“SOFIA” CLUB (All-European Initiative) DECLARATION – 29.05.2017
Important tectonic changes are happening in Western societies. Those changes reveal fundamental change in the instinctive perception of today’s reality both within great agglomerations and outside them.
Both Brexit and the result of the American presidential election are evidence of that. In both cases, the control of the elites over the population – mainly exercised through mainstream media – did not succed. The public has not gone in the direction favoured by the mainstream media. The media, too, weren’t able to predict or to note, at the time, the divergence from the direction they gave. These are all signs of a worrying absence of a positive feedback between the elites, the media and public opinion.
The recent presidential elections in France and Macron’s victory have shown that the ways of controlling public opinion are still able to function. A candidate invented at the last moment by the ruling elites (albeit being split internally), was carried to victory. However, despite the exceptional concentration of all power centres, official and in the media, the result could be achieved only, because the eventually defeated candidate was, in fact, a victim of a “cordon sanitaire” uniting all the traditional forces, left and right. Despite all of this, half the electorate did not follow this manipulation and either voted for Le Pen, or abstained, or voted with blank or spoiled papers.
In this sense, not even the French presidential elections of 2017 have refuted the existence of ongoing tectonic changes in European societies. The causes still need to be investigated further. What cannot be in doubt is the complex internal crisis manifested in various forms throughout the West. Its character is not yet understood and causes unprecedented disturbances among large masses of population. People realise, instinctively, that great issues remain unresolved, they begin to understand that the leaders aren’t able to solve those issues. People become sceptical of inadequate explanations they are given. They feel growing distrust towards the political class and treat the mainstream media with disdain. Not only does the media not tell the truth – they actively conceal it, showing a rich variety of deception.
This does not mean that Europeans have understood the causes. However, this is enough for a “cognitive dissonance” to appear, as a result of a growing contradiction between the description of reality given from above and the crude reality seen in everyday life.
Similar signs, with diverse manifestations of local experiences, are also appearing in Eastern Europe and new EU member states. The fascination with Europe is disappearing, often turning to distrust and even hostility. This is shown by the recent presidential elections in Moldova, by the relations between Warsaw and Brussels, Budapest and Brussels, by many analogous signs which influence Western and Eastern Europe, no less than Southern Europe. Everywhere, the number of Eurosceptics is growing. The new political organisations formed over recent years (UKIP in the UK, M5S in Italy, AfD in Germany) demonstrate this fragility and volatility. But growth does not happen, quantitative easing cannot last forever, the rate of employment is stagnating and even falling. Massive automation is to come, and it will reduce even further likelihood of painless solutions to the problem of unemployment. The middle class is suffering from a permanent decrease in their living standards. The “social contract” – which supported the Union and consisted of an exchange of promises on welfare – fulfilled – from above and votes from below – is not working anymore. The elites cannot honour this contract, and therefore the people are not ready to vote for them. The centrifugal forces are growing.
The answers from Brussels are ridiculously inadequate. Their arrogant response to the demands, if vague, for a radical change, is to accuse the people of “populism”. Misrepresenting and delegitimizing the demands for a democracy, transparency and fair government, they accuse people of some illegitimate, if not subversive, actions. The obsessive repetition of the derogatory term “populism” is a threat to the people.
We think, on the contrary, that the growing pressure from below should be encouraged and directed towards a deep democratic reform of the current European institutions. The institutions which are lightyears away from the ideas of the European Union’s founders. Those which have deprived the peoples of the forms of national democracy which they had used, for better or worse, to replace them with supranational institutions, lacking democratic legitimacy and fully subordinated to the powers of international financial capital.
The European Union goes through this systemic and multifaceted crisis without any uniting idea. In place of any dialogue, Russia became subject to daily criticism, accompanied by statements by many Euamerican elropean leaders, of disturbing predictions of a future, imminent aggression. Afterwards, they claim that to resist that aggression, it is necessary to multiply and intensify NATO’s military presence next to Russia’s borders. NATO continues its expansion by involving Montenegro and pressuring all the ex-Yugoslav countries to join. More and more explicit steps are made to make Ukraine join, too. In the latter case, it must be obvious even for the most naive observers, that NATO might provoke a very dangerous and unpredictable conflict situation with Russia.
