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dangers of a federal europe

the rss feed of le monde diplomatique continues to turn up interesting nuggets. while the writing is too voltarean (read 18th century grandiloquence) to easily be digested by those accustomed to either newspaper, internet or glossy magazines, the ideas are stimulating.

corinne gobin takes on the hidden menace of the federal europe. effectively the creation of a greater europe takes the power a long way away from the individual elector and individual country or canton or landkreis. a great deal more power moves into the hands of central bankers and almost faceless bureaucrats.

Le nouvel ordre politique qui se met en place oeuvre très activement à la déstabilisation, voire au démantèlement de tous les éléments – procédures, principes, droits, symboles et imaginaire – qui avaient permis, à travers les luttes sociales et politiques des siècles passés, l’élaboration d’un pouvoir démocratique et, avec lui, la création d’un espace de droits et de règles imposant une ligne de démarcation claire entre l’intérêt collectif des populations et les intérêts des pouvoirs privés, que ceux-ci soient de type marchand, mafieux ou religieux.

in rough translation:

The new political order coming into existence is working very hard towards the destabilisation, indeed the dismantling of all the elements – procedures, principals, rights both symbolic and imaginary – which had permitted (all of them attained through social and political struggles in the course of centuries) the creation of democratic government, accompanied by a legal framework which imposed a clear border between the collective interests of the people and the interests of any private elite, whether merchant, mafia or religious.

a greater europe brings enormous benefits to all. i live in france and austria and to be able to travel freely between the two countries and calculate expenses – as simple as those for sending a package or buying a pair of shoes – in a common currency is a source of great joy.

the spreadsheets that one had to run to keep track of bank accounts and income across countries are no more. the five per cent money changer tax both coming and going with one’s francs and schillings and marks and various pesos is no more.

for those with retail across the continent or even in two or three countries, it is a far greater boon.

but here in austria, most consider that the conversion of prices to the euro was accompanied by an enormous inflation (on the order of 20%) without much adjustment in wages.

this year pensioners have already had to take a 10% hit in their pensions. many public programs have been cut back or are up on the chopping block. austrians begin to wonder exactly who is benefiting from the euro and the expansion of europe. it certainly does not appear to be themselves.

what is frightening about the new europe and the distant powers in brussels, is that they have adopted an orwellian language to cover all of their initiatives. corinne gobin notes:

All the working language of the European social movements finds itself perverted, even if the words leave one with the superficial impression that things are moving solidly to the left: “return to full employment”, “lifetime learning”, “increase of the employment rate”.. That the contents of the “guidelines for employment” almost unchanged since their first version in 1997 is illustrative. Accompanied by an ongoing chorus from the business elite in favour of company spirit and flexibility and employability and adaptibility, a crusade develops to increase employment rates by 70% between now and 2010. This is a completely surreal objective which actually represents forced labour under any and all conditions for the unemployed. Such an objective destabilises the previous collective agreements against poverty wages and under employment of the qualified and implies the idea of a return to the workforce of the elderly by an increase of the age of retirement or a “participation” of the retired in the workforce in exchange for reduced remuneration.

if corinne gobin’s numbers are right, the statistics are grim: overall wages of the working population in the EU are lower in francs (constant) than what they were in 1960, while the overall GDP has doubled since 1970 (in constant francs). since 1998, the workers in europe earn less of the GDP of their economy than american workers. since 1975 there has been a decline of the workers share of GDP of 9%.

while her numbers may be somewhat suspect (so many economies, so many different rates of inflation, so many calculations to make), the tendencies towards disenfranchisement of the worker and the citizenry are not at all uncertain. so much senseless privatisation (natural monopolies should never be in private hands – capitalism only ever works in competitive industries) and so much state wealth disappearing into private pockets (vivendi anyone?).

it is not quite such a grim tale as in north america, however, as the average european citizen and worker is far more on guard for his or her rights than an american is. these are populations which have toppled numerous corrupt regimes and carried whole elites to the guillotine.

i have always leaned far against revolutionary tendencies in favour of art and beauty, much of which torn to shreds at the first sign of revolution. much to regret in both the french and bolshevik revolutions.

but if disempowerment and enslavement is what the hidden capitalist hand seeks in europe, revolution is surely what they will get. and in short order.

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