Wagenknecht and Bernd Stegemann launching Aufstehen, September 2018. Bernd von Jutrczenka/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The return to the nation is a trend that marks the politics of more and more European left-wing movements and parties. Those many European social democratic parties that took the path of Tony Blair’s New Labour and embraced globalisation, European integration and economically liberal positions, have become objects of criticism if not outright hostility in recent years. Instead, there has been a return to a nationalist rhetoric.</p> <p>French politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his movement <em>La France Insoumise</em> were trendsetters in this regard. Founded in 2016, the party deliberately adopted nationalist rhetoric in what they said was an attempt to regain traditionally left-leaning and anti-capitalist supporters who had moved their support behind the nativist Front National. In the years prior, the far-right Front National had successfully branded itself “France’s first working class party” and a sole voice against what it portrayed as a neoliberal EU dominated by German interests. Mélenchon did not shy away from using the same rhetoric during the French elections in 2017, a strategy gathering him almost 20 per cent of the votes in the first round.</p> <p>In the UK, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn represents a softer strain of the same trend. His continued strength can at least partially be explained by his ambiguous position on Brexit and the EU, deeply rooted in left-wing Euroscepticism. Through the deliberate lack of a clear standpoint, Labour has managed to appeal both to working class leave-supporters many of whom are keen to reduce immigration by ending EU freedom of movement to the UK, and to younger, more liberal remain-supporters. Corbyn’s preference for national solutions over European ones is widely assumed.</p> <p>A similar convergence of classical left- and right-wing positions under the umbrella of anti-capitalism, anti-neoliberalism and neo-nationalism is currently emerging in Germany. Similar to the Front National, the far-right <em>Alternative für Deutschland </em>(AfD) has developed a strong social profile over recent years, slowly pushing aside the economically more liberal positions that dominated the party’s inception in 2013. This has allowed the party to become increasingly appealing to traditional left voters.</p> <p>Inspired by the Front National, AfD-strategists realised that the increasing weakness of the social democratic SPD and the stagnant performance of the far-left <em>Die Linke </em>offers them a prime opportunity. In the end, around a million former supporters of the SPD and Die Linke gave their vote to the AfD in Germany’s 2017 federal elections. The shift in voting patterns was particularly visible in the east of Germany. Much of the AfD’s more recent move to the economic left has been led by Thuringia’s AfD-leader Björn Höcke, around whom a circle with strong links to the far-right think tank <em>Institut für Staatspolitik </em>and its founder Götz Kubitschek has formed. Together with a group of young activists around self-proclaimed national-socialist Benedikt Kaiser, this circle initiated attempts to hijack labour unions with proposals for a more generous national pension, and books published on the utility of left-wing topics for the far-right – a move provoking intense debate at last year’s AfD party conference, where more moderate economic liberals clashed with economic nationalists.</p> <p>Höcke’s group is embedded in a European far-right network and works in close collaboration with actors from Italy and France, such as Alain de Benoist. Drawing on left theorists such as Karl Marx, but also more recent authors such as Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau, their central aim is to pave the way for a critique of capitalism from the right and to reconcile it to far-right ethno- and anti-immigration politics.</p> <p>Another author applauded by Höcke’s group is Bernhard Stegemann, now close political friend of Sahra Wagenknecht and intellectual co-initiator of <em>Aufstehen</em>. In 2017, he published the widely received book “The Spectre of Populism” arguing the case for a leftist populism standing up against the hegemony of neoliberal capitalism – a book that was equally celebrated by intellectuals on the far-right. Together with Wagenknecht, the vocal and media savvy leader of the <em>Die Linke </em>faction in the German parliament, internationally renowned political economist Wolfgang Streeck and politicians from the SPD and the Greens, he declared the official start of <em>Aufstehen </em>in Berlin last summer. </p> <p>In the accompanying press conference, Wagenknecht claimed that German democracy is in a deep crisis, a crisis which, according to her, is also the driver behind last year’s violent clashes and far-right protests in Chemnitz. For her, the rise of the AfD is not a cultural but primarily a socio-economic question that has to be addressed from the left. More recently, she attempted to gain momentum from the “yellow vest” protests in France by posing in a yellow vest in front of the German chancellery and calling for a similar movement in Germany.</p> <p>Wagenknecht has repeatedly called for the limitation of immigration into Germany in order to stabilise the welfare state<em>. </em>While large parts of her own party attacked her for this position, she was applauded by Höcke’s group on the far-right, which called her an “isolated sign of hope in a leftist parallel society”. </p> <h2><strong>Electoral fortunes </strong></h2> <p>In the light of three upcoming regional East German elections in 2019, sending signals to the right on migration may seem an intuitive electoral move. Here the AfD has started to become a serious threat to <em>Die Linke’s </em>claim to be the obvious representative of East Germans. In Sachsen, Brandenburg and Thuringia recent polls see the AfD between 21 and 25 per cent, levelling with or even ahead of <em>Die Linke. </em>At the beginning of this year, the AfD’s persisting strength and its emphasis on a more generous pension system even pushed the CDU into calling for a reform of the pension system that would take into account those East Germans who lose their jobs after reunification. </p> <p>Giving frustrated voters a left-wing alternative for restricted migration became a key selling point for the <em>Aufstehen</em> movement<em>. </em>Combined with the first German attempt to start a non-partisan movement a la Macron’s <em>En Marche</em>, Corbyn’s <em>Momentum</em> and Mélenchon’s <em>La France Insoumise</em>, this it was hoped would mobilize non- and young voters yearning for new and alternative political options. But the first polls have already raised doubts about this, suggesting that <em>Aufstehen</em> so far primarily appeals to an older, more socially conservative and economically left-leaning electorate while largely meeting uninterest among young voters.</p> <p>However, the appeal it has to the far-right with its anti-immigration rhetoric is another matter. It is a &nbsp;dangerous game that could end up not weakening but strengthening the AfD. Rather than representing the genuine, forward looking and innovative movement it pretends to be, <em>Aufstehen </em>can also be seen as yet another sign of the normalisation of a new nationalism, this time in the German left – a nationalism driven by the nostalgia for allegedly better times before globalisation and Europeanisation took over, seen as the primary cause of the financial, Euro and migration crises that have shaken Europe over the past decade. </p> <p>In the long term, <em>Aufstehen </em>might have the chance to shake up Germany’s political landscape. Whether this is for better or for worse remains to be seen. What appears rather more certain is that the AfD strategy to adopt a leftist-anti-capitalist rhetoric will make the party one of the strongest competitors in the upcoming East German elections.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Visit the <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com">Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right</a> (#CARR).</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Germany </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Germany Conflict Democracy and government Ideas International politics Julian Göpffarth Thu, 24 Jan 2019 16:43:14 +0000 Julian Göpffarth 121424 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Gilets Jaunes under attack https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/oliver-haynes/gilets-jaunes-under-attack <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Gilets Jaunes have arisen out of the profound inequality that is fracturing societies across Europe. It is against that inequality that leaders must take a strongman stance.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/20181215_135633_Richtone(HDR).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/20181215_135633_Richtone(HDR).jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Policing the Gilets Jaunes.</span></span></span></p><p>At one of the weekly ‘act’ protests in Paris not far from La Place Sainte Madeline plain clothes police ended up behind a wall of Gilets Jaunes. As they tried to move away they ran into the back of Wilfried, a steelworker from a small town in Burgundy who has recently had a child with his wife of nine years. The policeman fell over at his feet and Wilfried, moving to try and escape the ensuing chaos, spooked a policeman whose hair-trigger instincts led him to shoot Wilfried in the face with a flashball at a range of just over a metre. </p> <p>Flashballs used primarily in France are rubber bullets that are fired from weapons with the stopping power of a .38 calibre pistol. They can do real damage (as you can <a href="http://lemurjaune.fr">see here</a>). There is an unverified recent rumour that someone shot by one lost an eye. Wilfried now sports a nasty scar on his forehead and experiences some symptoms of psychological trauma. He continues to protest, but he is more cautious. </p> <p>Axelle suffered 2 fractures to her jaw and was left with second degree burns when she was shot in the face by a flashball. She was <a href="https://www.leetchi.com/c/axelle-victime-dun-tir-de-flashball-dans-le-visage">left looking</a> like someone had bunched a whole pack of cigarettes, lit them all, then stubbed them out on her cheek. The shot to the face caused a trismus (an involuntary contraction of her muscles) meaning she could barely open her mouth. She is a waitress while she looks for a job and has become very vocal in the campaign against police brutality since the incident. She says she was traumatised by the incident: at the time she was convinced her cheek had burst.&nbsp; </p> <p>Etienne, a railway worker was badly injured on the same day that Wilfried was shot in the head. After hours of being teargassed in Paris he found himself caught between the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compagnies_R%C3%A9publicaines_de_S%C3%A9curit%C3%A9">CRS</a> and the procession he was trying to join. He was there for 10 minutes as tear gas canisters went off, without any major incident. But then, suddenly he collapsed. He was carried away and given first aid. A subsequent hospital visit revealed that the flashball that hit him had shattered his shin bone. He has to take 90 days off work because of his injury and has had to cancel a holiday with his girlfriend too. He can’t drive, so he can’t go and see his two daughters who live with their mum. He has been made more rebellious by the incident. He wants to carry on fighting the cause for justice. He’s a committed anti-capitalist, but he acknowledges there are issues with the movement. He says he wants to see the end of capitalism and the renewal of humanity. Like Wilfried and many others, the repression has only reaffirmed his commitment to the movement. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/received_325127498123704.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/received_325127498123704.jpeg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Teargas in Paris.</span></span></span>Manon was on the climate march on the 8th, then stayed around for the Gilets Jaunes. Her and two friends were walking away from the city-centre at the time. The only indication she had been protesting was that she wore her nurse’s coat and was carrying a first aid kit. When she was shot, the protest was over and there was no crowd. She’s not even entirely sure where it came from, only that it hit her in the foot. Such is the nature of the flashball that the possibly accidental shot fractured her metatarsal. She has filed a complaint, and has been forced to go on sick leave until early February. </p><p>Flashballs are not the only weapons the CRS use to maim protesting citizens. <a href="http://www.lest-eclair.fr/id16452/article/2018-11-28/le-gilet-jaune-marnais-blesse-sur-les-champs-elysees-veut-porter-plainte">Siegried </a>was a protestor on the roundabouts but decided to go to Paris where the more impactful protests were. He made the journey back from Paris to Vitry le Francois via Reims where he was treated for severe injuries. Hundreds of tiny bits of plastic had peppered his skin and perforated his ear drum. He had stood too close to a CRS tactical grenade when it went off. Other people have been battered by truncheons and water cannons. </p> <p>These were a handful of cases from Paris, but there are many more wounded by the brutal apparatus of the security state trying to crush their protests across the country. Jacques Pezet is a factchecking journalist for <a href="https://www.liberation.fr/checknews/2019/01/14/gilets-jaunes-le-decompte-des-blesses-graves_1702863">Liberation</a> and found 94 cases of severely injured Gilets Jaunes by January 14. His count was only those that could be verified with complete certainty. The campaign group Desarmons-les and the journalist and documentary maker David Dufresne have counted more. </p> <p>Many people have made claims about the Gilets Jaunes and fake news – antisemitism and conspiracy theories have been a problem within the movement. This was how Jacques started looking into it: people kept coming to Checknews, the department of Liberation that he works for, to see if the claims being made online were true. He tells me that out of the compilations of injured Gilets Jaunes that have been circulated, he thinks at least 8/10 are real: the others are lacking in detail or are of poor photo quality making them difficult to verify. In the beginning there may have been some fakery surrounding images online, he says, but now there are so many people injured, particularly people shot in the face by flashballs, that the people who wanted to fake things to make a point have become redundant, their point has been made for them by the facts. </p> <p>He told me about David Dufresne’s thesis that the high level of violence is due to inexperienced police officers being drafted in who normally deal with hardened criminals like drug dealers, and who consequently do not know how to respond to ordinary people. This is no excuse though for the state maiming its citizens: use of flashballs is both unnecessary and shocking. Given the number of severe head and facial injuries, you would never have guessed that the police are not supposed to shoot people in the face with flashballs. But they seem to feel that they can act with impunity. Currently the number of inquiries into violence by police stands at around 60 and will increase as time goes on. The campaign to disarm the riot cops is gaining traction in a way not seen before, because even seasoned French protestors are alarmed by the reaction they have been met with. </p> <p>Many figures of the European establishment regard Emmanuel Macron as the saviour of the European project. Yet his response to these protests – violence, mass arrests and the reinstatement of national service for 16-year olds – would hardly be out of step with the more retrograde national populist and authoritarian regimes. If Emmanuel Macron wants to save his reputation, let alone Europe, he must start leading by example, ban the flashball, and take these protests seriously rather than continuing to lapse in moments of anger into diatribes about scroungers while he lets the riot cops run riot against protesters. </p> <p>Macron’s response suggests what other leaderless protest movements across Europe will face as systems continue to collapse. The Gilets Jaunes have arisen out of the profound inequality that is fracturing societies across Europe. It is against that inequality that leaders must take a strongman stance. There is nothing strong about attacking protestors who are just trying to make their voices heard. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> France </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU France Conflict Democracy and government International politics Oliver Haynes Thu, 24 Jan 2019 15:32:53 +0000 Oliver Haynes 121423 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Banking on public power: what we can learn from the Institute of International Finance https://www.opendemocracy.net/jasper-blom/banking-on-public-power-what-we-can-learn-from-institute-of-international-finance <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The progressive movement should build a network of think tanks, politicians and financial professionals where the revolving door is just as effective as with the IIF and global financial policymakers.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-31013089.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-31013089.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Christine Lagarde, Chinese Finance Minister Xiao Jie and China's central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan(left)in G20 Finance Ministers'group photo, 2017. Xinhua/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>September 2011, three years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, public anger with the Great Financial Crisis boiled over right where it all started: Wall Street. The austerity measures taken in response to the crisis and the failure to hold bankers to account led a large group of activists to ‘occupy Wall Street’. Inspired by the Arab Spring, the idea was to keep public space occupied until there was a change benefiting ‘the 99%’. </p> <p>Within weeks, hundreds of protests and ‘occupy’ camps had sprung up in major financial centres around the world. Not since the heydays of the East Asian financial crisis had global finance come under such sustained criticism from civil society organisations (CSOs) and never – in my lifetime – had this led to such mass mobilisation demanding radical reform of the global financial system.</p> <p>At about the same time, the Institute of International Finance (IIF) published the report ‘The Cumulative Impact on the Global Economy of Changes in the Financial Regulatory Framework’. Its <a href="https://www.czech-ba.cz/sites/default/files/down_31876.pdf">message was simple</a>: stricter regulation for banks would smother growth and lead to the potential loss of millions of jobs. That a banking lobby group protested stricter regulation should come as no surprise. What was surprising was the significant media coverage of the findings in the business newspapers. While the methodology of the report was obviously one-sided and streets were filled with occupy encampments, bankers’ demands still resonated among financial policymaking elites.</p> <p>Since those turbulent days, it is clear who carried the day. The <a href="http://www.g20.utoronto.ca/2008/2008declaration1115.html">solemn promise</a> of world leaders at the first G20 Summit in Washington in November 2008 to ‘lay the foundation for reform to help to ensure that a global crisis, such as this one, does not happen again’ seems all but forgotten. </p> <h2><strong>The Status Quo crisis</strong></h2> <p>Political economist and long-time observer of global finance Eric Helleiner aptly captured it in the title of his 2014 assessment of reform after the crisis: ‘The Status Quo Crisis’. And although there have been many regulatory reforms since then, the crisis has not turned out to be a new ‘Bretton Woods moment’ in which the global community decided on a fundamentally different global financial order. </p> <p>Capital requirements for banks have risen somewhat, dark corners of the financial system have come under the supervisory spotlight, and some international organisations have been strengthened. But the fundamental idea of a market-led global financial system has not been seriously questioned. </p> <p>In this essay, I will argue that the incremental nature of reform has much to do with the sway over public policymaking of the international financial sector. It will focus on the IIF because this is arguably the most powerful financial lobby group and the most closely involved in the type of global financial crises we have just experienced. </p> <p>I will make two main points. First, to understand the power of the IIF we have to look not only at the expertise and structural power of its bank members, but also at the ‘demand side’ of public policymakers. </p> <p>Too often, the influence of the financial sector is perceived as a one-way street from Lobbyville influencing government policies, but my analysis shows there is a continuous two-way exchange between IIF and public policymakers, who helped shape the Institute at every step of the way. </p> <p>Second, in putting the IIF in this position (as opposed to other financial lobby groups or – if only! – other stakeholders) public policymakers made a deliberate choice for globally integrated and market-led financial governance over a more domestically oriented, fragmented, and plainly smaller, financial system.</p> <p>These two points indicate that if you want real change, simply trying to stop the financial lobby might not be as straightforward as it sounds. There is not only a supply side of the private-sector lobby but also a demand side of policymakers who choose the IIF as their key interlocutor. </p> <p>Policymakers should be provided with alternative discussion partners, through building a coalition of think tanks and financial institutions that can provide expert advice on par with what the IIF would have to offer. To put it in Gramscian terms: a counter-hegemonic structure needs to be developed and nurtured to replace the currently dominant financial lobby focusing on global integration under market-based regulation.</p> <h2><strong>Financial lobbying power</strong></h2> <p>As a highly regulated sector with a crucial role in the functioning of the economy, the financial sector has always been closely related to public policymaking. </p> <p>In his prize-winning analysis of the emergence of the euro-dollar market in the 1960s, Gary Burn demonstrates that the institutional structures facilitating the City of London as a global financial centre had already been established in the late nineteenth century and were such a close intermingling of state, banks and private sector associations that it is not even meaningful to talk about separate state and market spheres.<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> A <a href="https://www.tni.org/files/download/02_tni_state-of-power-2015_political_capture_by_the_financial_industry-1.pdf">raft of case studies</a> of the financial regulatory processes in both developing and developed countries has underscored these close ties of domestic financial interest associations and public policymakers.<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> </p> <p>With the re-emergence of global finance, likewise international associational activity moved to the global level. One of the earliest was the Association of International Bond Dealers (now the International Capital Market Association) which was established in 1969 to organise the eurobond markets. This was followed by the IIF and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) in the early 1980s, while the International Banking Federation was established as recently as 2004. Heather McKeen-Edwards and Tony Porter have compiled a database of over 200 of these ‘transnational financial associations’.<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> They argue that four of these serve as the apex organisations: the IIF, the Global Financial Market Association, the ISDA, and the International Accounting Standards Board. Each of these associations comes from a different segment of the global financial system, respectively banking, capital markets, derivatives, and accounting.</p> <h2><strong>The IIF</strong></h2> <p>The IIF was formally established in January 1983 and established its office in Washington to be close to the IMF and World Bank. The IIF’s membership was limited to banks with (prospective) international lending and 38 banks from Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, the UK and the US became founding members. </p> <p>Membership grew to almost 190 banks in its first year and from the mid-1990s onwards it rose further as a result of an active membership drive by the IIF’s management (e.g. expanding in Asia after the East Asian financial crisis). </p> <p>According to its website, it currently extends to nearly 450 institutions from over 70 countries. Currently, full membership is limited to firms internationally active in banking, securities and insurance, but associate membership and special affiliates are open to another layer of institutions active in the global financial system, such as accountancy firms, development banks, export insurers, and stock exchanges.</p> <p>The budget of the Institute has kept track with its growing membership. It started out at about USD 10 million in current values, and has increased almost fourfold since. The number of staff has expanded from about 40 to about 80. The Institute thus has significant resources to lobby for its positions. Senior management of the IIF is geographically spread among the membership – for instance, if the Managing Director is from the US, the Chairman of the Board is European or Asian. </p> <p>The Membership Meetings are scheduled to coincide with the Spring and Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, reflecting the desire for exchange with these institutions.<a href="#_ftn4">[4]</a> The current President of the Institute is Timothy Adams, a former Under Secretary for International Affairs of the US Treasury. His famous and long-serving predecessor, Charles Dallara, had a similar background in US policymaking circles.</p> <p>The Institute’s current mission is ‘to support the financial industry in the prudent management of risks; to develop sound industry practices; and to advocate for regulatory, financial and economic policies that are in the broad interests of its members and foster global financial stability and sustainable economic growth’. </p> <p>To achieve this mission, work is organised around three pillars: country economic analysis, regulatory issues, and international financial policies towards emerging markets. In addition, the Institute increasingly provides training and education for banking professionals and public officials through seminars and conferences. Through all these activities, the Institute interacts often and closely with public officials at the national and global level. But to really understand its power in influencing global financial policy, we have to dig deeper into its curious origins.</p> <h2><strong>The 1980s debt crisis: genesis of the IIF</strong></h2> <p>The IIF emerged as the consequence of the growth of private financing of emerging market sovereign debt, and more specifically as a consequence of the 1980s debt crisis. </p> <p>The idea of establishing a forum in which to exchange (sometimes confidential) information on the exposure of banks to and the economic developments in developing countries was conceived of in May 1982 at a high-level meeting of public and private financial policymakers sponsored by the National Planning Association (a US think tank) at Ditchley Park in Oxfordshire. </p> <p>The idea was to increase transparency in the sovereign debt market, so that banks could better assess the risk of their loans to emerging markets (and the market for private financing of developing countries could grow, one might add). Specifically, Jacques de Larosière, Managing Director of the IMF, encouraged the establishment of the Institute and extensively briefed the IMF’s Executive Board on the project. In addition, the IMF, BIS and OECD allowed the IIF access to their (non-public) reports. In other words, from its origin the IIF was not simply a reflection of the interest of private Wall Street banks, but equally a reflection of the demand by public international organisations for an interlocutor.</p> <p>In the meantime, bank lending to developing countries (rebranded by bankers as ‘emerging markets’) ran into trouble. In the summer of 1982 Mexico declared it could no longer fulfil its debt obligations, followed by many others in Latin America and other parts of the globe. The 1980s debt crisis was born, potentially wreaking havoc on the international banking sector: in the US, banks’ exposure to the 17 most highly indebted emerging markets was well over a 100 per cent of capital, while for the UK banks a complete default of these countries would wipe out 85 per cent of their capital.<a href="#_ftn5">[5]</a></p> <p>Negotiations between the banks and the bankrupt developing countries took place in so-called London Clubs. These were informal gatherings where the banks could hash out debt restructurings on a case-by-case basis. This offered the bankers the benefit of being able to learn from experience, tailor proposals to regain as much of the distressed debt as possible, and prevent the emergence of a united front of debtor countries. </p> <p>The newly established Institute was less suitable for these case-by-case negotiations. Its Board emphasised that it did not intend to present a united front of bankers to borrowing countries when it came to debt restructurings (out of concern for US anti-trust law, it seems).<a href="#_ftn6">[6]</a></p> <p>In relation to global-level policy reforms in the wake of the debt crisis, the Institute did see itself playing a role. It established a working group dealing with the policy issues related to the resolution of the 1980s debt crisis (e.g. what menu of options debtor countries should offer and the preference for voluntary case-by-case approaches) and coordinated the involvement of smaller banks. </p> <p>Already from early 1985, it started sending a bi-annual letter to the members of the IMF’s main governing body (the IMFC) to lobby for the IIF’s positions regarding the agenda of the day. <span class="mag-quote-center">The IIF advocated for increasing official (public) funding for the restructurings, a truly voluntary debt reduction and no IMF tolerance of interest arrears of debtor countries to commercial banks.</span></p> <p>By the time of the Brady Plan (1989), the IIF had emerged as the main voice of the international banking community. It opposed the somewhat non-voluntary debt reductions that Brady proposed and on the eve of the 1990 Spring meetings of IMF and World Bank it published a report on emerging market financing that emphasised that the Brady Plan was leading to increasing arrears in emerging markets and potentially eroded discipline in the international financial system. </p> <p>The IIF advocated for increasing official (public) funding for the restructurings, a truly voluntary debt reduction and no IMF tolerance of interest arrears of debtor countries to commercial banks.<a href="#_ftn7">[7]</a> In other words, the IIF acted as a true interest association by trying to offload the burden of the crisis onto the debtor countries and the official sector while keeping its market intact. Its power was not (yet) sufficient to stop the Brady Plan, however.</p> <p>The origins of the IIF were thus closely tied to international organisations and public officials encouraging its establishment and providing it with the means (e.g. access to confidential data) to attract members. Combined with the urgency of the 1980s debt crisis, this kickstarted the organisation (as the membership figures discussed above testify). </p> <p>Once established, the Institute fairly quickly started to develop an advocacy role. Its lobbying activities really came into their own when international banking regulation was discussed, as the next case will demonstrate.</p> <h2><strong>Global banking regulation: levelling the playing field</strong></h2> <p>In the wake of the Latin American debt crisis, US banking regulators had successfully pushed for a global agreement on bank capital adequacy standards to prevent defaults from potentially wiping out the banking sector again. With the 1980s debt crisis resolved, discussions emerged on the renegotiation of these regulations. </p> <p>The IIF was quick to realise the opportunities this policymaking process offered and reorganised itself to be able to optimally influence the negotiations. It allowed an increasing number of non-bank corporations (e.g. investment management and insurance companies) to join the IIF as financial markets integrated across borders and across banking and capital market sectors. </p> <p>This provided the IIF with a unique perspective and expertise on the inner workings of international finance. Lobbying on international regulatory issues became a third pillar of its work (as mentioned above) and was organised in such a way as to mirror the structure of the global public policymaking forum, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.<a href="#_ftn8">[8]</a> Due to its specific expertise as a representative of the most ‘sophisticated’ internationally active banks, the Basel Committee actively asked the IIF to organise private-sector input.</p> <p>In its lobbying work, the IIF favoured international regulation and standardisation to ‘level the playing field’ and make conducting banking business all over the globe more convenient. At the same time, the IIF favoured the lightest possible regulatory burden, aiming for ‘market-based’ regulation. The renegotiations of the Basel Capital Accord, the international agreement dealing with the capital buffers banks need to hold to prevent banking crises, provide a good example of these dual goals.</p> <p>The main demand from the private sector, and the IIF specifically, was the use of banks’ own models to calculate risks and thus the amount of capital they should hold to cover those risks. This so-called Internal Ratings Based approach would allow the banks to determine the risk-weighted assets on the balance sheet and thereby determine how much capital they would have to hold to cover those risks. This would be a major change vis-à-vis the first Basel Capital Accord, which divided bank assets into several categories with risk weights set by the supervisor. </p> <p>The IIF set the agenda with an influential 1998 report from its working group on capital adequacy. The title aptly summarises the main point: ‘Recommendations for revising the regulatory capital rules for credit risk – a proposal to allow banks to use their own models’.</p> <p>It should be emphasised that using internal models is most attractive for large, diversified banks (in other words: the IIF’s membership). They can gain a competitive advantage by setting their own capital levels, while for smaller banks the investment in risk-management models would be too high and specialised banks would not benefit from diversification. There was much concern among other banking associations (e.g. the World Council of Credit Unions) but they did not have the IIF’s privileged access to the Basel Committee. In other words, the IIF was able to push its specific model of banking over alternative models for the global financial system.</p> <p>By setting the agenda with its expertise in credit risk modelling, the IIF was very effective in influencing the Basel II Capital Accord. Although the Basel Committee did not give the banks free rein to determine their own capital level, it did allow the use of internal models for the ‘most sophisticated’ banks, thereby handing control of capital adequacy levels to the largest banks themselves. </p> <p>The IIF thus not only succeeded in ‘levelling the playing field’ but also making an important step towards more market-based forms of banking regulation. As an association, it responded to regulatory developments and built on its existing connections with public policymakers to become the prime interlocutor for the public sector. Just as when it was established, this was as much a consequence of demand from the Basel Committee for a counterpart with a compatible outlook on global financial regulation as of the preferences of its membership. </p> <p>As the next case will demonstrate, the IIF was able to gain a similar central position in public policymaking processes in the field of sovereign debt.</p> <h2><strong>Capital market crises in emerging markets: consolidating pole position</strong></h2> <p>The issue of sovereign debt crisis did not disappear for long from the international agenda after the Brady Plan. In December 1994 Mexico was again hit by financial crisis. A large injection of US and IMF official funding was necessary to keep the Mexican government afloat. But this just foreshadowed what was to come: in 1997/1998 the global financial system seemed on the verge of a meltdown as one East Asian country after the other was infected by ‘contagion’ through the global financial markets. </p> <p>The sheer volumes of official funding which were needed for bailouts of these countries led to a heated debate on how to resolve such crises and prevent the public sector from having to fork out huge sums of money again. The public sector seemed ready to take back control over the global markets when the IMF First Deputy Managing Director Anne Krueger proposed a sort of sovereign bankruptcy court where crisis-stricken countries could restructure their private debts (the so-called <a href="https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2015/09/28/04/53/sp112601">Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism</a>, SDRM) in November 2001. </p> <p>The idea of more public control over the market was anathema to the IIF. A common thread in all its advocacy and work on emerging market finance was a combination of increasing transparency on the part of debtor countries, a case-by-case approach to crises, limited public involvement, and opposition to non-voluntary private-sector involvement in resolving crises. Anne Krueger’s proposals thus met with virulent resistance from the IIF. </p> <p>In a private meeting with public policymakers, Charles Dallara (Managing Director of the IIF and a veteran debt-crisis negotiator) described the SDRM as ‘a complete abrogation of creditor’s rights’ and ‘an obstacle to globalisation as evidenced by the support of anti-globalisation NGOs like the Jubilee Debt Campaign’.<a href="#_ftn9">[9]</a> </p> <p>The IIF joined forces with other industry associations in what became informally known as the ‘Gang of Six’ (Bond Market Association, Emerging Market Creditors Association, Emerging Markets Traders Association, International Primary Markets Association, IIF, and the Securities Industry Association). </p> <p>When the SDRM was coming to a make-or-break decision at the 2003 Spring Meetings, the Gang of Six threatened to withdraw its support for any policy measures with respect to sovereign debt crises if discussions on the SDRM continued.