Open letter to Yanis Varoufakis: Welcome to the movement!

14-01-2016

Yanis Varoufakis wants to launch a new movement ‪#‎DiEM25‬. Blockupy Activist John Malamatinas, writes an open letter and reminds him: We don't have to begin by point zero.

John Malamatinas

Open letter to Yanis Varoufakis: Welcome to the movement!

 

(Translation from German)

 

Dear Yanis,

 

since a couple of weeks, you have issued an invitation for the founding of a paneuropean movement against austerity. This is to start in Berlin on 9 February with #DiEM25. You spoke about this idea on several occasions already. One such occasion took place in October at a panel discussion with other wise Leftists at the Berliner Volksbuehne. Since then the thought has not left me to respond to you on this with an open letter. I believe and hope that I am not the only one in this. Your appearance in this area and your call have generated a great deal of discussions among us. Some have been asking themselves whether the revolution can be done so easily: 12 Euros – and you are in. Where did you get the idea that Germans before the coming revolt, before the “storming of the Station” always first buy a train ticket? Anyway, these are frivolous Twitter comments.

 

Seriously, our circles – the circles of leftist movements – are wondering: Has this Varoufakis discussed seriously with someone from the Basis of the movement against austerity in Greece, Germany or Europe before issuing this call (for action) ? Does he not think, that the smart idea to launch a movement for another kind of Europe has already occurred to others?

 

Before I dig further, the obligatory words of praise should not be forgotten: There are many people including my friends and I who have deep respect for what you have accomplished already. Your confrontations with Dr. Schaeuble will remain in our memory. Nobody else but you could bring him to the edge of madness, no one but you could fulfil best the role of an alternative Minister of Finance. You became at once the symbol of the anti-austerity movement. More important than Alexis, Pablo and all the other stars.

 

Your ideas expressed in your books do not sound at all unrealistic: You propose another kind of Europe with your small but „modest proposal for a solution of the Eurocrisis”; and this without going against the European Treaties (which some people classify as “reformist”) -but nevertheless this is an alternative proposal which dares to question the idea of a German Europe. And not being satisfied with a so-called social administration of the crisis as your ex-comrades and ex-colleagues are doing.  And above all you are a pushing for a fundamental critic of the reigning political economy ideas, as it is taught at the universities. Especially for this you deserve a big “Like”. However, some said, you always wanted to be in the foreground, but perhaps you have shown, that someone has just to dare. And started all this from your own self first. Even a new left populism has to be learned.

 

I would like, however, to give you some tips for your upcoming trip to Berlin. Apparently, you are stepping into an unknown territory, very far from Parliaments and Economic Institutes, and you want to address and activate a “Europe from the bottom”.

 

You need, however, to pay attention to the fact that social struggles and the confrontation of power in discussions over the crisis have already started from the beginning of the crisis of the capitalist innovation offensive. For this you do not have to look too far away, but take a look at Greece: the student protests of 2006-2007 against neoliberal policies in universities, the uncompromising revolt of parts of society pushed to the edge in December 2008, the General strike of hundreds of thousands of people in the street, the movement of the Indignados (“Aganaktismenoi”) and the occupation of Syntagma square.

 

The exhaustion of the mass protest correctly observed by leftist academics led to new discussions in the Left: Party or self-organisation? Or both? Solidarity has been undertaken in Greece not only as self-support or charity but with the vision of the transformation of social relations toward a different administration of the Commons. Similar debates have been and are taking place in Spain and in other areas of the world. The decisions of Tsipras and Syriza have led to further fundamental questions which you yourself are also asking: how to change the EU without leaving it? Why are we so damn helpless and are talking since summer of the last year only of “Defeat”?

 

But let’s go back to Berlin and Germany: Imagine, here also there were attempts to counter the propaganda of the media and politicians of the „lazy Greeks“. Here, in the “Heart of the Beast”. Maybe our protests were too small to influence the existing discussion. Here some remember the solidarity “smoke signals” from Frankfurt to Athens during the Blockupy protests against the opening of the ECB in March 2015 or the #thisisacoup demonstrations after the Referendum, the ultimate unsuccessful occasion.

 

In addition, since years German and Greek activists are travelling to each other. We are people who want to prevent that in Europe only German is spoken: Blockupy, Greek Solidarity Committees, crisis migrants, progressive parts of the left parties and other Clubs, culture and theatre people and many others. Perhaps none of your German speaking partners explained that there are people who have already had the idea that we need a transnational network, even a movement from the bottom. And with this I do not mean the plan B of Oskar Lafontaine.

