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The new birth of democracy?
by Gordana Mudri
2016-02-12 09:17:08
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February 9th Europe got its pan-European movement called DiEM25.

In short, it is a movement - not a political party - that aims to rescue the European Union, which apparently is falling apart on issues of equality among member states. A movement aiming the return of democracy into a shaken European, transparency in decision-making and as they like to call it, horizontal solidarity.

diem02_400I'm not sure how many people were persistent as I was, watching the live broadcast from the Volksbühne Theatre at Rosa Luxemburg Platz in Berlin, which was actually chosen for its symbolism - Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and revolutionary socialist. No surprise here if you consider that the movement is left-wing oriented and has the support of all the major liberal, left-wing and green parties in the EU - the German Die Linke and the SPD, the British Labour Party and the Greens, to Spanish Podemos, the Irish Sinn Fein and the Slovenian United Left, plus individuals like Slavoj Žižek (the Slovenian philosopher), Julian Assange (known activist and founder of WikiLeaks), Brian Eno (British musician and producer) and many many others.

An interesting fact is that the main driver of this idea is Yanis Varoufakis - former Greek finance minister - and Srećko Horvat, a Croatian philosopher, author and political activist. The German weekly Der Freitag described him as "one of the most exciting voices of his generation" and Hollywood director Oliver Stone called him "a charismatic Croatian philosopher." So, the combination of the two, the absolute southern temperament. Even though many would thought that such a combination could not possible. With the familiar prejudice following them, Greeks are lazy and Croats are envious, one Orthodox and one Catholic (although it can be assumed that they are both atheists) and their typical Mediterranean stubbornness - who would have ever thought that these two could work together?

But, leaving jokes aside and considering that I've survived three hours of idealistic and almost utopian colourful speeches (the video connection with Mr Žižek was one of the shortest in his personal history of speaking and the man was pure energy;  the video connection with Mr Julian Assange was especially touching because he was granted political asylum by Ecuador in August 2012 and he lives and the Embassy of Ecuador in London), it is evident that the speakers tried to speak in a really understandable language addressing masses.  In fact, this is the main aim of this movement - the launch to the masses. Europe for Europeans and not for the Brussels’ bureaucrats.

All statements delivered from the participants - had nothing new. All activists and citizens' initiatives from the Greens to Greenpeace, Occupy movement, the Blockupy movement, speak the language. Varoufakis and Horvat’s idea is - to unite them all together and create a radical internationalism (as opposed to the current closure of national borders).

diem01_400Personally, I have read their Manifesto, and I don't see anything wrong in their attitudes and ideas. On the contrary, I support everything I've read. For me, the idea of the re-birth of democracy, where in the main role stands a Greek, it looks "poetic" and somehow "heroic." A very good image in this time of hopelessness and I have doubts if it is really a coincidence. Mr Varoufakis is casual and good orator, he is charismatic but ... (well, there is always a "but").

Although he left Syriza government after a major failure in the negotiations, related to the Greek debt, I can't dismiss the feeling that he still justifies Tsipras’ elite. Leaving aside that he failed into the fight for his own people (and this is a huge burden, regardless of the blackmails from the "Troika"), if he wants to earn the trust of European masses, he must condemn the wrong implementation of austerity measures in his own country, and he has to condemn the practice of media control, clientelism and the immunity of the Greek oligarchs. Without these - the idea of equality for all - falls into water.

Next, although they invited everyone who agrees with their ideals to join the movement, you have to make peace with the fact that, if you are an "ordinary" citizen (like me) or an unemployed citizens (like me, again), you can hardly be an active participant in this movement, especially at a broader European level. It requires a lot of travel, and you just don't have the money (unless someone pays your expenses, but, for now, DiEM25 still not receiving donations). Thus, a sense remains – nothing happens without money. Of course, if this whole idea come to life - you can always act in a local level, and I suppose this is part of the horizontal solidarity.

What will happen with this idea? Frankly, that is what many of us are looking for. The left-wing utopia? Impossible?  

I cannot deny that the atmosphere was relaxed, friendly and international. A true brotherly feeling. (Some even invoked the International Brigades from the Spanish civil war and Franco’s dictatorship, or the infamous "La liberté la fraternité l égalité" from the French Revolution). It all looked spontaneous, sometimes a bit naive. It was not a call for an armed revolution. It was a civilized call to action, without fear of failure, because as someone quoted "If you fall, get up and try again" (there were many inspiring quotes).

Someone quoted Theodore Roosevelt: “The worst thing you can do is do nothing.”

Julian Assange said: “If we do not do something, a long night is waiting for us.”

At the end, Varoufakis scored with the famous Dylan Thomas – “Do not go gentle into that good night.  Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

And the “European spring” just began…


Gordana Mudri

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Emanuel Paparella2016-02-12 13:27:54
Indeed, as Jung’s concept of serendipity points out, there are movements and ideas that, when their time has come, they just show up together all over the place, as if out of nowhere. I find it intriguing that the same populist democratic socialist movement described above is going on in the US as we speak in the person of Bernie Sanders. Presently he seems to be overcoming in popularity among the young and the working poor even Hillary Clinton who controls the Democratic political machinery and that is in itself a phenomenon to behold. Perhaps the concept of feminism also needs to be changed?

Bernie Sanders is the light or other side of the coin of dark demagoguery and intolerance exhibited by the likes of Donald Trump; the last best hope for the darkness that is about to engulf a Western Civilization in the hands of myopic bureaucrats and political cynics. As most idealists who teach by example and not by mere words, he does not allow his idealism to be tarnished by money and special interests and takes no contributions from corporate donors while the average contribution from the average donor who enthusiastically follows him is $ 27. As Lincoln pointed out: one can fool all the people some of the times, and some of the people all of the times, but one cannot fool all the people all the times. Perhaps there is still hope for democracy.

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