“Humankind does not live by liberty and universality alone, the aspirations that led to nationalism and socialism, the yearning for community and identity, and the yearning for solidarity and equality, will reappear as they always do.” - Pierre Hassner
“Each time, the new post-war European order lasts a while – sometimes shorter, sometimes longer – but gradually frays at the edges, with tectonic tensions building up under the surface, until it finally breaks apart in a new time of troubles. No European settlement, order, empire, commonwealth, res publica, Reich, concert, entente, axis, alliance, coalition or union lasts forever.” - Timothy Garton Ash
In light of the European Parliamentary Elections that have taken place over the course of the past three days (results of which will be announced this evening), this edition of A Weekly Correction will focus exclusively on the European Union — its policies, legislative bodies, and the future challenges it will face. The articles we have round up offer widely divergent perspectives on the institution, namely among the Left, demonstrating the complexity and nuance of the subject. From visions that see the EU as necessary for a transnational working-class movement, to those that criticise it for its neoliberal policies and austerity, these articles help provide a basis for thoroughly understanding the implications of the election outcomes (as well as an understanding of the future of the EU more generally).
What we’re reading :
Garton Ash, T. (2019). Why we must not let Europe break apart. The Guardian.
This article takes a more historical approach, arguing that the political conflicts in Europe which necessitated an institution of peace and stability (such as that of the EU) are the same reasons for which it is indispensable today. Garton Ash starts by providing a historical detour, highlighting the tendency to conflict throughout Europe’s history, “No European settlement, order, empire, commonwealth, res publica, Reich, concert, entente, axis, alliance, coalition or union lasts forever.” Nevertheless, he urges that the EU today is necessary in order for such conflicts to not play out again, especially in light of rising nationalist, xenophobic and racist sentiment across the countries political sphere.
Fazi. (2019). The European Union is an Anti-Democratic Disgrace. Jacobin.
In this article, Thomas Fazi offers an opposing vision of the EU, in which he criticises the institution on the basis of its anti-democratic properties. He argues that the supranational characteristics of the EU have given greater leeway for the implementation of neoliberal policies, ones which have disenfranchised working people all while observing national governments of responsibility or blame. Fazi strongly calls for the dismantling of the EU (as opposed to reforming it) for the sake of preserving democracy and popular sovereignty.
Varoufakis, Y. (2019). A European Spring is Possible. The Nation.
Former Greek Minister and Finance and founder of the pan-European political movement DiEM25, Yanis Varoufakis calls for a reformed, rather than dismantled, European Union. While he agrees with others that “the neoliberal ideology that had legitimised the EU’s oligarchic technocracy [has] plunged millions into misery,” causing anger, hopelessness and a vacuum “filled by the organised misanthropy of a Nationalist International triumphing across Europe,” Varoufakis still does not support a dismantling of the EU. Rather, he calls for a reform of the institution and its neoliberal policies, all while arguing that the EU provides an opportunity to build an unprecedented transnational working-class resistance and socialist movement.
Walker, S. (2018). Overconfident men brought us Brexit. It’s not too late for women to fix it. The Guardian.
Written in the context of the British vote to leave the EU, this article provides a feminist case for Britain to stay in the EU. Written by a member of the Women’s Equality party, the article argues that a dismantled Europe would first and foremost harm women, as economic shocks and their ensuing effects on workplace protections and state support are almost always experienced disproportionately by women.
Tuck, R. (2016). The Left Case for Brexit. Dissent Magazine.
In this article, Richard Tuck offers a three-tier case for supporting Brexit within the framework of left-wing politics and ideology. Tuck underscores the aforementioned view that EU institutions are “essentially technocratic,” one which “confers immense power on culturally select bodies whose prejudices will be those of the class their members are drawn from.” What Tuck sees as the largest incongruence between the EU and left-wing politics, is how the EU has consistently undermined left policies such as state aid to industries and nationalisation.
What we’re watching :
Debate: (2019). Which way is Europe heading? DW Conflict Zone
This week, we’re watching a televised debate among four politicians from across the political spectrum, all of which offer vastly different visions for Europe’s future.
What we’re listening to :
Podcast: (2019). Will Populism Destroy the European Union? BBC World Service.
This episode from BBC World Service discusses whether the European Union’s founding mission of continental peace and prosperity is under threat due to the rising support of nationalist parties.
Podcast: (2019). How social democrats won Europe— then lost it. The Ezra Klein Show.
In this episode, Ezra Klein discusses with author and professor Sheri Berman about the history of social democrats in Europe. The subjects the cover include what separates social democrats from progressives and neoliberals, why social democrats lost ground in the ’90s to Blairite technocrats, and why identity issues tend to unite the right and split the left (among others).