About Europe and the Euro. (English version)
Political analysis and proposal.
2. Theory and governance of the European Union: towards a new form of State.
3. Implementing governance: treaties, rulings and new apparatuses.
4. Financial capitalism, debtocracy and monetary union: the Euro as a governance political tool.
5. Geopolitics and imperialism.
The political analysis and the synthesis proposed by Ross@ (Resistance, Organisation, Socialism, Solidarity, @nticapitalist political movement) moves from its own reflection about Europe and monetary union. Ross@’s purpose is not simply to produce “political culture”, but we think that reasoning about these topics is a fundamental and necessary political act itself, in order to be influential and to promote actively a political direction able to change the present situation.
The chosen perspective reaffirms the centrality of the “European issue” and the necessity to overcome the governance system enshrined by the EU, as the key element of a politics of emancipation, identifying a real left radical and anti-capitalistic force. A premise for the reasoning contained in this proposal moves around the key-concept of “breakup and unity”. Breakup with the EU governance system and unity, on a content base, of all forces and singularities that recognize themselves in the breakup dimension. We do not mean to join all the left wing antagonist groups, in self-referential and identitary way, but looking for aggregation on the proposed issues.
We are aware that the chosen perspective supports some topics, leaving aside some others. We think that the issues, voluntarily omitted, need to be treated under a dedicated perspective: for example labour, precariousness and trade unions in Italy and in Europe, which we are going to treat afterwards. Moreover, it is necessary to open this reflection to an extra-national and wider context. With regards to this topic we are willing to develop a debate and a political action involving not only Italian political groups.
2. Theory and Governance of the European Union: Towards a New Form of State
The European construction and its institutional architecture have been conceived since the very beginning as a political project, therefore considering the European Union as the gradual settling of an unavoidable economical integration is an oversimplification. Thinking that the EU is incomplete because it embraces only the economic dimension (missing its political part) is totally misleading, but it is still the centre of the lifeless Italian debate on the reflection about Europe. It is necessary to underline that this supranational structure is a long term project, dating back since the end of World War II(1). Just now we are starting to understand its complete shape. In fact, the first European Communities originate from a precise ideology, ordoliberalism(2), which key point is the construction of a regulating state, based on the principle of competition and protection of the free market. This is a doctrine and an ideology that considers the rule of law as an element formalizing the economic game rules, in which the only real actors are the privates, considered as individuals or enterprises. The rule of law changes its form in this renewed capitalism, becoming just the authority of a juridical-institutional framework, where the only target is, indeed, to guarantee the economic game rules between enterprises and privates.
Another key element of European construction can be found in functionalism. This approach marked a turning point in the field of international relations, stating the principle of separation of the sovereign authority from a bounded territory. The all-inclusive “sovereignty” should have been fragmented and led to some specific management activities, or functions(3), released from its territorial dimension (generally corresponding to national bound). So the “function” substitutes the raison d’état and the democratically represented sovereignty. The function becomes sovereign. What is important is “how it is taken a decision” (the pure technical management of a sector) and not “who decides”, “why to take a specific decision”, in which direction, for which social subject and so on. The functional dimension, however, is never neutral, but always in favour of the capital. According to the functionalism the idea of sovereignty can be even dissolved in an extra-state system of rules, in ruling regimes overcoming the national sphere, because of functional needs (transports, energies, communications, etc.) have to be managed together, outside the state.
The end of the Westphalian(4) model after World War II has not weakened the states, unlike often it is wrongly said. The end of this model has allowed the European capitalism to reorganize itself and to reinvent a “survival” of the states in a new form of “state” and order, according to the principle of “shared sovereignty” (controlled by US). The origins of this first experiment of a new form of state can be traced back to the creation of the European Coal and Steal Community (1951) and the European Economic Community (1957)(5). That wasn’t the result of a simple cooperation among governments and agreements among states, but it was a project containing the germ of supranationality based on ordoliberalism and functionalism; expecting to transfer share of sovereignity and creating new supranational institutions, unfastened from the classical mechanism of representative democracy.