<a href="#_ftn10">[10]</a> The traditional IIF policy brief in advance of the crucial Spring Meetings was accompanied by high-level visits of bank representatives involved in the IIF to domestic public policymakers (e.g. ABN AMRO and ING visited the Dutch Ministry of Finance to lobby against the SDRM). </p> <p>There, the power resulting from the breadth of the Institutes membership came to the fore – as members of many of the other associations had less political clout at the domestic level. The fierce opposition and coalition-building of the IIF paid off: the SDRM proposal was shelved by the IMF governors.</p> <p>After these confrontational discussions, Jean-Claude Trichet (Governor of the Banque de France) launched proposals for a Code of Good Conduct governing creditors and debtor states’ behaviour.<a href="#_ftn11">[11]</a> This proposal aimed to get public and private actors ‘in a constructive dialogue again’. </p> <p>The Code of Good Conduct sought to lead to orderly solutions to sovereign debt crisis through early engagement with creditors, fair information sharing, fair representation of creditors, comparable treatment among creditors, fair burden sharing, negotiating in good faith, preservation of the debtor’s financial situation and restoring debt sustainability as soon as possible. This was much closer to the IIF’s long-held positions with respect to sovereign debt crises. It is noteworthy, however, that the Code left the control over the process up to the country in crisis in negotiations with its private creditors. There was no more taking back control over private financial markets.</p> <p>Development of the Code was relegated by the G20 to a working group led by the Banque de France and the IIF. The working group included some important debtor countries and the International Primary Markets Association (IPMA). The public sector had thus put the IIF in the driving seat again, even more so as the Banque de France subsequently left the development of the Code solely to the associations and debtor countries. </p> <p>In November 2004, the IIF and IPMA agreed with Brazil, Mexico, South Korea and Turkey on so-called ‘Principles for Stable Capital Flows and Fair Debt Restructuring in Emerging Markets’. The emphasis in the ‘Principles’ had shifted from debt restructuring to more debtor transparency and dialogue with creditors, resembling the market-based regulations preferred by the IIF.<a href="#_ftn12">[12]</a></p> <p>Implementation of the Principles took off under the leadership of the IIF in late 2005 when the Principles Consultative Group (PCG) and a Group of Trustees of the Principles were established.<a href="#_ftn13">[13]</a> Membership of these groups reads like a ‘who’s who’ of high-power international financial policymakers. The group is currently chaired by Axel Weber (Chairman of UBS AG, former Bundesbank President); François Villeroy de Galhau (Governor Banque de France); and Zhou Xiaochuan (Governor People’s Bank of China). The secretariat of the Group of Trustees is held by the IIF, cementing its central position on global financial governance. <span class="mag-quote-center">Membership of these groups reads like a ‘who’s who’ of high-power international financial policymakers.</span></p> <p>In sum, one could almost say that the IIF has come full circle by acting as ‘a forum in which borrowing countries, on a voluntary basis, could meet regularly with private banking institutions to review economic plans and financial projections’.<a href="#_ftn14">[14]</a> The IIF has been able to stop proposals that might harm private creditors and increase public control over global financial markets. Furthermore, it has become even more central in the governance of sovereign debt crises by the public sectors’ decision to relegate the development and implementation of the Principles to the Institute. As the next case will show, this substantially strengthened the position of the IIF in the Great Financial Crisis.</p> <h2><strong>The Great Financial Crisis: reaping the rewards of market-based governance</strong></h2> <p>The 2008 Great Financial Crisis proved quite a test for the market-based, integrated global financial order the IIF had been so instrumental in nurturing. </p> <p>The internal risk-management models for which it had lobbied in Basel broke down. The debtor countries in need of restructuring were suddenly no longer the ones the Principles targeted originally but lay in the periphery of the Eurozone. And many of its members found themselves appealing to the state for support. </p> <p>Yet, the IIF seemed unfazed, as the opening anecdote of the 2011 ‘Cumulative Impact of Regulation’ report had demonstrated. It did, however, broaden its lobbying in light of this new politicisation, from emphasising the superiority of market-based risk management and financial regulation to stressing the economic costs of more stringent, public-based regulation.</p> <p>The ink on the Basel II Capital Accord wasn’t even dry when the crisis led to a renegotiation. The Accord had led to the underestimation of risks in the banking sector and overestimated the ability of banks to mitigate risks, as the influential de Larosière Report on the way forward for the European Union (EU) after the crisis stated. </p> <p>The public sector’s initial proposals thus focused on a higher level of capital and lower leverage in the banking sector, much to the dismay of the IIF. Bank capital adequacy regulation was suddenly a topic in the political sphere, making it much harder for the IIF to leverage its close contacts with policymakers behind closed doors. This is one reason why the IIF focused its line of defence on the negative consequences for general economic growth rather than on the superiority of market-based mechanisms for managing financial risks. <span class="mag-quote-center">Bank capital adequacy regulation was suddenly a topic in the political sphere, making it much harder for the IIF to leverage its close contacts with policymakers behind closed doors.</span></p> <p>However, as the immediate crisis in the banking sector subsided and political attention shifted to austerity, the traditional mode of banking policymaking kicked in again. The IIF focused on watering down and delaying the proposals, arguing among other issues that stringent regulation of the banking sector would give an undue competitive advantage to the shadow banking sector. The Basel Committee did not seek to regain public control by challenging the Internal Ratings Based approach, in line with IIF’s position from the start of the crisis: the market-based governance framework is good, just some tinkering is needed to strengthen risk management. In other words, the IIF proved very effective at maintaining the broad market-based approach of the Basel Capital Accord. </p> <p>In relation to the sovereign debt crisis, attention focused on the derogatory term ‘PIGS’ (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain). Among these troubled countries in the periphery of the Eurozone, Greece stood out as needing a debt restructuring in addition to its bailout. Although the Greek sovereign debt crisis mainly involved European banks and despite the fact that much of the debt was emitted under local law and not in the global financial centres, the IIF was asked to coordinate the private-sector side of the debt-restructuring negotiations. As vividly described by Manolis Kalaitzake, the Institute’s experience and technical expertise in sovereign debt restructurings enabled it to play a crucial role in the design of the eventual restructuring.<a href="#_ftn15">[15]</a> </p> <p>Equally important, however, were the close ties to public policymakers through the Group of Trustees of the Principles. Although the eventual outcome of the negotiations saw a drastic haircut for the private sector, this was the best outcome for the European banks (which had enough troubles already). </p> <p>It also enabled the IIF to forestall any emerging discussion on public mechanisms for debt restructuring: its market-led order had worked – although ordinary Greeks will no doubt disagree. Moreover, the IIF has now established a new joint committee of bankers and senior public officials to explore <a href="https://www.euromoney.com/article/b12kjk784ynlzp/charles-dallara-the-ultimate-insider-opens-up?copyrightInfo=true">new approaches </a>to the prevention and resolution of sovereign debt crises, seemingly even taking charge of the policymaking process.<a href="#_ftn16">[16]</a></p> <h2><strong>Conclusion: how to contest encapsulated power</strong></h2><p><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Kees_Vendrik.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Kees_Vendrik.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Bank critic Kees Vendrik, chief economist of the Triodos Bank. Wikicommons/Erwin85. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></strong>All in all, the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression seems not to have hampered the privileged position of the IIF as a representative of the banking lobby. In part, this can be explained by the fact that its emergence and subsequent development was heavily influenced by public policymaking processes, from the initial encouragement, to access to confidential public-sector data, to the modelling of the organisational structure with respect to banking regulation on the BCBS, to its inclusion in the Code of Good Conduct working group. Its uniquely influential role was thus as much driven by its expertise and the economic power of its membership as by the ‘demand side’ of global-level policymakers. </p><p>Similarly, the specific policy positions of the IIF, aiming for levelling a playing field and market-based forms of governance, fit the general pro-globalisation and pro-financialisation outlook of the main global-level policymakers. This gives it the opportunity to overcome opposition from banking groups which strive for more locally embedded financial sectors or for limiting the integration of financial sectors. If we want to address the power of the banking lobby in global financial governance we should thus focus on the mutual interaction between the banking lobby and public policymaking. <span class="mag-quote-center">We should focus on the mutual interaction between the banking lobby and public policymaking. </span></p><p>This has important implications for social movements trying to increase the democratic legitimacy of finance by curtailing the influence of the banking lobby. More attention should be paid to the ‘demand side’ of public policymakers in understanding which private-sector interests are influential and which are not. </p> <p>Given the apparent demand for input in global financial policymaking, it might be worth building coalitions with private-sector associations that provide models of banking closer to the preferred alternatives (e.g. the cooperative banking world or the Global Alliance for Banking on Values). Pushing for the inclusion of these actors rather than exclusive dependence on the traditional representatives from the private sector (such as the IIF) might be more effective than pushing to end the relationship with the financial sector altogether. <span class="mag-quote-center">More attention should be paid to the ‘demand side’ of public policymakers in understanding which private-sector interests are influential and which are not.</span></p> <p>In addition, and more importantly, public mobilisation regarding the global financial system should also provide policymakers with a wider range of discussion partners. The progressive movement should work on building a network of think tanks, politicians and financial professionals where the revolving door is just as effective as with the IIF and global financial policymakers. In the Dutch context, the establishment of the academic think tank ‘<a href="https://sustainablefinancelab.nl">Sustainable Finance Lab</a>’, and the appointment of former Green politician and bank critic Kees Vendrik as chief economist of the Triodos Bank, illustrate how to strengthen the progressive networks in finance. In this way, the counter-hegemonic alternatives and power networks will be ready when the next crisis hits.</p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> Burn, G. (1999) ‘The state, the City and the Euromarkets’ <em>Review of International Political Economy</em>, 6(2): 225 -261.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> See also Kalaitzake, M. (2015) ‘Political Capture by the Financial Industry’ TNI State of Power report 2015. </p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> McKeen-Edwards, H. &amp; Porter, T. (2013) <em>Transnational Financial Associations and the Governance of Global Finance</em>. Abingdon:&nbsp; Routledge.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref4">[4]</a> IIF (2007) <em>The First 25 Years, 1982 – 2007</em>. Washington DC: IIF, page 138.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref5">[5]</a> Cline, William R. 1995. <em>International debt re-examined</em>. Institute for International Economics: Tables 2.10 – 2.14.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref6">[6]</a> IMF Archives. 1983. “The Institute for International Finance, Inc.” SM/83/172, 4 August: page 3-4.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref7">[7]</a> The American Banker. 1990. “Big Global Banks Scorn Brady Plan; Program Spurs 3rd World Arrearages, Institute Says” 4 May.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref8">[8]</a> Newman, A. &amp; E. Posner. 2016. “Structuring transnational interests: the second-order effects of soft law in the politics of global finance.” <em>Review of International Political Economy</em> 23(5): 768 – 798</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref9">[9]</a> Confidential document source, 2001. The shrillness of the opposition was also present in an interview with IIF staff conducted in June 2008.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref10">[10]</a> Gang of Six, “Letter to Ministers of Finance signed by EMTA, IIF, IPMA, Bond Market Association, SIA, ISMA and EMCA” 6 December 2002.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref11">[11]</a> Banque de France. 2003. “Towards a Code of Good Conduct of Sovereign Debt Re-negotiation.”</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref12">[12]</a> Possible link: https://www.iif.com/Advocacy/Policy-Issues/Principles-for-Stable-Capital-Flows-and-Fair-Debt-Restructuring</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref13">[13]</a> Ritter, R. 2010. “Transnational governance in global finance: The Principles for Stable Capital Flows and Fair Debt Restructuring in Emerging Markets.” <em>International Studies Perspectives</em> 11: 222 – 241; page 228.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref14">[14]</a> IIF. 1983. “By-Laws”.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref15">[15]</a> Kalaitzake, M. (2017) ‘The <em>Political Power of Finance</em>: The Institute of International Finance in the Greek debt crisis’, <em>Politics &amp; Society</em>, 45(3): 389- 413.</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref16">[16]</a> Euromoney (2011) ‘Charles Dallara: the Ultimate Insider opens up’, 17 September 2012. </p><p>This essay is republished from <a href="//www.tni.org/stateofpower2019">Transnational Institute's&nbsp;<em>State of Power</em>&nbsp;report</a>, an annual anthology on power and resistance. The 2019 report examines financial power and features 10 insightful essays and many compelling infographics.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This essay is republished from <a href="http://www.tni.org/stateofpower2019">Transnational Institute's&nbsp;<em>State of Power</em>&nbsp;report</a>, an annual anthology on power and resistance. The 2019 report examines financial power and features 10 insightful essays and many compelling infographics.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? uk Jasper Blom Thu, 24 Jan 2019 07:58:57 +0000 Jasper Blom 121393 at https://www.opendemocracy.net VOX and the Spanish Muslim community: the new “Reconquista” of Spain https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/carmen-aguilera-carnerero/vox-and-spanish-muslim-community-new-reconquista-of-spa <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This kind of explicit attack, unfortunately familiar in the wider European context we belong to, is something very recent on the Spanish political scene.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-36824453.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-36824453.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Santiago Abascal, spokesman for Vox, during rally in Plaza de Colón, Madrid, Spain. Lito Lizana/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The relationship between VOX &nbsp;̶ &nbsp;headed by its leader Santiago Abascal &nbsp;̶ &nbsp;and the Muslim community has never been easy. Back in 2015 when VOX (founded at the end of December 2013) was still a very minoritarian political force relatively unknown in Spain, Abascal and the leader of the Islamic Commission of Spain at that moment, Natalia Andújar, engaged in a fierce verbal confrontation. The origin of the battle was an article that the head of VOX had published in the online newspaper <em>Libertad Digital</em> entitled “<a href="https://www.libertaddigital.com/opinion/santiago-abascal/caballo-de-troya-74282/">Caballo de Troya</a>” (Trojan Horse) in which he warned about the potential dangers of allowing Muslim students to be taught Islam in primary school as the then government allowed. Abascal argued that they were according Islam “a dangerous privilege”. Predictably, Andújar replied <a href="https://www.libertaddigital.com/espana/2015-01-08/la-comision-islamica-de-espana-acusa-a-santi-abascal-de-xenofobo-e-islamofobo-1276537632/">calling him</a> “a xenophobe as well as an Islamophobe promoting anti-democratic values”. Abascal <a href="https://www.libertaddigital.com/opinion/santiago-abascal/en-respuesta-a-la-comision-islamica-74463/">responded</a>, reiterating his warning.</p> <p>Three years after that incident, the position of VOX towards Muslims and Islam has not budged. During the recent electoral campaign in Andalusia in the last month of November 2018, the central term in party speeches was “Reconquista” (Reconquest). Even though some deny that this amounts to a religious crusade of Christians against Muslims, the term historically refers to the expulsion of Muslims by Isabel – Abascal’s role model for a politician – and Fernando (the Catholic Kings), de facto spelling the end of the kingdom of Granada, the end of Muslim rule in Spain after eight centuries of domination especially in Andalusia (Al-Andalus) and, ultimately, the end of Islam in Europe in 1492. The connotations of that word are clear: the ‘new conquest’ of Spanish territory for the principles VOX defends.</p> <p>The Muslim community represents a growing 4% of the Spanish population, almost 2 million inhabitants, of whom more than 800,000 are Spanish citizens. Clearly the promise made by VOX in its electoral campaign was of special importance to them. As with the rest of electoral programme, Abascal’s articulation of what the party thought about minorities and measures to be implemented in relation to immigrants pulled no punches. </p> <p>In 2017, the president of VOX contended that there was no danger of Islamophobia in Spain: the real danger was <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWdg5ac4xjM&amp;feature=youtu.be&amp;t=4m">Islamophilia</a>. </p> <h2><strong>Judging Islam</strong></h2> <p>VOX claimed they disliked Islamic pillars of their religion such as the lack of separation between religion and politics as well as the basic way Muslims saw the world (for example, the treatment of women). Abascal, like many other citizens, judged a whole religion practiced by around 1600 million followers throughout the world on the basis of a homogenous block without any potential for differentiation, while typically confusing the culture, religion and politics implemented in the name of their faith. </p> <p>The problem is that Abascal is not only an average citizen but also and especially the head of a political party, so his choice of words has an impact on whether hundreds of thousands of Spaniards reject or trust the Muslims among them. Consequently that choice should be made cautiously. Or maybe this was entirely calculated. </p> <p>Just before the electoral campaign in Andalusia began in the autumn 2018, he said in a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jl43Neqlf3c">talk in Gran Canaria</a> that immigrants from South America would be preferred over and above those coming from Islamic countries, since the former share our language, culture and worldview, adding that he feared 4% of Muslims living in Spain could “become a problem”. The kind of problem he had in mind was never clarified.</p> <p>During a meeting last November with 700 people overcrowding a hotel in the city of Cordoba, the candidate of the party for the province, Alejandro Hernández Valdés, stated they were going to fight those who wanted to turn the cathedral into a mosque, an ancient and deeply rooted controversy ever present in Andalusian society.</p> <p>In a <a href="http://www.carlosherrera.com/web/noticias1.asp?Id=7977">radio interview</a> with the popular journalist Carlos Herrera just a couple of days before the election, Abascal argued that immigration should be regulated in relation to the economic demands of the country as well as “according to their compatibility with our culture” so that “we don’t have to have to change our traditions or the menu in schools”. The reference was to the inclusion of halal menus in primary schools if a minimum of 10 students requires it, as guaranteed by Cooperation Agreements signed by the Government and the Spanish Islamic Commission in 1992.</p> <p>By mid-December, after the Andalusian elections and the unexpectedly steep victory of VOX that took place, the Catalan independentist politician, Najat Driouech, a Muslim woman wearing a hijab, called VOX’s ideology “male chauvinist” in the Catalan Parliament. Abascal’s reaction on Twitter was quick and inappropriate. Using an ugly term of address (calling Mrs. Driouech “this (esta)” rather than addressing her by her name) he told her “to look first to her own <em>home</em>” (obviously her religion, italics added) before describing them as male chauvinists. </p> <p>That Najat Driouech was insulted in this way by the political leader of a party that had won a historic 12 seats in the Andalusian Parliament the first time they ran in elections, is worrying enough. No less so was the proliferation of racist and Islamophobic comments made by citizens following him up on social media. Classic Islamophobic tropes of women’s oppression under Islam (for wearing a hijab), curbs on expressing their opinions, or not being born in Spain despite having Spanish nationality were once again the most frequent slurs. </p> <p>So, the relationship between VOX and the Muslim community was complicated from the outset. Muslims are the most numerous religious minority in Spain and their status as citizens seems now seems under threat from VOX’s political arsenal. There were problems in Spanish society in relation to Muslims even before VOX burst into the political arena. But this kind of explicit attack, unfortunately familiar in the wider European context we belong to, is something very recent on the Spanish political scene.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Visit the <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com">Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right</a> (#CARR).</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Spain </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Spain Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Equality Carmen Aguilera-Carnerero Wed, 23 Jan 2019 17:58:47 +0000 Carmen Aguilera-Carnerero 121404 at https://www.opendemocracy.net On the hollowness of the contemporary radical populist right and what to do about it https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/hans-georg-betz/on-hollowness-of-contemporary-radical-populist-right-and-what-to- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For decades, radical right-wing populism has been accompanied by a narrative warning of the fundamental threat these parties pose to liberal democracy. The effect has been close to zero.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40704432.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40704432.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Matteo Salvini in Afragola, Italy, 18 January 2019. Esposito Salvatore/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Populism is all the rage these days, particularly in Europe.&nbsp; Or, to put it more concretely, the lethal threat radical right-wing populism allegedly poses to liberal democracy.&nbsp; Authors who are usually quick (and justifiedly so) to zero in on the populist right's paranoid, conspiratorial take on the world, are equally quick to resort to hyperbole and hysteria, for instance by drawing parallels between today and the 1930s.&nbsp; </p> <p>Marx once remarked that history repeats itself, first as a tragedy, then as a farce.&nbsp; Journalists and other opinion makers would do well to remember this phrase before evoking the specter of Mussolini when reporting on the most recent provocations coming from the mouth of Matteo Salvini.&nbsp; </p> <p>The sensationalist rhetoric that informs much of the reporting on the contemporary radical populist right is largely fueled by the often outrageous rhetoric of radical right-wing populist actors.&nbsp; In the past, two of the most prominent champions of populist discourse in western Europe, the late Jörg Haider (FPÖ) and Umberto Bossi (Lega Nord), proved particularly apt in giving the media what they were craving – a catchy headline, particularly during the "silly season" (i.e., the summer months) when the media are desperate for anything to catch potential readers' attention.&nbsp; It was during that season that Bossi would threaten to "oil the Kalashnikovs" if "Rome" continued to refuse to embark on reforms (particularly fiscal federalism) demanded by the Lega Nord.</p> <p>The proof of the pudding, however, is in the eating.&nbsp; By now, a growing number of radical right-wing populist parties in western Europe have been given the opportunity to exercise real power as partners of center-right coalition governments, most recently in Norway and &nbsp;Finland.&nbsp; Gone are the days when there was a consensus among the establish parties, both left and right, to "quarantine" the radical populist right via a "cordon sanitaire."&nbsp; The recent accord after the election in Andalusia between the Partido Popular and Vox (characterized as right-wing extremist by the Spanish media), in exchange for Vox's outside support of a center-right minority government is the most recent example of the futility of this strategy.&nbsp; </p> <p>The adoption by the Danish traditional left of much of the Danish populist right's discourse on immigration is a clear indication that even the mainstream left is hardly immune to the logic of electoral arithmetic (why should only the center-right benefit from the electoral strength of the populist right?). <span class="mag-quote-center">Even the mainstream left is hardly immune to the logic of electoral arithmetic (why should only the center-right benefit from the electoral strength of the populist right?).</span></p> <p>Political parties have a certain obligation to their voters.&nbsp; They advance numerous demands, claims and promises during election campaigns and are expected to deliver on them once put in office.&nbsp; This applies particularly to the radical populist right, which, in their programs and manifestos, claim to lend voice to the expectations and aspirations of "ordinary people" -- provided the latter actually know what they want and desire. Surveys suggest that they do, and this not only with respect to immigration, but also with regard to growing socioeconomic inequality, the negative consequences of globalization, and the enormous challenges posed by digitalization and automation, particularly for low skill routine workers. Each of these phenomena and processes particularly affect ordinary people, i.e., the core constituency (aka the "base") of the radical populist right.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>What have they ever done for us?</strong></h2> <p>Under the circumstances, it is more than justified to ask what these parties, particularly when in a position of power, have done for their voters. The answer is simple and contradicts much of what has been written about the contemporary radical populist right – not all that much.&nbsp; This holds even true with regard to the radical populist right's main area of "competence", immigration.&nbsp; The Lega Nord is a case in point:&nbsp; After promoting itself as an intransigent bulwark against "mass immigration," once in power (as a junior partner of Silvio Berlusconi) the Lega accepted the most extensive regularization of immigrants ever, caving in to demands of Italy's agricultural, industrial and service sector for cheap, docile labor.&nbsp; </p> <p>The situation has been similar elsewhere. In France, for instance, in 2017, the country's authorities granted more than 260,000 resident permits, an increase of almost 14 percent compared to 2016.&nbsp; And this despite pressure from one of western Europe's most successful radical right-wing populist parties.</p> <p>With respect to other policy fields, the radical populist right's "achievements" are even more dismal.&nbsp; Take, for instance, the question of social welfare, which should also be a central concern of these parties.&nbsp; Trade theory suggests that opening up to international competition invariably produces winners and losers.&nbsp; In order to secure the losers' support for open markets, governments need to compensate them in form of a strong social safety net.&nbsp; To be sure, prominent radical right-wing populist parties, such as Marine Le Pen's Rassemblement National (ex Front National), have gone to great lengths to promote themselves as the new guardians of the welfare state.&nbsp; The welfare state, however, depends for its survival on funds derived from taxes, particularly from those citizens who can most afford to pay them – the famous "one percent" on the very top of the income pyramid.&nbsp; </p> <p>It would seem appropriate to recall that the most significant early instances of populist mobilization in (quasi)democratic regimes – the American agrarian populists of the 1890s and the "Boulangists" in <em>fin-de-siècle</em> France – were to a significant extent on the left, their political doctrines largely suffused with a trenchant critique of the collusion between the political establishment and the hyper-rich devoid of any sense of social responsibility. &nbsp;</p> <p>In both cases (the same holds true for the "classical" period of populist mobilization in Latin America, such as aprismo in Peru and gaitanismo in Colombia) populism was all about restoring some measure of social justice at a time of flagrant inequality.&nbsp; At the same time, both movements were informed by a strong sense of nostalgia – in the American case, nostalgia for the Jeffersonian vision of a commonwealth of small, independent producers imbued with republican virtue; in the case of the left-wing Boulangists (such as Maurice Barrès), nostalgia for the days of the revolution, when the notions of <em>liberté, égalité, fraternité</em> still meant something.</p> <p>Contemporary radical right-wing populist parties are quite apt in evoking a sense of nostalgia – from the <em>trente glorieuses</em> in the case of Marine Le Pen to the conjuring up of the <em>folkhemmet</em> (the people's home) by the Sverigedemokraterna in Sweden.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">Today's radical right-wing populist parties have generally been championing lowering the tax burden, which predominantly benefits the rich.&nbsp; </span></p> <p>What they tend to leave out in their narrative, however, is that this period of post-war rapid economic growth and equally rapid rising living standards was also a period of a highly progressive taxation, designed to guarantee a measure of social equality. Against that, today's radical right-wing populist parties have generally been championing lowering the tax burden, which predominantly benefits the rich.&nbsp; A prominent example is Salvini's Lega, which made the introduction of a "flat tax" central to its campaign for last year's parliamentary election in Italy.&nbsp; </p> <p>Radical right-wing populist parties have largely got away with a political program that is long on rhetoric, but very short on concrete policies designed to help ordinary people.&nbsp; They have done this by promoting the very same symbolic politics for which they have (justifiedly) criticized the established parties:&nbsp; identitarian politics on the right (particularly with respect to Islam) against the identitarian politics of the left (such as gay marriage).&nbsp; </p> <p>Identitarian politics, however, does little to alleviate the very real material concerns and worries of ordinary people who face very real, and rapidly increasing, difficulties to make ends meet (which has been behind the eruption of "gilets jaunes" protest in France), &nbsp;Rapid technological change, whether in the form of digitalization or robotization, is only going to make things worse.&nbsp; Under the circumstances, radical right-wing populist parties, given their proven appeal to lower-class voters, have an obligation to represent the latter's concerns. </p> <h2><strong>In a position to deliver?</strong></h2> <p>Radical right-wing populist parties are certainly in a position to deliver, if only because of their significant blackmail potential.&nbsp; Until recently, they have used this potential to put pressure on the center-right to adopt their nativist (i.e., anti-immigrant) agenda.&nbsp; </p> <p>And the media have generally allowed them to get away with it by cultivating and perpetuating the notion that radical right-wing populist parties represent a fundamental threat to liberal democracy.&nbsp; </p> <p>So far nobody has asked why these parties, given their substantial appeal to lower-class voters, have failed to coax the established left to make a clean break with "third way" social-democratic neoliberalism and advance a genuinely left-wing alternative vision capable of mobilizing "ordinary" voters. </p> <p>The recent programmatic U-turn of the Danish Social Democrats with regard to immigration policy, which has brought them into line with the populist right-wing Danish People's Party, suggests that this might change. The social democrats' new course on immigration was the result of strategic calculations informed by the harsh realities of the new arithmetic of electoral politics: the fact that the radical populist right's largely unabated success at the polls has to a large extent come at the expense of the traditional left-wing parties, which, already severely weakened, are either faced with the threat of ending up permanently shut out of power (for instance in France and Italy, but potentially also in Austria and even Germany) or forced into having to make painful compromises if they want to govern (as most recently seen in Sweden).&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Under the circumstances, the Danish social democrats' immigration policy turn was to a large extent borne out of necessity rather than conviction.&nbsp; But it was also informed by the fact that the social democrats and the populist right share a number of positions, particularly with respect to social welfare – potentially common ground for cooperation.</p> <h2><strong>Social welfare common ground</strong></h2> <p>For ideological purists, who still believe in isolating and marginalizing the radical populist right via a <em>cordon sanitaire</em>, these developments must be disconcerting.&nbsp; For the rest of us, they should come as a welcome break with a policy which not only has failed, allowing the radical populist right to present themselves as victims, but has also has made it rather difficult to hold them accountable on behalf of their voters.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>Radical right-wing populism is not a new phenomenon in western Europe.&nbsp; They have been around for decades. As has been the dominant narrative in the media and among social analysts, who have incessantly warned of the fundamental threat these parties pose to liberal democracy.&nbsp; <span class="mag-quote-center">In the meantime, radical right-wing populist parties have been allowed to get away with empty bluster and claims… devoid of any sense of reality.</span></p> <p>The effect has been close to zero. In the meantime, radical right-wing populist parties have been allowed to get away with empty bluster and claims – such as the Front National's claim that once in power it would reduce immigration to virtually zero – devoid of any sense of reality. It is high time to embark on a new approach with respect to these parties.</p> <p>There clearly is a populist take on social, economic and foreign policy that responds to the anxieties and aspirations of ordinary people suffering from the negative impact of global economic and financial capitalism, unfair trade practices, ever increasing inequality, and rapid technological innovation.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Political parties that derive a considerable share of their support at the polls from routine manual and service workers have an obligation to push for policies that improve their constituency's life chances. It is up to the media and professional analysts to expose the hollowness of radical right-wing populist programs and hold them accountable for delivering concrete results.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Visit the <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com">Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right</a> (#CARR).</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics International politics Hans-Georg Betz Wed, 23 Jan 2019 17:47:38 +0000 Hans-Georg Betz 121408 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Contrasting euroscepticisms in Croatia and Serbia https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-petsinis/contrasting-euroscepticisms-in-croatia-and-serbia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What are the implications for Serbia from Croatia’s experience throughout the course of its EU-membership?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35969254.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35969254.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>15,000 people gathered in Croatia's second largest city Split on Thursday to protest the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, April, 2018. Ivo Cagalj/ Press Association. all rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The emergence of Euroscepticism provides one more common denominator between Croatia and Serbia. In Croatia, Euroscepticism revolves around economic anxieties, ‘new’ identity politics (mainly gender-related issues) and opposition to legal provisions on minority rights. In Serbia, ‘Euroscepticism outside of the EU’ predominantly consists in geopolitical considerations, namely the desire to preserve the country’s ‘neutrality’ between east and west. </p> <p>What are the commonalities and differences between the Croatian and Serbian variants of Euroscepticism? What are the implications for Serbia from Croatia’s experience throughout the course of its EU-membership?