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The Importance of DiEM25 and its Core Dilemma

why we need a transnational leftist movement

Saturday 28 May 2016, by mond


The nation state is not the right framework where we can solve global problems

Most of the pressing issues of our time are global in its nature and can not easily be solved in small national environments. Not just because this issues are to big but because the global market puts national economies in a position where it is often an advantage for them to not solved this issue but make them worse. In a ‘race to the bottom’ countries lower their taxes in order to compete on the market and thus reduce the ability to provide necessary infrastructure, they lower their environmental and labor standards, etc, etc..

Thus in order to solve those problems we need to take the decision making on a larger level. The European Union would be a step into the right direction but unfortunately the EU has some serious democratic deficits.

So we need a movement to improve democracy in Europe without falling back to competing nation states. This is what DiEM25 is all about. Of course this is an ambitious goal. Without a large number of people behind that goal it is nearly impossible to do. This is why DiEM25 should not only consider itself a leftist movement but also has to be open to moderate conservatives and genuine liberals. This does not mean that we should stop to fight for left-wing goals for the next years. Of course we should be we should do this in other contexts: There are a enough political parties, groups and places where we as individuals can still do this. In this regard, the focus of DiEM should be on the single issue of improving democracy in Europe.

The core dilemma of DiEM

Now this leaves us with an other problem: In order to keep up the energy and motivation to change Europe we need some shorter easier to obtain goals and also we need to be involved in all the political struggles where the EU fails: The so called “Refugees Crises”, the horror of the TTIP/TiSA/CETA negotiations, the insane financial policy, etc, etc.. Only in the day to day struggles of politics are we able to pin-point the democratic deficits and renew our motivation to fix them. So we actually need to become a leftist movement involved in day-to-day politics.

This is, what i think, is the core dilemma of DiEM: To be a only a movement for changing democracy in Europe and on the other hand still a movement that has to some degree get involved in day-to-day politics, and on the way alienating potential allies in the fight for more democracy.

So I would not call this a dilemma when there would be an easy way to resolve this, but here are a few thoughts on how to deal with this:

First, I think the existing Manifesto does a good job of addressing the issue: While it takes stance on certain issues it still leaves the room open for all progressive people to unite behind it. After all: When we think about a new constitution for Europe: A constitution is not only a technical paper describing technicalities of a voting and decision making processes. An important part of each constitution is the “bill of rights” that grants individuals freedoms and rights. So at this point we already need more then an “neutral” political movement that is only concerned with the technicalities of better voting.

But the real chance of solving the dilemma is to become a backbone for other political groups and parties to organize their struggles within Europe. So far such a backbone does not exist yet. Neither the trade unions, nor the party of the European Left and not even groups like Attac have managed to build up a European network among their members and activists. So if such a network of activists could be built up this would be a real boost to all this political groups. Diem activists would not need to be in their as members of DiEM but could still use the network to interconnect political parties, trade unions and other activists. In doing so it can broaden the network of DiEM and helping to establish networks in those political organizations as well.

Along the way it provides motivation for DiEM Members to stay active within DiEM.

What are the main democratic deficiencies of the EU?

The EU is complicated. Decision making is an very complex process involving Commission, the Parliament and the Council. If in the end there are bad decisions and laws comming from this, for ordinary citizens it is not possible to pinpoint to who is responsible for it. To say: i voted for party X and party X messed up and this in the future I will no longer vote for party X but will try party Y instead.

So one key issue is to make the process easier. Which can only mean: much more power to the parliament and making the commission subordinate to the parliament. The council (which represents the national governments of the member states) should be more or scrapped or at least reduced to a body with only advisory function).

This would mean: majority for party X -> party X is responsible for all the crap that is happening without the need to closely monitor each and every decision making process.

Policy Laundering

Now of course this is would be just the opposite of what many critics of the EU (mainly from the right) are demanding. Those groups want to increase the power of the nation states which would reduce the power of the parliament and would keep the process extremely complex. Of course this is what the enemies of democracy want: Actually it is rather convenient for them to have such a complex process: This way it is easy to hide unpopular decisions: In Brussels they vote for all the crap that they are afraid to openly demand in their nation states. And when someone complains they say: “Oh we would want to do it differently but this and that is coming from the EU so way have to deal with it...” A process that is known as Policy Laundering. So for those in power it is rather convenient to keep the in-transparent and complicated process and the right-wing critics of the EU are doing their bidding.

The radical right

I think, that the fact that the radical right-wing is rising within EU is also a consequence of the democratic deficiencies of the EU: as explained above: when the people have no chance to understand who is to blame for a bad decision: Is it party X or party Y? Then they will tend to oppose the system as a whole and this is what the extreme right-wing pretends to offer.

Conclusions

So in order to get us out of the mess we need 2 things: A new radical left which offers an opposition to the status-quo from the left and also a constrictive center-left force that takes up the task of creating a blue-print for a new and democratic Europe. On the one side DiEM could be the 2nd part of that equation but could also become a focal point for many left wing movements and struggles in Europe that raises those movements and struggles on an international level.

Franz Schäfer, May 28, 2016

Also see The Case for the Europeanist Left

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