Therefore, the present European Union is not a “supra state” nor a federation, but rather a “parastatal super-structure”, containing “with”, “among” and “beyond” the states. A structure able to hold together residual pieces of the classical form of state (“with”), making them interacting (“among”), but able, at the same time, to create a new order integrated into the market (“beyond”). A structure of a multilevel governance.
This multilevel structure plays osmotically in many dimensions: local, national and supranational. In the national sphere it is necessary to find out the links with the system that integrates part of this new form of state and that expresses itself in a political way with specific “governance” national parties; in Italy, for example, this role is played by the Democratic Party (PD) and by the system linked to it.
Synthesis and political proposal.
The question of reformability of this architecture, as described above, it’s a blunt weapon, because its transformable ability is already part of the system itself: dynamicity, adaptability to the capitalistic system. For the same reason, any possibility of its democratic reform does not exist.
Moreover, reducing the matter to the “democratic deficit” brings inevitably to the belief that Europe is missing something: the “insurgent” and “conflicting” democracy(6), the constituent power, a European public opinion, a citizenship, a community, a real political federation, etc.
The risk of questioning like that is to create a distinction between a “conflicting democracy” and an “institutional democracy”. This without establishing a clear rupture, a decisive cut. This becomes fatally a “democracy to come” or a subsumption of both typologies of democracies in the circular “democratizing” process, conceived in itself as politics. “More Europe!”, then, but the democratic reformism (in its more or less “radical” variants) add: “for another Europe!”, that is presumed to be qualitatively different.
On the contrary, politics means “breakup”. Breakup, that is overturning the entire system:
“Breaking up the European Union”.
We can not avoid to qualify the term “breaking up”. It must be intended as a “strategic field” and a “contingent leverage”. This leverage must not be organized just by following pre-constituted schemes (return to nation-State, building up a Mediterranean area, promote a generic internationalism or a European people, etc.), This leverage must have the capacity to adapt to every contest that experiences a contingent break up with the governance, even though, apparently, it could represents initially a step back., experimenting, as well, new institutions and politics settings, where a communist idea could be revitalized and not recalling simply to indentitary and residual logics (already seen and experienced).
“Breaking up the PD system”.
Breaking up the Democratic Party means first of all to break up the production of consensus through consensus and with the related consensual politics. We need to reaffirm our interpretation of PD as a “governance party”, qualifying Renzism as conjunctural expression of this model and not as a simple “party-person”, “absolute premiership” or epiphenomenon of Berlusconism, etc. The problem is the PD and its system, not Renzi. With the term “system” we want to identify not a mere party organization, but all its ramification in social, cultural and economical spheres (from the system of the cooperatives, to the university left wing clergy, to the model “La Repubblica” and other major national press, to the financial and bank power centres like Monte Paschi, etc.).
3. Implementing Governance: Treaties, Rulings and New Apparatuses.
The previously explained structure found its articulation in a precise legal system realized by the setting up of the treaties. The term “treaty” in the European lexicon has a peculiar meaning: it is not a simple international agreement between the member states, but a hybrid legal act with a constitutional value. In this sense the European treaties, even though they are not fully included in the “classical” constitutional model, are legally binding for the member states and can have a supremacy on the national law. It deals with a system of norms that evolved through the modification of the treaties themselves. An evolution and a recodification that have produced law outside the state but with the agreement of the states themselves since the Treaties of Rome (1957) building the EEC and the Euratom, through the first great neoliberal modification with the Single European Act (SEA, 1986) with relative push to complete the single market and to abolish the non-tariff barriers. The Treaty of Maastricht (1992) introduced the EU and paved the way for the single currency, followed by other modifications: the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) and the Treaty of Nice (2001) that consolidated the Europeanization of the sectors related to immigration, police cooperation, justice, home affaires and introduced the Charter of fundamental rights with a clear neoliberal content. The last modification was with the Treaty of Lisbon (2009). This last treaty defines the legal rationalization of the European Union, anticipated by the Constitutional Treaty, rejected in 2004. So the parastatal super structure reached an advanced level of development, by consolidating a quasi-federal framework and by increasing the powers of the European Parliament.
