Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A New Manifesto For Europe!

A spectre is haunting the Powers of Europe, the spectre of new Manifesto's aiming at the radical reform of the European Union. My Google search "manifesto europe" yielded 1.310 results. Here are just a couple of the more important ones:

"Our Manifesto for Europe" by Thomas Piketty and 14 others.
"A Europe that works" by the ALDE party.
"We are Europe" by Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Ulrich Beck.
"A Plan B in Europe" by Jean-Luc Mélenchon and others.
"European Solidarity Manifesto" by european-solidarity.eu.

This is ample evidence that there is something rotten in the state of the European Union. If one really wants to know how rotten that state is, one should read the provocative book "Die letzten Tage Europas - wie wir eine gute Idee versenken" by provocative author Henryk M. Broder (available only in German).

It is quite apparent that a new market is developing here, the market of proposing new Manifesto's for Europe. It seems to be a competitive market with major positions already taken by major players, so it was high time for the most prominent player of all to appear on the scene --- Yanis Varoufakis, proud leader of 689.000 followers on Twitter.

On February 9, Varoufakis will proudly present the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM 2025) in Berlin. And, of course, there will now be a new Manifesto, the "Manifesto for Democratizing Europe". It nicely fits on just over 5 pages and is worth some consideration.

Off the bat, the Manifesto is Varoufakis-style from start to finish: most beautiful, if not poetic language; catching phrases; plausible arguments; arousing exhortations, etc. Lest there be any doubt that this Manifesto will go down into history as the most important document since the Communist Manifesto, Varoufakis takes the liberty to start off with the phrase "A spectre is haunting the Powers of Europe".

If one is looking for things that one could passionately disagree with, one will not find much. Some statements read so beautifully ("No European nation can be free as long as another's democracy is violated" or "No European nation can live in dignity as long as another is denied it") that one overlooks to ask what they mean in practice. But like with most Varoufakis' publications: while his Manifesto reads beautifully, one cannot get rid of the feeling that there is a hidden agenda behind it.

The Manifesto then addresses the questions of what the lofty prose means in practice and it is quite specific with clear milestones: within 6 months, within 12 months, within 2 years and thereafter. Here are the milestones:

Within 6 months: full transparency in EU decision-making (live-streaming of all important meetings, publication of ECB minutes of important sessions, publication of all important documents such as the TTIP negotiations, etc.).

Within 12 months: address the economic crisis. DiEM 2025 will present detailed policy proposals in the four realms where the crisis is housed: public debt, banking, inadequate investment and rising poverty. The policy proposals will "Europeanize all four while returning power to national parliaments, to regional councils, to city halls and to communities."

Within 2 years: formation of a Constitutional Assembly comprised of representatives elected on trans-national tickets. The Constitutional Assembly will be empowered to decide upon a future democratic constitution that will replace all existing European Treaties.

Thereafter: enactment of decisions of the Constitutional Assembly.

Well, here it is. Varoufakis informs us that he plans to be a major voice in Europe at least until 2025. It is easy to understand who will be unhappy about his plans: in short, all of those whom he alienated as Greece's Finance Minister, be they in politics, economics or business, or just regular citizens. But who will be happy?

I think there will be a significant correlation between Varoufakis followers and personal IQ. Young students with socially-romantic dreams will fall for him, no questions asked. I think there will also be a strong correlation between Varoufakis followers and lack of practical experience in the real world. And, of course, all dreamers of a leftist victory over cold-blooded neoliberals will be among Varoufakis' passionate followers regardless of age, IQ or work experience.

I think the big question is whether Varoufakis will succeed in lighting a fire relatively soon. A fire among his followers, within the media, within the public discourse etc. If he does not succeed with that, his movement will wither away relatively quickly. As a new Finance Minister, Varoufakis succeeded in lighting a fire throughout Europe literally from one week to the next (until he blew a fuse). We will soon know if he manages to accomplish the same feat also as a former Finance Minister.


  1. As many of us, I am tired of Varoufakis, but I kind of regret disappearance of Lapavitsas.
    I disagree with the ideas of both, but I found Lapavitsas interventions more genuine, not trying to hide his project for the country

  2. Hi Mr. Kastner,

    It isn't also by coincidence that last night Varoufakis was interviewed by Papachelas. Which basically told the story of the last year. It shined some light on some things but the one thing that remains in my mind is the track record of Varoufakis, Syriza and The EU Buearcrats and institutions. They all failed and all failed miserably.

    I like to see track records. Varoufakis on a personal note may have gained personally from the last year and will probably gain personally with this new project he seeks. But in the end will it help the plain eu citizen? I have to say that i admire his persistance and patience and maybe his personal goal of what Eu should be. But he will lose in the end, for the eu and greek people. I understand that he is trying to spark and fire of an idea of that we as europeans are on the wrong road. But as europeans we have obligations to our own homes / home lands. He failed on his own turf he will succeed on others?

    In Greece, Syriza managed to destroy anything good created out of the 1st aursterity years and only set us back. Ofcourse i have a large scorn for the euro nanicrats, but truth be said many things which they say holds true. Hence both eu and our greek leaders have failed us as a Greece POV. This will result in more austerity which i choose not to get into in detail.

    The fact for greece that remains is that the longer we take to reform our country the longer will be within the cloak of austerity.

    1. The social security system. Doesn't it need reworking?
    2. The ailing public companies, they don't need to be dismantled sold to people or corporations who properly and clearly know how to run businesses profitably which help the general economy?
    3. The clearness of public wages and the balance of these wages don't need to be made?
    4. The fighting of the black market labor which is growing exponetially now?
    5. A solution to all failed loans?
    6. A fast track system within the public as business can be sparked in Greece?
    7. Domestic and foreign investment to be sparked?

    Aside from the social pension plan i see nothing of the above moving fast in any direction. As harsh Samaras was and i chose to bash him back then, his plan was on the right direction for greece. Maybe Mitsotakis will continue this path.

    Until we find our path many inbalnces in our greek life will be evident. Many will starve and be impoverished. I truely do not understand how they, all i mentioned earlier, if they do not see this? And if they do, how they have a conscience knowing their decision only hurt more people.

    Personally try my best, i work hard and try to help my local society as whole.


    1. Varoufakis' Manifesto hinges on his idea of a Constitutional Assembly comprised of trans-nationally elected members. In short, true Europeanization.

      The US Senate and House of Representatives are both based on individuals states. The Senate gets 2 members from each state regardless of size. The House gets 435 members from all states depending on size.

      Bear in mind that American "states" are not in any form or fashion comparable to European states in terms of identity feelings, common history, culture, etc. And yet, the American assemblies are based on the entity of the state.

      And now European states (or rather: nations) will be happy to have their ultimate legislative body be comprised of transnational candidates? All I can say is: keep dreaming! Yes, it's a nice dream but no, it will never work.

    2. If this is true then it is indeed laughable. Even if he does succeed and such a system is errected does he believe that such a system will solve the problems that he mentioned in his manifesto?


  3. Implausible. The Eurozone is in an advanced state of disintegration, Schengen et al.

    It was evident all along that they didn't want a political union (a prerequisite for monetary union to work), but the immigration crisis has sped thing up.

  4. Thanks for this list of interesting manifesto's. Please join the Facebook discussion group for DiEM25: https://www.facebook.com/groups/diem25/