This idea that some people in the European Left have, that you can somehow skip the nation-state and change things directly at the regional or even global level, without, for example, being bothered with winning elections at home – it’s wrong and dangerous. It could be the last nail in the Left’s coffin www.socialeurope.eu
Regarding Varoufakis’ movement, I don’t deny that totally rewriting the international system in a radical way would be great, and I think that is what we should aim for in the long run. But this idea that some people in the European Left have, that you can somehow skip the nation-state and change things directly at the regional or even global level, without, for example, being bothered with winning elections at home – not only do I think this is wrong, I think it is dangerous. It could be the last nail in the Left’s coffin. We have already lost terrain to the extreme Right all over Europe. The reasons for this are of course various, but it is partly because these movements and parties are the only ones who are willing to use the ‘n-word’: to speak of the ‘nation’. So unless we develop a progressive, well, a progressive nationalism sounds quite bad, so we definitely need to find a better word, but we have to develop a progressive agenda that understands that change – especially in the eurozone – must first happen at the national level. If not, we are doomed.
In what way?
I believe that today we are facing two scenarios. The first one is increased disillusionment, the increased feeling of detachment from politics caused by the technocratisation and centralisation of power at the European level, which will eventually obliterate what is left of even formal democratic processes. In many ways, this is the situation we are already in today. The second scenario is that the system simply breaks up: that the EU collapses under the weight of its own contradictions, inconsistencies and injustices. This collapse can come from outside, through a new financial crisis that the eurozone is unable to handle. Or it can come from below. Imagine that a truly right-wing, nationalistic party took power in one of the bigger European states. France is the most obvious example, with a Le Pen victory and a subsequent exit from the eurozone. If this happens, it could certainly bring the whole system down, and in that scenario the Left would find itself totally unprepared. Therefore I think the following: it is not so much about what we want anymore. About what would be the ideal solution. In many ways I agree with Yanis Varoufakis. What he suggests is the best solution: a federal system with a central fiscal authority that would support productive investment in each country and a policy of full employment while guaranteeing currency stability, and so on. Of course, a progressive, Keynesian eurozone would be fantastic. But we also need to be pragmatic. What are the chances of this happening? Or better, what are the chances of this happening peacefully? If anything, this is something that may come about after a crisis, after the eurozone, as it is constructed today, has collapsed.