It’s been an eventful few days in the EU. After the Greek referendum, which was their government’s last ditch attempt to stall the inevitable, there came the “marathon summit”. From this the Syriza representatives emerged sliced, diced and fried up with garlic. According to reports, they agreed to terms worse than the ones their people had just rejected. (I’m not following the details, because once you know the cookie is crumbling, it’s a waste of time to see exactly how it is crumbling.) They did so because they knew that more than anything, their people want to keep the euro. More importantly, the EU powerful want Greece to remain in the euro. “There is no way you are leaving this room”, president of the European Council Donald Tusk reportedly told the Greeks during the “negotiations”.
Since then, EU parliament president Martin Schulz has repeated his calls for a “European government”.
There is a reason he is trying to hurry things along. The way Greece has been treated of late has dealt a massive blow to the last vestiges of “community spirit” in Europe. People watch the unfolding, mushrooming Greek crisis with mounting bemusement and even revulsion. The “marathon summit” may turn out to be a tipping point. People are beginning to have doubts about the EU. While the ordinary man and woman on the street may only have vague feelings, the “intellectuals” on the left, i.e. the unthinking man’s thinkers, are voicing their strong and growing concerns. And this is where a new front is opening against the EU.
Some on the left have decided to blame Germany. Theodore Dalrymple writes about some left wing French politician who has even written a whole book blaming the Germans for everything under the sun. Also, a twitter storm against Germany rose up after the “marathon summit” (it has died down now), because the Germans continue to insist on “austerity”. This campaign was instigated by people who have no understanding of economics, no understanding of the monetary madness which is the euro, and no understanding of the pressure the German government is under due to rising resentment among its taxpayers who don’t want to pay any more for Greece’s (or anyone else’s) profligacy. However, one could blame them for allowing their government to agree to the euro in the first place, and then re-electing that government, then to allow another government to bail out the German banks who had lent to Greece, and then re-electing Merkel, who is susceptible to blackmail due to her past in the GDR youth organisation and supposed activity as an unofficial Stasi informer. But lefties don’t think that far. It could embarrass them.
Be that as it may, this blame game is rather dangerous for EU centralisers, because it releases centrifugal forces they may soon find difficult if not impossible to control. But there are other lefties who are not looking for scapegoats. And they could become even more dangerous for the EU. A number of not insignificant people of the left in Britain and elsewhere are beginning to voice serious doubts about the euro and the European project as such. Not for any principled reasons of course. (When Nigel Farage advised Tsipras to leave the euro with “your head held high” he might as well have been addressing a blank wall – lefties don’t think nor act according to those categories.) They are coming around to this way of thinking because “one of them” (Tsipras) was publically humiliated and taken to the cleaners. And because they still believe that if you vote in a referendum that you want to have more money but don’t want to comply with the terms, you should get the money. So they see “democracy” being trumped by EU apparatchiks. Whom the lefties would have celebrated had they done what the Greeks wanted. So, instead of directly attacking the EU, they just say they don’t want anything to do with it anymore. Are we seeing here the beginnings of a populist anti-EU left? That would be something the ruling class would not be able to control. They can’t even control the populist right any more. Not even in Germany, where the anti-euro AfD has just ousted its leader for being too accommodating to the mainstream.
Gerald Warner gets it right when he calls the course of events around Greece “a war between the doctrinaire, unreconstructed Trots of Syriza and the pragmatic, power-crazed Stalinists of the EU.” It is the “unreconstructed Trots” throughout the EU who are now realising that they have been duped. The EU is not about “social justice” and “redistribution”. It never was. Well, actually, it was about redistribution, but not in the way they thought. In Britain it is people like Owen Jones, Suzanne Moore, George Monbiot, Caitlin Moran and Nick Cohen who are now waking up to this.
One notable person of that cohort outside Britain is Oskar Lafontaine, a former political heavyweight of the German SPD. In 1990 he was the leader of the opposition and would have become chancellor if the reunification had not revived Helmut Kohl’s popularity. In 1998, having been pushed aside by Gerhard Schröder, he became finance minister, a job he left after about one year in protest against Schröder’s “Blairite” policies. Some years later he joined the “Left” party, the successor of the GDR’s SED and rose up high in its ranks. And now, a few days ago, ex-finance minister Lafontaine demanded that the euro be scrapped. Not for any economic reasons, of course, but simply because he fears the common currency is destroying his dream of a Europe of “social justice”.
None of these people of course come anywhere close to the heart of the problem, which is a something for nothing culture fed by a ponzi scheme, a seemingly inexhaustible stream of “money” from the central banking system. And now, as the whole system is hitting a brick wall, the Greeks find sitting on the front fender of the juggernaut a little uncomfortable. Tough. But that’s not the point. The point is that some of the EU’s staunchest “useful idiots” are waking up. I am not predicting the end of the EU as such (yet), but we are surely witnessing some kind of end game right now.