Open letter to Yanis Varoufakis: Welcome to the movement!
Open letter to Yanis Varoufakis: Welcome to the movement!
(Translation from German)
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.
NB. This is my email if you want to react to this: email@example.com