Demise of the French elites
For the EU France is not one country among others. She neither belongs to the southern periphery such as Greece and Portugal, nor the peripheral centre like Italy. Paris used to be the union’s spiritus rector, its very demiurge. It was the French bureaucracy to forge the German-French axis, the European integration with the aim to build a supra-national regime of the capitalist classes. Together with their partners they wanted to institutionally strengthen themselves to wipe out the social and democratic gains achieved by the popular classes after WWII. The goal was a European quasi-state. In this way they wanted at the same time to control the stronger and potentially dangerous German neighbour. The formula: In exchange to adopting the German economic premises (which anyway have been congruent to the neo-liberal dogmas embraced everywhere), Germany was to accept a political condominium.
Until the outbreak of the crisis 2007/8 this concept seemed to operate well. But reacting to the acute crisis Berlin started to impose its recipes upon the other states. The single currency stripped Europe of the re-balancing mechanism of devaluation. But the EU, on the other hand, did not counter-act supporting its weaker regions as a state would be supposed to do: Berlin blocked guarantees for public debt, refused anti-cyclical fiscal measures, did not allow sufficient social transfers. Only in the moment of imminent collapse it eventually chose to step with smallest support possible. In this way the German oligarchy is pushing the EU into the abyss and driving a wedge between the national elites. The idea to build the EU as the common executive of the European capitalist classes did die. The full political impact and the resulting destabilisation of the French elites is yet to come.
Main victim of the Euro regime are the popular classes of Europe’s south. The main political loser is, however, the French state. He created this monster (and keeps endorsing it) while being devoured by its very creation. Hollande appears as the personified impotence.
Popular reactions are massive but cannot be impact institutionally in the same way as in other countries. France’s elites have armoured themselves with one of the most undemocratic electoral systems of the continent. But the loss of legitimacy not only of the political systems and its parties but of the entire state is tremendous.
The ascendancy of the National Front (FN) is expressing popular resentment and protest but at the same time serves as a security valve. Joël Perichaud, one of the organisers of MPEP, called it tri-partitism conceiving the FN as an integral part of the system. According to this evaluation Le Pen would be part of the “caste” as the Spanish Podemos movement is calling the entire political class of the system. We have some doubts as to whether this is really so clear-cut.
Programmatically the MPEP is focusing on the struggle for national sovereignty. They are, however, not longing to return to the rule of the national capitalist elites, but to enforce the interests of the popular classes, the majority of the population, thus establishing real democracy. The immediate measures: Exit from the Euro, the EU, NATO etc. Nationalisation of the banking system. Dismantlement of the financial markets. A public programme of investments for re-industrialisation. End the free trade regime and globalisation.
Grosso modo all the progressive anti-Euro movements across Europe converge in this programme. Jacques Nikonoff, spokesman of the MPEP, summarized it at the final rally: “Our European friends follow more or less the same path, although we only got to know each other recently. Eventually we thrive on the same contradictions within society voicing the interests of the popular classes.”
The Italian base unionist Fabio Frati, representing the “Left Co-ordination against the Euro”, said that the last resort of the Europeists is to conjure the past ghosts of nationalism having wrecked havoc on Europe for centuries. Actually the contrary is true: The German austerity dictate on Europe is more and more being rightly perceived as nationally motivated. It is a form of economic imperialism lacking accompanying imperial measures. The popular wrath is growing and will sooner or later come to the surface in anti-German eruptions. The EU eventually failed to deliver on its promise to homogenize Europe socially closing the gap between the centre and the periphery. On the contrary the EU and especially the enforced EU regime rapidly empoverishing the south are dividing Europe and fomenting new national conflicts within as well as outside the union (see the destruction of former Yugoslavia and now the Ukraine).
As foreign observer some very French idiosyncrasies can be recognised. Though difficult to understand for anti-capitalist forces from elsewhere, they underline that the formation is expression and product of the real historic movement.
Frati captured it in a nutshell: “We Italians always have been fighting against the state. But the French see that differently. They are obsessed with the central state.”
Anicet Le Pors, a former communist minister in Mitterand’s cabinet, for example bluntly refused federalism, direct and participative democracy, subsidiary etc. Certainly these concepts are not clear and indeed can be used by the elites for their ends. But the undeniable aspect that large sections of the popular masses and also parts of the educated layers are searching for alternatives to the rule of the oligarchy, which is less and less camouflaged by formal democracy, was not taken into account by Le Pors. There remains a canonized and hollowed tradition of the French revolution projecting onto the state the demand to express the “volonté générale” according to Rousseau – regardless of the fact that it is the state of the capitalists. Only when this general will all of a sudden appears to reside in Brussels, or worse, in Berlin, the scandal of the contradiction between claim and reality becomes big enough. Le Pors certainly does not represent the MPEP. For sure he does express a tendency in society which feeds also the anti-Euro movement.
Not much different is the question of “laïcité“. Given the overwhelming chauvinist anti-Islamic tide the need is felt to take a stronger distance from the position of large parts of the elites who do refer to secularism as well.
Very important were the contributions from Spain, Italy and Greece. In all those places the institutions are already eroded to an extent that potentially anti-systemic political protest movements are about to emerge and to surface.
Opinion polls attribute to Podemos in Spain to already rally a majority causing the “caste” to panic. By this notion Podemos refers to the political class regardless whether left or right. It is, however, to be noticed that its leadership nevertheless originated from the youth of the “United Left” (IU). Podemos sets all its fortunes on winning the elections therefore avoiding any radical and too clear positions. All the larger are the hopes of the popular masses projected upon Podemos.
Manuel Monereo Ortiz, a political leader rooted both in Podemos as well as in the IU, envisages a new democratic and federalist constitution getting rid of the post-Francist system all together. With changing relationship of forces a new approach towards left nationalism of Catalonians, Basques, etc. might become possible coalescing with them against the capitalist oligarchy, its Euro regime and the EU.
In Italy the sovereignist left is already organised by means of a coalition having played the role as an icebreaker. Today a radical change in public opinion against the Euro can be observed to the extent that elements of the old system attempt to recycle themselves by embracing these sentiments – most prominently the Lega Nord. Even prime minister Renzi is playing with this fire while his adversaries within his own party PD can no more defend the EU’s banner in the same uncompromising manner as before. Renzi will have a hard time to manage the unavoidable conflict with Berlin as he can neither move back nor forth. For open Quislings like Monti there is no more space but for a serious clash Renzi is not prepared either. Gambling at high stakes can lead to lose it all.
From Greece the “United Popular Front” (EPAM) was present. While sharing the general track described above, they strongly insist on overcoming the left-right pattern in order to garner the support of the popular masses.
Next European steps
What could be called popular sovereignist tendency across Europe shares the view that the historic left is at least in the same way responsible for the Euro regime as the historic right. We all refuse the “tactical voting” mechanism or what is called “anti-Berlusconite”: According to that line the neo/left liberal centre should be supported in order to mitigate the right wing threat. Actually the current social disaster was caused by the Euro regime which only opened the field on which the “social right-wing” has been growing. The “social right-wing” can only be taken on by fighting the Europeist and liberalist centre as the main enemy. Important parts of the lower class followers of the “social right-wing” need to be addresses and can be won back by means of a radical sovereignist and anti-capitalist programme.
It was decided to enhance the European co-ordination 1. As a goal it has been set to build a international association against the Euro and the EU and for the national sovereignty of the people.
- 1. Euro exit, Assisi declaration: http://www.antiimperialista.org/euro_exit