It is a multilevel neo-constitutional system that involves the national constitutions and modifies them at the same time. Therefore, we can reasonably speak about a constitution without state as well as a constitution without people. Although the European Union avoids these two references (state-people) – for this reason it is not definable as a supra state – it affirms anyway an ideological order (individualism, free market, competition, atomization of society, etc.); provided with apparatus (the technical agencies network supporting the legislative process, e.g. the European Food Safety Authority EFSA, the Office for Harmonization of the Internal Market OHIM, the European Medicines Agency EMA, etc.); provided with regimes of control (e.g. Frontex, controlling the boarders and migration fluxes, Europol for the police cooperation, the Banking union monitoring the credit institutions, etc.) and a new type of public administration (“soft law”, informal acts and procedures, pseudo consultations such as the Green Papers and the White Papers on labour, environment, etc.) that eludes and makes useless the popular expression and reduces the right to work (like the Euro Plus Pact 2011 that obliges the member states to ensure labour costs in line with productivity, “reviewing the wage setting arrangements, and, where necessary, the degree of centralisation in the bargaining process, and the indexation mechanisms, while maintaining the autonomy of the social partners in the collective bargaining process”).
In this new legal and regulatory framework the Euro is an integral and not a separated part of the treaties. We must remember that the project of the monetary union dates back to the early 70s (Werner Plan) and that, before becoming a circulating currency, the monetary union was conceived as a system to control the exchange rates between the EU member states, through the EMS (European Monetary System) and then, with the creation of the ECB, in a real monetary union (the Euro was a French project to contain the German expansion and became, for heterogenesis of the ends, a project especially favourable to German economy). So, the creation of the Euro goes along the process of European integration and the evolution of the treaties. The Maastricht criteria and the Stability and Growth Pact are, in fact, functional to the monetary integration for a Europe built on the single market and provided with a single currency.
Whereas within the member states the legal system has been marked by a democratic evolution, due to the progressive limitation of the state discretional powers (achievement of social and collective rights) and opening margins of popular and democratic participation within the constitution, in the EU system any popular element was present to the formation of the legal system (the governments are still sovereign of the treaties). Nevertheless, the European legal system has become progressively independent and more powerful than the international law in determining “retroactive” effects on the national law of the member states. Consider for example the exclusive competence of EU to sign international treaties, especially in relation to trade, such as TTIP, TISA, TPP, etc., with the effect to steal sovereignty from the member states and reducing democratic control (these trading agreements are not only influent and pervasive on trade and circulation of goods, but they also play an important role in consolidating the parastatal supra structure, as they are settled in a inter-imperialistic relationships).
Synthesis and political proposal.
Considered the sui generis feature of the EU construction and the particular nature of the European treaties, we must firmly state the idea of forcing and breaking up the treaties, as a primary element of political struggle, which must not be focused to limited sectors, but directed to the whole system.
How to carry on this struggle?
Definitely with the constitutional and referendum campaigns that put indirectly into question the asset of the treaties and focalize on the element of democratic sovereignty. For example the cancellation of the rule of the budget balance (Art.81) introduced in the Italian Constitution.
Is that enough?
No. It is necessary to assume totally the perspective of a post-democratic horizon and to be aware that the liberal democracy (together with its legal tools) has irreversibly broken up. It is necessary to bring into question the intangibility of the European treaties, avoiding the belief in a sort of “restoration” of the constitutional disposals. Let’s start to affirm that a treaty regulating all the economic and occupational life of a nation or a region cannot be defined just as an “international treaty” in classical terms. Therefore, we must raise the conflict towards a higher level. We have to be critical on the purpose to simply restoration of the social-democratic and old liberal form of state, as we have known it since the end of the 70s. Concretely, we shouldn’t talk only about the lost of rights, but we should propose to move towards new legal principles, such as the popular participation in the approval of the treaties that are no more only an “international” matter of governments or supranational technocracy.
In this phase, it is necessary to put into question the article 5 of the Italian Constitution that neglects the popular expression about international treaties, in order to undermine them and open the contradictions for the breakup of the European Union.
