Last weekend the 3rd international summit for a Plan B in Europe took place in Copenhagen. Around 200 participants discussed alternatives to the Europe of Austerity. You can read the conference call here. The video stream of the whole conference is online here. We present today the video of Costas Lapavitsas speech, with is worth seeing.
by Halvor Fjermeros
Unrest in Euroland – Labour Disempowerment and Social Resistance to the EU´s New Working Day
A great deal is written and said about social need and various protests against austerity measures in a Europe in the throes of an economic crisis. However, scant attention is paid to the role and reputation of trade union movements in this crisis. In light of economic stagnation and social need, with the welfare state being suppressed in land after land, the trade union movement is poorly equipped to withstand the pressure for cuts and redundancies. Need has led to liberalisation, the crushing of trade union rights and the emergence and growth of a completely new work-life. In the wake of the international crisis, the “Nordic model” is also under strain.
HALVOR FJERMEROS has travelled extensively in Germany, Great Britain, Spain and Greece and met with people from trade union movements and new social movements. He has seen the labour challenges the opposing powers are faced with in times of crisis at close hand. These countries all have strong labour traditions and each have their own individual development histories of the labour movement – not to mention “winding-up histories” – over the last decade. Could a new orientation be underway?
Halvor Fjermeros (b. 1951) is a Norwegian author, journalist and politician.
by William Saas, Jorge Amar, David Glotzer, and Scott Ferguson
This article is the full text of a three-part series on Spain’s economic crisis, the program of the new leftist political party Podemos, and both the limitations and potential of the Spanish left today. The authors point to the importance of employment policy (and especially a job guarantee) for pulling Spain out of the crisis, the necessity of a “left exit” (lexit) from the euro, and the relevance of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) in transcending conventional balanced-budget thinking.
They are beautiful sights, the public squares of Madrid—open spaces, lush gardens, and sparkling fountains, all surrounded by striking architecture dating from the city’s days as seat of a colonial empire. These ornate public spaces now serve as makeshift residences for a growing number of Spanish dispossessed. After nearly a decade of austerity, depression, chronic unemployment, and perpetual political submission to the dictates of the Troika (the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, and European Commission), thousands displaced from work and home are left with little choice but to seek refuge in the few parcels of public infrastructure that remain available to them.
Improvisation is the name of the game for members of the new Spanish precariat. At Madrid’s main square, the Plaza Mayor, newly homeless citizens (some highly educated) rise early for work busking or selling scrap metal. Throughout the country, members of the growing reserve army of ninis—or “neither nors,” the quarter of the young Spanish who are neither in school, nor employed, nor in training programs—forage for food to take home to their squatted apartments. Los irrecuperables (“unrecoverables”), the more than half of long-term unemployed Spanish over age 50, are meanwhile forced to figure out how to subsist on severely reduced pensions and the charity of their fellows.
For a wide alliance of democratic, social and popular forces to be prepared for the clash with the EU
by Wilhelm Langthaler
By means of the Euro regime the capitalist oligarchies of the European Union are inflicting the worst social disaster on the popular classes. The waves of attacks are carried out in an uneven way affecting first of all the peripheries which in some places are suffering more than during the great depression of the 1930ies. Enforcing mass impoverishment has been requiring a substantial curb on democratic rights and especially the dismantlement of national sovereignty by the Brussels supra-national bureaucracy.
Popular resentment, unease and also resistance is, however, rapidly growing. The subaltern strata eventually start to search for means to end the relentless attacks by the elites. They turn against globalization. In order to restore social justice and democratic participation, the popular masses envisage the return to national sovereignty. The Brexit vote was a heavy popular blow against the ruling elites, both the British ones and those of the EU. New such acts of disobedience, rebellion and explosion are in preparation and can happen soon in a range of countries. The next litmus test is the constitutional referendum in Italy which could lead to the collapse of the Renzi regime which has been serving as the last defense line of the pro-EU elites.
by Alexander Ulrich & Steffen Stierle
In the summer of 2015, five EU presidents – the Presidents of the EU Commission, the European Council, the Eurogroup, the European Central Bank and the EU Parliament – presented a report entitled Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union. In the report they outline a sweeping reform agenda in the areas of economic, financial and fiscal policy. Some of this has already been set in motion. Its full implementation, however, has been thwarted, both by the German Government’s reluctance to give up power and by fear of the referendums which would have been unavoidable in view of the need to amend the treaties.
On 20 September 2016, the Jacques Delors Institute in Berlin/ Notre Europe and the Bertelsmann Foundation presented a report entitled Growth and the Euro after Brexit. Back in February 2016, Norbert Häring, economics correspondent of the Handelsblatt newspaper, was already writing, “Now that the five presidents’ de-democratisation project has foundered, presumably on Berlin’s insistence on its position of power in Europe, a new group of exports will now be appointed to draft a blueprint for political and fiscal union. Needless to say, it will not operate as a convention of European people’s representatives or the like but will do its work in the shadowy world of ‘pro-European’ foundations and think-tanks.” (here in German)