</p> <h2><strong>Euroscepticism in Croatia</strong></h2> <p>The EU Structural Funds contributed towards the improvement of the infrastructure in Zagreb and the major urban centres (Split, Rijeka and Ošijek). EU-membership has aided Croatia in promoting and upgrading its tourist industry while, in light of &nbsp;<a href="https://tradingeconomics.com/croatia/youth-unemployment-rate">youth unemployment</a>, it has enabled a younger generation of highly-qualified professionals to seek employment opportunities within the common European space. To this one should add remittance flows from wealthier west European countries towards Croatia. These realities are largely to account for the relative increase in the pro-EU stance among the Croatian public, as indicated in the results of the most recent <a href="http://hr.n1info.com/Vijesti/a340304/Znacajan-rast-potpore-gradjana-Hrvatske-clanstvu-u-EU.html">Eurobarometer</a> surveys. </p> <p>Nevertheless, the purchasing power of Croatian citizens remains relatively <a href="https://hrcak.srce.hr/136805">weak</a>. The collateral damage of free mobility within the EU space often corresponds to the emigration of highly-qualified personnel out of Croatia and the ensuing brain-drain. Moreover, the more peripheral and <a href="http://www.ksh.hu/docs/hun/xftp/terstat/2014/RS04206.pdf">less developed</a> parts of the country do not seem to have taken adequate advantage of EU Structural Funds. Their technical infrastructure remains outdated and minimal employment opportunities have been created. </p> <p>In several rural localities of Slavonia, the complexities of interethnic reconciliation seem to combine with economic malfunction, blue-collar emigration to western Europe and <a href="https://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/kroatien/13814.pdf">depopulation</a>. In all this, the aftermath of the economic crisis across the EU-south renders the Croatian public rather skeptical over the actual timing of joining the Union.</p> <h2><strong>‘Live Wall’</strong></h2> <p>Under the leadership of Ivan Vilibor Sinčić, the party of <em>Živi Zid</em> (‘Live Wall’) is represented by 4 deputies at the <em>Sabor</em> (Parliament) and its popularity is increasing. Živi Zid promotes an agenda of economic Euroscepticism and holds that ‘the EU is not run by the elected representatives of the people but by an impersonal bureaucracy and corporations’. The <a href="https://www.zivizid.hr/program/">party-manifesto</a> contends that the EU is structured in accordance to a ‘neo-feudal and neocolonial principle’, rejects austerity measures and underlines that ‘we do not desire Croatia’s isolation, however we would not desire our country to become a colony of foreign interests to the detriment of its citizens’. In addition to its quasi-leftist standpoints on the economy and the principle of Croatia’s ‘global neutrality’, Živi Zid pledges to safeguard ‘Christian moral values’ and ‘generate the proper circumstances for boosting the birthrate’. </p> <p>With regard to gender-related issues, one should take into consideration the pact between Croatia’s religious authorities and the political establishment; as also stipulated in the <a href="https://www.total-croatia-news.com/politics/31604-vatican-praises-its-contracts-with-croatia">Vatican Contract</a>. As part of this semi-formal arrangement, the governing Croatian Democratic Community/HDZ granted its <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/vassilis-petsinis/competing-conservatisms-in-serbia-and-croatia">assent</a> to the constitutional referendum on the&nbsp;same-sex marriage ban (2013) and condones the Church’s opposition to sexual education. Most recently, the ruling party’s ‘right-wing faction’ concentrated their engagement on opposition to the ratification of the <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/anti-istanbul-convention-protesters-turn-against-croatian-pm-04-13-2018">Istanbul Convention (2017)</a>. In compliance with the party-line to portray Croatia as a ‘Christian <em>and</em> European country’, HDZ’s ‘right-wing faction’ criticizes the Istanbul Convention from a predominantly gender-related angle. However, HDZ backbenchers still allude to the external ‘imposition’ of alien ethical norms on Croatian society and issue calls for the reformation of the EU via means of return to its <em>original</em> (‘European and Christian’) principles and values. </p> <p>Political mobilization around the migration crisis has been feeble. Even though the HDZ-led government questions the long-term viability of EU quotas for refugees, it <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/sep/18/refugee-crisis-hungary-builds-border-fence-with-croatia-live-updates#block-55fbea61e4b0c46d88e0313a">objected</a> to the erection of razor-wire fences along Croatia’s borders. Unlike FIDESZ in Hungary or PiS in Poland, HDZ does not perceive any interest in the ‘weaponization’ of the refugee issue, largely as a consequence of Croatia’s more recent entry into the EU. </p> <p>Meanwhile, conforming to a universal trend among the European far right, the Croatian Party of Rights/HSP, the Croatian Pure Party of Rights/HČSP and smaller groupings commenced a mobilization process via dubbing refugees and migrants ‘potential rapists’. </p> <p>Nevertheless, as a result of the fragmentation and lack of coordination among the Croatian far right, this attempt at mass mobilization cannot compare to the precedents of Hungary (Jobbik) and Slovakia (‘Our Slovakia’/<em>Naše Slovensko</em>) throughout 2015 and 2016. </p> <p>Moreover, the fact that most refugees and other migrants tend to view Croatia as a transit country relegates the migration crisis to a secondary area of interest in the agendas of Croatian Eurosceptics. </p> <p>However, researchers from the <a href="https://www.gong.hr/hr/">GONG NGO (Zagreb)</a> assess that the refugee question may become more topical in the next elections as part of HDZ’s endeavor to claim target-groups who perceive themselves as ‘left behind’ by the official party-line.&nbsp; </p> <p>With regard to minority issues, the public use of the Serb Cyrillic script in Vukovar, and other municipalities of Slavonia where the ethnic Serb population meets the prescribed 30 percent threshold, has not been put into force. In addition to the controversy over whether quite a few registered Serbs actually reside in these municipalities, the implementation of the legislation has been blocked by the systematic mobilization of the <a href="http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/vukovar-bilingualism-introduce-faces-violent-resistance">War Veterans Association/UHRV</a> (2013-2016). Opposition to the public use of the Serb Cyrillic script prompted the formation of a nexus which comprises actors as diverse as the UHRV, former HDZ-affiliates (the former Minister of Culture, <a href="https://www.total-croatia-news.com/politics/18796-hasanbegovic-evicted-from-hdz">Zlatko Hasanbegović</a>) and local representatives of the HDZ’s ‘right-wing faction’ (the Vukovar mayor, Ivan Penava). </p> <p>This development enabled these actors to voice their <a href="http://hr.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a337004/Upcoming-protest-in-Vukovar-divides-right-wing-groups.html">opposition</a> to certain decisions of the political establishment as well as to any ‘external interference in Croatia’s domestic affairs’. In addition to the provision of endorsement to the UHRV, Penava has also been accused of ‘<a href="https://www.slobodnaevropa.org/a/interkulturna-skola-vukovar-nezeljeno-dijete/29559596.html">sabotaging</a>’ the <a href="https://euractiv.jutarnji.hr/PiD/obrazovanje/skola-koja-je-trebala-biti-primjer-integracije-i-dijaloga-nema-ni-jednog-ucenika/7965822/"><em>Nova Škola</em> (‘New School’)</a> project. This EU-sponsored project, funded by the Norwegian government, is aimed at breaking down segregation and promoting integrated schooling for pupils of all ethnic backgrounds in Vukovar. </p> <h2><strong>Euroscepticism in Serbia</strong> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</h2> <p>The ruling <a href="https://www.sns.org.rs/sites/default/files/bela-knjiga.pdf">Serbian Progressive Party/SNS</a> subscribes to Serbia’s EU-accession process as a trajectory which is expected to enhance the country’s democratic institutions, accelerate economic growth and modernize the state’s infrastructure. </p> <p>In all of this, the governing party opts for military neutrality and envisages Serbia’s global role as ‘a bridge between east and west’ which should be open to cooperation with global actors as diverse as the US, China, Japan and Russia. In specific regard to bilateral relations with Russia, the party-manifesto underlines the necessity to promote the Orthodox and Slavic cultural bonds between the two nations. </p> <p>As, the former party-chairman and Serbian President, <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2016/11/tomislav-nikolic-serbia-won-align-east-west-161124105054362.html">Tomislav Nikolić</a> stated on a series of occasions: ’Serbia wants to join the EU because it is an organized family of nations but, at the same time, we have a close historical and religious connection to the Russian Federation’. The Serbian government’s quest for a geopolitical equilibrium is subject to pragmatic and timely considerations. In addition to the promotion of political and economic stability, the accession process to the EU is legitimized through reference to the existence of a vibrant Serb diaspora in central and northwestern Europe and the ‘remittances factor’, as well as to the <a href="http://www.stat.gov.rs/en-us/vesti/20180928-spoljnotrgovinska-robna-razmena-avgust-2018/?s=1701">export-import ratio</a> between the EU and Serbia. </p> <p>Nevertheless, Russia remains Serbia’s staunchest ally at the UN Security Council in regards to the question of Kosovo, and a key-partner in <a href="http://www.gazprom.com/press/news/2018/october/article461916/">energy cooperation</a>. Moreover, the ongoing impact of the economic and migration crises throughout the EU functions as an additional incentive for Serbian policymakers to prolong Serbia’s geopolitical oscillation between east and west. </p> <p>Serbian policymakers may often reflect upon the Croatian precedent and the widespread belief that Croatia did not reap all the economic benefits that it anticipated from EU-membership. The aggregate of all the aforementioned catalysts has resulted in the consolidation of a <em>conditional</em> and soft version of Euroscepticism, with a primarily <a href="https://www.the-american-interest.com/2018/07/26/serbs-are-not-little-russians/?fbclid=IwAR3FaT3ttKWZkeX5rZHTXcOt3I-vB5F_Yc5owFghnnBGkaT24gvT4LDwxvo">geopolitical</a> profile. This consists in the occasional criticism of the EU’s alleged bias over the collective status of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo (or, secondarily, the relations between Serbia and <em>Republika Srpska </em>in Bosnia)<em> </em>which is frequently coupled with statements of allegiance to Russia as Serbia’s most powerful patron over Kosovo. </p> <p>Since 2014, there has been observed a decline in favourable attitudes towards Serbia’s accession process to the EU and the pro-EU respondents in the public surveys have been <a href="http://www.mei.gov.rs/upload/documents/nacionalna_dokumenta/istrazivanja_javnog_mnjenja/javno_mnjenje_15.pdf">fluctuating</a> between 55 and 45 percent. The reluctant or negative attitudes vis-à-vis the EU seem to correlate with the Serbian government’s oscillation between east and west in that they usually revolve around: perceived controversies with the EU policies on <a href="http://www.mei.gov.rs/upload/documents/nacionalna_dokumenta/istrazivanja_javnog_mnjenja/istrazivanje_jul_2018.pdf">Kosovo</a> and other issues in regional geopolitics; fears that the EU-membership may not contribute a lot to the improvement of Serbia’s <a href="http://www.mei.gov.rs/upload/documents/nacionalna_dokumenta/istrazivanja_javnog_mnjenja/javno_mnjenje_decembar_17.pdf">economic situation</a>. To these, one should add the impact of ‘conditionality fatigue’ and disillusionment among a considerable percentage of Serbian citizens over their country’s delayed and non-linear trajectory to the European structures. </p> <h2><strong>Contrasting or converging Euroscepticisms? </strong></h2> <p>Whereas, in Croatia, Euroscepticism appears to be rather multifaceted, in Serbia it has become ‘single-issue’. </p> <p>Nevertheless, the domination of both Croatian and Serbian politics by preponderant parties of the conservative right provides a common denominator between the two countries; also, in regards to the manifestation of soft Euroscepticism from the halls of power. In particular, both HDZ and SNS are non-homogeneous organizations with a high degree of intra-party diversity. This, in turn, has prompted certain ‘divisions of labour’ within both governing parties as far as their outlooks on the EU are concerned. This situationally adaptive and internally devolved pattern seems to demarcate HDZ and SNS from the more homogeneous, dominant parties of the conservative right in the Visegrad Four states (e.g. FIDESZ and/or PiS). </p> <p>In Croatia, HDZ’s ‘right-wing faction’ appears to have been vested with the task of catering for those target-groups not accommodated by the official pro-EU party-line and opposing any ‘external interference’ to policy-areas such as minority issues and/or established gender norms in society. In Serbia, President Vučić and SNS have been opting for tactical and situationally adaptive maneuvering in an endeavor to placate a wide range of stakeholders and interest groups inside the country and abroad. </p> <p>On the one hand, the occasional <a href="https://www.rt.com/shows/sophieco/440384-vucic-kosovo-serbia-tensions/">criticism</a> of Brussels and powerful EU member-states (e.g. Germany) over Kosovo, coupled with the expression of gratitude to Russia for its support at the UN Security Council, also aims at catering for these target-groups with a more nationalistic and hard Eurosceptic disposition. On the other hand, decisions such as the appointment of (openly gay)&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/15/serbia-gains-its-first-female-and-gay-prime-minister-ana-brnabic">Ana Brnabić</a>&nbsp;to the post of Prime Minister have been interpreted as symbolic gestures towards Brussels with regard to the Serbian government’s standard commitment to the system of values espoused by the EU.</p> <p>Furthermore, the increasing intersection between economic anxieties and Euroscepticism seems to provide one more common denominator between Croatia and Serbia. In spite of the financial benefits from its admission to the EU, the demographic realities and certain structural deficiencies of the Croatian economy resemble those that can be encountered in the ‘old’ member-states of the EU-south (e.g. Greece and Spain); especially as far as youth unemployment and brain drain are concerned. </p> <p>The rapid emergence of Živi Zid hints at the growing relevance of economic Euroscepticism not solely for anti-austerity initiatives in Southern Europe but also for a new generation of ambitious, anti-establishment, parties in the crisis-ridden parts of the ‘new’ Europe (e.g. the <a href="http://neweasterneurope.eu/2018/11/13/owns-state-latvian-anti-establishment-party-aims-power/">Who Owns the State?/KPV party</a> in Latvia). </p> <p>At this given moment, one may ponder the resilience of the ‘division of labour’ pattern between the more pro-EU and the more socially conservative cohorts of HDZ. In contrast to the precedents of FIDESZ in Hungary and/or PiS in Poland, there are no apparent, short-term, prospects that the party’s social conservatives will impose their agenda upon HDZ in a pervasive and standardized manner, to such an extent that it culminates in an affront to Brussels (either on gender-related issues or the migration crisis). As previously highlighted, Croatia’s economic benefits from EU-membership (foreign investment, the utilization of the EU Structural Funds and free movement inside the common European space) still seem to counterbalance any potential losses. </p> <p>In the case of Serbia, the situation is more complicated because it is entangled in the apparent decision of the European Commission to temporarily freeze the EU-enlargement process as a whole.&nbsp; Nevertheless, within the immediate future, one may equally ponder whether Aleksandar Vučić and the SNS-led government are likely to prolong their geopolitical oscillation between Russia and the Euro-Atlantic institutions, or may be triggered into assuming a harder Eurosceptic stance by unfavourable decisions at the level of EU macro-politics. However, at this given moment, there are no hints towards a drastic change of course on the part of Brussels (e.g. the reserved and apprehensive stance held by the European Commission following Pristina’s unilateral announcement of a ‘<a href="https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-Homepage/55492/statement-spokesperson-kosovo-security-force_en">Kosovan army</a>’ in December 2018).</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Croatia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Serbia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Serbia Croatia Vassilis Petsinis Wed, 23 Jan 2019 11:05:21 +0000 Vassilis Petsinis 121398 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Remainers! beware demographic arguments https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/oliver-haynes/remainers-beware-demographic-arguments <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We need to change minds with a positive message like DIEM25’s proposal of a European Green New Deal.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40760177.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40760177.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Anti-gun activist and school shooting survivor David Hogg, attends the 9th Annual Peace Week Town Hall in New York, NY, January 21, 2019. Anthony Behar/press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Recently, many of the advocates of the People’s Vote stemming from the centrist factions of British politics have again started falling back on demographic arguments in favour of a second referendum. </p> <p>The theory goes something like this: Brexit voters were primarily older, whereas the young voted overwhelmingly for Remain – so now, as the elderly have died in their droves and young people have turned 18 and can therefore vote (and will vote remain) – the Brexit majority has been swept away in the sands of time. This point of view crystallised in the website Deatherendum, now shut down having caused outrage, which counted Brexiteer deaths to show how the majority was evaporating. This argument has been variously made by centrists since the referendum, like David Aaronovitch, who used the Viewsnight section of Newsnight to make the point, with Bob Dylan lyrics. </p> <p>Pollster turned journalist Peter Kellner called January 19 “crossover day&nbsp;“ &nbsp;– the day on which, if one&nbsp; assumed that minds weren’t rapidly switching from Remain to Leave and that turnout didn’t massively increase, the demographics would have switched to a Remain majority. </p> <p>Now, perhaps this is true. If anything, the last couple of years have taught us it’s that polls aren’t a particularly reliable source of information. But let’s say it is. Even in this case, it’s not a good argument. Pushing for a vote on this basis then crossing remainer fingers and hoping to be correct is a terrible strategy. </p> <p>Wouldn’t it be much better to try and win people around to your point of view, rather than making it look like you’re rubbing your hands gleefully at the thought of their grandma kicking it. Some of the outrage around the Deatherendum site was probably confected, but the reaction makes one thing &nbsp;clear. People find arguments premised on the mass demise of the elderly cynical and unwholesome. Making these kinds of arguments feeds into the arrogant remainer stereotype. Brexit was a vote against the status quo and nothing says ‘status quo’ like lawyers, pollsters and journalists desperately hoping that we just edge the majority in the other direction so that politics can return to business as usual. </p> <p>It stems from a liberal conception of politics in which there is a natural status quo which needs to be managed, where change is never to be won by organising in any way. It is this “the campaign doesn’t matter&nbsp;“ mindset which saw so many journalists shocked by the fact that the Labour party weren’t annihilated as predicted in the 2017 election. </p> <p>This kind of demographic determinism is something that has plagued parts of the left for years while they were on the fringes of politics. Faith would always be placed in the next generation while the status quo maintained itself and the revolution was consistently postponed. Increasingly centrist liberals who are so dominant in the debate have consigned themselves to this thinking while the left, previously derided as idealistic are the ones doing the necessary analysis of electoral politics and the use of state power. </p> <p>We are seeing this in the US, as the greying Democrats look proudly on at David Hogg and other young teenagers campaigning for gun control. What Hogg et al are doing is really commendable. We should all hope they succeed. But the people wistfully pondering what the next generation are doing don’t seem to realise that people once said the same things about them. </p> <p>This same logic applies to the demography-obsessed hard remainers. We need to change minds with a positive message like DIEM25’s proposal of a European Green New Deal. Hanging the country’s future on the right number of natural deaths and a contentious vote is only going to polarise this divided country further. Remainers beware, use demographic arguments at all of our peril. </p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Oliver Haynes DiEM25 Wed, 23 Jan 2019 10:21:03 +0000 Oliver Haynes 121397 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The ruling class that drove Brexit https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/brexit-dark-money-and-big-data <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The media loves to blame far right movements and moments on the working class. Our Brexit research tells a very different story.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/arron banks_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/arron banks_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Arron Banks and Nigel Farage. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">After Trump’s election, millions of words were typed about how ‘blue collar’ areas had turned out to vote Republican. Yet Clinton led by 11% among voters who <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/09/white-voters-victory-donald-trump-exit-polls">earn less than $50,000</a>. Trump secured his victory by winning among those who earn <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/12/29/places-that-backed-trump-skewed-poor-voters-who-backed-trump-skewed-wealthier/?noredirect=on&amp;utm_term=.ce35d726e37f">$50-200,000</a>. Much the same can be said for the far right in Italy, whose core support is in the wealthier – though now de-industrialising – north, rather than in the more impoverished south; or about Brazil, where 97% of the <a href="https://www.estadao.com.br/infograficos/politica,bolsonaro-vence-em-97-das-cidades-mais-ricas-e-haddad-em-98-das-pobres,935854?utm_source=twitter:newsfeed&amp;utm_medium=social-organic&amp;utm_campaign=redes-sociais:102018:e&amp;utm_content=:::&amp;utm_term=">richest areas voted</a> for the fascist Bolsonaro, whilst 98% of the poorest neighbourhoods voted for the Workers’ Party candidate, Haddad.</p><p dir="ltr">We see a similar distortion in debate about Brexit. After the vote, journalists went on endless tours of deprived areas to report on how working-class people voted Leave (which many did). However, they somehow forgot to mention that wealthy counties like Wiltshire backed Brexit, while some of the poorest areas of the UK – the western parts of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as Liverpool and Leicester – voted Remain. Academics who studied the <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/brexit-and-the-squeezed-middle/">class breakdown of the Brexit vote</a> found ‘the Leave vote to be associated with middle class identification and the more neutral “no class” identification. But we find no evidence of a link with working class identification.’</p><p dir="ltr">This is nothing new. Ruling classes have always sought to blame bigotry on the working classes. Too often in recent times, the liberal media have been willing to champion this myth, rather than confronting the prejudice in its own ranks.</p><p dir="ltr">The way we talk about social media is central to narratives that blame the oppressed for their own oppression. Online bigotry, abuse and trolling are often framed as problems of the unwashed masses, who need to be regulated by ‘benign’ institutions such as global data corporations or the police. In reality, whilst racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, anti-immigrant hysteria and other forms of bigotry feature up and down the social spectrum, their recent mobilization is part of a different story. It has been led and co-ordinated by elite networks, seeking to reshape the world at the dusk of neoliberalism. And they are often in direct collaboration with these supposedly respectable institutions, from Facebook to the FBI.</p><p dir="ltr">To put it another way: the decade since the financial crisis has accelerated the emergence of a new global oligarch class. With growing wealth has come growing power and a growing ability to shape political debate through the dominant communications technology of the era: TV and the internet. As has long happened with right-wing movements, they have done so in close collaboration with military and security networks. Because the era is neoliberalism, those networks are largely privatised, made up of mercenary firms with names like Palantir, Arcanum, SCL, AggregateIQ and Cambridge Analytica.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Brexit, Arron Banks and the missing millions</h2><p dir="ltr">Take, for example, the Brexit referendum in the UK. The Leave movement operated a bit like a solar system, whose two largest planets were surrounded by a collection of moons. First, there was Vote Leave, the official Brexit campaign, fronted by Conservative politicians Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, and orbited by numerous other campaigns and front groups. Second was Leave.EU, associated with the further-right UK Independence Party, fronted by iconic blazered bigot Nigel Farage and primarily funded by an insurance man called Arron Banks. (Banks, by my sums, claims to have funnelled about £15m into the group and its various moons.)</p><p>For the last two years, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/how-did-arron-banks-afford-brexit">my colleagues</a> and I at openDemocracy (alongside The Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr and others) <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/we-need-to-talk-about-arron">have investigated</a> where on planet Earth Banks got all of this money and what he did with it. The bottom line is that we don’t really know. But here’s a sample of some of the things we do know.</p><p>We know that Banks doesn’t seem to be nearly as rich as is often claimed. We know that the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/leigh-baldwin-marcus-leroux/not-everyone-agrees-with-arron-banks-about-value-of-his-dia">diamond mines</a> he’s bragged about owning in South Africa haven’t produced any serious wealth. That said, we also know that he makes careful use of the UK’s extensive network of tax havens and secrecy areas, with footholds in Gibraltar, the Isle of Man and the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/nov/05/from-goskippy-to-diamond-mines-the-web-of-arron-banks-wealth">British Virgin Islands</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">We know that the Gibraltar-based firm which Banks claims was the source of the Brexit cash was, during the referendum, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/how-did-arron-banks-afford-brexit">struggling financially</a>, and was <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/marcus-leroux-leigh-baldwin/brexit-s-offshore-secrets-0">propped up by one of his Isle of Man-based companies</a>, which in turn has an unknown minority shareholder. We know that on the day after the referendum, this Manx company brought onto its board one of Banks’s business partners, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/marcus-leroux-leigh-baldwin/brexit-s-offshore-secrets-0">Alan Kentish</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">And we know that Kentish, the pro-Brexit chief executive of the STM group, which specialises in offshore wealth preservation, has been arrested in Gibraltar under its proceeds of crime act, and has had brushes with the authorities in Malta, Jersey, and St Kitts and Nevis.</p><p dir="ltr">We know that the person who introduced the UKIP frontman, Nigel Farage, to the supposed money man, Arron Banks, is the Isle of Man-based Brexit-backing billionaire Jim Mellon, who <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/how-arron-banks-campaign-ambassador-jim-mellon-made-millions-in-russia-nigel-farage">made millions</a> from mass privatisations after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. And we know that Arron Banks lied about meetings with the Russian embassy, to which it now turns out he was a regular visitor, discussing various business opportunities.</p><p>Arron Banks, Alan Kentish and Jim Mellon deny any wrongdoing.</p><p dir="ltr">The UK’s Electoral Commission initially looked at Banks’s dealings and resolved that there was ‘nothing to see here’. But after openDemocracy and Carole Cadwalladr broke more and more of the story, it eventually agreed to investigate thoroughly, eventually fining Leave.EU and referring the case to the police. The Commission has concluded that it has ‘reasonable grounds to suspect that Mr Banks was not the true source’ of the millions he poured into the Brexit campaign. After London’s Metropolitan Police didn’t bother to pick up the relevant files for months, Banks is now at last being investigated by the UK’s National Crime Agency.</p><p dir="ltr">How Banks’s millions were spent is, largely, a mystery. Under the referendum rules, Leave.EU could spend only £700,000 in the last ten weeks of the campaign, but spending before that period isn’t restricted and doesn’t have to be declared. When <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/arron-banks-and-missing-11m-for-brexit">I compared</a> the declared donations to Banks’s various groups and the amounts they said they spent in that limited period, there was a gap of £11m.</p><p dir="ltr">We don’t know how that was spent. However, the most likely destination of the missing millions is online adverts. And we can guess at the kind of message they promoted from the materials that the Leave.EU campaign promoted in what some call ‘meatspace’. The poster, depicting a line of Syrian refugees with the words ‘Breaking Point’, was launched by Nigel Farage the same day that the Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a man shouting “Britain First!” and “Traitor!”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/breaking point.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/breaking point.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nigel Farage with "Breaking Point" poster. Image, BBC, fair use.</span></span></span></p><h2 dir="ltr">The dark money behind Vote Leave</h2><p dir="ltr">The official Leave campaign has aroused less suspicion about the sources of its cash. However, one of its most significant orbiting moons has been the subject of an ongoing <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/dup-dark-money">openDemocracy investigation</a>, raising questions about the nature of the campaign more broadly.</p><p>The week before the referendum, I arrived back in Edinburgh (where I live) to find two Leave campaigners outside the train station. After interviewing them briefly, and then objecting to their complaints about refugees, I spotted something odd. The placards they were holding were funded by the Democratic Unionist Party – a Northern Irish Loyalist party (as in, loyal to the British crown). Why was a party in Northern Ireland funding propaganda in Scotland?</p><p dir="ltr">On my walk home, the answer struck me. Northern Ireland was the only part of the UK where political donations aren’t public: a provision that the main parties had managed to smuggle into law during the peace process, in theory as a way to protect donors from reprisals. Someone was using this loophole to <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/you-aren-t-allowed-to-know-who-paid-for-key-leave-campaign-adverts">flood cash into the referendum campaign</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Like Banks’s money, we still don’t know where this cash came from. But here are some things we have managed to find out. We now know that the donation was £435,000 – around 20 times what the DUP spent in the general election in June 2017. We forced the DUP to reveal that the money had come via a previously unknown group in Glasgow called the Constitutional Research Council, chaired by the former vice-chair of the Scottish Conservatives, Richard Cook.</p><p dir="ltr">We discovered that Richard Cook set up a company in 2013 with <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/secretive-dup-brexit-donor-links-to-saudi-intelligence-service">Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the former head of the Saudi Arabian intelligence service</a>, and with a man called Peter Haestrup, who admitted to us that he was involved in running hundreds of Kalashnikovs <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/mysterious-dup-brexit-donation-plot-thickens">to Hindu terrorists in West Bengal in 1995</a> – though he hinted at intelligence service links, telling my colleague Peter Geoghegan that he was ‘on the right side – that time’.</p><p dir="ltr">We know that Cook, while claiming to be in the recycling business, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan/revealed-dirty-secrets-of-dup-s-dark-money-brexit-donor">was accused by UK regulators</a> of an ‘illegal waste shipment’ of 250 tonnes of tyre waste that was dumped in India. We know he supplied what appears to be faked documents to the British authorities in relation to the shipment, and that he was a defendant in a court case in California about $1.5m of unpaid bills to an international haulage company. We know that one of Cook’s companies, which has gone into liquidation owing UK tax authorities £150,000, appears to have £5m of gold in a bank in Cambodia. We also know, thanks to the BBC picking up on our investigation, that Cook seems to have claimed to have recycled hundreds of tonnes of Ukrainian railway tracks which appear never to have existed, in a business deal with a convicted German criminal. Cook denies all these allegations.</p><p dir="ltr">Cook’s group, the Constitutional Research Council, also provided a route for cash to be funnelled into the key organisation of Brexit-backing Tory MPs, the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/james-cusick-adam-ramsay-crina-boros/revealed-tory-mps-using-taxpayers-cash-to-fund-sec">European Research Group</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Cook himself lives in a semi-detached house in suburban Glasgow, which is probably worth less than the value of the donation his group gave the DUP, and appears unlikely to be the source of the cash. He denies any wrongdoing. The UK electoral regulator is supposed to know where the DUP cash comes from, and claims that it does, even if it isn’t allowed to tell us. But recent court documents have <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/fresh-concerns-raised-over-dup-s-secret-brexit-donation">cast doubt</a> on its confidence: its investigations seem to have amounted to asking Richard Cook where he got the money, and then believing his answers. A country doesn’t become the world centre for money laundering by employing inquisitive officials.</p><h2 dir="ltr">The fashion student, the army chief and the tech giant</h2><p dir="ltr">MPs from across the political spectrum <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/peter-geoghegan/former-shadow-northern-ireland-minister-snp-mp-ask-elections-watchdog-to-investigate">have written</a> to the Electoral Commission, demanding a ‘full investigation’ of the controversial DUP cash. The regulator has yet to respond. However, Vote Leave was eventually fined by the regulators over a different affair, where it got round referendum spending limits by giving £675,000 to a small campaign run by a fashion student in his early twenties <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/new-email-release-shows-how-leave-campaigners-used-vast-loo">called Darren Grimes</a>. At the same time as funnelling this cash to Grimes’s campaign, Vote Leave gave £100,000 to another group, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/who-are-veterans-for-britain">Veterans for Britain</a>, which in many ways represents the core of the part of the establishment which brought Brexit to Britain.</p><p dir="ltr">Veterans for Britain is more than the hobby of a few ex-squaddies. Its <a href="http://veteransforbritain.uk/about/people/">advisory board</a> includes a collection of very senior retired military figures. Most senior of them all is Field-Marshal Lord Guthrie, the former head of British armed forces and chief of defence staff. Like many former soldiers in the contemporary era, Guthrie took up a new career later in life. In 2017, he was appointed advisor to the chairman of Arcanum, which describes itself as ‘a strategic intelligence company that provides services to sovereign governments and multinational corporations’. Arcanum’s staff have also <a href="https://www.benzinga.com/pressreleases/13/09/p3911162/ex-chief-of-french-intelligence-joins-arcanum">included Bernard Squarcini</a>, former chief of France’s Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence, the (late) former <a href="https://www.timesofisrael.com/meir-dagan-corporate-spy/">Mossad chief Meir Daggan</a>, the former US director of national intelligence, and the former director of the UK’s National Crime Agency, who in that role was chairman of the ‘Five Eyes’ Anglophone intelligence alliance, whose surveillance activities were famously exposed by Edward Snowden. Arcanum’s chairman himself – Ron Wahid – has described Brexit as ‘an opportunity for American business’.</p><p dir="ltr">As well as his work for Arcanum, Guthrie declared in his autumn 2014 register of interests in the House of Lords that he had shares in Palantir, a private company owned by Peter Thiel, the PayPal founder, Facebook board member and major Trump donor, who reportedly turned down the job as chair of the president’s intelligence committee. Named after the all-seeing stone in The Lord of the Rings, Palantir was founded with support from the CIA with the aim of being ‘<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/30/palantir-peter-thiel-cia-data-crime-police">a company that took big data where no one else dared to go</a>’. It has been <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/30/palantir-peter-thiel-cia-data-crime-police">described </a>by The Guardian as the ‘special ops’ tech giant that wields as much real-world power as Google’ and, as an investigation by <a href="https://theintercept.com/2017/02/22/how-peter-thiels-palantir-helped-the-nsa-spy-on-the-whole-world/">The Intercept</a> has shown, it has worked with the surveillance agencies of the US, UK, Australian and Israeli governments.