This means to keep the distance from to different present approaches. The first that identifies the legal sphere as something always corresponding to the power and, therefore, always and anyway to be considered as an enemy (representing the “state machine” in its local-national-supranational structure). This approach is not theoretically questionable, but can be politically attacked: it does not consider the real power relations that operate in the battlefield. This approach often reduce the struggle to micro-battles, which, although including the clash with the EU, lose the general horizon and withdraw the engagement into the social and local sphere The risk is to fail in case the austerity would overcome by more intelligent policies. The other approach, from which it is necessary to keep the distance, is to reduce the struggle to legal campaigns. We should better work by distinguishing the forces willing to enlarge the debate towards the breakup with the EU and the PD system, making these proposals clashing with their internal limit and push the constitutional struggles to clash with the EU mechanism, declaring the need to transform them in “other”.
4. Financial Capitalism, Debtocracy and Monetary Union. The Euro as a Governance Political Tool.
The period from the Second World War to the end of the Sixties was characterized by the so called “Fordist-pact” between capital and labour forces. This agreement permitted the self-reproducing system of the capitalist economy, a steadily growth and full employment oriented Keynesian measures. However, in the Seventies the first signals of the crisis, due to overproduction, were clearly visible. In this period the first measures were adopted in order to postpone the crisis and to “buying time”(7), with the inflation solution. The wage compression was initially contained by strong trade unions, able to guarantee a wage indexation, strategies of full employment and, in general, to maintain a certain degree of protection and stability for the workers. Even though, the inflation had not such a negative impact on the wages, the profit margin and the capital income started to decrease. Therefore, capitalists and State together developed a new solution: the public debt. During the Eighties, the State was forced by the Capital to break away with inflation policies. This provoked the increasing of the unemployment rate (Reagan and Thatcher administrations), but in the meantime it was a useful instrument to moderate the conflict between capital and labour. Through the augmentation of the public debt the State could maintain, for a certain period, the social expenditure and it was able to create, at the same time, a system in which the bonds market played a key role in the financialization and the new capital accumulation. With this solution the crisis was postponed again. The public debt was bought by citizens, as well as by the brokers and financial operators, which in the Nineties, wanted back their remunerations. This paved the way to the control of the State by the financial market and the public policies started to be deeply influenced by finance, through the enhancing of many agencies, such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO. This new scenario deals not only with neoliberalism, but also with the creation of a system in which the State entered in the finance itself. In this phase the support of the aggregate demand was generated through the increasing of the private debt that absorbed directly labour, savings and public debt, thanks to the global financial process(8). (This phase is what in the Marxist theory is described with the formula M-M’). All these solutions did not work and the crisis exploded again in 2008.
Nowadays we can argue that we are entering in a new phase characterized by a process of de-financialization(9), a term that contrary to what it could initially suggest, it does not mean a return to the so called “real economy”. The meaning of de-financialization deals more with a new intervention of the capitalism system by operating a market re-segmentation, from one hand, and by reducing the bubble created by the financial speculation, from the other. Reducing the bubble is obtained by introducing real value, which turns into direct exploitation of the labour forces, wage compression and welfare dismissing.
This new process does not produce homogeneous and de-territorialized globalization, but shapes a new form of geopolitical blocks configuration, composed by barriers, new frontiers, new protectionism between macro-areas, built up through a new generation of treaties for the creation of free trade areas, such as TTIP, TPP, TISA, etc. New geopolitical aggregations emerge (i.e. BRICS), as well as a new hegemonic cycle, in the global scenario. This does not necessarily imply that there will be a coincidence between economic growth linked to a specific political power.
The Euro must be placed in this new general framework. The euro is an instrument for the capillary control upon the budget national policies. This control is operating in the financialization phase (weakness of the national currencies and competition with the dollar) as well as in de-financialization phase. The logic of debtocracy continues to be applied also with the recent reforms and with “new” instruments such as the quantitative easing inaugurated by Mario Draghi (i.e. the ECB bond purchase, held by the private banks. A manoeuvre that has as effect to save private banks by guaranteeing their assets. The QE will be guaranteed by the central banks of the member states, in other words, by public money(10).
