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04/25/2020

Corona-crisis: the West, Germany and the European left

Corona-crisis: the West, Germany and the European left

Humanity is facing one of the most serious and complex crises in its history. It is not only a health crisis, it is also an economic, ecological and a geopolitical one. In Europe, it is opening a new chapter in the deep and potentially terminal crisis of the European Union. However, nobody in Europe or anywhere else in the world (or to be exact very few people and forces) seems to be able to formulate any sound ideas on what to do when confronted with such a monumental challenge (the only exception being the neo-totalitarian tendency of western Capitalism and Imperialism).

“Neoliberal Globalizers” do not want to change anything in the system. The fact that they have proposed Joe Biden as a US presidential candidate is more than enough proof they have nothing to propose. They want to put their broken machine back to work once again, changing as little as possible. However, even if they manage to make the system work, it will only work until the next crisis, and the next crisis will be much more serious and difficult than the coronavirus. The present economic, social, international, ecological order is impossible to sustain,  is not viable in the middle term and ultimately poses the very real danger of the extinction of human life.

The other, supposedly anti-globalization faction inside the dominant capitalist – Imperialist system is Pompeo, Thiel and Netanyahu. This faction practictically influences Trump’s policies on all major fronts (Iran, China, Climate). We don’t know if the US President is really conscious of the implications of his policies, but that is not important. As we already know from ancient Greek tragedy, sometimes one can be even more effective when not fully conscious of his actions.

There can be no serious doubt that this faction wants to replace the present neoliberal globalization world order with a kind of sui generis fascist and neo-feudal capitalism and with the policies of generalized War (against China, against Islam, against the western popular classes, against what remains of democracy, against the climate). With the technologies present in our world, this faction’s rise to power at the top of the Western world will increase the probability of the end not of civilization, but also of all life on Earth exponentially.  It is as simple as that.

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This second faction is trying to pretend they are friends of Russia and exploit various needs of the post-Soviet elites. They are not and cannot be friends of Russia. They are friends of Russia as much as Hitler or Thatcher and Reagan were friends of Stalin and Gorbachev respectively. By the inner logic of their demarche, they are resolutely hostile to any entity with the degree of autonomy and power of Russia. In the long run they can accept Russia only as a vassal state, the way it was under Yeltsin. They would like to dissolve Russia to smaller entities, the way Brzezinski describes in his famous book “The Grand Chessboard.” But they know only too well from History that a frontal attack on Russia is impossible. They can defeat and conquer Russia only by pretending to be its friends. This method almost succeeded in 1941 by leaving the USSR unprepared to face Hitler’s attack, and did succeed in 1985-91.

In theory, the present global situation would be an enormous opportunity for an authentic Left, for any political force not controlled by world finance, for a serious social, anti-imperialist (multipolar) and ecological way out of the impasse.  When the lockdown ends, we will most likely see an enormous upsurge of class struggle, given the offensive of the crisis, in both health and economic terms, against popular classes all over the world. In Europe, such a situation will very likely prevail at least in Southern Europe, including France, while contradictions between member states of the EU will be exacerbated. Unfortunately, however, up to now, we aren’t seeing the appearance of anything serious, and, if we do see some leftist movements trying to shape an answer, it is mainly in the South, Latin America and Africa (for example: this article, also this one). In Europe nothing is moving, the radical left being a shadow of itself after the Greek fiasco of 2015. In spite of their rhetoric, most radical leftist organizations in Europe are rather conservative sui generis Social Democratic forces. In fact, something deeper is happening here. The crisis of the left is a reflection of the crisis of European civilization.

I asked my friend to write an analytical article on the German situation for our site. He answered me that he is quite hesitant, because at present, “: all politics (and media coverage) in Germany is about incremental measures in the framework of the ‘Corona state of emergency’ to stabilize the situation. For a short overview, see the following. Concerning the description of our current situation, I could not contribute much more than this (besides perhaps highlight the shameful policy of the German government to accept only 50 refugee kids from Greek camps etc. …). Overall, the voters seem to be quite satisfied with what the ‘Grand Coalition’ does. In the polls, the CDU is now at 39%, and the SPD has stabilized at around 17%. The opposition parties – the Liberals, Greens, Linke , AfD – generally support the measures taken by the Grand Coalition. The Left asks for more income support for workers (which have ‘short time weeks’ and currently get 60/67 % of their former salaries, while Linke and trade unions demand to expand this to some 80/87 %) and similar things, but in general, they are supporting the government’s current crisis management”