</p><p dir="ltr">A few years after Thiel founded Palantir, he wrote a now-notorious <a href="https://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/education-libertarian">essay</a> in which he argued that the extension of the franchise to women has ‘rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron’ and therefore that his fellow libertarians must focus on developing the technology that will ensure that it is capitalism, rather than democracy, which wins the struggle: ‘The fate of our world may depend on the effort of a single person who builds or propagates the machinery of freedom that makes the world safe for capitalism.’</p><p dir="ltr">There is no evidence that Palantir was involved in the Brexit referendum. However, another mercenary surveillance/propaganda firm sat at the very centre of the Brexit solar system, arguably the star around which both campaigns orbited. And that company was Cambridge Analytica.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Digital mercenaries</h2><p dir="ltr">To be precise, Cambridge Analytica was the subsidiary that was used to run the Trump campaign later that year. Its parent is called SCL, and the firm which ran the Brexit campaign was a Canadian company called AggregateIQ. Carole Cadwalladr has shown that there were numerous <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/24/aggregateiq-data-firm-link-raises-leave-group-questions">close connections</a> between AggregateIQ, Cambridge Analytica and SCL.</p><p dir="ltr">Go to the SCL <a href="https://sclgroup.cc/home">website</a> and it’s very clear what it is: the first line of the home page reads, ‘SCL provides data, analytics and strategy to governments and military organisations worldwide.’ In 2006, the author Hywel Williams <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=K1oiAQAAMAAJ&amp;q=%22strategic+communications+laboratories%22&amp;dq=%22strategic+communications+laboratories%22&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjThLW06o7aAhUkJ8AKHdSyBiAQ6AEINDAC">described them as</a> ‘the first private company to provide “psyops” to the military’.</p><p dir="ltr">In other words, Vote Leave’s online operation was run by people who learnt their skills as mercenary military propagandists. It’s how they spent the biggest chunk of their own money. Almost all of the cash they shuffled into fashion student <a href="http://search.electoralcommission.org.uk/Search/Spending?currentPage=1&amp;rows=10&amp;query=darren%20grimes&amp;sort=TotalExpenditure&amp;order=desc&amp;tab=1&amp;et=pp&amp;et=ppm&amp;et=tp&amp;et=perpar&amp;et=rd&amp;includeOutsideSection75=true&amp;evt=ukparliament&amp;evt=nationalassemblyforwales&amp;evt=scottishparliament&amp;evt=northernirelandassembly&amp;evt=europeanparliament&amp;evt=referendum&amp;ev=3560&amp;ev=3568&amp;ev=2514&amp;ev=2508&amp;ev=2510&amp;ev=2512&amp;ev=445&amp;ev=410&amp;ev=404&amp;ev=289&amp;ev=303&amp;ev=305&amp;ev=301&amp;ev=281&amp;ev=217&amp;ev=207&amp;ev=205&amp;ev=136&amp;ev=135&amp;ev=127&amp;ev=74&amp;ev=68&amp;ev=62&amp;ev=60&amp;ev=49&amp;ev=37&amp;ev=38&amp;ev=4&amp;optCols=CampaigningName&amp;optCols=ExpenseCategoryName&amp;optCols=FullAddress&amp;optCols=AmountInEngland&amp;optCols=AmountInScotland&amp;optCols=AmountInWales&amp;optCols=AmountInNorthernIreland&amp;optCols=DateOfClaimForPayment&amp;optCols=DatePaid">Darren Grimes’s campaign went directly to them as well</a>. As did a chunk of <a href="http://search.electoralcommission.org.uk/Search/Spending?currentPage=1&amp;rows=10&amp;query=democratic%20unionist%20party&amp;sort=TotalExpenditure&amp;order=desc&amp;tab=1&amp;open=filter&amp;et=pp&amp;et=ppm&amp;et=tp&amp;et=perpar&amp;et=rd&amp;includeOutsideSection75=true&amp;evt=ukparliament&amp;evt=nationalassemblyforwales&amp;evt=scottishparliament&amp;evt=northernirelandassembly&amp;evt=europeanparliament&amp;evt=referendum&amp;ev=2514&amp;optCols=CampaigningName&amp;optCols=ExpenseCategoryName&amp;optCols=FullAddress&amp;optCols=AmountInEngland&amp;optCols=AmountInScotland&amp;optCols=AmountInWales&amp;optCols=AmountInNorthernIreland&amp;optCols=DateOfClaimForPayment&amp;optCols=DatePaid">the DUP cash</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">The relationship between Leave.EU and SCL/Cambridge Analytica is more contentious, and has been the subject of ongoing investigations. A Cambridge Analytica staff member spoke at the launch of Leave.EU, but Banks has long denied hiring the company. However, my colleague Peter Geoghegan <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/peter-geoghegan/brexit-bankroller-arron-banks-cambridge-analytica-and-steve-bannon-expl">revealed last year</a> that, before the campaign, Arron Banks was in email contact with Steve Bannon, then Cambridge Analytica’s vice-president, and later chief strategist to Donald Trump.</p><p dir="ltr">We also know, after Facebook finally gave in to significant pressure, what sorts of messages the Leave campaigns were targeting at people online. Two years after the referendum, a UK parliamentary inquiry got its hands on the adverts Vote Leave had promoted online.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screenshot 2019-01-14 at 17.27.27.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screenshot 2019-01-14 at 17.27.27.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="242" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screenshot 2019-01-14 at 17.33.07.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screenshot 2019-01-14 at 17.33.07.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="224" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screenshot 2019-01-14 at 17.29.42.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Screenshot 2019-01-14 at 17.29.42.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="215" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Vote Leave Turkey immigration ad_0_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Vote Leave Turkey immigration ad_0_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Images supplied by Facebook to the DCMS Select Committee inquiry into Fake News, available<a href="https://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/culture-media-and-sport/Fake_news_evidence/Ads-supplied-by-Facebook-to-the-DCMS-Committee.pdf"> here</a>.</em></p><p dir="ltr">It transpired that while the supposedly respectable official Leave campaign had focussed on the economy in the traditional media, its targeted Facebook adverts, seen by millions of people across the country, focussed very heavily on immigration and on Islam.</p><p dir="ltr">During the referendum, the ideas – often straight lies – promoted in these adverts took hold in the minds of many voters; particularly effective was the fiction that Turkey is on the verge of joining the EU. This social media campaign didn’t exist in a vacuum, of course – it acted in concert with the oligarch-owned tabloid press.</p><p dir="ltr">Later that year, Islamophobia would again emerge as a key part of Cambridge Analytica’s strategy when it was hired to run Donald Trump’s campaign for the White House. As the academic Emma Briant, who interviewed key figures in the company, <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/business/uk-academic-says-data-firm-helped-trump-campaign-spread-fear/">wrote</a>: ‘Using [Cambridge Analytica’s] media strategy, Trump’s false racist and Islamophobic comments, resentment and fear were deployed where they would be most effective – mobilising swing state audiences, using voters’ personal data to monitor them, and using psychological profiling to manipulate their emotional responses en masse.’</p><h2 dir="ltr">New technology, old story</h2><p dir="ltr">The idea that powerful groups would spread racist messages through the dominant media is nothing new. In the UK, we’ve had tabloid newspapers for decades. In Italy, similar ideas are promoted on TV by the Berlusconi-owned media, and across the western world powerful groups have always used the dominant communications technology of the era to shape political debate.</p><p dir="ltr">Online communications technology is sometimes described as though it’s some kind of voodoo – able to hypnotise audiences into doing anything. This is a mistake. But it’s also a mistake to discount it entirely: companies pay for advertising because it works.</p><p dir="ltr">Just like the traditional rightwing press, far-right groups tap into the neuroses of the societies in which they operate. They jump on reactionary backlashes to egalitarian movements, they pump up latent ideas of racism and sexism that exist throughout society. Brexit, Trump, Orbán, Salvini, Bolsonaro and Le Pen all tap into deep social and cultural crises in their countries. But their success comes not from addressing the causes of the deep feelings of alienation produced by late capitalism, but from facilitating displacement mechanisms and from encouraging people to blame anyone but those with real power – those who have thrived in the recent crisis.</p><p dir="ltr">Neoliberalism in general, and the asset-stripping of the former Soviet Union in particular, produced a new generation of oligarchs, expert in hiding money from the prying eyes of state officials. Traditional authoritarianism emerges from alliances between the very wealthy and military and police networks. But neoliberalism has also delivered a largely privatised military, and it is to them that this rising class has turned when it wishes to secure power.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.eurozine.com/brexit-dark-money-big-data/">Eurozine</a>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/ten-reasons-i-came-round-to-peoples-vote">Ten reasons I came round to a People&#039;s Vote</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/cambridge-analytica-is-what-happens-when-you-privatise-military-propaganda">Cambridge Analytica is what happens when you privatise military propaganda</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk Brexit DUP Dark Money Brexit Inc. Adam Ramsay Tue, 22 Jan 2019 12:12:46 +0000 Adam Ramsay 121383 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Brexit’s primitive passions could bring havoc to Ireland – and far beyond https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/peter-geoghegan/brexit-passions-could-bring-havoc-to-ireland-and-far-beyond <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Good Friday Agreement was a marvel that is now threatened by the ignorant and the nasty among Britain’s ruling elite.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/PA-31751897.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/565030/PA-31751897.jpg" alt="Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at a press conference in 2017. Image: PA" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at a press conference in 2017. Image: PA</span></span></span>History, Karl Marx famously quipped, repeats itself: first as tragedy, then as farce. That’s certainly true of Theresa May’s approach to Ireland. This past weekend began with <a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/brexit-barnier-says-withdrawal-agreement-is-best-deal-possible-1.3765164">a tragic misreading of Dublin’s position on Brexit</a> – that London could somehow sign a bilateral deal with Dublin – and ended with farce: a proposal that the Good Friday Agreement could be “amended” to help the British prime minister’s deal pass the Westminster parliament.</p><p dir="ltr">May, <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/01/20/exclusive-theresa-may-mulls-amending-good-friday-agreement-get/"><em>The Daily Telegraph</em> reports</a>, wants to see the 1998 peace accord rewritten to assure Ireland that the UK is committed to maintaining no hard border after Brexit. Leaving aside the lack of faith many in Ireland have in the promises of a government propped up by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which opposed the Good Friday Agreement in the first place, the very idea of rewriting the agreement attests to a much wider failure to understand the island, both north and south of the border.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/peter-geoghegan/good-friday-agreement-is-20-years-old-today-but-will-it-last-another-20">The Good Friday Agreement effectively ended a conflict that cost more than 3,000 lives</a>. Historic enemies agreed to share power and respect each other’s identities and beliefs. The genius of the agreement was compromise: everybody lost something, so everybody won something.</p><p dir="ltr">Brexit is the exact opposite of that irenic spirit. It is politics as zero-sum game: a victory for me means a defeat for you. This approach is damaging enough in Britain, but it is potentially disastrous across the Irish Sea.</p><h2 dir="ltr">Blind spots</h2><p dir="ltr">Northern Ireland has been without a government for more than two years. This paralysis wasn’t caused by Brexit but the chaos in Westminster has clearly exacerbated tensions, reopening old questions about constitutional futures that the Good Friday Agreement had settled. A car bomb exploded in Derry on Saturday night. All this sententious talk of “sovereignty” can have very real effects in a divided society.</p><p dir="ltr">Brexiters like to point out that the agreement barely mentions the border. There are two good reasons for this: first an entire section of the accord, strand two, deals with north-south arrangements; second, in 1998, with Labour in power, nobody sitting around the table even considered the possibility of Brexit.</p><p dir="ltr">The UK government’s failure to appreciate this complexity was exemplified by David Davis during a recent sitting of the European Union scrutiny committee last week. Without a word of apology, the man at least nominally in charge of the Brexit process for two years told MPs that the government has had a “<a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-46898944">blind spot</a>” when it comes to Brexit and Ireland. Yes, it is easy to miss a 310-mile-long land border. Troubles? What Troubles?&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">With hindsight, Davis said, Number 10 should have put more resources into what used to be called ‘the Irish question’ back when it divided the Tory party in the 19th century. But it was not all his fault. Britain had been “unpredictably handicapped”. Ireland had changed Taoiseach. The power-sharing government in Belfast had collapsed.</p><p dir="ltr">Yep, that’s right. If only Leo Varadkar hadn’t come along, pursuing the exact same Brexit strategy as his predecessor Enda Kenny. If only the Northern Ireland Executive was still up and running.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Blaming the Irish for Britain’s chaos has become a popular pastime for many on the Tory right.</p><p dir="ltr">Blaming the Irish for Britain’s chaos has become a popular pastime for many on the Tory right. “<a href="https://www.joe.ie/news/sun-leo-varadkar-shut-gob-grow-606943">Leo shut your gob</a>,” demanded <em>The Sun</em> last year. Perfidious Paddy is widely seen as standing in the way of the great British Brexit.</p><p dir="ltr">But what lies behind this caricature? Is it simple ignorance of Ireland, a failure to grasp that Irish interests are no longer directly aligned with that of the old colonial master? Or is there something more malign?</p><h2 dir="ltr">What border? </h2><p dir="ltr">Just weeks after the Brexit vote David Davis – him again – told journalists that the <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-northern-ireland-buffer-zone-border-david-davis-customs-deal-uk-eu-latest-a8378596.html">UK had an “internal border” with Ireland</a>. Only after becoming Northern Ireland minister did Karen Bradley discover that <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/sep/07/karen-bradley-admits-not-understanding-northern-irish-politics">nationalists and unionists tend to vote for parties that share their views on the constitution</a>. She is 48 years old.</p><p dir="ltr">But such comments speak more of witlessness than mendacity. It is the Irish backstop – the Brexiters’ bete noire – that has brought out the nastier side of Britain’s ruling elite when it comes to Ireland. An arrangement for avoiding customs check on the Irish border has been reframed as a Machiavellian plot to carve up Theresa May’s “precious union”, hatched by Brussels bureaucrats and irredentists in Dublin.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">That many of the proposed checks already take place does not seem to matter. Listening to many Tory MPs, and to some journalists, it often seems that understanding of what the benighted backstop actually means is pretty thin on the ground in the Westminster village.</p><p dir="ltr">The failure to grasp the realities of everyday life in the shadows of what Winston Churchill disdainfully dismissed as the “dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone” is hardly surprising. Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU, yet the only voice we hear from Belfast is the DUP’s.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The unionists’ putative leader, Arlene Foster, blithely declared last week <a href="https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/dups-arlene-foster-says-there-was-never-a-hard-border-in-ireland-37714456.html">that there never was a hard border in Ireland</a>. I was surprised by that. Growing up 40 miles south of the border, on shopping trips to Enniskillen we used to pass checkpoints armed by callow squaddies touting rifles. Maybe I am suffering from false memory syndrome.</p><p dir="ltr">The border has changed, of course. Theresa May has repeated ad nauseam that there will be “no return to the borders of the past”. I hope she is right. Beyond dissident republican splinter groups, nobody wants to see a return to barbed wire and bombed-out roads.</p><p dir="ltr">But what has Britain’s existential crisis done to the borders of the mind?</p><h2 dir="ltr">The near abroad </h2><p dir="ltr">I’ve lived in the UK for over a decade, one of hundreds of thousands of Irish people to carve out lives in our own near abroad. But even before I moved to Edinburgh to study I was inculcated in British culture: we grew up watching the BBC, supporting English football teams. I have clearer memories of Tony Blair’s first general election victory than of any of Bertie Ahern and Fianna Fáil’s succession of triumphs.</p><p dir="ltr">In my lifetime, Ireland has come to feel at ease with Britain, which is often a synonym for England. As Fintan O’Toole notes in his excellent new Brexit book, <em>Heroic Failure</em>, over the past two decades Anglo-Irish relations “finally evolved to be nicely boring. The sharing of a small space in a big world has become as normal as it should be. To each other, the English and the Irish were no big deal.”</p><p dir="ltr">No wonder my generation of Irish immigrants found it so easy to settle in Britain. There was no discrimination to be faced. No racist signs in boarding-house windows. We came to this country as equals. Or so we thought.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Perhaps we are too blunted by familiarity with the Good Friday Agreement to realise how remarkable it is.</p><p dir="ltr">Brexit has revealed that some of our neighbours have a very different view of us. Paddy the fifth column. Untrustworthy, even traitorous. Maybe this minority was always there, just hidden. Or perhaps, it has been recreated afresh by a national persecution complex that has taken hold in some quarters.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">And yet Britain’s relationship with Ireland points the way out of the current mess in Westminster. Perhaps we are too blunted by familiarity with the Good Friday Agreement to realise how remarkable it is. Three decades of violence ended by dialogue and compromise.</p><p dir="ltr">But many Conservatives, particularly in both the pro-Brexit European Research Group, as well as the DUP would happily see the agreement picked apart. <a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/uk/michael-gove-a-fanatic-who-would-damage-peace-process-1.2710224">Michael Gove compared the Good Friday Agreement to condoning the desires of paedophiles</a>. This weekend’s kite-flying about “amending” the agreement is not just dangerous, it also shows that the British government could be led by its most primitive passions, which could have serious consequences across these islands.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/mary-fitzgerald/brexit-ireland-and-revenge-of-history">Brexit, Ireland, and the revenge of history</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/gerry-hassan/brexit-britain-is-displaying-its-old-dangerous-delusions-about-ireland">Brexit Britain is displaying its old, dangerous delusions about Ireland</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/fintan-otoole/listen-england-it-is-ireland-talking-0">Listen England, it is Ireland talking</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ireland </div> <div class="field-item even"> Northern Ireland </div> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? UK Northern Ireland Ireland Conflict Democracy and government Good Friday Agreement Brexit DUP Peter Geoghegan Mon, 21 Jan 2019 15:48:25 +0000 Peter Geoghegan 121373 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Democracy must be re-established in Europe https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/alain-supiot-and-sixteen-fellow-academics/democracy-must-be-re-established-in-eur <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Call to engage in a continent-wide democratic debate on the deep crisis facing the European Union and how to overcome it.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40208790.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40208790.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Minute silence observed by EU leaders for victims of Strasbourg Xmas market shooting at the EU Summit on Brexit. Enzo Zucchi/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><em>At the end of the Colloquium "Revisiting Solidarity in Europe", held on 17 and 18 June, 2018, whose works are <em><a href="https://www.college-de-france.fr/site/alain-supiot/symposium-2017-2018.htm">accessible online</a> </em> on the Collège de France website, a number of academics gathered on this occasion agreed to prepare a discussion-opener for various major European newspapers to engage in a continent-wide democratic debate on the deep crisis facing the European Union and how to overcome it. To date, this call has been published in Germany by the <em><a href="http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/franzoesisch-deutsches-manifest-die-eu-muss-neu-gegruendet-werden-15800281.html">Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung</a></em>, in Portugal in <em><a href="https://www.publico.pt/2018/09/24/mundo/opiniao/da-democracia-na-europa-1844914">Il Publico</a></em>, in France in <em><a href="https://abonnes.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2018/09/24/il-est-encore-possible-de-reanimer-l-union-europeenne_5359147_3232.html?">Le Monde</a></em>, in Greece in <em><a href="https://www.tanea.gr/2018/09/29/opinions/17-kathigites-grafoun-gia-ti-dimokratia-stin-eyropi-skepseis-kai-protaseis-gia-tin-anagennisi-tis-e-e/">Ta NEA</a></em>, in Poland in <em><a href="https://www.rp.pl/Publicystyka/310079960-Ile-demokracji-w-Europie.html">Rzeczpospolita</a></em>, and in <em><a href="https://doxaludo.wordpress.com/over-solidariteit-en-democratie-in-de-eu-een-manifest-van-europese-academici/">néerlandais</a></em> in Belgium. Here is the English version.</em>&nbsp; </p><p>Can European integration continue on its present course? Since 2005, and the failure of the Constitutional Treaty, Europe has been coming apart at the seams, yet nothing seems able to wake its leaders from their dogmatic slumber. </p> <p>Nothing: neither the repeated electoral defeats, nor the economic rifts between Eurozone countries, nor the bailouts of irresponsible banks from the&nbsp; taxpayer’s pocket, nor the agony Greece had to endure, nor the inability to formulate a collective response to migration flows, nor Brexit, nor the feeble response to American diktats which fly in the face of signed treaties,&nbsp; nor the rise&nbsp; of nationalism and xenophobia – none of these have managed to force onto the agenda a European-wide democratic debate on the profound and troubling crisis the Union is facing, and how to resolve it.</p> <h2><strong>Binary logic</strong></h2> <p>Naturally, in the absence of a European-wide public forum, EU policies can only be discussed at the national level. And since this is not the level at which European policies are decided, there seems to be no choice but to support Europe, warts and all, or leave it. </p> <p>Albert Hirschman famously showed that there are three options open to members of an organisation in crisis or decline: they can criticise it in order to reform it from within ("voice"); they can leave it ("exit"); or they can neither leave nor criticise it, even if they are dissatisfied, but stay out of loyalty ("loyalty"). </p> <p>Since Europe's citizens have no voters’ power over the real decision-making bodies of the EU (the Commission, the Court of Justice, the European Council and the Central Bank), they feel deprived of a "voice", and forced to choose between leaving or loyalty. This is why&nbsp; ‘debates’ on the EU within Member States are invariably caricature jousting matches between the "pro-" and the "anti-". All those who criticise the EU's functioning are classed as "anti-". Their numbers increase daily, swelled by the growing ethno-nationalist parties and governments.</p> <p>We consider this binary logic to be both false and suicidal. It is untrue to say that we are confined to blindly supporting European institutions as they are, or rejecting them entirely. The paralysing poles of Euro-worship and Euro-nihilism prevent us envisaging democratic reform of the EU. </p> <p>And if the latter is not taken seriously, then Europe will indeed end up disintegrating, spawning particularist tensions and acts of violence as it does so. Yet we require European solidarity more than ever today, to tackle cross-border issues such as environmental protection, migration, new technologies and geopolitical stability. We, the signatories of this text, are not “experts” telling populations or their leaders what to do. We are researchers from different political horizons who, studying the workings of the European Union from the perspective of different Member States, have come to the same alarming conclusions about how it functions. </p> <h2><strong>Values gap</strong></h2> <p>The first cause of the growing disaffection for the European Union is the gap between the values it proclaims and the policies it makes. Its values are enshrined in the <em>Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union</em>, which declares that "the Union is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity; it is based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law." The EU's most blatant failure concerns the principle of democracy, but arguably the principle of solidarity fares little better. <span class="mag-quote-center">The EU's most blatant failure concerns the principle of democracy, but arguably the principle of solidarity fares little better.</span></p> <p>In 1957, Pierre Mendès-France made a speech pinpointing the danger which European integration could represent for democracy: </p> <blockquote><p>"Abdicating democracy", he said, "can come about in two ways, either through an internal dictatorship that concentrates all powers in a providential man, or through the delegation of those powers to an external authority, which will in fact exert political power but in the guise of technical expertise. For, in the name of a healthy economy, one can easily impose a monetary, budgetary and social policy, which add up to a “political agenda”, in the broadest sense of the term, both at national and international level." </p></blockquote> <p>Alas, he was proved only too right, as a decision of 2009 by the German Federal Constitutional Court on the Treaty of Lisbon shows. Democracy, the Court reminds us, is a regime in which: </p> <blockquote><p>“the people must be able to determine government and legislation in free and equal elections. This core content may be complemented by plebiscitary voting on factual issues&nbsp; (…) In a democracy, the decision of the people is the focal point of the formation and retention of political power: every democratic government knows the fear of losing power by being voted out of office”. </p></blockquote> <p>The European Union is no democracy by these standards. It does not hold elections which would allow a structured opposition to take shape and come to power on an alternative programme for government. In a recent book entitled <em>Europe, yes, but which?</em>, a former member of this Court, the eminent jurist and scholar Dieter Grimm, attributed Europe’s democratic deficit to the fact that economic policies which should normally be decided by successive national governments are actually prescribed in European treaties. </p> <p>This "hyperconstitutionalisation", he argues, results in Europe being at odds with its declared values and principles, and abandoned to what Jürgen Habermas has called a “post-democratic executive federalism”. Strikingly, as early as 1939, Friedrich Hayek, an architect of neo-liberalism, advocated just such a Federation of States grounded in the “impersonal forces of the market”, as the best organisation, in his view, for fending off the “legislative interferences” of its democratically elected governments (regarding monetary, work and welfare, and fiscal policies), with the added advantage of dissolving all sense of solidarity, whether social or national. </p> <h2><strong>Systems of solidarity</strong></h2> <p>And indeed, the corrosion of systems of solidarity – public services, and labour and social security law – is one of the most visible effects of European integration, and the primary factor in its disintegration. </p> <p>In this too the EU has betrayed its founding values, especially since the principle of solidarity, extended to environmental protection, was one of the most innovative points in the <em>Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.</em> Already in the 1990s, certain authors (J.&nbsp;Weiler, F.&nbsp;Scharpf) were pointing to the discrepancies between Europe’s expanding competence to dismantle national solidarities in the name of economic freedoms, and its failure to build European-wide solidarities which would ground its political legitimacy and social cohesion. With the preeminent role given to the “impersonal forces of the market” in Europe today, solidarity is treated as an obstacle to be eliminated, or at least reduced. </p> <p>So the EU continues to organise the race to the bottom between its Member States in work, welfare, tax and environmental protection regulation, within an institutional structure particularly exposed to the pressure of lobbies, in the absence of democratic processes. <span class="mag-quote-center">So the EU continues to organise the race to the bottom between its Member States in work, welfare, tax and environmental protection regulation… in the absence of democratic processes. </span></p><p>After reneging on its promise to build a “Social Europe” and achieve “improved working and living conditions, and their harmonization while the improvement is being maintained", the EU has settled for a “Pillar of Social Rights”, as a minimal safety net for the casualties of its enthusiastically pursued “deregulation of the labour markets”. </p> <p>We have seen one instance of solidarity, however: the ailing banking sector received colossal sums in an agreed rescue plan, which transferred the banks’ losses onto the European taxpayer, and plunged whole countries into poverty. No serious reform of the banking system was tied to this plan, and the European leadership did not even see fit to call the banks themselves to account, not even the bank Goldman Sachs, which had helped cook the books of Greece’s public deficit. But we should not forget that many European leaders had worked for the bank in the past, and would even return, in the case of a former President of the European Commission. </p> <p>The illusion fostered by neoliberals is that human society can dispense with solidarity and common purpose, leaving only competition between its members. Yet no society can endure without solidarity, and this need must be answered not by ethnic or religious particularist groups, and the forces of demagogy and violence they unleash, but by democratic institutions. Wherever we look – the USA, India, the UK, other European countries – demagogues thrive on denouncing social inequalities, attributing them to the presence of foreigners, but they fail to tackle their real economic causes because they hold the same neoliberal convictions as their “open borders” opponents. </p> <p>The latter treat a country’s historical and cultural legacy as an archaic relic, and advocate a liquid and uniform world to come. It should be recalled that after the bloodshed of two World Wars, the international community unambiguously pronounced, in two key texts – the Constitution of the ILO (1919), and the Declaration of Philadelphia (1944) – that&nbsp; “lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice”. </p> <p>Lasting peace was also the goal pursued by the founders of the European Economic Community, but they held that the economic detour of a common market, which was to automatically produce a “space of liberty, security and justice”, would itself lead Europe to political unification. Unfortunately, this detour has become an end in itself, and subsequent Charters or Treaties enshrining other values have not yet succeeded in placing the interests of society above economic interests.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>European elections’ crucial issue</strong></h2> <p>The crux of the matter is therefore whether the fundamental principles of dignity, democracy and solidarity enshrined in the European Charter and the Treaties are simply a cosmetic legal gloss to give a human face to the “impersonal forces of the market”, or whether it is still possible to channel the latter, “embedding” the market in European society, and subordinating it to these principles.&nbsp; </p> <p>This is the crucial issue we should address in the upcoming European elections. We trust that it is still possible to breathe fresh life into the European Union, by holding to these ideals against the economic and monetary dogmas that lead to its destruction. <span></span></p> <p>The EU will only regain its credibility and legitimacy if it shows itself to be a Europe of cooperation not competition. A Union which treats its extraordinary diversity of languages and cultures as a strength, rather than seeking to flatten or standardise them. A place of European-wide initiatives to address those problems (and only those) which no Member State can tackle on its own. </p> <p>And solidarity should not be confined to relations between Member States. It should also operate externally, through cooperation with other countries sharing similar goals, starting with our closest neighbours. Given its economic strength, only the EU can effectively combat what Franklin Roosevelt called “organised money”, by separating retail banking from investment and corporate banking, and limiting the banks’ power to create money. </p> <p>Only the EU can oblige economic operators on the continent, whatever their nationality, to comply with regulations which get to grips with serious environmental threats, soaring inequalities, and destructive competition between taxation regimes, which lead to worsening public facilities and services, and run-down road and rail infrastructures.&nbsp; </p> <p>Only the EU can devise a common legal framework to support the growth of a social economy between Member States and the market, based on the principle of solidarity, to foster commons and the many forms of social solidarity. </p> <p>In the field of technology, Europe alone is capable of supporting key European firms committed to preserving fundamental freedoms against the monopolistic practices of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Four_tech_companies">GAFA</a> today, and Chinese companies tomorrow. </p> <p>It alone can organise a robust legal response to the extra-territorial application of American laws to European companies. And it alone has the means to build strategic partnerships with African countries that do not drive them into the ecological and social disasters of neoliberalism, but allow them to define their own path of sustainable development, grounded in their own cultural heritage. </p> <p>Europe alone can propose a balanced approach to the migration crisis, by not giving an inch to the demagogues regarding the rights and dignity of migrants and asylum seekers, while helping concretise the measures enabling individuals – whether from Senegal, Italy, Mali, Tunisia or Greece – to live decently from their work in their own country, without being forced into exile. </p> <h2><strong>Genuine rebirth</strong></h2> <p>Refounding the EU on the principles it has proclaimed, and on Member States’ common constitutional traditions, is conditional not simply upon restoring, but on deepening democracy at all levels of political decision-making (local, regional, and European). This project has already produced exciting ideas, such as Michel Aglietta and Nicolas Leron’s return to the origins of our representative democracy (“no taxation without representation”), with their plan of creating an EU budget (by taxing financial transactions) earmarked for cross-border sustainable development projects ratified and monitored by the European Parliament. Symmetrically, Member States would regain control of their own budgetary decisions, without which a democracy loses its substance.&nbsp;</p> <p>The knock-on effect of the situation to date has been the devitalisation of all forms of local and social democracy, drained of their resources by governments fixated on the governance by numbers prescribed to the Eurozone. In Etienne Balibar's words, what is required now is not a return to or restoration of the traditional forms of democracy, but its genuine rebirth, at all political levels. Without a real democratic renaissance, the “leadership elites” will remain cut off from the infinitely rich and varied spectrum of Europe’s populations, and will abandon them to the demagogues. </p> <p><em>This text is the result of a discussion held in the framework of the Conference “Revisiting solidarity in Europe”, which was held on 18 and 19 June 2018 at the Collège de France in Paris.