The elements of segmentation are present within the EU itself, through the process of capital concentration in some areas (Germany, north Europe, “core” countries) and through the implementation of wage deflation policies, clearly inspired by the monetarist ideology. The main goal is to apply a budget policy restraint, price stability, austerity measures etc. The effect is to create pauperization of areas such as the Mediterranean countries (PIGS), like it was with the Italian Southernization(11).
It is important to highlight the tight link between the Euro and the European legal order (primary Law – the treaties – and secondary law – regulations directives, communications, etc.) which has a primacy and autonomy in respect to the national law. This is due to the activity of the Court of Justice (starting form the Sixties with the “Van Geend en Loos”, “Costa v Enel” judgments, etc.). The last judgments of the Court (the so called “Pringle” case, and the judgment on the OMT – Outright Monetary Transactions(12)) intend to confirm this approach to a sort of post-constitutional “legitimacy” to all atypical and unconventional dispositions (such as the ESM, fiscal Compact , etc.). These new instruments were initially conceived in an intergovernmental dimension (product of the asymmetrical negotiations between governments, which definitely brought advantages for Germany) and that has now started to be fully included in the general system of the EU governance, by looking to an ex-post legitimization of the ECB monetarist policies.
Synthesis and political proposal.
The capitalist framework sketched above obliges to take into consideration the implication for the European dimension, by considering the monetary union, the Euro, as the most advanced stage of integration of the European capitalism, conceived not only as mere economic expression. Being the Euro also a governmental instrument and intrinsically political, not referable only to the mere economic sphere, it is our priority to assume a decisive position by considering it as a crucial element of the political struggle, together with the treaties. The euro is not detachable from the entire system of governance and consequently from the founding EU treaties.
“Breaking up with The Euro”.
Breaking with the Euro does not simply mean to imagine a new theoretical post-euro scenario. It is important to underline that an opt-out strategy (unilateral or coordinated) as well as an opt-in, already existing for the Euro-zone members, implies, in any case, a “tears and blood” solution. There is not a peaceful and an easy way out. Having said that, a political struggle against the euro represents a crucial point in order to increase the awareness on what are the implications of the European system for the whole society. Therefore, anti-Euro struggles can determine, with different degrees of intensity, changes in the power relations and they can open up the necessary contradictions within the system itself.
This reasoning could not be detached from the day-by-day struggles already existing in the society. We are obliged, in a certain way, to take position about, for example, the referendum proposed by the 5 Stars movement. It is wrong to assume passively a political proposal, but we cannot simply set aside a concrete opportunity that goes in the same direction as ours (Euro-exit) and for which a specific campaign could be organised. Today we have basically two positions: a) the first enshrined by the “Sinistra no Euro”, that we can synthetize in this way: “we are perfectly aware of the danger linked to the uselessness of the referendum as a legal instrument, but we endorse it as a means to boost the anti-Euro forces and to create a Euro-critical front. b) the second enshrined by Syriza-Rifondazione (the Tsipras-list in Italy is less radical): “we cannot assume a definitive position about the Euro, therefore we support other campaigns and other struggles in someway linked and involved with the Euro-governance, even though Europe is not our decisive battlefield (no-debt campaigns, anti-austerity movements etc.).Other positions like the one of “cooperative overcoming” have no sense. These positions are deprived from the element of conflict needed to force and contrast the treaties. This approach foresees an unrealistic simultaneous overcoming and exit phase of all the countries involved.
It is inevitable to put the question of how should we qualify the term “breaking with Euro”. This can have a political value if we intend it as a “strategic field” and a “contingent leverage”, together with a radical overthrow of the system based on the treaties. These two dimensions could not be separated. This “leverage” must be not reduced to scenarios or solutions, which are a priori constructed (return to the national currency, introduction of the common currency, coordinated exit from the Eurozone, etc.) . This leverage must have the capacity to adapt to every contest that experiences a contingent break up with the governance, even though, apparently, it could represents initially a step back.