The international situation is further complicated by the results of the American elections of 2016. Europe has been shown another face of America, very different from the one European leadership and mainstream media sold to the population. This is a face of a country torn and factionalized by internal cotradictions – possibly deeper than ever in its history, albeit not a very long one. This is a country uncertain of its future, in the face of an obvious economic and social crisis. But the Europe of today, instead of understanding the problem and assuming responsibility for contributing to its constructive solution, with the aim of worldwide peace, is virtually unanimous in supporting the caste which brought the US to this place. It does not admit the failure of globalisation’s philosophy; that casino capitalism does not produce growth, that neo-liberal recipes do not offer a solution, that the growth of the last two centuries cannot be sustainable and will bring about a collapse in ecosystems; that competition only leads to a war of everyone against everyone; that worldwide social injustice is leading to an abyss and inevitably produces social conflicts, authoritarianism and rivers of blood. The proposals from Europe are the same old globalisation, the same visions of a salvationary and “inevitable” technical progress, the same desire to homogenise nations and histories in a single global grinder, the same Market as the master of money, things and even thoughts, the ever more inhumane idea of “modernity” and an arrogant claim to dictate its laws to Nature.
There is no place for a human being in that picture. Even worse: those ideas (to the extent that these can be considered ideas) are impossible in practice. Those ideas of one seventh of the world population cannot be imposed on the remaining six sevenths. There is only one way to make them reality: it is war, violence. And the war, should it happen, will only produce a small group of victors and a destruction on a scale difficult to imagine.
One of the causes of this crisis is Western in particular. This is the inability, or unwillingness, of the Western elites to restrain from eurocentrism. We are still thinking (the European left, too, no less than the traditional right) ourselves to be the centre of the world. Currently this is obviously wrong. This non-realistic vision is the cause of all the tragic errors made in Europe and in the West. It impedes recognition of the diversity of Earth’s cultures, religions and traditions. It is both a fruit and a cause of globalisation, which pretends to homogenize all civilizations and to cancel the invincible diversity of the modern world.
There is an attempt – contrary to reality – to contrast uniformist globalization with isolationism and autarky. However, the facts are completely different. There is a rational and pacifist response, which substitutes “competition” (everyone’s struggle against everyone else) with “cooperation”, “respect” and “equality in diversity”.
The European Institutions are fruits not only of an extreme neo-liberalism, but also of the authoritarian idea of uniformity assured by the market. The reality contradicts this unhealthy perspective. The effect of this contradiction on the Western elites, in particular those in Europe, is a militaristic hysteria, intolerant and ever more aggressive. NATO became a focal point for the growth and self-reproduction of that hysteria. Leaving NATO becomes a necessary preliminary step for Europe to turn to a serious collective reflection on national sovereignty as a tool to protect peoples from the globalist alliance.
From here, the idea of a “European army”, to replace NATO, is slowly emerging. This project must be presented as an alternative. However, it requires a simultaneous review of the current concepts of collective security, and a review of the concept of the “enemy”. The European army cannot duplicate NATO, for that would only mean a monstrous growth in military expenditure, which is already excessive. The issue is also that the selected “enemy” – Russia (for now; China will be the next) is not an enemy, in fact. Finally, the global crisis requires us to understand that the world of tomorrow will be shaken by many menaces, not strictly military in their nature. Therefore, the European army must be formed in order not only to fulfil the tasks of military security, but, first of all, to protect the European population from various threats, already repeatedly predicted.