</em></p> <p>Alain SUPIOT, Professor at the Collège de France </p> <p>Andrea ALLAMPRESE, Professor at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia</p> <p>Irena BORUTA, Former Professor at the University Cardinal Wyszynski (Warsaw), former member of the Negotiating Committee for Poland's accession to the European Union (1998-2001)</p> <p>Maria E. CASAS BAAMONDE, Former President of the Spanish Constitutional Court, Professor at the Complutense University of Madrid, President of the Spanish Association of labour and social security Law </p> <p>Christina DELIYANNI DIMITRAKOU, Professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Director of the Centre of International and European Economic Law</p> <p>Franciszek DRAUS, Researcher in Political Science (Berlin)</p> <p>Ota DE LEONARDIS, Professor at the University of Milano-Bicocca, Director of the Sociology of Public Policy Research Centre</p> <p>Paul MAGNETTE, Professor of Political Science at the Free University of Brussels (ULB), former Minister-President of Wallonia</p> <p>Antonio MONTEIRO FERNANDES, Professor at the Lisbon University Institute</p> <p>Ulrich MÜCKENBERGER, Emeritus Professor at the University of Hamburg, Research Director at the University of Bremen</p> <p>Fernando VASQUEZ, former member of the European Commission’s Department of Social Affairs, Consultant in European Affairs&nbsp; </p><p>Laurence BURGORGUE-LARSEN, Professor of Public Law at the Sorbonne School of Law </p> <p>Gaël GIRAUD, Research Director at the CNRS</p> <p>Alexandre MAITROT DE LA MOTTE, Professor at the University of Paris-Est Créteil</p> <p>Béatrice PARANCE, Professor of Law at the University&nbsp; UPL Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis&nbsp; </p><p>Étienne PATAUT, Professor at the Sorbonne School of Law, Director of the&nbsp; Doctoral Programme</p> <p>Claude-Emmanuel TRIOMPHE, Counsellor to the High Commissioner for Citizen Service, France</p> <p><em>This article was translated from the French by Saskia Brown.</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? uk EU Democracy and government Alain Supiot and sixteen fellow academics Mon, 21 Jan 2019 12:54:09 +0000 Alain Supiot and sixteen fellow academics 121370 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Voting doesn’t build consensus – we need a People’s Debate https://www.opendemocracy.net/rosemary-bechler/voting-doesn-t-build-consensus-we-need-people-s-debate <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>With a Damocles sword hanging over UK democracy, everyone is underestimating how many people they need to listen to or persuade for real progress to be made.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screenshot 2019-01-20 at 15.04.47.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screenshot 2019-01-20 at 15.04.47.png" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot detail: Gilets Jaunes demonstration, Champs Elysee, January 5, 2019. Wikicommons/Stefan Jaouen. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>As usual, my colleague Anthony Barnett has posed <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/into-vortex">the meaningful question</a>: ‘What does the unprecedented Brexit defeat of the UK government mean?’ </p> <p>But by concentrating for his answer on the character of the party leaders – an observer sport, entertaining as it is, that belongs to a bygone era – he has surely missed a far more important factor. In a way it is obvious. What the unprecedented defeat means is that in an era that has moved into many-to–many communication as its dominant characteristic, one-way persuasion no longer works. </p> <p>Yet from the beginning of the Brexit process, one-way persuasion is all that has been attempted. </p> <p>Let us remember the phrase ‘Brexit means Brexit’ with which we have been hammered and battered for two and a half years. It turns out, of course, that 70 days off from the self-imposed Brexit guillotine, we still have not a clue about what Brexit means. Even the hard Brexiters can’t agree among themselves about what it meant – and their insistences that they can look increasingly suspiciously like the opinions they happened to hold in the first place, So, this was not ultimately a persuasive phrase, was it?&nbsp; But it was a very insistent attempt indeed at one-way persuasion. Theresa May was going to do it (and maybe is still going to do it) ‘her way’.</p> <p>One-way persuasion under cover of negotiation with the EU meant leaving an awful lot of interlocutors out. It meant not talking to the parliamentarians at all, or letting them scrutinise the Withdrawal Bill as they ought to have done; it meant never talking to Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Labour, 16-18 year olds, EU citizens in the UK, divided remainers (including working class, middle class and anti-EU remainers) and divided leavers (including middle class and working class leavers and Lexiters) – and reputedly not even talking persuasively to people in her own Cabinet including a succession of Brexit secretaries for two and a half years. </p> <p>And of course it also meant trying to make sure that there was no major opportunity for them to talk to each other. That was another function of ‘Brexit means Brexit’. Not only – ‘I know what it means’ (despite the fact that I am leading a minority government dependent on the DUP with whom I don’t agree about absolutely everything) but also, crucially, ‘<em>I</em> know what it means so there is absolutely no point at all in <em>your</em> talking about it.’</p> <p>Two and a half years is a very long time when so much is at stake. What is extraordinary is that we collectively sat around waiting for the outcome of this one-way-persuasion process, and didn’t have the gumption to get ourselves together, and work out what we wanted through <a href="https://citizensassembly.co.uk/Brexit/">mutual persuasion.</a> We didn’t call for <a href="https://diem25.uk/beyond-brexit-menu/">opportunities to do this</a>. And we weren’t offered them – by anybody.</p> <p>Those who did stir contented themselves instead with slagging off whoever happened to be their polar opposite at the starting gate, in a manner that had been carefully prepared for us by the forces that openDemocracy’s investigative journalists <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/dup-dark-money">have been investigating</a>. This calculated production of just a sufficient range of enemy images to keep us pinned in servility is by far and a way the most serious disservice that the oligarchs and the mercenary propaganda firms have done to the UK, the EU and the future of democracy. Far more serious than the dark money involved or the rules broken. These breaches are just indicative of the larger depredation, the enemy images which have led pretty quickly to murder, incivility, and to our ongoing servility.</p> <p>Because they also seem to have persuaded us that we too knew who the enemy was, who the leavers were and who the remainers were, and how much they disagreed about the UK and the EU, without our ever getting together to meet each other and see whether we couldn’t change each others’ minds. Critics of the EU on both sides for example, have never exchanged views about the fundamental reforms needed there and how best to initiate them. The same goes for critics of the status quo in the UK, although as Yanis Varoufakis <a href="https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/british-brexit-debate-democratic-opportunity-by-yanis-varoufakis-2018-12">so cogently argues</a>, the Brexit process has in itself exposed a whole raft of constitutional issues that fundamentally need addressing if we want to live in a democracy.</p> <p>They have <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/etienne-balibar/gilets-jaunes-meaning-of-confrontation">done better in France,</a> where Emmanuel Macron is also finding out in a rather more French way, that in the many-to-many communications era in which we now dwell, despite all those elegant speeches with classical references, governance by one-way persuasion simply <a href="https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/260119/grand-debat-les-secrets-d-un-hold?page_article=2">doesn’t work</a>. </p> <p>In France, the Gilets Jaunes have got out on the streets together. I have seen with my own eyes quite far left and quite far rightwing people walking arm in arm up the Champs Elysee, calling for a profound change in their mutual interest. Whether they can get to the next stage of talking through their differences… they agree, is a challenge. But they have been able to force Macron to offer the unimaginable – (of course to be sure with all sorts of hedging about and careful selection of topics designed to hijack the outcome for the status quo – what after all is power for if it is not to hold onto power!?)!</p> <p>But Macron has had to offer a <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/peter-g-collier/france-s-great-debate"><em>debate between French citizens</em></a>. It remains to be seen whether British governance can be persuaded to offer <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-article-50-gordon-brown-public-hearings-vote-eu-theressa-may-citizens-assembly-a8733616.html">anything similar</a>. </p> <p>Why is <em>debate between</em> so important? Firstly because it is the only way to be truly inclusive. Everyone can contribute to the debate – why not?&nbsp; This could be a substantial opportunity to give people previously not listened to a voice, something that our referendum result was calling for, almost as clearly as the Gilets Jaunes flocking to roundabouts to talk to each other and get their voices heard. Secondly, because when people get together, they can change each others’ minds, both about who all of them are and about what they want. It is the only way of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/oliver-norgrove/interesting-brexit-experiment-worthy-of-analysis">arriving at a better consensus</a> and in a world of many-to-many communication, this is the only kind of democracy which is ultimately going to work. </p> <p>The people of the UK, like the other peoples of Europe, all of whom have their own national versions of a rising nationalist far right, a democratic crisis, a wrecking austerity, and a scapegoating enemy image of migrants (joining bullying and gambling as another mainstream form of distraction), will only become ‘rulemakers’ when we have fought for and begun to win more of a democratic say in both. When we have begun to build a consensus on all those major issues that can no longer be ignored by power, and when we are vigilant enough not to let ourselves be manipulated, divided and conquered, over and over again.</p> <p>Unfortunately, I can’t see a way that the People’s Vote could avoid being yet another chapter in the latter, unless it is preceded by a more comprehensive opportunity for voice, an open, trust-restoring People’s Debate. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/ten-reasons-i-came-round-to-peoples-vote">Adam Ramsay’s suggestion </a>of a ‘citizens’ assembly to craft the options that should be offered’ would certainly be a small <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/neal-lawson/brexit-citizens-assembly-rising-to-crisis-in-democracy">step in the right direction</a>, but would hardly in itself ensure ‘a chance for genuinely democratic dialogue’ that would not be rudely and prematurely shut down by the vote itself. This is because it is very hard to see what either side winning the vote would achieve, given a country with so many unpersuaded and, as many of the Gilets Jaunes seem to have realised, without a significant change in the power relations that govern us. The downside, in either eventuality, in terms of the additionally aggrieved, is only too clear.</p> <p>Parliamentarians should now ignore the inflexible British prime minister altogether, get together and build a consensus between themselves for the best holding operation that gives us time to set up an inclusive People’s Debate, throughout the nations of the UK. </p> <p>This holding operation could be on either side of the leaver/remainer divide, as long as there is a commitment to a comprehensive process of debate with the potential for radical renewal, and no chance of democracy being once again put back in its box. Unhooking us from infertile pre-occupations with leaving or remaining would release us from the pressures of the ticking clock. Instead, we could commit ourselves to a comprehensive exchange about the future for the UK that we really do want.</p><p>For this is surely the other answer to the question, ‘What does the unprecedented Brexit defeat of the UK government mean?’ It also means that despite the government’s best efforts and unless it is brutally taken away from us, democracy is finally in danger of breaking out.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/philippe-marli-re/yellow-vests-or-discrediting-of-representative-democracy">The yellow vests, or the discrediting of representative democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/rest-and-west-thoughts-on-brexit-and-migration-part-two">A People’s Vote won’t heal Brexit divisions – we need a People’s Debate</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/oliver-norgrove/interesting-brexit-experiment-worthy-of-analysis">An interesting Brexit experiment worthy of analysis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/creativity-must-operate-across-borders">Creativity must operate across borders</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? uk EU UK Rosemary Bechler DiEM25 Sun, 20 Jan 2019 15:10:07 +0000 Rosemary Bechler 121363 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Pro-Europe and anti-EU? Reviewing the far right’s view of Europe https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/marta-lorimer/pro-europe-and-anti-eu-reviewing-far-right-s-view-of-europe <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The far right’s claim to be attached to ‘Europe’, not the EU, suggests that ‘European identity’ may pose a challenge rather than an opportunity for the European Union.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40677883.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40677883.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>President of Rassemblement National, Marine Le Pen, and her Head of European Elections campaign Jordan Bardella, Nanterre, France, January 17, 2019. Liewig Christian/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The 2019 European elections are set to see an unprecedented number of far-right parties enter the European Parliament. These parties are for the most part rabidly anti-EU, and widely seen as presenting a danger for its future. However, far right parties have a complex relationship with ‘Europe’ that the label ‘eurosceptic’ does not fully convey. </p> <p>Firstly, far right parties have not always been anti-EU. While many of them converged on anti-EU positions, they did not start from there. Both the Italian Social Movement (MSI), a neo-fascist party founded by supporters of Mussolini’s regime in 1946 and which transformed into the conservative Alleanza Nazionale in the mid-90s, and the French Front National (FN, now Rassemblement National), were broadly in favour of European integration in the 1980s, although they were sceptical about the form it took. </p> <p>Guided by their opposition to the Soviet Union and their distrust of American power, the parties saw European unity as a means to defend their homelands and remain relevant in a bipolar world. At the same time, they opposed the primarily economic nature of the European project. Thus, they advocated in favour of a European common defence and a stronger European foreign policy. While for both parties this appeared to be a way to pursue the national interest by European means, it still translated into a form of support for the EEC. </p> <p>This did not survive the fall of the Soviet Union and, most importantly, the signing of the Maastricht treaty. These two events in particular pushed the MSI to a more critical stance, and the FN into an area of firm opposition to the European project. The FN and MSI are also not isolated cases: the Italian Northern League and Austrian Freedom Party (FPO) underwent similar changes in their European policies, moving from support for the project to <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/populist-radical-right-parties-in-europe/europe-for-the-europeans/90B6EBA3397C15DFD0EC647ABE1D3A35">opposition to it</a> . Therefore, it is worth remembering that far right opposition to the EU is a relatively new feature of the party family.</p> <h2><strong>The beautiful European dream</strong></h2> <p>Second, even if far right parties do oppose the European Union, this does not imply that they all oppose it in the same way. If we consider the example of exit from the European Union, this remains a rather marginal position across the European far right. While PVV leader Geert Wilders has famously advocated in favour of ‘Nexit’ <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2017/03/02/nexit-evolving-euroscepticism-geert-wilders/">(albeit tuning it down in the 2017 elections)</a>, the League’s Matteo Salvini has most recently argued for the need to ‘reform Europe from within’ and take back control of the <a href="http://www.ansa.it/europa/notizie/rubriche/altrenews/2018/12/03/europee-salvini-vogliamo-cambiare-ue-dallinterno_463eba00-9e43-4953-b29b-2ab2f9e76dbb.html">‘beautiful European dream’</a>. </p> <p>The Rassemblement National, on the other hand, has been shifting position on the issue since 2002, arguing at times in favour of ‘Frexit’ and at other times pushing ‘only’ for a radical reform of the EU. Thus, while most parties agree that the EU in its current shape is unsustainable, they may still live by the claim that ‘<a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2016/02/01/a-cross-european-platform-to-undermine-the-eu-eurosceptic-parties-cooperate-to-create-a-vision-for-another-europe/">another Europe is possible</a>’ – although it is not clear what, exactly, this ‘other Europe’ would look like, and if all parties would agree on its form. </p> <h2><strong>Europe as a culture</strong></h2> <p>Finally, it is worth noting that the far right’s opposition to the EU <a href="http://www.euvisions.eu/right-thinks-europe/">does not necessarily lead them to reject ‘Europe’</a>. In fact, far right parties’ understanding of ‘Europe’ is grounded in a distinction between ‘Europe’ intended as a continent and civilisation, and the concrete project of the European Union. This distinction, inspired by the French Nouvelle Droite and adopted by the Front National at the end of the 1980s, is still alive and well today in parties that claim to be ‘pro-Europe but anti-EU’. </p> <p>On one side, it is used as a form of <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01419870.2017.1294700">‘civilisationism’</a>&nbsp; to recreate the image of a unified European civilisation typically opposed to Islam, and on the other side, to oppose the European Union in the name of ‘Europe’. This is well exemplified in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyty5HSaAx0&amp;t=4s">the claim made by Marine Le Pen</a> that ‘For us, Europe is not an idea. Europe is a culture, it’s a civilization with its values […] I believe in the need for a European organisation in the great uproar of the world and of globalisation, but in no case can this construction provoke the disappearance of the nations that form it. Our European project will be that of the Nations and peoples, their diversity and their respect.’ </p> <h2><strong>True Europeans </strong></h2> <p>In other words, Le Pen considers that she is allowed to criticise the European Union because she is a true ‘European’ fighting against a ‘fake’ and anti-European EU. Recent research by <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/International_Populism.html?id=_NDFvAEACAAJ&amp;source=kp_book_description&amp;redir_esc=y">McDonnell and Werner </a>even suggests that this sense of a shared Europeanness has been conducive to alliances on the far right, worth keeping in mind when following group formations in the European Parliament.</p> <p>These points encourage us to be mindful of the similarities, but also the differences between various European far right parties and their views of Europe. They also suggest that the notion of a ‘European identity’ is no panacea for the EU. While often viewed as a possible solution to the EU’s legitimacy issues, the far right’s claim to be attached to ‘Europe’ against the EU suggests that depending on how it is defined, European identity may pose a challenge rather than an opportunity for the European Union.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Visit the <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com">Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right</a> (#CARR).</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/cas-mudde/on-extremism-and-democracy-in-europe-three-years-later">On extremism and democracy in Europe: three years later</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/ric-fassin/neo-fascist-moment-of-neoliberalism">The neo-fascist moment of neoliberalism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/sara-garbagnoli/matteo-salvini-renaturalizing-racial-and-sexual-boundaries-of-dem">Matteo Salvini, renaturalizing the racial and sexual boundaries of democracy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government International politics Marta Lorimer Thu, 17 Jan 2019 19:06:21 +0000 Marta Lorimer 121330 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Ten reasons I came round to a People's Vote https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/ten-reasons-i-came-round-to-peoples-vote <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A second referendum denies democracy, I thought - but arguments on the other side have become overwhelming.</p> </div> </div> </div> <span><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/41161967040_2b8c1036e8_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/41161967040_2b8c1036e8_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: David Holt, Flickr, CC2.0</span></span></span></span></span><p>“If Scotland had voted Yes in the independence referendum, and you’d told me we’d have to vote again, I’d have told you to fuck right off.”</p><p dir="ltr">That was my reaction when, the Monday after the European referendum, the idea of a People’s Vote was first put to me. I was in Parliament, chatting to Caroline Lucas and her staffer, my friend Matthew Butcher. While the country had been in shock they’d been strategising.</p><p dir="ltr">In two years’ time, they explained, the Tories would come back with a deal. It would be a deal which would prioritise the needs of bosses over workers, which would do nothing to address the concerns of many of those who had voted Leave, and which wouldn’t get the support of a majority of MPs. It would deliver a parliamentary stalemate.</p><p>At that point, they argued, the conundrum should be resolved in public. It should be up to the people who voted for Brexit to decide whether to accept the deal, not a backroom stitch-up.</p><p dir="ltr">The case had its internal logic. But for a long time, I stuck to my initial reaction. No matter how much I disliked Brexit, making people vote again before doing what they decided seemed a democratic travesty. People had voted Leave, and Leave we must. The democratic way to change our mind, if we do, would be to then rejoin, if they'd then have us. Had Scotland voted Yes to independence in 2014, and ended up staying in the UK, the democratic damage would have been deep and long-lasting.</p><h2><span>1. A question of sovereignty</span></h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/17982193088_cf9b3c183a_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/17982193088_cf9b3c183a_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image, Houses of Parliament</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">I did have one qualification, though. The openDemocracyUK section of this website was started in 2009 to “address the unfolding crisis in British democracy”. Its initiator, Anthony Barnett, who had stepped down from being Editor-in-Chief, had been the first director of Charter 88 back in 1988, which fought for Britain to have a democratic constitution. It may have been bad then but today the British political system is utterly broken. Mending it now requires a bottom-up convention, as I argue in my pamphlet “<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/trying-milk-vulture-want-economic-justice-need-democratic-revolution/">Trying to milk a vulture: if we want economic justice we need democratic revolution</a>”.</p><p dir="ltr">Right after the Brexit vote, we should have held such a convention. In parallel to the negotiations with the EU, we should have had a process in which a jury of citizens drafted a new constitution, and put it or each element of it to public vote. Such a constitution would, I hope, shift the UK from the broken and elitist notion that the “crown in Parliament” is sovereign to grounding our democracy on the people's sovereignty. And the first stage of the creation of that constitution would be putting it, or key elements of it, to the people of the country.</p><p dir="ltr">If we had such a process, and if direct democracy was to become a more normal tool in the UK – as it is, for example, in Ireland – then allowing the public a say on something as big as the final deal with the EU would seem much more normal. The reason that Westminster is aflame right now is that there is no real agreement about where power ultimately lies – as Anthony Barnett and I <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/adam-ramsay-anthony-barnett/abdication-of-commons-how-article-50-saw-parliament-vote-against-its-">explained back in 2017</a>, the Gina Miller case was a contest between four sources of sovereignty: government, Parliament, people and courts.</p><p>For around a century, ever since the first Labour MPs were wined and dined and inducted into the establishment by the wiser of their Tory colleagues, the Labour Party has accepted the core myth at the heart of the British state: that Westminster is, and ought to be, where power lies, that sovereignty sits in Parliament and that the problem isn’t so much the way the country works, but who runs it.</p><p dir="ltr">The idea of “The despotism of the King in Parliament”, as Anthony Barnett <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/anthony-barnett/why-brexit-won-t-work-eu-is-about-regulation-not-sovereignty">has pointed out</a>, dates to the high point of the British empire, when Westminster and Whitehall, propped up by the plunder of colonialism, could do as they pleased. Any truly emancipatory politics needs to be based on the principle of popular sovereignty, that power rises up from the people, and that it is, ultimately, for the people to decide. </p><p>Now, in the early days of 2019, we no longer have time for a pre-Brexit constitutional convention. And our despotic parliament is unable to come to a conclusion. It seems this is the moment to set a new precedent: that major decisions should be made by the peoples of the UK. Parliament, after all, has demonstrated that it is not up to the task. As things stand, a parliamentary resolution – led by either Labour or Tories – would likely be a backroom stitch-up. </p><p>Seen this way, a People’s Vote would be about accepting, finally, that Parliament has lost the sovereignty it bought with the plunder of empire. The fundamental legitimacy of the British state is broken. The government has been defeated by an historic margin, and yet limps on. In our new era – and until our power can be properly codified, it should be up to the people to choose where we go next.</p><h2 dir="ltr">2. How legitimate was the referendum?</h2><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/PA-21074096.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/PA-21074096.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Arron Banks with former UKIP leader Nigel Farage. Ben Birchall/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Six months after the referendum, my colleagues and I started digging into the dark money that funded the Leave campaigns. We uncovered a £435,000 donation to the Democratic Unionist Party from who-knows-where, via a Scottish Tory who, we revealed, set up a company in 2013 with a former <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/secretive-dup-brexit-donor-links-to-saudi-intelligence-service">head of Saudi intelligence</a>, the father of the Saudi ambassador to the UK. At the same time, Carole Cadwalladr at The Observer started uncovering other Leave campaign shenanigans.</p><p dir="ltr">Throughout, I have felt that the level of rule-breaking required to annul a result should be high. I imagined how I’d have felt if this had been the Scottish independence referendum, in which I supported the Yes campaign. If, after a Yes vote, it had transpired that some people I probably didn’t know in the official campaign office – or worse, some other random pro-independence group – had broken the law, that wouldn’t annul my decision to vote Yes. A ballot paper isn’t the property of whoever tries to influence its use, it is the sacred possession of she who casts it.</p><p dir="ltr">On the other hand, there has to be a punishment for rule-breaking. The laws of our democracy are constructed to stop the mega-rich from buying power. They are an attempt to ensure a degree of equity in an unequal world. And as we’ve uncovered ever more law-breaking, it’s been hard not to reach the conclusion that the threshold must have been reached. If an MP cheats, they can be sacked by an election court. But the referendum cannot be annulled by judge and jury because, in a tyically British, ad hoc way, it wasn’t a legally binding process. (This is why the whole process should be framed by a constitution: legally the referendum was 'advisory' and it is parliament that has taken the decision.)</p><p dir="ltr">By my sums, Arron Banks appears to have given around £15 million to the various Leave campaigns. So when the Electoral Commission say they have reason to believe – as a result of our investigations – that the money didn’t really come from him, we should take that very seriously. Vote Leave broke spending limits by claiming a large chunk of their payments to AggregateIQ was in the name of 21-year-old fashion student Darren Grimes.</p><p>When I raise these matters, people often respond by claiming that the Remain campaign spent much more than the Leave campaign, because of that God-awful booklet the government produced. The figures people use are invariably wrong, as they only count spending during the final 10 weeks of the campaign, when most of Arron Banks’s millions seem to have been spent before that, meaning we have no idea how roughly £11m <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/arron-banks-and-missing-11m-for-brexit">were spent in the full course of the campaign</a>. But their argument doesn’t change the point: the referendum in 2016 was run appallingly badly. The laws governing it hadn’t caught up with the internet age. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/cambridge-analytica-is-what-happens-when-you-privatise-military-propaganda">Mercenary propaganda firms</a> were allowed to use weapons of information warfare, and the government was allowed to use its budget to patronise the country en masse.</p><p dir="ltr">The idea that this vote – marred by large-scale law-breaking – represents an unshakable mandate which cannot be challenged by a future referendum, is democratically dangerous. The laws of our democracy exist to level the playing field between those with vast wealth and the rest of us. If it’s possible to break them without consequence, the rules become meaningless.</p><h2 dir="ltr">3. It’s not democracy that divides us</h2><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/jason-blackeye-198848-unsplash.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/jason-blackeye-198848-unsplash.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Perhaps the most pernicious lie that the neoliberalism ever told is that democracy is divisive.</p><p dir="ltr">For the last two years, we have heard repeatedly that the referendum campaign tore us apart as a country. Over those two years, I spent a reasonable amount of time travelling around the UK. And what I found horrified me.</p><p dir="ltr">Go to Kent or Surrey, or Newcastle, or Sunderland, and you find an England that has been ripped apart by fences, walls and security cameras. A generation of soaring inequality has torn the people of the country from each other, dividing neighbourhoods into ghettos and gated communities. As power has been centralised at Westminster and privatised to faceless executives, we’ve become less and less skilled in making decisions together, and so we’ve been told that we are incapable of making decisions, that democracy is too divisive, that we can’t be trusted.</p><p dir="ltr">Of course, the last referendum did provide an outlet for mercenary propaganda firms and public-school bigots to promote racism, and it showed us how bad England (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have stories of their own) has become at democracy. This came to a head in the horrific murder of the MP Jo Cox and in the gruesome rise of hate crime after the vote.</p><p dir="ltr">But this division didn’t just appear from nowhere, and racism won’t be resolved by leaving power in the hands of our structurally racist national institutions.</p><p dir="ltr">Too often, I see friends on the left accept the implicit line that ordinary people can’t be trusted with power, that it is democracy that has divided us, and so a second referendum would tear us apart. In reality, it’s the lack of democracy – the market – which has wrenched our communities asunder. It’s benefits sanctions and corporate tax cuts. It’s our racist and sexist media. And the way to mend it is not to capitulate to Boris and his army of bigots. It’s to learn to take decisions together, as equals. </p><h2 dir="ltr">4. Labour tactics and strategy</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/People&#039;s_Vote_March_2018-10-20_-_No_Tory_Brexit.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/People&#039;s_Vote_March_2018-10-20_-_No_Tory_Brexit.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: by Colin, CC4.0</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Much opposition to a People’s Vote comes from those who see it as an attempt to undermine or attack Jeremy Corbyn. And, of course, in a sense they are right: there is a group of continuity Blairites whose political careers suddenly ran out of runway when Corbyn was elected, and hope the European cause will helicopter them back to relevance. Often, these people have spent their time attacking the left of the Labour party, and in doing so, have managed to alienate the core group of people they needed to win over to secure a People’s Vote.</p><p dir="ltr">Worse, many of the advocates of a second referendum seem to think it would be a mechanism to return to 2012, as though austerity, the financial crisis, climate change and species loss weren’t already disasters then, as though history isn’t chronological, and now isn’t a consequence of then. And lots of Remainers labour under the smug misapprehension that Europe is a continent, with a genuinely progressive identity, when in reality it’s just a racist peninsula at the end of Asia, inhabited by wilting imperial states: a pompous subcontinent melting in an identity crisis.</p><p dir="ltr">That said, those who hope to see Theresa May booted out of Downing Street by someone who will stand up to the unconstrained power of British capital shouldn’t just accept the strategic decisions of the current Labour leader, but engage openly in debate. As Rosa Luxemburg wrote “Marxism must abhor nothing so much as the possibility that it becomes congealed in its current form. It is at its best when butting heads in self-criticism, and in historical thunder and lightning, it retains its strength.” Or, to put it another way, criticism of Corbyn’s strategy on Brexit doesn’t necessarily imply a desire to stop a left Labour government.</p><p dir="ltr">Corbyn has had two major tactical successes with regard to Brexit. In 2017, he managed to shift the debate away from Europe and onto many of the other reasons people wanted to kick the establishment: privatisation, inequality and austerity. In recent months, he’s managed to ensure Labour doesn’t get the blame for the current mess.</p><p dir="ltr">The risk, however, is that Corbynism was built on the idea that politics is about more than tactical manoeuvres. It was a refreshing reaction against focus-group politics. It’s hard not to feel, when it comes to Brexit, that the Labour leadership is setting its policy based on whatever triangulation will allow it to win the next election, and on leaving the Tories to destroy themselves, assuming that the default alternative will be the opposition.</p><p dir="ltr">The reality is that the default alternative to Tories in English politics is different Tories. As Corbyn showed in 2017, Labour will do well when it is seen to make a coherent and powerful argument, from principle, about the important issues of the day. Its leaders could duck Brexit in 2017: it’s not clear the same strategy will work next time.</p><h2 dir="ltr">5. A general election?</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/720px-UK_House_of_Commons_2017-06-26.svg_.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/720px-UK_House_of_Commons_2017-06-26.svg_.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="286" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>MPs elected in 2017 - Wikipedia</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Instead of using this constitutional crisis to call for radical constitutional change (including a People’s Vote), Labour activists are focussed on demanding a general election. And again, in a sense, they are right. For the prime minister to lose by the biggest margin in modern history and then not stand down is astounding.</p><p dir="ltr">On the other hand, the argument is predicated on a myth: it is a simple fact of parliamentary arithmetic that the Tories plus the Northern Irish DUP have a majority. Tory MPs are not going to vote to bring down a Tory government. And the DUP – a far-right Loyalist party – is not going to vote for a general election which could usher in a radical left republican government in Northern Ireland. The DUP had its best ever general election in 2017. They hold every seat they can hope to, and have more power over the government than they have ever dreamed of. The idea they are going to pull the plug on that is delusional.</p><p dir="ltr">In principle, Labour (and the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and Greens) were right to call a vote of no confidence. But it was never going to pass, and, barring a string of convenient by-elections, that won’t change. It is not a plausible alternative to opposing Brexit by demanding real democracy. </p><h2 dir="ltr">6. Lexit mistakes</h2><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/1280px-European_Parliament_Strasbourg_Hemicycle_-_Diliff.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/1280px-European_Parliament_Strasbourg_Hemicycle_-_Diliff.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="260" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The chamber of the European Parliament. Image, Wikimedia commons.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Another key element of opposition to a People’s Vote within the left comes from signed-up Lexiters. And I have <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/adam-ramsay/i-hate-eu-but-ill-vote-to-stay-in-it">some sympathy</a> with them: the EU enforces austerity internally, and brutal trade deals and violent borders externally.</p><p dir="ltr">But, for me, Lexiters make five consistent mistakes.</p><p dir="ltr">First, they forget that most of the EU rules they complain about were put there by British governments. Were Corbyn elected, then there is good reason to believe that his government could reverse many of the pro-market measures written into EU laws at the moment. The EU is in crisis, it will not survive in its current form; the question is how it is changed.