5. Geopolitics and Imperialism.
The European Union could be defined as a “multilevel imperialism”. In fact, the EU is not a unified and compact imperialist power, since it is deeply influenced by national dimensions. On one side, the EU maintains a contradictory relationship between the EU-NATO dimension, and on the other the hegemonic national imperialistic policies still play a crucial role. In some cases, these policies are at odds with EU-NATO strategy (i.e. the position of Germany in the Ukrainian conflict). In other situations, we can speak of sub-imperialism (see the French hegemony in some North African countries). In any case, we are still far from a coherent definition of imperialism.
We cannot assume, as many do, that the US imperialism is vanishing. Furthermore, we should consider that the EU supports, at the global level, the “stars and stripes” military actions. This is confirmed by the process of the NATO globalization and its east and south-east enlargement, accompanied by the EU enlargement towards eastern Europe, started in 2004. We have to connect this process together with the counter phenomenon of geopolitical and economic re-segmentation.
Furthermore, we argue that at the moment there is no alternative project against the EU-US alliance, as for example the Eurasia model (we use this term in a neutral sense, independently from the use made by some extreme-right movements). Many believe in the illusion that different levels could coincide. But the external and internal dimension do not coincide. From one side the claim for an emancipatory action means to “give power to whom has no power”, from the geopolitical point of view it means “to take away power from whom has too much power”. It is not assumed that one thing could converge into the other. Any national or regional emancipatory experimentation needs an international tendentiously multipolar framework in order to exist.
We should not forget that regional and located conflicts are actually a symptom of the powers re-positioning on global scale: for instance, the Ukrainian conflict in the Donbass region is, actually, a war between US and China, through Russia. This determines the raise of neonazi forces, used by imperialist powers to boost the national contractions.
Synthesis and political proposal.
It is crucial to strongly affirm the exit from the Atlantic pact, as a nation, as well as Europe, by considering new strategies of alliances that look to the Mediterranean basin and Asia.
“We want the exit of Italy and Europe from the Nato and the exit of the Nato from Italy and Europe”.
Furthermore, it is necessary to support all struggles that represent an opposition to the imperialist logic, as for example the resistance in Donbass, the Palestinian resistance, etc.
In this phase it is necessary to contrast the treaties for the free trade, such as the TTIP, because, even though they are economically contextualized in the European ordo-liberal and functionalist logic, they tend to affirm the US imperialism, as well as they contribute to shape the EU in a neoliberist way, which is against the workers, migrants and the subaltern classes. “STOP TTIP”.
1 The first cooperation projects dates back, indeed, to the post-war Marshall Plan for the management of US founds (European Recovery Programme), for the European, countries. The first forms of organisations were the OEEC (Organisation for European Economic Cooperation) , The Hague Congress (1948) that created the Council of Europe, the international organisation for human rights.
2 The Freiburg school, grown up around the review “Ordo”, represented by Walter Eucken, Wilhelm Roepke, Ludwig Erhard.
3 See David Mitrany, A Working peace system (1943)
4 The balance among the European States that stood, with alternate events, fights and wars, from 1648 (Peace of Westphalia) until World War II.
5 The ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community) followed exactly this functionalistic approach: sharing functions (the management of coal and steel), before sharing sovereignty.
6 See the positions by Etienne Balibar and Toni Negri.
7 Wolfgang Streeck, Buying Time. The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism, New York, Verso Books, 2014.
8 See the notion of “privatised Keynesianism” by Riccardo Bellofiore and by Colin Crouch.
9 Notion used by Piero Pagliani.
10 See Leonardo Mazzei, Te lo do io il quantitative easing, (www. sinistrainrete.info). Sergio Cesaratto, Il bluff di Draghi sul quantitative nothing, Il Manifesto, 13 January 2015.
11 See Paul Krugman.
12 Through the OMT the European Central Bank could offer to purchase Eurozone countries’ short-term bonds in the secondary market. This operation is possible only after having accepted by the EU a national economic reform programme, which envisages, inter alia, structural reforms concerning welfare cuts, wage compression policies, oriented to the flexibility of the labour market.