A new Europe….
Last night, Newsnight debated the possibility of a sharp ‘Grexit’ of Greece from the Euro and the European Union. Apparently, the German government would quite like this scenario to pan out. They are probably concerned about a double dose of bad (but not unrelated) news; namely the contraction of the Eurozone and German economy. Germany is now looking nervously over its shoulders at France which showed unexpected growth.
Germany however has only itself to blame for its present predicament. It has bankrolled a program of self-defeating austerity imposed on the Greek people. No surprises that it isn’t working and that its dragging Germany, Greece and the entire Eurozone down. You cant help but feel a forced ‘Grexit’ would be pretty much the final insult to the Greek people who have been asked to swallow bitter pill after bitter pill and are now potentially being told rather impolitely to go away.
The Eurozone is a mess and the ideal, the dream of a Europe united is being betrayed by the austerity-zealotry of its leaders. It’s now more tempting than ever from the left to turn away from Europe. However, to do so would be a mistake because a new Europe is being born principally on the streets of the major European capitals. The democratic resistance of the Greek people to austerity on the streets of Athens found a immediate echo on the streets of Lisbon, for example.
How can the left credibly claim to be internationalist and advocate the shattering of this movement from below and leading it into a nationalist cul-d-sac? Now is the time to be reaching out, developing a pan-European program to challenge the Eurozone’s leaders that democratises the EU and strikes a massive blow against austerity. We should be reaching out the hand of friendship and solidarity to these movements across the continent. Defeating austerity in one country is bordering on the pointless in this globalised and transnational world. A government committed to a path for the people would be squashed by transnational capital – however, defeating it on a continent-wide scale would be a mighty blow indeed. A democratic, a socially just EU should be our aim, a truly new Europe that realises the promise of the European dream, a continent once divided and scarred by war, united in its commitment to democracy and social justice. A powerful symbol to the peoples of the world of what they can achieve together. This is what the left should be fighting for, not conniving in a futile attempt to turn back the clock and retreat behind national borders.