</p><p dir="ltr">Second, at the height of the anti-globalisation movement, one of the key questions was how to globalise democracy. As George Monbiot argued in The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order, “everything has been globalised except our consent”. As my brother, Gilbert Ramsay wrote before the referendum, the EU is the first, flawed, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/gilbert-ramsay/we-can-only-contemplate-leaving-eu-because-its-miracles-have-become-banal-brexit">experiment with globalising democracy</a>. Leaving it means keeping Britain within a whole web of international institutions which have no direct accountability to the peoples they supposedly represent – the UN, NATO, World Bank, IMF and WTO – but jettisoning the one place where international relations are held to account by a directly elected parliament.</p><p dir="ltr">Third, too often, particularly on the English left, we see people arguing that the EU is inherently neoliberal, without asking any serious questions about the British state, which they seek to empower. This is, simply, nationalist exceptionalism, deluding itself that the most neoliberal county in Europe is somehow less neoliberal than Europe’s institutions.</p><p>Fourth, Brexit means more border controls. It means border posts in Ireland, with all the implications that follow. It means limiting the movement of working class Romanians as we suck wealth from their economy and it means limiting the movement of people in the UK. The rich have always had the freedom to move. The EU gave working class people that right across a continent. Brexit takes that away.</p><p dir="ltr">And, finally, Lexiters often fail to take full account of the genuine risk of what some call a hard Brexit, and I call a Puerto Rico model. </p><p>What our investigations have consistently shown is that a large portion of the right sees Brexit as an opportunity to shift Britain out of the European-regulated space and into the American (de-)regulated space – as Daniel Hannan MP, founder of the European Research Group has argued, to turn Britain into an “offshore, low tax haven”.</p><p dir="ltr">One of the reasons that Brexiters were split on Theresa May’s deal is that the more intelligent of them – the likes of Liam Fox – understand that it is a temporary measure, buying him the time to arrange the sorts of trade deal that he wants: deals which would seek to transform the UK into a new Puerto Rico: a taker of American rules, but without votes in American elections, a new haven for the American mega-rich, and services workhouse for the rest of us.</p><p dir="ltr">The Tories have a majority until 2022 if they can make it that far, and there likely won’t be much chance for Parliament to block Fox’s trade deals before then, if he can turn them round in time. His department has already finished the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-public-consultations-announced-for-future-trade-agreements">public consultation stage</a> on a number of deals, including one with the US and one on joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership. While the timelines for these things can be slow, Fox’s aim is clear: act fast, and dodge accountability.</p><p dir="ltr">A left Labour government elected in this context would find its agenda tied up in the international courts (under a similar arrangement, Canada was forced to pay American businesses <a href="https://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/topics-domaines/disp-diff/lone.aspx?lang=eng">major compensation</a> because they placed a moratorium on fracking).</p><p dir="ltr">There is a theoretical Brexit model, which we could call Cuba, under which a left government separates itself as much as possible from the architecture of international capitalism. But as things stand, the Puerto Rico model is much more likely.</p><p>Whatever the possibilities of a theoretical Brexit under a theoretical Labour government, the real Brexit now is a disaster capitalist project being delivered by a right-wing Tory government led by the racist van prime minister. The choice is simple, collaborate, or resist.</p><p dir="ltr">(And, as my colleague <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/laurie-macfarlane/why-left-must-now-unite-against-brexit">Laurie Macfarlane outlines</a>, the third option ‘Norway plus’, does nothing to address the concerns of Lexiters, leaving the UK subject to EU rules.)</p><h2 dir="ltr">7. Class and betrayal</h2><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Jacob_Rees-Mogg_debating_at_the_Cambridge_Union_Society.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Jacob_Rees-Mogg_debating_at_the_Cambridge_Union_Society.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jacob Rees Mogg. Image, Cantab12</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Much of the Lexit argument is bound up with the idea that Brexit was primarily delivered by working-class voters. And, of course, there is some truth to this: I spent the week before the referendum <a href="https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=ramsay%20doncaster%20barnett&amp;epa=SEARCH_BOX">in Doncaster</a>, which overwhelmingly backed Brexit. There are significant numbers who voted Leave because, as one man put it to me, “Nothing round here has changed for 40 years. This wasn’t necessarily the change I wanted, but I’ll try anything.”</p><p dir="ltr">But this narrative isn’t nearly as neat as the media often implies: many of the poorest parts of the UK, such as the Wests of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted Remain, as did the vast majority of working-class people of colour. At the same time, wealthy areas like Wiltshire backed the Leave vote. Academics who studied the class <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/brexit-and-the-squeezed-middle/">breakdown of the Brexit vote</a> found “the Leave vote to be associated with middle class identification and the more neutral ‘no class’ identification. But we find no evidence of a link with working class identification.”</p><p>It’s important to draw a distinction between the tabloid image of the working class – male, white, middle-aged, post-industrial, racist – and the actual working class as it exists in the real world. The latter isn’t nearly as Brexity as we’re always told.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">At the same time, our research has consistently shown that those who led the Brexit movement – those who funded and steered it – are connected to the emerging global oligarch class, who wish to use it to asset strip the country. The Farage base is southern, pink-gin-drinking, blazer-wearing, bourgeois empire nostalgists, and the notion that Brexit is a working-class backlash against the establishment is heavily over-emphasised.</p><h2 dir="ltr">8. Fascism and fiction</h2><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Vote Leave Turkey immigration ad_0_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/Vote Leave Turkey immigration ad_0_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Far right grievances are built on fiction. Image, Vote Leave Facebook advert, DCMS Select Committee.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">One fear about a People’s Vote – a fear that I certainly hold and have often expressed – is that it would create a significant grievance for the far right. And it is true that the far right would shout about it. We shouldn’t entirely discount that. But one of the key lessons I learned when I travelled round central Europe and Northern Italy in November is that the grievances of the media-driven far right of the modern era don’t have much to do with reality.</p><p dir="ltr">In Hungary, concern is about Muslim refugees, when there are almost no Muslim refugees. In the Alpine towns of Northern Italy, it’s about black people. There are almost no black people. The rise of fascism is driven by the growing power of a global oligarch class, and their control of the dominant media of the day. It is driven by the elitist institutions of white masculinity, and its propaganda is post-modern, built on fictions and falsehoods. The way to defeat them is through democratic organising, not retreating to elite institutions.</p><h2 dir="ltr">9. It is winnable </h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/maxresdefault_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/maxresdefault_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Caroline Lucas, speaking at People's Vote March. Image, YouTube.</span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">If there was a snap People’s Vote today, I suspect the result would be Remain. The anti-establishment vote, which turned out in large numbers to give a kicking to the prime minister of the day, David Cameron, would, it seems to me, be less likely to show up to vote for a government policy. On the other hand, enthusiastic opposition to Brexit has grown significantly since June 2016, and we could expect much higher turnout in London, Scotland and especially Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, Wales, which voted narrowly for Leave seems to have shifted decisively for Remain. Similarly, the demographics are on Remain’s side: more Brexiters have died and more Remainers become old enough to vote. All of this should be enough to swing the small margin of victory in 2016.</p><p dir="ltr">However, one thing could change that. If a People’s Vote looks like an establishment stitch-up, an attempt to put the genie back in the bottle, then there seems a good chance people would show up in huge numbers to tell the establishment where to go. And many representatives of the campaign for a second vote seem complacent about, if not determined to ensure, that that’s the impression people get. As Paul Hilder argued at <a href="http://www.theconvention.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Programme_TheConvention_Jan2019_01.pdf">the recent Convention</a> on a second referendum, securing a Remain result – and doing so convincingly – will require winning over alienated working-class voters, young people enthusiastic about Corbyn, the organised left and trade unionists, and Scottish, Welsh and Irish nationalists.</p><p dir="ltr">The campaign as set up at the moment, run from Millbank Tower, in London, just down the road from Parliament, appears a lot like Hillary Clinton’s US presidential campaign in 2016: the perfect machine to lose the vote.</p><p dir="ltr">However, Caroline Lucas (who sets out an <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/caroline-lucas/how-do-we-ensure-that-project-hope-overcomes-project-fear">anti-status-quo argument</a>), the SNP and other figures from outwith the old regime are taking on an increasingly prominent role in the campaign, and the referendum will only happen if Labour supports it, giving some hope that Remain might hold onto its lead.</p><h2 dir="ltr">10. A chance to do it right</h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/17195104557_e9be3a90e8_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553846/17195104557_e9be3a90e8_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="220" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Polling station, by "Descrier", descrier.co.uk, CC2.0.</span></span></span></p><p>A People’s Vote would provide a chance for genuinely democratic dialogue, which means offering people the various meaningful options they may want, probably in the form of a preferendum (ranking in order of preference). The process should be everything that the 2016 vote wasn’t, ideally starting with a citizens’ assembly to craft the options that should be offered. Rather than the millions spent on its awful booklet, the government should give the Electoral Commission cash to seriously police the laws of our democracy, and should lift the maximum fine from £20,000 to, at least, £500,000 (as is available to the Information Commissioner). And it should be the start of a process of radical democratic renewal, not a chance to put democracy back in its box.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2013, the SNP unveiled a 650-page document, “<a href="https://www2.gov.scot/Publications/2013/11/9348/0">Scotland’s Future</a>”, outlining what it meant by independence. Whilst other groups proposed more radical versions, everyone accepted that, if it was a Yes vote, the white paper would be the baseline for what the Scottish government would have tried to negotiate. Voters in the European referendum had no such document. There was no agreement about what Brexit means. Parliament cannot agree what it means. And so it must default to the people to decide.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/into-vortex">What does the unprecedented Brexit defeat of the UK government mean?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/laurie-macfarlane/why-left-must-now-unite-against-brexit">Why the left must unite against Brexit</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/mary-fitzgerald/investigating-murky-deals-beyond-parliament-brexit-pantomime">Beyond the Brexit pantomime</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk People's Vote Brexit Adam Ramsay Thu, 17 Jan 2019 17:11:39 +0000 Adam Ramsay 121331 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Back with a vengeance? One year with the radical right in government in Austria https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/georg-plattner/back-with-vengeance-one-year-with-radical-right-in-government-in-a <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The FPÖ is successfully tilling the field for a radical right turn of Austria, and it seems unlikely that the party will be manipulated into moderation again by the conservative ÖVP. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40223824.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40223824.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor of Austria holds presidency of the European Council at Brussels Summit, Belgium on December 14, 2018. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>One year has passed since Austrians, for the second time this century, witnessed the inauguration of ministers from the populist radical right Freedom Party (FPÖ). What are the differences to the first government stint of the FPÖ, how did the party fare in its first year, and what can their time in office teach us about the radical right in government?</p> <h2><strong>Power and ideologues – key differences to 2000</strong></h2> <p>Compared to the first stint in government at the beginning of the century, the most glaring difference is the absence of international outrage at their second run. </p> <p>In 2000, the EU member states announced the imposition of <a href="http://www.demokratiezentrum.org/fileadmin/media/pdf/falkner_sanctions.pdf">several measures</a> to isolate Austria as a consequence of the radical right in government. In 2017, there was no dissenting voice to be heard from the EU, even though the FPÖ today is arguably more radical than it was in 2000. <span class="mag-quote-center">The most glaring difference is the absence of international outrage at their second run. </span></p> <p>Another difference is the concentrated amount of power that the FPÖ was able to access in 2017: at the end of the coalition negotiations with Christian Democratic Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), the FPÖ received <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-austria-politics-ministries/austrian-far-right-to-control-foreign-interior-ministries-spokesman-idUSKBN1EA0EG">full ministerial control</a> over all armed personnel of the republic, as well as the intelligence agencies. The radical right party got the ministry of interior (police and domestic intelligence agency), the ministry of defence (armed forces and military intelligence agencies), and by proxy the ministry of foreign affairs (the minister is ‘independent’ but was nominated by the FPÖ), adding up to an unprecedented accumulation of power for the junior coalition partner. </p> <p>The fact that the party sent ideologically hardened <a href="https://kontrast.at/burschenschafter-in-der-fpoe/">party cadres</a> into the ministries is the third key difference to the first coalition of the FPÖ. In 2000, party chair Jörg Haider preferred sending low-profile career politicians into the government. This time around, however, <em>Burschenschaften </em>(political fraternities that are at the very right fringe of the Austrian political landscape) are the personnel pool for the party. <span class="mag-quote-center"><em>Burschenschaften </em>(political fraternities that are at the very right fringe of the Austrian political landscape) are the personnel pool for the party. </span></p> <h2><strong>Pushing the boundaries</strong></h2> <p>The FPÖ repeatedly tried to push the boundaries of what is politically acceptable since coming to power in 2017. The most damaging effort was the raid of Austria’s <a href="https://derstandard.at/2000090910228/Im-BVT-Skandal-geht-es-nun-um-Burschenschaften">domestic intelligence agency</a> (<em>Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz und Terrorismusbekämpfung</em>, BVT) in February 2018. The BVT is Austria’s most important intelligence agency, tasked with the protection of the Austrian constitution, its institutions and their ability to act. This includes the surveillance of extremist groups and individuals, as well as responsibility for domestic counter-terrorism measures. </p> <p>The raid has since become the topic of a parliamentary investigation, in which it became clear that the reasons for it were largely fabricated by the instigating FPÖ individuals and the prosecution, and that they do not hold up to closer scrutiny. </p> <p>Furthermore, it was revealed that the office of the agent responsible for investigating the Austrian extreme right scene was <a href="https://www.profil.at/oesterreich/fall-bvt-hausdurchsuchung-daten-extremismus-referats-9344337">searched</a> (she was not one of the suspects, but listed as a potential witness). The parliamentary inquiry also revealed <a href="https://derstandard.at/2000090910228/Im-BVT-Skandal-geht-es-nun-um-Burschenschaften">attempts</a> by the FPÖ to gather detailed information on covert operatives in the <em>Burschenschaften</em> through the official channels from the ministry of interior to the BVT. Unrelated, but nevertheless damning, was the <a href="https://www.profil.at/oesterreich/bvt-security-kontrollverlust-10484727">outing</a> of a security guard working at the parliamentary investigation as an active member of Austria’s neo-Nazi scene.</p> <p>The second area where the FPÖ is operating without many restraints by the ÖVP is the public discourse on migration. The Austrian government <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-migrants-austria/austria-to-shun-global-migration-pact-fearing-creep-in-human-rights-idUSKCN1N50JZ">rejected</a> the UN migration pact, which was a key demand of the FPÖ. Furthermore, the government, under leadership of the FPÖ, is trying to <a href="https://www.profil.at/oesterreich/mindestsicherung-neu-fluechtlinge-10494177">cut financial aid</a> to refugees and migrants. The <a href="https://www.profil.at/oesterreich/drasenhofen-waldhaeusl-stacheldrahtzaun-10537072">most extreme case</a> was a refugee home for adolescents in Lower Austria that was equipped with barbed wire fence and where residents were not allowed to leave the premises without being accompanied by a security guard. </p> <p>The more or less free reign of the FPÖ in all these areas has caused speculation about a trade-off between FPÖ and ÖVP: the former gets to push their anti-immigration agenda, and the latter will not be opposed by the FPÖ in their attempts to weaken the Austrian social partnership and to hollow out workers’ rights.</p> <p>Finally, the FPÖ is also actively trying to limit and control the flow of information to media they deem too critical. This became public when an <a href="https://derstandard.at/2000088066643/Interior-Ministry-Limits-Info-for-Critical-Media-Outlets">official communique</a> by the Ministry of Interior to regional police directorates was leaked to several media outlets. In it, the Ministry outlined which media is categorized as ‘critical’ and instructs police to limit the flow of information to these newspapers to the ‘absolute (legally defined) minimum’. <span class="mag-quote-center">The Ministry [ of Interior] outlined which media is categorized as ‘critical’ and instructs police to limit the flow of information to these newspapers to the ‘absolute (legally defined) minimum’. </span></p> <p>The leaked letter caused huge uproar in Austria, and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz was forced to give a statement confirming the importance of press freedom whilst at the UN in New York. The Ministry was quick in trying to downplay the significance of the letter as the standpoint of one individual, claiming that it had not being signed off by the minister.</p> <h2><strong>Conviction matters</strong></h2> <p>One year after the inauguration of the FPÖ coalition in Austria, what are the most important points to take away regarding our understanding of the radical right? The first one is that conviction matters. </p> <p>The FPÖ has shown that, in stark contrast to their last stint in government, ideological steadfastness of its personnel in government leads to more consistent output. In the beginning of the century, the FPÖ was worn down by the ÖVP due to the political and ideological inexperience of the majority of its ministers. This time, the bulk of the actors the FPÖ sent into the government is made up of hardened <em>Burschenschafter,</em> or otherwise ideologically resolute members of the party. Coherence of action by the FPÖ in the past year also prevented their implosion and allowed the party to operate by its ideological guidelines. </p> <p>This leads to the observation that when the radical right has a sufficiently ideologically committed personnel pool, the taming effect of governmental responsibilities appears to be more limited. This is not necessarily visible through actual policy change yet, where the FPÖ is still limited by the constitution and civil society. </p> <p>However, they do succeed in <a href="https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/ein-jahr-schwarz-blaue-regierung-in-oesterreich-der.1008.de.html?dram:article_id=436248">changing public discourse and political activism</a>, which might well lead to a collapse of institutional and public resistance in the longer term. The FPÖ is successfully tilling the field for a radical right turn of Austria, and it seems unlikely that the party will be manipulated into moderation again by the conservative ÖVP. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Visit the <a href="https://www.radicalrightanalysis.com">Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right</a> (#CARR).</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/adam-ramsay/stories-fascist-europe-tells-itself-and-how-to-correct-them">The stories fascist Europe tells itself, and how to correct them</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/ruth-wodak/free-spaces-for-thought">Free spaces for thought and de-acceleration</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/ragnar-weilandt/why-austria-almost-elected-fascist-president">Why Austria almost elected a fascist president</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Austria </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Austria Democracy and government International politics Georg Plattner Thu, 17 Jan 2019 15:25:17 +0000 Georg Plattner 121314 at https://www.opendemocracy.net France’s Great Debate https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/peter-g-collier/france-s-great-debate <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>One in two French citizens want to participate in Macron’s Great Debate across the French nation. High stakes for Macron and French democracy. The rest of Europe will be watching.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40616039.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40616039.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Yellow Vest demonstrators in Bourges, France, January 12, 2019. ANDBZ/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>My wife and I used to live in West Brittany. Like Connemara it’s a beautiful place if you can afford it. After the effects of the 2008 crisis began to be felt, my work as an independent educator dried up. Banks and institutions put contracts on a two-year hold. After an expensive eighteen months of wait-and-see, we moved to Nantes. Five years on we consider ourselves lucky to have escaped peripheral isolation and financial suffocation<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/submission/frances-great-debate-overview-of-yellow-vests-protest-and-emmanuel-macrons-proposed-great#_edn1">[i]</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>Peripherality is about spatial distance from work and social services. 75% of home-work trips daily in France are by car with an average distance of 50 kms. Without secure work, family ties or welfare protection you won’t make ends meet in Peripheral France. This was why we supported the first protests of the Gilets-Jaunes.&nbsp;</p><p>The first Saturday protest in November mobilised 287,000. Most had never protested before. There have been eight Saturday protests. Over 5,000 were taken into custody and a thousand held in prison<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/submission/frances-great-debate-overview-of-yellow-vests-protest-and-emmanuel-macrons-proposed-great#_edn2">[ii]</a>. Emmanuel Macron reacted by first, apologising, then freezing tax increases and bank charges while raising the minimum wage.&nbsp;Amazingly the Gilets-Jaunes won more concessions from the government than any trade-union or opposition party for decades. Paradoxically the more concessions Macron made the more the movement became radical. The moderate middle-class, unsettled by the level of violence, now stayed away on Saturdays. (For this alone it may be argued that Macron had played it this way.)&nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">Amazingly the Gilets-Jaunes won more concessions from the government than any trade-union or opposition party for decades.</span></p><h2><strong>The Two Frances</strong></h2><p>The current discord in France is not about immigration, but money and status. For decades successive governments have driven economic deregulation while distributing welfare to the bottom end of the social scale.&nbsp;</p><p>The squeezed middle paid revenue and kept their lips shut (an estimated ten million people). This evolved alongside the isolation of suburban and rural spaces and resulted in the emergence of ‘The Two Frances’. Hiding this national social fracture has been ‘Europe’ – an increasingly unsure ideal fused indubitably with global neo-liberalism. Macron’s ambition for a post-national European sovereignty and a multicultural France is considered with suspicion in the poorer regions. Hyper-centralisation in the internet age and the fusion of regions into super-regions under François Hollande resulted in the dislocation of thousands of public servants. Income inequality and status depreciation in the face of new wealth have been the results.&nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">The current discord in France is not about immigration, but money and status.</span></p><p>Two decades ago, the philosopher Marcel Gauchet warned that the greatest threat to multicultural France was that nobody had bothered to debate its effects on democracy<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/submission/frances-great-debate-overview-of-yellow-vests-protest-and-emmanuel-macrons-proposed-great#_edn3">[iii]</a>. Today the country is a multicultural society but without a reformed democracy. That’s why ordinary people stand at roundabouts wearing fluorescent jackets: They want to be seen and what they are talking about listened to. They refuse any form of representation, which is their great strength and weakness too.</p><p>Recently political scientist Pierre Rosanvallon described populism as ‘a political form that is, for the moment, the sole response to the problems we face in the world today’<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/submission/frances-great-debate-overview-of-yellow-vests-protest-and-emmanuel-macrons-proposed-great#_edn4">[iv]</a>. This form uses bits from the Right and pieces from the Left to develop an incoherent narrative against the status quo. The first successful populist is Emmanuel Macron himself. His ‘start-up’ election and his positioning in ‘the centre’ was managed on a digital platform by a small core of friends from the Grande Ecoles and Tech corporates like Apple.&nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">Macron lacks such roots in regional France unlike all previous Presidents.</span></p><p>His party LREM is an eclectic ferment of mostly better off middle-class executives. LREM constituency politicians are rigidly ‘whipped’ by Richard Ferrand, an ‘old dog’ of the Socialist Party’s tribal politics whose fiefdom is in Brittany’s heartland. Macron lacks such roots in regional France unlike all previous Presidents. He is isolated in the Elysée palace and so needs to win back trust (his IPSOS popularity rating dropped to 20% in December but so did that of all other political actors).</p><h2><strong>Great debate <em>between</em> citizens</strong></h2><p>Now he’s sent a letter to every citizen asking them to participate in a citizen’s debate about the future of French democracy. It is to be organized across the land until March. The letter is interesting because Macron poses no less than thirty questions to the citizen. What might a citizen do if she was to find themselves in his position? The agenda gives four themes: purchasing power, the role of the State, ecological transition and citizenship including immigration quotas. The president admits there are subjects such as taxing the super-rich he is not going to allow onto the agenda. &nbsp;His described the debate in these words:</p><p><em>‘This debate is neither an election nor a referendum. It’s your personal expression of your own story, your opinions, your priorities that is being sought without distinction of age or social situation. It is I believe a great step forward for our Republic to consult its citizens in this way.’&nbsp;</em></p><p>Will the debate get consensus from the multitude of opinions to be expressed? What limits will be accepted, and what mechanism will record consensus? The dissolution of the traditional Right/Left party divide leaves the President in a rocky place. How will they take part in the national debate? Does it not undercut the agonistic role of the Assemblée Nationale?&nbsp;&nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">What limits will be accepted, and what mechanism will record consensus?</span></p><p>The Yellow-Vests are a bottom-up, eclectic social movement. The debate will differ from those of the Italian 5-Star Movement’s digital platform that was managed top-down. The debate overseen by the State is between citizens and not between citizens and the government. This is a risky and complex proposition. Visionary, if it creates a new communicative civic space for the Twitter age. A debacle, if those well-funded lobby groups succeed in monopolizing the debate for their champions.</p><h2><strong>High stakes&nbsp;</strong></h2><p>Last weekend, I watched one of France’s popular chat shows hosted by Cyril Hanuna. Hanuna speaks his audience’s rough<em>banlieu</em>language. For nearly two hours everyone gave their opinion about the arrest of a gilet-jaune champion boxer. He’d hit a&nbsp;<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compagnies_R%C3%A9publicaines_de_S%C3%A9curit%C3%A9">CRS member</a> in defence, he says, of a woman who was being beaten up. Why was the boxer hero of the gyspy community in custody while the cop who’d assaulted an arrested black protester was free?&nbsp;</p><p>Over a hundred thousand euros were collected online for his legal fees. The debate was accompanied by phone videos showing poorly-trained police using rubber bullets indiscriminately. Once the President’s name was mentioned gross imprecations were hurled. Hanuna responded that incidents concerning the boxer and the CRS officer were not the same in the eyes of the law. But you wouldn’t think many in the studio accepted this constitutional distinction. For them the enemy was the power incarnate of the president-monarch. The security force is his lacquey. What’s dangerous for the great debate is having no red lines for this tribal cynicism and hatred for all authority.</p><p>Despite this, Macron’s Great Debate should challenge French civic society to innovate and find ways to make people’s daily worries matter. Already there have been the usual blunders that have eyes thrown to heaven. The first coordinator Chantal Jouanno prompted understandable outrage at her 14,OOO euros monthly salary. The debate will be organised at local commune level with a procedure for individuals and civic associations to speak at scheduled meetings. (For those interested you’ll get details in French&nbsp;<a href="https://granddebat.fr/">here</a>).&nbsp;</p><p>In one of the first surveys carried out, one in two French citizens want to participate<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/submission/frances-great-debate-overview-of-yellow-vests-protest-and-emmanuel-macrons-proposed-great#_edn5">[v]</a>. The stakes of the debate are very high both for Emmanuel Macron and for French democracy. The rest of Europe will be watching and hopefully learning from its results.</p><hr size="1" /><p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/submission/frances-great-debate-overview-of-yellow-vests-protest-and-emmanuel-macrons-proposed-great#_ednref1">[i]</a>&nbsp; &nbsp;The geographer Jacques Lévy has spent a lifetime exploring territory and mobility. These&nbsp;<a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289537543_Critical_review_Jacques_Levy&#039;s_working_papers_on_spatial_justice">essays</a>&nbsp;provide an overview of what a just or equitable territory is.</p><p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/submission/frances-great-debate-overview-of-yellow-vests-protest-and-emmanuel-macrons-proposed-great#_ednref2">[ii]</a>&nbsp; &nbsp;This&nbsp;<a href="https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mouvement_des_Gilets_jaunes_en_France">Wikipedia</a>&nbsp;site gives stats and details.</p><p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/submission/frances-great-debate-overview-of-yellow-vests-protest-and-emmanuel-macrons-proposed-great#_ednref3">[iii]</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;See this&nbsp;<a href="http://gauchet.blogspot.com/2006/03/dbat-gauchet-debray-cherchons.html">conversation</a>&nbsp;between Marcel Gauchet and Régis Debray back in 2002.</p><p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/submission/frances-great-debate-overview-of-yellow-vests-protest-and-emmanuel-macrons-proposed-great#_ednref4">[iv]</a>&nbsp; Pierre Rosanvallon interview France Culture radio January 5th 2019. See also his important book ‘<a href="http://www.seuil.com/ouvrage/notre-histoire-intellectuelle-et-politique-pierre-rosanvallon/9782021351255">Notre histoire intellectuelle et politique 1968-2018’</a></p><p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/submission/frances-great-debate-overview-of-yellow-vests-protest-and-emmanuel-macrons-proposed-great#_ednref5">[v]</a>&nbsp; <a href="https://www.opinion-way.com/">Opinion Way Survey</a>,&nbsp;14/01/2019.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/philippe-marli-re/yellow-vests-or-discrediting-of-representative-democracy">The yellow vests, or the discrediting of representative democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/etienne-balibar/gilets-jaunes-meaning-of-confrontation">‘Gilets jaunes’: the meaning of the confrontation</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/bernard-dreano/yellow-fever-in-france">Yellow fever in France</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> France </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU France Peter G Collier Thu, 17 Jan 2019 07:58:28 +0000 Peter G Collier 121309 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Can we please learn from history? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/anatol-lieven/can-we-please-learn-from-history <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In their enthusiasm for a new cold war against China and Russia, the western establishments of today are making a mistake comparable to that of their forbears of 1914.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-39640340.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-39640340.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Beach drawing of war poet Wilfred Owen during commemoration at Folkestone of 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. Steve Parsons/Press Association. All rights reserved</span></span></span></p><p>This year saw the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, in which some 16 million Europeans died, two great European countries were destroyed, and others crippled. This year may also be seen by future historians as the last year of the period between the cold wars, when after 29 years of relative quiet, the world's major powers once again moved into positions of deep and structural mutual hostility.</p> <p>The First World War also engendered the dreadful scourges of Communism and Nazism, and thereby led to the Second World War, which very nearly finished off European civilisation. As a result of these catastrophes, almost all of the political and cultural elites that led their countries into war in 1914 were swept away, and in the Russian and Austrian cases, destroyed. Historians differ concerning the precise balance of causes and of blame for the disaster of 1914, but on one thing all are agreed: nothing that the great powers could conceivably have gained from going to war remotely compared to what they risked losing. <span class="mag-quote-center">Nothing that the great powers could conceivably have gained from going to war remotely compared to what they risked losing.</span></p> <p>During World War I, the British and French, later joined by the Americans, portrayed the war as one of civilisation against German barbarism. One hundred years later, one can certainly say that on balance the British and French systems were better than the German; but one must also admit that an Algerian subject of the French Empire or an African subject of the British Empire might have a different perspective – and also that the Russian Empire made a pretty odd member of a supposed alliance for democracy. </p> <p>Above all, as it turned out, the real barbaric threat to European civilisation did not come from any of the European ruling establishments of 1914. It came from the hatreds and tensions generated within European societies by the social and economic changes of the previous decades, which the war then released. One of the reasons why the conservative elites of European countries before 1914 encouraged aggressive nationalism in their societies was because they thought that this would divert mass support away from socialism, and thereby preserve the old European order. They were most disastrously mistaken.