Speech at DiEM 25
Dear friends of a solidary and democratic Europe,
The EU-Elites are currently destroying any hope in Europe. Their reactions to the rising numbers of refugees and the fiscal coup reveal the moral bankruptcy of neoliberalism. Meanwhile, trans-border networks of solidarity are rising: along the Balkan route, in Greece, as well as here in Berlin. A new Europe is emerging from below.
If in these days there is still hope for Europe, it is not the achievement of the elites, but only thanks to the activists of these paneuropean networks of solidarity. These movements also show: Those in favour of a withdrawal into national seclusion/ Retreat into the cocoon of nation-states are clearly wrong.
The refugee-movement underlines the necessity of transnational cooperation. National sovereignty is no excuse for ignoring human rights. The refugee question also makes clear that the idea of a single national approach towards key human questions is an illusion. Nationalism and the invocation of the so-called 'good old times' are not future models. Neither the authoritative European Union nor the return to national borders are worth striving for. This is a quarrel between a bad present and a sad past.
There is nothing to be gained for the friends of radical democracy in this quarrel. On the contrary: We need more of Europe, rather than less, to face the great questions of humanity. But this Europe does need a fresh start – to become solidary, democratic and boundless. This fresh start begins with a clear cut with neoliberalism. We want a social Europe, a Europe for everyone. Therefor we do need a Plan C.
One part of that could be a social Union citizenship. A social Union citizenship as the material expression of the idea of real democracy. Thus as a first step, a basic income is needed that is orientated on national poverty levels. Not as a handout that is mercifully granted but as a fundamental right. A fundamental right, in force in every country. A fundamental right valid for everyone living in the European Union. A social safety net for all.
Democracy is not a state but a process – a process towards self-government. That means democracy has to be returned to the people and taken away from the back room of technocratic politics. Those affected by decisions should have the right to determine those decisions.
Environmental refugees make evident the democratic deficit of our current world order: People fleeing their countries affected by climate change, have no say. They cannot influence the economic politics that directly affect their lives.
That shows: a European democracy taking itself seriously, has to be transboundary. The demos cannot be a national one anymore. Our hopes lie in the public. Because in recent years, many have raised their voices in Europe in 'Welcome'-initiatives, in rallies and climate fights, on the squares of Athens and Madrid, in student demonstrations and strikes. Just bytheir actions they said ‘no’ to a ‘further so’. No to a ‘further so’ that used to be a permanent crisis long before the current crisis.
The summer of solidarity has pointed out what can happen
- When national boundaries vaporize in a unifying solidarity.
- When people from political parties, activists and colleagues
from unions come together to make clear – we can transform
Europe and make it different. Solidary. Democratic.
We should think about how to grasp this opportunity. Maybe
in a wild referendum? A wild referendum regarding the future
direction of Europe: A wild referendum regarding the
alternative: austerity or real democracy?
Of course: There is no guarantee. We could stand to lose.
But we surely will, if we stand still. The decision is as follows:
- Either transforming into a transnational democracy or
- Either permanent crisis and ecological breakdown or
a fresh start for Europe.
So, what are we waiting for?
Now is the time to get going. Thank you.
Raus genommene Bausteine
Yet waiting for the elites’ profound insight would be a waste
of time. “Is 21st Century‘s Capitalism failing 21st Century‘s
society?” asked the moderator on a panel during the World
Economic Forum 2012 in Swiss Davos. The audience – and
approximately 50% of all managers and politicians present -
raised their hands in agreement. But the result is known:
They just continue doing what they have done before. The
elites know exactly what they are doing. We will not change
their minds with pleas.
Notwithstanding linguistic diversity, it is the language of
neoliberalism that dominates the EU-institutions.
It does not necessarily end like that. Because the thaw in
Portugal, Spain and Greece does already indicate: every
winter, even this neoliberal winter, will be finally over at
A demand that could awake all the enthusiasm that a
democracy lives from.
Of course: The balance of power is not like this today. What
are the reasons for hope then?
A crisis for all those not born on the sunny side of