 

All these initiatives from Germany are networked also beyond its borders. There are many European wide forums, to which it is worth participating: Blockupy International, Alternative summits, Beyond Europe, transnational Agora-meetings, antiracist networks, struggles for transnational social strikes, networked eco-social struggles from Nantes via Val de Susa to Chalkidiki. Talk with your comrades in Greece: They also know about this, they also belong to these transnational networks. In Frankfurt we were all together on the streets.

 

We do not have always to start from the beginning. But: we all have to unite for a real movement.

 

This is why I have four direct requests for you:

-   Come to the Blockupy meeting which will take place on 6 and 7 February, shortly before your visit to Berlin. Or at least contact them one way or the other.

-          Do not waste your time with irrelevant Plan B conferences. Movements are not made from the top.

     -    Create for yourself a small map of social resistance and transnational networks in Europe. Blockupy can certainly help you in this. Believe me, it is worth it!

-          Talk directly with the people: A lot of them are complaining they could not talk in the Volksbuehne. You especially can influence and open to the public the conferences you are going to support and participate in.

 

 

The initiative to create a paneuropean movement to change existing conditions is correct, but existing structures should also be associated with this. Welcome to the Hell of social movements.

 

Comradely greetings

 

John Malamatinas

 

NB. This is my email if you want to react to this: john.malamatinas@riseup.net

The experience of Greece demonstrates the importance of building a pan European movement based on values of solidarity and deep democracy. Thank you for doing so much to organise this .
Hilary Wainwright| Red Pepper magazine |

"This is sheer unbridled sadism. The Greek people are being punished for the failure of the neo-liberal consensus to avert the hideous and increasing forms of inequality which were always inscribed within its mandate. Nothing can explain why the most powerful countries of Europe should want to continue to impose on Greece policies which have brought it to the brink of collapse, other than the desire to precipitate a true collapse which they will then take as the proof that only their vicious system could have saved it - a self-defeating argument and a blatant lie. We can only speculate what unconscious links there must be between the forgiving of Germany's post-war debt, of which it remains the beneficiary to this day and without which it would not be in a position to dictate its terms, and its refusal to countenance any such forgiveness, let alone the paying of war reparations, to Greece. No logic can explain it. We have entered the realm of the cruellest social fantasy. The irony is that the whole of Europe will now suffer. But our hearts go out to the Greek people who will suffer - who are already suffering - most."

Jacqueline Rose, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.

Étienne Balibar :"The struggle of the Greek people is the struggle of all European democrats, of all those who believe in human progress . In the case of a potential defeat all European peoples would pay the price. In the case of a potential victory, as limited as it may be, all European peoples would benefit. That's why it is necessary for those French and European forces who have hope in the renewal of democracy to positively answer the calls of Syriza to build European solidarity around Greece and the Greek people. The perspective of a referendum urgently requires the reinforcement of this solidarity"

Slavoj Zizek: "The struggle that goes on is the struggle for theEuropean economic and political Leitkultur.The EU powers stand for the technocratic status quo which is keeping Europe ininertia for decades. In his NotesTowards a Definition of Culture, the great conservative T.S.Eliot remarkedthat there are moments when the only choice is the one between heresy andnon-belief, i.e., when the only way to keep a religion alive is to perform asectarian split from its main corpse. This is our position today with regard toEurope: only a new "heresy" (represented at this moment by Syriza) can savewhat is worth saving in European legacy: democracy, trust in people,egalitarian solidarity. The Europe that will win if Syriza is outmaneuvered isa "Europe with Asian values" (which, of course, has nothing to do with Asia,but all with the clear and present tendency of contemporary capitalism to suspenddemocracy). We from Western Europe like to look upon Greece as if we aredetached observers who follow with compassion and sympathy the plight of theimpoverished nation. Such a comfortable standpoint relies on a fateful illusion- what goes on in Greece these last weeks concerns all of us, it is the futureof Europe which is at stake. So when we read about Greece these days, we shouldalways bear in mind that, as the old saying goes, de te fabula narrator."

 "The behavior of the Troika today is a disgrace. One can scarcely doubt that their goal is to make it clear that defiance to the northern banks and the Brussels bureaucracy will not be tolerated, and that thoughts of democracy and popular will must be abandoned. Other than power, there is no reason to continue with the shameful farce in which French and German banks profit from the suffering of the people of Greece."The debt should have been radically restructured long ago, or simply declared “odious” and cancelled. Today, Greeks are offered a miserable choice between two painful alternatives. One can only hope that their brave resistance to the brutal assault will encourage global solidarity that will save them and others from the harsh fate dictated by the masters."

Noam CHOMSKY | United States | MIT


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