</p> <h2><strong>Graver threats</strong></h2> <p>I fear that in their enthusiasm for a new cold war against China and Russia, the western establishments of today are making a mistake comparable to that of their forbears of 1914, and that the historians of the future will judge us by a similarly harsh standard. This is not primarily because of the threat of world war, but because this new cold war is serving – and in certain quarters is deliberately intended to serve – as a distraction from vastly graver threats which will eventually overwhelm us if they are not addressed. </p> <p>Existing western political elites (on both sides of the political divide) are desperately unwilling to address these threats, because this would involve radical changes to their existing ideological positions.&nbsp;In their obsession with their own righteousness and civilizational superiority, the western elites are also falling into the moral trap warned of by Hans Morgenthau (a cold warrior who opposed Soviet aggression, but also a German Jew deeply acquainted with the civilizational fantasies that had helped bring on the disaster of 1914-18):</p> <blockquote><p>“Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe...&nbsp; the light-hearted equation between a particular nationalism and the counsels of Providence is morally indefensible, for it is the very sin of pride against which the Greek tragedians and the Biblical prophets warned rulers and ruled. The equation is also politically pernicious, for it is liable to engender the distortion in judgement which, in the blindness of crusading frenzy, destroys nations and civilizations.”</p></blockquote> <h2><strong>Anti-Russian regimes</strong></h2> <p>The historians of the future may also note the multiple ironies involved in the idea of the USA leading a new "league of democracies" against an "authoritarian alliance". In Asia, of course, this anti-Chinese alliance would include as key members Vietnamese communists, murderous Filipino authoritarian populists, and above all Indian Hindu neo-fascists. Even in Europe, the most bitterly anti-Russian regime – that of Poland – is also the one that in its authoritarianism and cultural nationalism is in fact ideologically closest to Putin! In the USA, we may devoutly pray that in 2020 Trump will be defeated and replaced by a more convincing leader of the "free world". On the other hand, all the evidence now suggests that in 2022, France will elect a president from the National Front.&nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">Does anyone who has interviewed the "Yellow Vests" in France seriously think that they are acting as they do because of manipulation from Moscow?</span></p> <p>Even if they do not lead to catastrophic war, diverting domestic discontent into external hostility very rarely works, because of course the factors that created the discontent remain unchanged. Does anyone who has interviewed the "Yellow Vests" in France seriously think that they are acting as they do because of manipulation from Moscow? Does anyone who has seriously studied the crisis of the white working classes in the USA (Robert Putnam or Thomas Frank, for example) write that the reason that they have voted for Trump is because they have been swayed by Russian propaganda? </p> <h2><strong>Rising death rates</strong></h2> <p>The people who claim this would do better to address a much more important link between developments in Russia and the USA, and a far more important contribution to the rise of Putin and Trump: the rising death rate among working class males in Russia in the 1990s and the USA in recent years, for the same reasons: diseases and addictions fuelled by economic, social and cultural insecurity and despair. In Central America, a far more terrible version of these pathologies is driving millions of people to seek to move to the USA, driving in turn the radicalisation of parts of the US population; yet total US aid to Mexico in 2017 was less than that to Ukraine or Egypt, and a fraction of that to Afghanistan. Does any truly responsible national establishment neglect its own neighbourhood in this way?</p> <p>Looming behind these problems is the even graver danger of climate change, which threatens damage to the USA and the West incomparably greater than anything that the Chinese or Russian governments could or would wish to inflict. In a tragicomic irony, amidst the hysteria over a minor clash between Russia and Ukraine in the Sea of Azov, and barely noticed by most of the US media, there was one example of close US-Russian co-operation: the US and Russian governments combined to block adoption of the latest UN report on climate change.</p> <p>This is not to say that there are not real threats from Russia and China, and real areas (notably trade) where the USA needs to push back. But these are all in the end limited issues, which are either negotiable or containable. None of them &nbsp;justifies trying once again to restructure the national strategies and institutions of the USA and Europe around the principle of a cold war. <span class="mag-quote-center">None of these issues justifies trying once again to restructure the national strategies and institutions of the USA and Europe around the principle of a cold war. </span></p> <p>If Khrushchev had not transferred Crimea from the Russian Soviet Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in 1956, everyone would recognise the Sea of Azov as Russian, and this issue would not even exist. In the South China Sea, the USA is pushing back against China in the name of an international Law of the Sea which the USA itself does not recognise. If the Chinese were ever so mad as to use their position in the South China Sea against US trade, the US Navy could block Chinese trade to the whole of the rest of the world. And so it goes.</p> <h2><strong>Sarajevo</strong></h2> <p>There were of course deep factors pushing the European states to war in 1914. The one that actually led to war however was Serbian nationalist claims to Austrian-ruled Bosnia, leading to the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. It seems highly probable that not one in a hundred of the British soldiers who died in the First World War had previously ever heard of Serbia's claims, or of Sarajevo. In the name of God, let us not make this mistake again.</p><p><em>This article was <a href="https://nationalinterest.org/feature/western-nations-are-repeating-mistakes-1914-39522?page=0%2C1">originally published</a> in </em>The National Interest <em>on December 22, 2018. </em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/pierre-schori/fateful-issue-in-sweden-s-autumn-election-was-nuclear-weapons">The fateful issue in Sweden’s autumn election was nuclear weapons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/torgeir-e-fj-rtoft/on-failures-of-western-russia-policies-and-what-to-do-about-th">On the failures of western-Russia policies and what to do about them</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Russia </div> <div class="field-item even"> China </div> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> UK </div> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? United States UK EU China Russia Conflict International politics Anatol Lieven Wed, 16 Jan 2019 14:27:44 +0000 Anatol Lieven 121304 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What does the unprecedented Brexit defeat of the UK government mean? https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/into-vortex <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We are headed into the vortex</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="AB"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screenshot 2019-01-16 at 09.59.03.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Screenshot 2019-01-16 at 09.59.03.png" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="AB">It was the oddest ‘historic’ day in Westminster politics. What was really unprecedented about it – and in this sense genuinely ‘historic’ – was that a hugely important decision was not taken. The country’s leaders declared in the most resounding fashion that they could not make up their minds! </p> <p class="AB">The prime minister, Theresa May, responded to the landslide rejection of her negotiations by saying, "It is clear that the House does not support this deal. But tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support”.</p> <p class="AB">The near identical point had just been made by the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, in his summing up. Foreseeing the defeat of the premier’s proposals he stated, “it is not enough for this House to vote against the deal before us and against No Deal. We also have to be for something”.</p> <p>But what is the House of Commons for, what does it support? </p><p>Corbyn emphasised that MPs had “to consider all the options available”. </p><p class="AB"><em>openDemocracy</em> readers around the world are not the only ones to find themselves baffled as to what is going on.</p><p class="AB">The crux of the problem is that the leaders of both the government and opposition want, sensibly, for the UK to remain a trading partner within the EU’s regulated space. At the same time they don’t want the UK to be governed by it. The result is an irresolvable tension. Because they cannot resolve, it could tear the political system apart.&nbsp;</p> <p class="AB">This is Jeremy Corbyn attacking May’s deal last night: “The vague Future Partnership document says it: ‘can lead to a spectrum of different outcomes… as well as checks and controls’. There is no clarity whatsoever. And there is not even any mention of the ‘frictionless trade’ promised in the Chequers proposals. The former Brexit Secretary promised a ‘detailed’, ‘precise’ and ‘substantive’ document. The Government spectacularly failed to deliver it. So I confirm that Labour will vote against this deal tonight because it is a bad deal for Britain”.</p> <p class="AB">But Theresa May was merely keeping her options open for the future trade agreement. </p> <p class="AB">For his part Corbyn wants a deal that ensures the UK stays in the EU’s Custom Union, one that will also, “guarantee our participation in European agencies and initiatives. Losing this co-operation undermines our security, denies our citizens opportunities, and damages our industries”.</p> <p class="AB">In which case, what is the point in leaving? </p> <p class="AB">A question that right-wing pro-Brexit commentators have raised in objecting to May’s approach. </p> <p class="AB">So there is something very uncanny about the impasse. At the heart of a massive typhoon of a crisis are two leaders who seem personally rather similar in their inflexible commitment to being half-in and half-out. </p> <p class="AB">Nor do either the prime minister or the leader of the opposition back the obvious solution for their immediate problem.</p> <p class="AB">For May, this is to amend her deal by saying it has to be ratified by the voters in a referendum or we stay. This simple move would enable her to put her deal, which she says delivers the “instruction” of the voters, to the voters themselves to confirm that it does indeed do so. Thus amended her deal would immediately command a majority, if a small one, in the Commons. </p> <p class="AB">All Corbyn needs to do is… exactly the same. Put aside his once convenient but now implausible notion that he could negotiate a better Brexit and propose an amendment to May’s deal that it must be backed by the people, or the UK stays in the EU. He might not get a majority for this if the government opposed it, but he might.</p> <p class="AB">Of course, in any such referendum May would be advocating her deal and Corbyn would support staying in, so the same amendment would not bring them together. </p> <p class="AB">However, they are united in resisting a new referendum or People's Vote. Some people say it is because Corbyn is a Brexiteer. Others say May is committed to her deal and won’t risk its fate in a public vote. I suspect something else is at work.&nbsp; </p><p class="AB">For the key to understanding Brexit is not to think that Brexit is about Brexit or the realities of Europe and the UK’s relationship with it. </p><p>It is about Britain and how the country is ruled and its political culture and self-regard. </p><p>At the centre of this for both May and Corbyn is the Westminster system in which they have spent their lives. Each believes in it and senses that institutionalising referendums ends the sanctity of its sovereignty. Neither liked the 2016 referendum itself. Both seek to “respect” its outcome not because they thrill to its democratic audacity but because they want to limit its impact and redirect energy and public loyalty back into the House of Commons. </p><p>For example, their supporters say that to even risk going back on the decision of the 2016 referendum would lead to a "loss of trust". What they mean is that they do not trust the people but want the people to trust them. Far from embracing the democratic radicalism of the moment, they want to shore up traditional form of winner-takes-all power and the UK's very centralised forms of&nbsp; government, albeit for contrasting social and economic objectives. Foolishly, they think that "delivering" on the result of the referendum will re-establish the battered authority of Parliament.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">"they do not trust the people but want the people to trust them"</p><p class="AB">But there is an additional twist that makes this a genuine drama for the sustainability of the system as a whole. </p> <p>For the divisions over ‘Europe’, which are in reality over what it means to be ‘British’, run more deeply through the Tory party than in Labour. The Corbyn leadership’s strategy is to encourage the division of their opponents so as to wreck the Tories and inherit power long-term as they implode. But this is a risky precisely because Brexit is not about Brexit. It isn’t a policy, as many Labour figures seem to think, when they compare it to the divisions over the Corn Laws over which the Tories split in 1846 for a generation. A binary decision has to be made by them as well, one that has profound cultural and class consequences from which Labour as we know it may well not emerge either way. </p><p>By taking a traditional, parliamentary approach Labour may in fact blow up themselves. They are not going to easily survive a ‘no deal’ their approach makes more likely. Article 50 is like an anvil, it forces Britain out of the EU on 29 March unless the Commons can agree on a course of action. Meanwhile the Trump administration is like a hammer, backed by Murdoch’s Sun, driving the Brexit ultras on. They know what they want. Time is on their side. </p><p>The Brexit ultras may be a minority but they can only be frustrated by opponents who also know what they want and will fight for it by persuading voters to change their decision. There is no other way of staying in or now it seems half-in the EU. But England, unlike Scotland, does not yet have a coherent, positive leadership that could win a new referendum with the necessary élan – just outstanding individuals, above all Caroline Lucas. If May and Corbyn, the two main party leaders and their teams, stay opposed to a new referendum they won't be able to match the force of the hard Brexiteers. Equally stubborn, mutually uninspiring and jointly parliamentarian, May and Corbyn are taking the UK into the vortex. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/trumps-visit-marks-start-of-shock-doctrine-brexit">Trump&#039;s visit marks the start of shock doctrine Brexit</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/caroline-lucas/how-do-we-ensure-that-project-hope-overcomes-project-fear">How do we ensure that Project Hope overcomes Project Fear?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk UK Democracy and government Brexit Anthony Barnett Wed, 16 Jan 2019 03:34:07 +0000 Anthony Barnett 121301 at https://www.opendemocracy.net An Englishman, a Scotswoman and Irishman talk about Brexit https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/anthony-barnett/englishman-scotswoman-and-irishman-talk-about-brexit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Fintan O'Toole, Lesley Riddoch and Anthony Barnett grapple with the 'Strange passions of Brexit'. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><iframe width="460" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lOSj6WYCiEU" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture"></iframe></p><p>Many outside the UK are baffled by what is going on with Brexit and the cultural implosion that seems to be taking place. This short discussion may help. It is not about policy - instead it addresses the strucure of feeling in England. On Friday 11 January, an <a href="http://www.theconvention.co.uk/">emergency Convention</a> on a People's Vote over Brexit and how to 'Think Anew, Act Anew' was held in London, convened in just over a week by Henry Porter. It was opened by <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/caroline-lucas/how-do-we-ensure-that-project-hope-overcomes-project-fear">Caroline Lucas</a>, whose powerful message set the direction of the day. A sequence of panels of often young speakers set a new spirit for popular opposition to Brexit. Videos of all the sessions can be <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLsTjk0TnUbc_Wn4R4IcaJA/videos?view_as=subscriber">watched here</a>. I was fortunate enough to be on a panel with Fintan O'Toole, author of <a href="https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Fintan-OToole/Heroic-Failure--Brexit-and-the-Politics-of-Pain/22970459">Heroic Failure</a>, chaired and moderated by Lesley Riddoch, author of <a href="https://wordery.com/blossom-lesley-riddoch-9781912147526?currency=GBP&amp;btrck=TkVsZFgyVDlaZ1FMRVRpT3RNVE1MbjFIQllhaGpKQ0owY1lSeVRjcDFaV2l5eHh1eVgrUUZCMnYrNXhjUHZWSA&amp;utm_source=bing&amp;utm_medium=cpc&amp;utm_campaign=ShoppingGB&amp;msclkid=a0143c66cb7c17970052605b310c431f">Blossom, what Scotland needs to flourish</a>. She got us to tackle some of the issues closest to the bone, not least the nature of the English support for the Brexit vote and its relationship with Britishness and Europe.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/think-anew-act-anew-convention-on-brexit-and-peoples-vote">Think Anew, Act Anew: a Convention on Brexit and a People&#039;s Vote</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/caroline-lucas/how-do-we-ensure-that-project-hope-overcomes-project-fear">How do we ensure that Project Hope overcomes Project Fear?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? uk Anthony Barnett Tue, 15 Jan 2019 15:24:44 +0000 Anthony Barnett 121295 at https://www.opendemocracy.net More World: can communal practices save the planet? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/krystian-woznicki/more-world-berliner-gazette-project <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Climate change, migration and digitalization are three of the greatest challenges in the current phase of globalization. How can we rise to them? asks the Berliner Gazette. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Imagen8.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Imagen8.JPG" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Zapatista Women.</span></span></span></p><p>Offers to escape the complexities of globalization are ubiquitous. Especially in weakened, crisis-ridden or authoritarian democracies something that could be called <em>globalization escapism</em> is becoming increasingly popular, while the state as a self-sufficient and encapsulated shelter is promoted as a fantasy refuge. </p><p>The proliferation of nationalist right-wing populism in the global public sphere aggravates this dangerous escapism. Though this may seem pretty obvious, the consequences are however less perceptible, requiring more attention. The escapist tendency, that, following Hannah Arendt, could be called “Weltentfremdung” (alienation from the world), shrinks access to the world. The result is a shrinkage for all of us in access to <em>the world as it is, </em>as well as access to <em>the world as it could be</em>. This has particularly strong affects on marginalised, invisibilized and illegalized actors. But the privileged are also affected: persons with unlimited legal status, access to higher education systems, jobs subject to social security contributions, and so forth.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>This development makes the escapist fantasy untenable, forcing us sooner or later to develop a new sense of reality and a new love for the world. The question arises, to what degree can the state function as a shelter at all? Whoever asks this question needs to face up to and affirm the complexities of globalization in the first place, and needs to find ways not to see these as <em>threats</em>, since this triggers paranoid defense mechanisms that have devastating consequences. </p> <p>Instead, we need to see the complexities that are becoming increasingly visible in the course of globalization as <em>challenges</em> to be tackled cooperatively by all of us – privileged and dispossessed alike. The MORE WORLD project proposes that these challenges can be overcome neither by the nation state alone, nor without it. Rather, the challenges should be approached by combining communal, state and global structures. </p> <p>The MORE WORLD project suggests starting at the micro level, that is, exploring communal practices and tools that are potentially useful for the multi-layered interplay of communal, state and global structures. To this end, the project will focus on such exemplary complexes produced by and productive of globalization, as climate change, migration and digitalization, which the Berliner Gazette (BG) intends to relate to one another as <em>interconnected planetary challenges</em>. </p> <p>In its twentieth year, BG calls for exploration of the complexities that populisms are currently attempting to ignore in particularly damaging ways. Firstly, the fact that the state is not only permeable to cross-border movements, but always tries to make them productive in order to secure its continued existence. Secondly, the fact that our societies have always been richer, meaning more diverse and more heterogeneous, than any single and dominant notion of social life could project. In other words, the We has always been more rich than homogenized images of ‘society’ – nowadays turning to extremes due to right-wing populisms – would have us believe. Hence we are challenged to make this repressed richness of the social world visible, especially those other ways of living and working together at the communal level that forge tools for planetary challenges arising from within the world-shaping process called globalization. </p> <p><strong>Call for Contributions:</strong> <em>The BG’s 20th anniversary project MORE WORLD invites you to explore together communal tools for planetary challenges. To this end, the BG will create a special section in the Internet newspaper berlinergazette.de which will be open for contributions from all over the world. Moreover, we will organize a series of events. Further information on that can be found on this website: <a href="https://more-world.berlinergazette.de/">https://more-world.berlinergazette.de</a>&nbsp; If you would like to learn more about the project’s questions and ideas, please continue reading here.</em></p> <h2><strong>Climate change, migration, digitalization</strong></h2> <p>Today, climate change is one of the most pressing planetary challenges. It appears to be something that surrounds, envelops and entangles us, but it is literally too large to be seen and understood in its entirety. While climate change seems to be intangible, nowhere and everywhere at the same time, it is linked to everything and everyone, not least to migration and digitalization. The millions of people who are fleeing their homes in the Global South are ever increasingly on the run due to climate change and related disasters. Research has also provided initial insight into how global warming may already influence armed conflict. So, increasingly, mass movements of migrants and refugees are also fleeing their devastated homes and destroyed life-worlds because of wars breaking out due to climate change, such as in the Syrian conflict. There is more to come. And we must prepare ourselves for further entanglements. We also need to take notice of further interdependencies, which are becoming more complex and dynamic, for example, in the wake of digitalization.</p> <p>Digitalization is an ongoing worldwide process, including the expansion of cloud infrastructure: the installation of fiber optic cables, the erection of data centers and server farms, etc. This infrastructure has a geopolitical dimension that is rarely discussed, which materializes itself at border controls, in immigration decisions or drone attacks, and is also linked to global warming. The political geography of cloud infrastructure transcends the sovereignty of nation-states and apparently also suspends the responsibility of nation-states for the influence of cloud infrastructure on global warming. </p> <p>Meanwhile, higher temperatures cause stress for cloud infrastructure, while an incessant increase in ‘cloud activities’ leads to higher temperatures through the rising heat of server farms, etc. In the midst of this environmental infrastructure crisis, political spaces are emerging in which civil and human rights are muddled and seem to be criss-crossed. The people most affected by this are those who wish to assert their right to freedom of movement. Thus, migration is becoming a ‘risk game’ in which markets and states that want to benefit from the ‘mobile workforce’ shift the risk solely to those who are among the most vulnerable in this ‘game’: refugees, asylum seekers, paperless and stateless persons, etc. </p> <p>How can cloud infrastructure be appropriated by existing networks of solidarity? How can we find ways to make heavier the apparent ‘lightness’ of cloud infrastructure that accelerates climate change and passes judgment on people’s lives? How can cloud infrastructure be undermined and replaced by alternative communal structures that, last but not least, can also support vulnerable people on the move? What kind of communal practices and tools are useful for the interplay between communal, state and global approaches to the planetary challenges at hand? </p> <p>These are far-reaching questions. But we need to get started somewhere. If we want to meet the complexities of globalization at the height of their current development, we must first recognize that climate change, migration and digitalization are interlinked geopolitical complexes that can only be managed appropriately if tackled by an interplay of communal, state and global organizational structures. </p> <p>But this is easier said than done. After all, escapism abounds. In the course of this, access to the world is shrinking – to reiterate, not only to the world as it is, but also to the world as it could be. This world shrinkage has two interconnected dimensions. Firstly, complex problems such as <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_denial">climate change are suppressed</a>. Secondly, the diversity of the social, as it also arises in the course of migration, is suppressed. Everything is supposed to become clear and easily manageable – could that ever be the case? </p> <p>That’s highly doubtful. After all, the problematic complexities at hand are brought about by the diversity of the social and vice versa. This said, complex problems cannot be overcome without the potential for social diversity. Therefore, it is vital to create new accesses to the We, which always also means creating new forms of access to the world – and vice versa. </p> <h2><strong>The destructive false frontline of right-wing populism</strong></h2> <p>Today, we cannot avoid taking note of the damage caused by populism to any emancipatory endeavor. But we should not stop here. Populism’s agenda should not devour too much of our attention and energy. After all, we need enough strength for our own agenda. <span class="mag-quote-center">Populism’s agenda should not devour too much of our attention and energy. After all, we need enough strength for our own agenda. </span></p> <p>First, to populism.<strong> </strong>Nowadays, the most dominant form of populism is nationalist right-wing populism. It is spreading rapidly in countries as diverse as Hungary, India, the USA, Turkey, Japan, Brazil and Germany. Where it finds supporters, simple solutions to complex problems are promised. This deceptive formula for success conjures up a homogeneous and authoritarian nation-state as a shelter, ignoring the fact that the nation-state has for centuries been a catalyst for the expansion of transnational networks and traffic flows. So this also obscures the fact that the nation-state has always played a decisive role in globalization. In other words, right-wing populism is suppressing the fact that the nation-state has crucially contributed to the production of planetary problems. In conjuring up the phantasm of the nation, the nation-state has even been responsible for some of the most atrocious crimes in human history, for example those committed in the process of colonization. </p> <p>By blocking out the ways in which that the state has created the conditions for globalization, nationalist right-wing populists simultaneously suppress the fact that the state produces exactly those complexities and problems whose consequences they want to hide away from inside the ‘sheltering state’.<em> </em>This irreconcilable contradiction is systematically suppressed by nationalist right-wing populists today. As they spread their misleading propaganda ever further afield, the suppressed is discharged into increasingly threatening energies. We already see, for example, the hounding of ‘the others’ of society, the ostracizing of ‘unhomogeneous alliances’, and the self-destruction of societies as in the case of Brexit. In the course of this we risk a regression into fascism as the proliferation of public debates on the subject, for example under the heading of “neo-fascism”, also reminds us. </p> <p>Following the line of thought of the Frankfurt School, they give us the following to think about: fascism is driven by a kind of lack of courage. First of all, a lack of courage on the part of those who join the fascists out of fear of the fascists, but also a lack of courage on the part of all those who are afraid to face the richness of the world in all its entanglements and complexities. At the beginning of this tendency stands escapism: the right-wing populist renunciation of global interdependencies and transnational obligations, i.e. of the complexities of economic and ecological, technological and cultural globalization. </p> <h2><strong>The distinction between nationalist and revolutionary politics of affect </strong></h2> <p>In shrinking the world and the access points to the world, an escapist renunciation is sanctioned by forms of irrationality that are being legitimized by the nationalist right-wing politics of affect. What is particularly telling about this tendency is, that it is not enough to appeal to the reason of those who have apparently gone mad. Ultimately, the escapist renunciation of planetary interdependencies goes hand in hand with the revival of proto-fascist ideas of white supremacy (e.g. Trump, Orban, Gauland), and also with the revitalization of an idea of rationality – born inside the European Enlightenment-colonization-complex – that ultimately enforces white supremacy.</p> <p>World shrinkage and alienation from the world are forms of escapism that are performed in an ecstasy of irrationality or an excess of this reason that stands under the sign of white supremacy. What today haunts the public sphere as disinhibited resentment is often an example of both:&nbsp; the ecstasy of irrationality and the excess of reason informed by notions of white supremacy. </p> <p>These processes vitalize a nationalist right-wing politics of affect, and discredit in the same breath other affect-driven social movements, as recently celebrated, for example, in the public debate using the case of the indignados in Southern Europe. The discrediting of such revolutionary politics of affect is at issue for various reasons, one of which is: nationalist and revolutionary politics of affect appear increasingly indistinguishable to the general public, so that revolutionary politics of affect seem to be robbed of their claim to be historically right and truthful. </p> <p>This sets the stage for a paradoxical predicament.<strong> </strong>Today, the rise of nationalist right-wing populism is creating conditions in which the broader spectrum of revolutionary politics is being delegitimized, while the ‘irrational’ agenda and doings of the nationalists and the extreme Right appear legitimate and rational. </p> <p>In this political climate the public sphere is being severely constricted, catalyzing a far-reaching shrinkage of the world (that is always also a shrinkage of the We) and contributing to shutting down the public discourse for opposition, for dissent and, above all, for the greatest possible plurality of contributions to the discourse; the latter would also include marginalized, invisibilized and illegalized actors, for whom discursive openings generally tend to be less secure than for others. <span class="mag-quote-center">The incessant creation of an open public sphere – open for dissent and, above all, for the greatest possible plurality of contributions – has always been the vital basis of any democracy.</span></p> <p>Needless to say, the incessant creation of an open public sphere – open for dissent and, above all, for the greatest possible plurality of contributions – has always been the vital basis of any democracy; yet, remarkably, it is in this historic moment, in Europe, in the USA and beyond, that it takes the greatest collective courage to step forward to perform any basic democratic engagement and to live the richness of the We as it is and as it could be. We are hereby challenged to explore how this courage can manifest itself productively. </p> <h2><strong>Who needs blocked access to the world anyway?</strong></h2> <p>Before we explore and search, it is first necessary to note critically that ‘the courage for democracy’ and ‘the courage for the We’ are often limited to the self-defense of the privileged – those ‘at the center of society’ composing ‘the majority of society’: persons with unlimited legal status, access to the higher education system, jobs subject to social security contributions, etc. Unsurprisingly, their self-defense is highly problematic, as it is complicit with the proto-fascist tendencies nurtured by right-wing populism. </p> <p>For instance, the privileged are claiming, not without good reason, that ‘the nationalists are threatening the achievements of liberal democracy’. Yet, they do not bother to ask who remained and remains excluded from those very ‘achievements’. Instead, they take as the only measure of the threat those who have benefited from them and who now seem to be benefiting less in terms of freedom, security, influence, status, etc. </p> <p>In remaining focused on their own certainties – often mirrored in their fixation on the nationalists – the privileged ultimately support the currently dominant tendency, normalized by nationalist right-wing populism, of sanctioning the relating of all precarious developments exclusively to oneself, rather than to others. <span class="mag-quote-center">The privileged are claiming that ‘the nationalists are threatening the achievements of liberal democracy’. Yet, they do not bother to ask who remained and remains excluded from those very ‘achievements’.</span></p> <p>This has particularly grave consequences, as the real threat of shrinking discursive-political accesses to the world is not so much to the privileged, as to those who are truly vulnerable: the marginalized, invisible and illegalized actors, including stateless persons or people of color, as refugee activist Jennifer Kamau reminds us.&nbsp; </p> <p>Therefore, if we are now to demand MORE WORLD, we must do so <em>for and with</em> those who – according to nationalist right-wing populist propaganda – allegedly are of no concern to us, and who allegedly should be ignored, excluded or even killed. But we also demand this <em>for and with</em> the privileged. They too need more access to the world as it is and as it could be. Because – and this is the crux of the matter – only if, together, we all create and deploy more access to the world can we constructively meet planetary challenges.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>Unshrinking the We</strong></h2> <p>Today, we are challenged to reverse the trend towards world shrinkage. We have to create conditions for <em>more world</em>, which, in the sense of Hegel's “positive infinity”, should always mean ‘ever-more world’. In other words, we need to create conditions for an infinite <em>more </em>of the riches of the social world, which have been forcibly suppressed or fought against under white supremacy and its white, male rationality. </p> <p>Consequently, we need to enable and support the recognition of other ways of thinking, living and working together, and ultimately, of other politics of affects that are practiced day in, day out in the shadow of hegemonic discourses on the micro-level of the communal. Moreover, we need to support the visibility of those actors at the communal level who arrive at globalization as responsible contemporaries by recognizing and dealing with global dynamics without necessarily declaring themselves as political actor models. </p> <p>After all, it is these actors, rising to their status as actors from within global dynamics, in the very networks and movements that hold our societies together in tension and conflict, who are, in the course of this, critically analyzing and modeling the handling of these complexities as an interplay of communal, national and transnational approaches. All of this also means supporting the visibility of practices that are deploying communal structures and connecting them with state and global structures to tackle global challenges. </p> <h2><strong>Utopian margins</strong></h2> <p>One important source for this endeavor is Avery F. Gordon’s “<a href="https://www.fordhampress.com/9780823276325/the-hawthorn-archive/">The Hawthorn Archive. Letters from the Utopian Margins</a>”. This impressively kaleidoscopic and genre-bending book is based on research that Gordon began in the 1990s on utopian traditions that have been systematically excluded from the western canon. Organized in the form of an archive of actual and fictional experiences of living and working differently, Gordon’s book makes a vast array of “subjugated knowledge” (Foucault) visible and available for appropriation. <span class="mag-quote-center">Here, those who were struggling for the Commons (and against enclosures) in seventeenth-century England are a major reference point for a variety of other movements.</span></p> <p>“The Hawthorn Archive” unearths neglected utopian traditions that are less about some distant future place that would have to be built according to people’s ideals, and much more about living and working differently in the here and now. Here, those who were struggling for the Commons (and against enclosures) in seventeenth-century England are a major reference point for a variety of other movements, including those who struggled for the abolition of the slave trade and slavery in the Americas and those who struggled for decolonization in the Global South. </p> <p>Needless to say, these struggles are still taking place. Making their history accessible by raising documents not as witnesses but rather as voices, makes it possible to situate contemporary struggles in a wider context and to understand how to detect them in the present. After all, aren’t many of the contemporary practices of living and working differently at the communal level simply taking place, rather than being declared and recorded as explicitly political, not to say utopian, projects? These undeclared acts tend to be overlooked when we are collectively making sense of the world in general and globalization in particular. The richness of communal practices remains buried in the “utopian margins”, as Gordon puts it.