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October 22, 2021

EU’s internal fronts

Who is guilty/guiltier: Greece or Europe? This is a legitimate but deceiving question. First of all because the “front” does not coincide with Greece’s borders. A first serious front is the one that separates Europeanists from Eurosceptics. Eurosceptics in general are not so much the disgruntled ones who call EU leaders to account for the alleged failure of the project as they are the populists that otherwise find no room for their usual fishing in troubled waters. They do not share the values that are explicitly or tacitly accepted by most political currents that support the European project. The old far-right and far-left impulses are, this time, allied in their joint effort to undermine the EU. Because the latter has imposed the diminishing of the resort to nationalist rhetoric, one of the main resources of populism. People like to feel themselves superior to others, even through these are illusions most of the time. A perverse propaganda can depict Angela Merkel as a Nazi, Tsipras as a new Pericles, but the current crisis has nothing to do with such historical reference points worthy only of grossly manipulating sympathies and antipathies. In fact, the government dominated by Syriza does not even seem to want an exit from the EU or the Euro Zone, but it knows too well that Eurosceptics, whom European leaders fear more than they fear the Grexit, are the strongest leverage with which to ease some of the huge debt. After all, even the gridlock concerning the future of the EU is due to strong popular opposition, which various populists find easy to speculate. EU leaders justifiably fear the unknown factor of the democratic game.

A second front is the ideological one. The far-left is once again riding high. Spain may be next after Greece. Dissatisfaction with the evolution of capitalism will grow for the simple reason that the left’s rhetoric remains attractive. The revolutionary libido continues to work and many see “redemption” in the values of the far-left. Also at stake is surely the quasi-religious need for radical historical transformation. Despite the tragic experiences of the last century, political extremism can resurface at any time and win sufficient adherents. Since the rhetoric of “liberation” has won hearts and minds throughout the world, it is easy all the more so to stir in its name the resentful passions of those who easily see a masked slave owner in any politician.

The moral factor is tied to the ideological one. Some see the Greeks as some heroes in the struggle with European and financial imperialism. The fear of “big finance” represented one of the ideological sources of Nazism – with its anti-Semitic implications derived from an American connection, from tycoon Henry Ford, one of Hitler’s idols – and the fear of losing national sovereignty is the hobbyhorse of all right-wing Eurosceptics. But the most numerous supporters come from the left wing, because tiny Greece gives the impression of fighting against the Goliath of neoliberal capitalism. Which is, in fact, a simple illusion.

However, there is also a geopolitical front, some fearing that losing Greece risks weakening the NATO front. Who could Greece ally with? Turkey is out of the question. Serbia rather tends to take its place within the EU than to close ranks with it. A country with a strong anarchist tradition will likewise find it hard to accommodate an ally such as Russia, fundamentally marred by autocracy. In fact, Greeks will not easily forget the benefits of EU membership, and sooner or later Europeanism will rebound as an influential political culture.

After all, the current dispute is between the EU and its internal enemies: Eurosceptic populists, revolutionary anti-capitalists, bellicose nationalists, the reckless players of geopolitical poker.


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