Ok, let them have their coalition government. But with what program? To do what? Two things have become clear in Europe over the past few years. First, that social-democratic policy is next to impossible, we must invent something more radical in periods of such deep crisis. It is impossible today to do anything without defying all neoliberal structures erected to impede any kind of reformism. Second, we need a plan for reforming or replacing the EU and we don’t have one. Even the South European countries have not produced one for the event of Germany insisting on imposing its domination over the continent. To ask for corona-bonds and not to get them is not enough. We must  at this point repeat that it is also very difficult to follow alternative policies in Europe based only on national parties and politics. One can do very few things on a strictly national level and risks becoming irrelevant if he tries so. Citizens of the EU, and  of the Eurozone in particular, are already living objectively (but not subjectively!) in a unified, sui-generis, European super  state structure, they recognize it or not, they like it or not.

But unfortunately there is nothing serious on the international, European, or even South European level. No one is advancing any ideas, instead letting neoliberals and/or neocons – “nationalists” dominate the game. It is extraordinary that one and a half centuries after the creation of the First International there is not even a rudimentary effort to coordinate leftist movements around Europe!

Public domain pictures

I asked my friend to write an analytical article on the German situation for our site (defenddemocracy.press). He answered that he is quite hesitant, because at present, all politics (and media coverage) in my Germany is about incremental measures in the framework of the ‘Corona state of emergency’ to stabilize the situation. For a short overview, see the following.

Concerning the description of our current situation, I could not contribute much more than this (besides perhaps highlight the shameful policy of the German government to accept only 50 refugee kids from Greek camps etc. …).

Overall, the voters seem to be quite satisfied with what the ‘Grand Coalition’ does. In the polls, the CDU is now at 39%, and the SPD has stabilized at around 17%. The opposition parties – the Liberals, Greens, Linke , AfD – generally support the measures taken by the Grand Coalition. The Left asks for more income support for workers (which have ‘short time weeks’ and currently get 60/67 % of their former salaries, while Linke and trade unions demand to expand this to some 80/87 %) and similar things, but in general, they are supporting the government’s current crisis management.

Surprised to read all of this, I asked him again: “If I understand correctly what you are writing means that in the most important EU country there is no serious debate on what the world will and should be after coronavirus nor even what the European Union should do!”

He answered me: “Yes, the debate here is very self-centred on Germany. When Merkel made her speech appealing to the German public to accept the lockdown measures, she did not mention the European Union or ‘Europe’ at all.

The only thing concerning the European Union is the propaganda in the German mainstream media against the demands by the Italian government to introduce corona-bonds – a No Go for the German government, as we know. They claim that the Southern countries already get enough solidarity from Germany and the EU with the 3 pillars (ESM, EIB, Unemployment assistance).

Concerning our media, you have, for example, a 5 minute report at the major news ‘Tagesthemen’ about empty German motorways, and 5 seconds about the situation in the Greek refugee camps. Nearly all news is about the corona-crisis, even the international news (e.g. how Trump is coping). It’s really German navel-gazing …”

The reader may also have a taste of the absolute void emanating from Berlin by reading this interview of the Socialist FM Maas to Spiegel. Mr. Maas does not have anything to propose.

One of the possible reasons for this European aphony is the fact that most of the politicians of the continent are now more or less controlled, or even created, by the bankers. They cannot do anything else other than obey the orders of finance. They are employees, not politicians. Even if they wanted to become politicians they don’t have the necessary education or intellectual and practical experience.

Let us hope that the European popular classes, which have proven their decisiveness in defending their fundamental rights and interests (look to the formidable example of the French Yellow Vests for instance), find the necessary leadership and programmatic clarity necessary for their struggles to win. Otherwise we will risk seeing the EU fall into a chaotic decomposition, producing a galaxy of micro-states competing between themselves and unable to stage any serious resistance to world financial power, to the delight of the neocon war Party (Pompeo – Netanyahu – Trump). This Party wants to produce chaos everywhere, decomposition in Europe, new wars in the  Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, the Indian peninsula… Chaos is their main policy, their main choice.

Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
Journalist, expert in geopolitics (Greece)

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