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <h2><strong>Rebooting the commons question</strong></h2> <p>When probing the potential richness of the communal in the present political climate, it is compelling to take a closer look at the 1990s, that is, at the official beginning of the most recent chapter of globalization. Comparing our present moment to the 1990s, we may ask what constitutes continuity, repetition and difference? </p> <p>One thing is certain: the by-now largely forgotten social movements that emerged back then were challenged, like we are today, to position themselves at various fronts at the same time and to develop new alliances along the way. For instance, they had to position themselves in a doubly antagonistic fashion – both to globalization <em>euphoria</em> (apropos ‘global triumph of the free market and liberal democracy’) and to globalization <em>phobia</em> (see, for example, the rise of international right-wing populism or racist-motivated attacks on asylum centres in Germany). </p> <p>Since movements of the 1990s cultivated a critical distance to the tendency of ‘irrational’ reactions to globalization, this critical distance enabled an <em>analytical clarity</em> that could prove vital vis-à-vis the ‘false clarity’ incited in the currently ‘irrationally’ heated right-wing populist climate. In this sense we could approach the critical movements of the 1990s as buried toolboxes to be unearthed in this historical moment. We could inspect them as to how they realized key political practices, above all making possible a revival of the practice of the Commons: the local self-administration of resources and livelihoods that are increasingly being destroyed or privatized in the course of neo-liberal globalization, which has kicked off a new phase of enclosures. </p> <p>Around the Commons question, ways of living and working together at the communal level were cultivated that were at once local and global. No wonder: after all, these were movements of the early Internet era. Ushering in forms of collective imagination and cooperation across borders, their actions were driven by something that activist and scholar Angela Davis calls “hyper-empathy” – an empathy that enables solidarity beyond the limits of the nation-state. </p> <p>In the course of this, alliances were formed between the Global North and the Global South and between the West and the East, the former, for example, in the case of movements as different as Zapatism, No One Is Illegal or Afrofuturism; the latter, for example, in the case of net activism or cyberfeminism. </p> <p>Not least, the interplay of municipal, state and global structures could be tested in seminal ways. A particularly dazzling example of this would be the Zapatistas. In order to organize their livelihoods communally, the Zapatistas claimed regional autonomy, appealed to the rule of law and cultivated international solidarity networks – all in the shadow of and in resistance to the predatory doings of private-sector and governmental global players. <span class="mag-quote-center">In this sense we could approach the critical movements of the 1990s as buried toolboxes to be unearthed in this historical moment… What can we – the privileged and dispossessed alike – learn from their failures? </span></p> <p>Resisting idealizing them nostalgically, we could rescue these approaches from the shadows of the utopian margins, thereby making their subjugated knowledge about communal practices visible and putting the usefulness of this knowledge for today's situation up for discussion: How did the movements of the 1990s model the communal and, more generally speaking, the We in relation to state and global structures? What lessons do they offer for today's (planetary) challenges at the intersection of climate change, migration and digitalization? What can we – the privileged and dispossessed alike – learn from their failures? </p><p><em>Please note that many people who photograph the EZLN do so anonymously and make their work sharable for non-commercial use. Such is the case here, so we do not have credits to attach.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><strong>Getting involved:</strong> Learn more about how to join Berliner Gazette’s 20th anniversary initiative on communal tools for planetary challenges - #climate change #migration #digitalization – on <a href="https://more-world.berlinergazette.de ">this website</a>. </p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sylvia-marcos/zapatista-women%E2%80%99s-revolutionary-law-as-it-is-lived-today">The Zapatista Women’s Revolutionary Law as it is lived today</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/martin-winiecki/sacred-activism-movement-for-global-healing">Sacred activism: a movement for global healing</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/rosemary-bechler/creativity-must-operate-across-borders">Creativity must operate across borders</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Conflict Democracy and government Ideas International politics Internet Krystian Woznicki Mon, 14 Jan 2019 10:41:37 +0000 Krystian Woznicki 121278 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The fateful issue in Sweden’s autumn election was nuclear weapons https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/pierre-schori/fateful-issue-in-sweden-s-autumn-election-was-nuclear-weapons <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As we await the formation of the new Swedish government this week-end, one overriding issue and far too narrow an escape consumes the thoughts of an elder statesman.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Daniel_Ellsberg_(15800531795).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Daniel_Ellsberg_(15800531795).jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Daniel Ellsberg, whistleblower and peace activist. Wikicommons/Christopher Michel. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>After long and hard negotiations to form a new government following the September elections, it now seems that we will get a continued Social Democratic/Green government&nbsp;supported by the Left Party and, more importantly, now also supported by Liberal and Center parties which broke away from their former coalition with the Moderate/ Conservatives and Christian Democrats (in what was called the ‘Alliance’).&nbsp; </p> <p>It has taken all this to isolate the xenophobe Swedish Democrats (who got 17 % of the votes) which with some success flirted both with the Conservatives and the Christian Democrats. This means that compromises were made on both sides, mainly by the parties in government together with the Liberals and the Center party.</p> <p>If&nbsp;this is confirmed&nbsp; – probably at the latest on Monday, after intense internal party meetings over this weekend, it will be the first time in recent European history that, what we can call "the politically decent centre" has taken up a fight with the xenophobes rather than including them in some kind of cooperation.&nbsp;We have seen the negative effects of the latter strategy in Denmark, Finland and Norway among others.&nbsp;</p> <p>Yeats' 'Second Coming' springs to mind here of course:</p> <p>"Turning and turning in the widening gyre<br /> The falcon cannot hear the falconer;<br /> Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;<br /> Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,<br /> The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere<br /> The ceremony of innocence is drowned;<br /> The best lack all conviction, while the worst<br /> Are full of passionate intensity.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>So, we keep our fingers crossed and wait for the final outcome Sunday or Monday. In particular, because the fateful issue in Sweden’s autumn election was nuclear weapons.</p> <h2><strong>Fateful elections</strong></h2> <p>Last summer, just before the election fever started to rise, an old friend of mine told me he had made a decisive decision. Based on his own dramatic life experiences and as a likely last-time voter, he had asked his children and grandchildren how he should vote. It was their future that was at stake, not his.</p> <p>Suddenly the election campaign took on a deeper meaning for me. My mind flew back to another fateful election, in the early 1960s, when the issue of a Swedish nuclear weapon was under consideration.</p> <p>In favour of the bomb at the time were the Conservative Party and Commander-in-Chief Torsten Rapp. Social democracy was cautious, while a broad public opinion mobilized against. In the end, Prime Minister Tage Erlander, a Social Democrat, realized that possession of a nuclear bomb would make Sweden a target and drastically reduce our security.</p> <p>On August 6 this year, the world commemorates the memory of the 212,000 men, women and children who died when American nuclear bombs were released over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even today, hospitals in Hiroshima treat radiation-damaged people and find new diseases in survivors and their children.</p> <p>And the nuclear powers are now investing in more "efficient" atomic bombs. Today, there are nearly 15,000 nuclear warheads. Of these, 1,800 stand ready to be fired. Their explosive strength equals 50,000 Hiroshima bombs.</p> <p>The scientists behind the Domesday clock, which is updated according to how close the planet is to a nuclear war, had issued a warning. Only at one earlier time had the clock been closer to midnight – in 1953 when both the United States and the then Soviet Union tested nuclear weapons.</p> <p>When we went to vote in September last year, the atomic bomb was once again at stake, with the threat of a dramatic shift in security policy. A shift that would have severely limited our foreign policy freedom of action, increased Sweden's insecurity and, moreover, opposed a strongly-held public opinion.</p> <p>This was about Sweden's role in the fight against the new nuclear arms race and about membership of NATO, issues that are organically intertwined. Initially, these fateful issues received little space in the election debate, despite the fact that one never-ending story in bourgeois and military circles is the unlikely threat of a unilateral Russian invasion of Gotland, that has to be addressed, it is argued, with the help of US marines and the super-expensive, failed American Patriot missile system.</p> <p>But the system change was to be sneaked in, under the citizens' radar. The party headquarters involved had all seen the people's verdict : a devastating majority had supported the government's declaration of their intention to vote for the UN Convention on the abolition of nuclear arms. According to the opinion institute Sifo in October 2017, almost nine out of ten Swedes were in favour. Resistance to NATO was also clear: 44 per cent said in January 2018 no to membership, an increase of 4 per cent since 2017, 31 per cent yes.</p> <p>But with their no to the UN Convention and yes to NATO, the bourgeois parties in the Alliance ignoring this, pulled the atomic bomb into the election campaign. In a Moderate party motion to the Riksdag, "Security Policy for Sweden", they insisted that Sweden must create a road map for NATO membership and that Sweden's defense expenditure should increase, approaching the 2 per cent of GDP that was NATO's goal.</p> <p>It is no wonder that Trump insists that NATO should contribute more. The US military budget is 3.5 percent of GDP, that is, $ 600 billion, which is 10 times more than Russia's. </p> <p>But the 2 percent is not just for being able to operate in Europe, it is also money that enables the United States to conduct unbridled&nbsp; wars, assisting Saudi Arabia and Israel militarily, and maintaining nearly 100 military bases across the globe.</p> <p>Why in the world should Sweden participate in this? Our one-percent peace-promoting and conflict-prevention civilian assistance is far more effective than NATO's two percent military upgrading.</p> <p>The motion protested against the government's intention to ratify the UN Convention as "something that risks jeopardizing Sweden's defense policy cooperation". The same language was deployed by the rest of the Alliance. </p> <p>What had happened to Torbjörn Fälldin's and Karin Söders Center party, once a staunch defender of our military non-alignment? In 2010, Annie Lööf motioned that "the Swedish government together with our Nordic neighbors should work to make the Nordic region a nuclear-free zone". Same thing in the Nordic Council 2011.</p> <p>But now she was the leader of the Center Party and had joined the conservatives in not wanting to sign the UN treaty.</p> <p>In other words, the Swedish bourgeoisie had given up decades of Swedish struggle for a nuclear-free world, accepting NATO's nuclear weapon doctrine and the Pentagon's illusory nuclear umbrella. What can an umbrella achieve against the annihilating rays of death?</p> <p>Was the future security and independence of Sweden now to be deposited in the hands of the Pentagon?</p> <h2><strong>Nuclear-free zones</strong></h2> <p>Sweden has long argued that unless the nuclear weapon states live up to their obligations of mutual disarmament, other states are encouraged to acquire the same weapons. Unfortunately, this is what has happened. From the original five nuclear states, we now have nine, which, in the words of Olof Palme, hold the rest of the world hostage.</p> <p>For these reasons, Olof Palme and Ingvar Carlsson, both Social Democratic prime ministers, pushed the demand for a nuclear-free zone in the Nordic region. They wanted to see an "unrestricted nuclear-free zone" in and around the Baltic Sea, as a process and a way to reduce the militarization in our part of the world."</p> <p>The "increased tension" in the Baltic Sea, which is so often used as a reason for NATO membership, gives the zone idea a new topicality. "Unrealistic", claim the Nato proponents. </p> <p>But what is the breathtaking crisis triggered by North Korea and the United States about? Well, about a nuclear-free zone on the Korean Peninsula!</p> <p>The eight nuclear-free zones set up so far include 120 states plus 18 other territories and just over half of all the land of the earth. They&nbsp; represent a tangible evidence of the will of the global majority.</p> <p>We are embarking on a collective suicide if we hand over the responsibility of working for a nuclear weapons community to Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin, Benjamin Netanyahu and the other five nuclear weapons holders. Take for example, the idiocy of providing smaller and “more accurate” nuclear weapons which we hear coming from both the Kremlin and the White House, without apparently taking into account all the evidence that this leads – falsely – to a perception that nuclear weapons can be treated like “ordinary” weapons, unlike the sui generis monstrosities which they are.</p> <p>We cannot build lasting welfare under a nationalist glass lampshade. Inner peace is connected to the peace outside.</p> <h2><strong>My vote</strong></h2> <p>So how would I vote? At the time, I felt strongly that Sweden’s election process was part of a much larger context. It had not been Olof Palme who had brought me into politics: it was the atomic bomb. But it was Palme who had shown the way, with courage and concrete initiatives.</p> <p>Prime Minister Stefan Löfven had explained earlier in 2018 how "nuclear weapons are the single biggest threat to our common survival". Foreign Minister Margot Wallström followed up in that year´s foreign debate in Parliament: "The risk that nuclear weapons can actually be used is currently judged to be greater than in a very long time. Passivity is not an option".</p> <p>At the same time, the Government's message was obscured by the one-man commission on the pros and cons for ratifying the UN treaty that was due to report back after the election. Was it reasonable to put the political solution to such a fateful decision into the hands of one solitary diplomat? </p> <p>The first vote of my lifetime had been driven by political passion. My choice this time was burdened by angst, but also by the realization that the most effective way to prevent a nuclear apocalypse is to abolish these doomsday weapons.</p> <p>I thought of the Swedish poet Harry Martinson's despairing warning in his space poem Aniara (1956): that man on earth risked "becoming his own executioner", from whom "God and Satan, hand in hand" would flee.</p> <p>The choice was then for me above all a position for military non-alignment and a nuclear-free world, against all nuclear weapons, its alliances and its defenders.</p> <p>We cannot, after all, flee the atom bomb in the election booth!</p><h2>Postscript</h2><p>The annual Olof Palme Prize is awarded for an outstanding achievement in the spirit of Olof Palme, chosen by the Fund’s Board, chaired by Pierre Schori. The Prize is 100,000 US dollars.</p> <p><strong>The 2018 Olof Palme Prize goes to Daniel Ellsberg </strong></p> <p><em>“for his profound humanism and exceptional moral courage”.</em></p> <p>Motivation:<em> When Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst and the world’s most important whistleblower, exposed the U.S. Government’s secret plans for Vietnam in 1971, he was well aware of risking a long time in prison and a spoiled career.</em></p> <p><em>Regardless of such consequences, his decision led to the removal of a&nbsp;&nbsp; mendacious government, a shortening of an illegal war, and an untold number of saved lives.</em></p> <p><em>More than four decades later Daniel Ellsberg again takes on the Pentagon´s secret war plans. He warns us of a nuclear holocaust, caused by the refusal of the nine nuclear states to comply with the binding commitment of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to further the goals of a nuclear-free world.</em></p> <p><em>The 2018 Olof Palme Prize goes to Daniel Ellsberg for his profound humanism and exceptional moral courage.</em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sweden </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? EU Sweden Conflict Democracy and government International politics Pierre Schori Sat, 12 Jan 2019 15:31:03 +0000 Pierre Schori 121269 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How do we ensure that Project Hope overcomes Project Fear? https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/caroline-lucas/how-do-we-ensure-that-project-hope-overcomes-project-fear <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Caroline Lucas’s speech to The Convention: Think Anew, Act Anew,&nbsp;Another Vote is Possible, London, 11 January 2019</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/caroline lucas.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549093/caroline lucas.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="291" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Caroline Lucas speaking at the Convention on a second EU referendum, 11 January. Credit: Stefan Rousseau, PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>It’s a pleasure to be here today, and to welcome you all to this Convention. I want to start by saying a huge thank you to everyone who has made it happen at such short notice.</p> <p>And - perhaps more unexpectedly - I also want to say a genuine thank you to the 17.4 million people who gave the Establishment such a well-deserved kicking in 2016.</p> <p>Thanks to you, the crisis at the heart of our democracy – and the intolerable levels of inequality and insecurity experienced by so many – can no longer be ignored.</p> <p>The place that we’ve been brought to by the outcome of the referendum is difficult, dangerous and divisive. But we mustn’t let that obscure the truth, or distort our analysis. Many people took&nbsp;the question they were being asked to mean “Should the country go on being run in the way that it is?’ And they voted “NO!” with a collective howl of rage.</p> <p>That response was justified then - and it’s justified now. For some, it might have been mixed up with fear, even bigotry, and an impossible longing for the past. But there was - and is - a core message at the heart of the Brexit vote. That the status quo in this country is intolerable for huge numbers of people. That the social contract is broken and the power game is rigged.</p> <p>It is right and reasonable to be furious.</p> <p>The questions we must ask going forward have to start with that acknowledgement. And with a powerful commitment not even<em> to try </em>to go back to the way things were. </p> <p>There has to be something better. Better than both the inequality and the powerlessness we’ve been grappling with for decades and that still haven’t been resolved - a democratic failure as well as an economic one.</p> <p>So throughout today, I want us to address three key questions.</p> <p>First, how do we address the very real grievances that led so many to vote for Brexit in the first place? Those living in communities with proud histories, but which have been hollowed out by de-industrialisation and decades of neglect, compounded in recent years by an ideologically driven assault on public services in the name of austerity? </p> <p>Second, how do we make staying and fighting for the Europe we want a pathway to change - to a society that isn’t just less grim than what we have now, but is genuinely fair, green and fulfilling? How do we inspire people with a vision of the way membership of the EU can make a positive and practical improvement to their lives? How do we ensure that Project Hope overcomes Project Fear?</p> <p>And third, how do we renew our democracy? How do we genuinely take control? Shift the framework entirely and hand power to people not just for one vote, but forever, so that our country can unite around a new settlement that gains popular consent across the Brexit divide?</p> <p>Today is about changing the conversation about Brexit. It’s about moving forward - humbly, positively and with hope. </p> <p>And it’s about putting young people, those who will be most affected by Brexit, at the heart of all we’re doing.</p> <p>Change <em>is</em> coming, one way or another. Let’s think anew and act anew. Let’s shape it together.</p> <h2>The causes of Brexit</h2> <p>And let’s start with some honesty about the real causes of Brexit. Because telling the truth is what sets us apart from the populists - the political insiders who dress up as rebels, and use Europe to distract from their own failures.</p> <p>People were, and are, angry and frustrated for many reasons. And they can, at least partly, be summed up in the words of the inimitable Russell Brand: </p> <p>“People saw a bright red button that said <em>Fuck Off Establishment</em>, and they pressed it.”</p> <p>For many, there was a genuine sense that <em>any</em> change was better than the status quo. That they had nothing left to lose. The tragedy, of course, is that they do and likely will. </p> <p>Particularly those least equipped to cope.</p> <p>Concerns about access to housing, jobs, and the NHS are real and have to be addressed. </p> <p>And so too do concerns about migration. Changing the Brexit conversation means proudly celebrating free movement - and the opportunities it’s given to individuals and to our country. </p> <p>It was not just a political failure, but a moral failure, that saw the Remain campaign hide away from talking about migration in 2016 - preferring instead to bandy about economic threats, rather than engage in a serious debate on this pressing issue.</p> <p>It also means making those opportunities of free movement genuinely available to <em>all </em>- when for vast swathes of people today they’re not even imaginable. </p> <p>But we must also be very honest with people about free movement. I’ve heard some Remainers say we should re-negotiate it, ask the EU for an exemption if we’re to remain.</p> <p>That’s simply not going to happen, and it would be an utterly perverse thing to demand from Brussels. Because we know that migration has been a good thing for Britain - but not everyone has felt those benefits. And big changes to our communities can be frightening, especially when they happen fast. We can’t shy away from these concerns. </p> <p>And we must also act anew by hearing very carefully when they are caught up with something else. Fuelled by anger at being ignored and neglected. At the failure of successive governments to deliver&nbsp;jobs and other opportunities. A future for communities – <em>any</em> kind of future, let alone a better one.</p> <p>The tragedy, of course,&nbsp;is that Brexit would actually make it harder to address all of these problems. Not least because - under every single Brexit scenario - there would be less money available to repair and rebuild the social fabric that has been so viciously torn apart.</p> <p>Britain has become a place of grotesque inequalities. Not just between classes, but geographically between regions, especially between North and South; and between thriving cities and failing towns within the same region. </p> <p>Last year, the Commission on Social Mobility identified the 30 worst ‘coldspots’ for social mobility - and every single one of them voted to Leave. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Shamefully, levels of interregional inequality in the UK are 50% higher than in similar-sized economies such as France and Germany, a third higher than Italy, and almost twice as high as Spain. Income levels in London have risen by a third since the financial crash - but fallen - yes, fallen - by 14% in Yorkshire and Humberside.</p> <p>Nor is growing inequality on its own the full story of the economic injustice people experience. It’s accompanied by acute insecurity. A huge rise in debt, a loss of long-term prospects, affects everyone. </p> <p>As inequality spins out of control, people in all classes feel helpless. That’s why the slogan “Take back control” had such resonance. It promised agency in a system in which the rich and powerful, who clearly <em>do</em> have agency, were telling us that the market rules, and there’s nothing anyone can do. In short, this is a country where what dictates your success isn’t how hard you work, or how much you care. It’s not your passion or your commitment.</p> <p>No. This is a country where your success is dictated by your postcode, the income of your parents, the year in which you were born. It’s a country of dead end streets for those with the least, and open highways for those with the most. The lie at the heart of the Leave campaign was that this downward spiral could be reversed by leaving the EU. </p> <p>We don't need to leave the EU. We need to think anew.</p> <p>We urgently need a new social contract: better jobs, high-quality public services, investment in the green economy, people of all backgrounds and communities treated with respect, and given the opportunity and the power to thrive.</p> <p>It's not enough to assert that EU migrants bring a net economic benefit to the country as a whole. That benefit needs to be felt in those areas that experience the greatest changes, with those communities coming together to decide themselves how to invest that funding. And to reverse the cycles of decline that blight so many parts of Britain, let’s make sure we transform the future with funding that delivers real opportunities and lasting hope.</p> <p>Thinking and acting anew to tackle inequality and insecurity can help heal our divided country. So too can an honest conversation about what we have in common. About a fairer, greener economy that works for us all but also a conversation about who we are as a country - and what we aspire to be.</p> <h2>Stay and fight</h2> <p>Those living in once proud communities that have been gutted often feel they have very little to lose. We need to give them something to <em>gain</em> from remaining in the EU. </p> <p>Likewise, the well-off in non-metropolitan areas who also drove this genuine nationalist vote. We all need a reason to think anew. To choose to stay and fight.</p> <p>The 2016 result should tell us that “project fear” won’t win people over. They want hope. If Britain voted again tomorrow, the demographics of this country would probably already have shifted in favour of staying in the EU. But that’s not enough. </p> <p>This isn’t just about winning at the ballot box. It’s about winning a different kind of shared future. To do that, we must urgently learn the lessons of the past. The mistakes of the Remain campaign mustn’t be repeated. Mistakes that meant the campaign was seen primarily as defending the status quo, with the political elite pulling the strings. A campaign that utterly failed to inspire any kind of connection with, or love for, the EU. Something worth defending – and yes, staying and changing too.</p> <p>To stand any chance of winning a People’s Vote, we have to abandon all association with a vapid centrism that has failed to deliver for so many people, and would fail again. </p> <p>We have to think and act anew. To start using the ideas and language <em>now </em>that will set the tone for a very different kind of referendum campaign. </p> <p>One that’s hopeful, inclusive, energetic and radical. One we can all feel part of and one that appeals to our hearts as well as our heads. That builds on the work of groups like Another Europe is Possible, Our Future Our Say, For Our Future’s Sake, and the nearly 200 local groups supporting a People’s Vote.</p> <p>That shows people - and young people in particular - that there <em>is</em> genuinely a diversity of voices championing our continued membership of the EU. I welcome the central role given to young people at today’s Convention. Let’s make sure we listen to those voices and that they are part of owning the way forward.</p> <p>And we need a referendum campaign that compellingly sets out what kind of EU we want. An EU of the people, an EU of solidarity. A vision that galvanises people to stay and fight, not walk away. One that’s positive about who we are as a country: our ambition and our courage.</p> <p>It was these values that helped create the European Union. That helped us emerge from the rubble and destruction of the Second World War into peace with our neighbours ever since – a miracle few would have dreamed possible when the bombs were raining down.</p> <p>The EU is the greatest international venture for peace, prosperity and freedom in history. Where in the world has there ever been a better example of collaboration in pursuit of such values? That astonishing achievement ought to be front and centre of the Brexit conversation – and it’s up to us to put it there.</p> <p>So too the social and environmental protections, and the remarkable gift of free movement – that precious right to travel and to work and to live and to love in 27 other countries. </p> <p>And so too, the good angel sitting on our shoulder when it comes to upholding human rights, the friendships across borders, the cultural opportunities, the life without fear and the solidarity.</p> <p>To have reduced all that to an argument about the cost of a trolley load of shopping was such a tragedy. Changing the conversation about Brexit has to mean moving on from the facts and the figures, and connecting instead with the feelings, hopes and dreams that will unite us. It’s got to be about who we are as a country, and how we want to be seen.</p> <p>Now you don’t need to tell me that the EU is imperfect – I was an MEP for 10 years! It is, at times, a highly political, top-down, opaque and technocratic set of institutions. One that, actually, could be made instantly more transparent and accountable by live streaming all meetings and publishing minutes,&nbsp;and key papers like trade negotiation documents.</p> <p>But here I want to challenge the media too. Not just those with an almost pathological hatred of the EU – but the Guardian, the BBC – the so-called mainstream, the so-called liberals. Decisions which are made in the EU affect us every single day, the laws that are passed make a real difference; our members of the European Parliament represent <em>us. </em>So let’s stop the fake news about straight bananas, let’s stop treating MEPs as though they didn’t exist, let’s talk about politics in the European Union whenever news is made, not just when Nigel Farage stands up and makes <em>another</em> speech attacking the European Commission.</p> <p>In the medium term, a Constitutional Assembly should be set up to examine the steps needed to democratise the EU – strengthening the role of the European parliament at the same time as respecting national self-determination. </p> <p>And longer term, the EU must dismantle the habitual domination of corporate power over the will of citizens, and re-politicise the rules that govern our single market and – for those countries that joined it – the single currency.</p> <p>Such reforms are long overdue and we shouldn’t be afraid to advocate changing the EU at the same time as fighting to stay part of it. </p> <h2>Democratic renewal</h2> <p>Transforming the EU into a beacon for democracy brings me to my third question – and the serious democratic deficit in our own country. Brexit laid bare the extent to which our governance structures are derelict.</p> <p>When citizens were deprived of a credible, representative power that clearly belongs to, or is accountable to them, it led to anger with the most remote authority of all. The EU was blamed for the UK’s structural elitism, and held responsible as the source of all powerlessness.</p> <p>Yet Brexit shows no sign of giving us back ‘control’ or changing the way we’re ruled. A People’s Vote should be the starting gun on the race to genuinely democratise the UK. Looking anew at the way Britain is governed, not just by the EU but by Westminster as well. </p> <p>We are one of the most centralised countries in Europe, with disproportionate power held at Westminster, and far too little in our regions and local authorities. Powers need to go back to the regions of the UK, where people have a better chance of influencing it. And, if the English want it, to England.</p> <p>The DUP’s sectarian interests in Ireland are a world away from the interests of Northern Ireland or modern Britain. The evolving views from Wales have been treated by this Government with contempt. And it is inconceivable that Remain-voting Scotland should be forced out of the EU against its wishes.</p> <p>Years of failure to engage with the need for overall constitutional reform has left us with an incoherent patchwork of piecemeal changes. If we’re to think and act anew, we must open up to new forms of power and politics – better distributed, more diverse, more strongly integrated, and more modern. Parliamentary sovereignty needs to be better rooted in the people.</p> <p>One of the best ways to “take back control” is to rid ourselves of a winner takes all politics, and an outdated electoral system that systematically shuts people out. 68% of votes cast in last June’s General Election were effectively wasted – they made no contribution at all to the distribution of seats. No democratic renewal is complete without proportional representation.</p> <p>And let’s seriously explore ideas like Parliament moving out of London to a city such as Leeds or Manchester – with the chance to rebalance our economy as well as our politics. The Palace of Westminster, Gothic, rat-infested, and crumbling into the Thames, has become a powerful symbol of political decay.</p> <p>If we mean what we say about changing this country for good, then why not make moving Parliament out of London the first in a series of changes which turn the UK into a 21st century democracy? Let’s learn from the inspiring way in which Citizens Assemblies have been used in Ireland, for example, to facilitate informed debate on contentious topics and build deep consensus and understanding.</p> <p>And let’s ensure that democracy can no longer be undermined by fake news and post-truth advertising by introducing new ground-breaking digital democracy laws.</p> <p>Though the Prime Minister would have us believe otherwise, we have a wealth of choices facing us right now. Amidst all the noise about the meaningful vote and parliamentary amendments, and whether to extend or revoke Article 50, it’s easy to lose sight of the much bigger choices we can make. The public want to take control – and we must start to deliver that with a People’s Vote.</p> <p>If we are to break the Brexit deadlock in parliament, we the people <span>must</span> lead the way. When Theresa May rules something out, it’s often a strong indication that it’s right around the corner. On that basis, a People’s Vote on her Brexit deal might be getting closer by the minute —</p> <p>So let’s not squander this moment. Let’s look ahead and build on the radical rejection of the status quo represented by the referendum outcome. A People’s Vote must look, feel like and reflect our wonderful country – diverse, raw, plural, noisy and, above all, run by and for the people. </p> <p>We’re told Brexit is the will of the people – but it’s relevant to ask ourselves the will of which people? Over 70% of voters aged 18-24 voted for Britain to remain, as did 62% of 25-34 year olds. No wonder it’s been called an “unforgivable act of generational theft”. So I say again, young people must play a leading role in the way forward – because they will live the longest with the consequences.</p> <p>And let’s make sure the voices of those who once supported Leave but reject Theresa May’s deal are heard too. </p> <p>Redistributing power fairly and equally must be both one of our objectives and integral to the way we operate ourselves. It means politicians like me must spend time far more time listening than talking too. That’s why I have pledged to actively seek out leave voters, listen to their views and identify what unites us rather than what divides us. </p> <p>Today I’d like to call on you to think anew and act anew by doing the same.<span></span></p> <h2>Changing the course of history</h2> <p>So in conclusion, I simply want to say that never in my lifetime has our future felt more uncertain. But when people come together and reach for a bigger future, we’ve shown we can change the course of history. We do that when we act with honesty, humility and courage. When we look for, and believe in, the good in others. In our shared hopes and dreams. </p> <p>I’d like to close by sharing some of Seamus Heaney’s words, from the wall of the General Post Office in Dublin, scene of the bloody 1916 Easter Rising. He has written:</p> <p>History says, don’t hope<br />On this side of the grave<br />But then, once in a lifetime<br />The longed for tidal wave<br />Of justice can rise up<br />And hope and history rhyme</p> <p>I believe this is one such moment, that another vote is possible and that, together, we can make change happen.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/think-anew-act-anew-convention-on-brexit-and-peoples-vote">Think Anew, Act Anew: a Convention on Brexit and a People&#039;s Vote</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/caroline-lucas/we-have-answers-to-brexit-s-causes">We have the answers to Brexit’s causes</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk Can Europe make it? UK EU Caroline Lucas Fri, 11 Jan 2019 12:13:50 +0000 Caroline Lucas 121260 at https://www.opendemocracy.net