The ill-thought enlargement of the Union in the first decade of the century, aided by fatal illusions of the new members, has put together two Europes, with differing ideas and principles. In many cases those are not just different, but directly opposite. The modern Europe was born to overcome those divisions, which culminated in World War II. Germany, France, Italy have turned the page and shown an example of reconciliation, proposed, above all, as an Anti-Nazi durable project. The new member states, however, have no desire for such reconciliation. They have been forced to join, first, NATO, and then, the Union whose principles they do not share. They have brought with them a lot of anti-Russian revanchism and Cold War spirit, lacking connection with Anti-Nazi struggle or even openly sympathetic to Nazism. Already at the beginning, there appears a strong resistance to those ideas, albeit the most realistic and peaceful ones. From across the ocean, we hear an outcry combined with an insistent demand to enlarge national military budgets up to 2 % of GDP. This is – they say – to protect the West from an enemy, which is, effectively, the other six billion people. One can only conlude that it is necessary to reject from this madness.
We need a new Europe, one which corrects the grave mistakes committed in the course of its development up to now. And there aren’t only mistakes, but also deliberate attempts to hinder the fundamental idea of constructing a democratic, Anti-Fascist, sovereign Europe. It is time to change this situation and to turn to the original ideas. We need a Europe of peoples, returning to the roots of its democracy – the national roots. One cannot replace those roots with supranational institutions lacking both identity and soul, and based on bureaucracy without democratic legitimacy. This legitimacy can only be founded on the legitimacy of national democracies. The new supranational institutions need to enrich those historical roots, not replace or undermine them. They are in need of a new level of real democracy, still to be created. This is what those institutions haven’t achieved or understood. Therefore, the Council, the Commission, the Parliament aren’t legitimate. The treaties of Maastricht, Nice and Lisbon have been imposed from above and intended to serve the power, even domination, of the global financial circles. The disaster of Europe today, without principles or solidarity, is a fruit of “competition” and market, presented as unquestionable essentials, put above people’s will and feelings.
Therefore, we need a new Europe. It will not have the same geographical borders as now, since it is not obvious that all countries and nations share its principles. A Constituent Assembly, elected by the peoples concerned, will be needed to establish its basics. This assembly will have to create a genuine Constitution, which will overcome the limitations of an “international treaty” to become a basis for a proper Union. Such a Constitution must be approved not only by the national parliaments, but also directly by the people, through a referendum.
All this requires the conclusion that what the European Union and humanity needs today, far exceeds the framework of episodic measures of governance. Serious reforms are needed concerning the ways in which society is working. New priorities with much higher morality should come in place of the dominant and uncontrolled power of market forces. A philosophy based on competition, trampling public morality, must give way to social justice and peace.
- Giulietto Chiesa (Italy), MEP (2004-2009); President of the Alternativa political association
- Michel Collon (Belgium), journalist, director of the website Investig’Action
- Javier Couso Permuy (Spain), MEP, Group United Left
- Inaki Irazabalbeitia (Basque Country); MEP (2013-2014), Board member of the Aralar political party
- Dmitris Kostantakopoulos (Greece), journalist, writer, coordinator of the Delphi Initiative, redactor of the website Defend Democracy Press
- Kostadinka Kuneva (Greece), MEP, Group United Left Sergey Kurginyan (Russia), President of the Essence of Time political movement
- Anna Miranda (Galicia), MEP (2012-2013&2018-2019), Group Greens/EFA; Board member of the Bloque Nacionalista Galego political party
- Ghenadi Mitriuc (Moldova), MP, Socialist party group
- Oleksandr Moroz (Ukraine), Chairman, For Truth and Justice political party
- Janusz Niedzwiecki (Poland), Board member of the Zmiana political party
- Roman Pyskov (Russia), Institut for Socio-economic and political studies Foundation
- Roberto Quaglia (Italy), science fiction writer, Alternativa political association
- Dimitri Rempel (Germany), President of the Einheit political party
- Piero San Giorgio (Switzerland), writer, member of Alternativa association
- Bogdat Tirdea (Moldova), MP, Socialist party group
- Vasyl Tsushko (Ukraine), Vice-chairman, For Truth and Justice political party
- Hannes Wilhelm-Kell (Germany), Chairperson, Luzyska Alianca political party
- Zakhari Zakhariev (Bulgaria), Member of a National Council of the Socialist Party; President of the Slavyani Foundation
- Tatjana Ždanoka (Latvia), MEP, Group Greens/EFA, Co-chairperson of the Latvian Russian Union political party