Darker Days, Brighter Days

It isn’t looking great for Europe at the minute. The latest steps agreed by European heads of government are intended to dismantle European welfare states in order to satisfy the banking sector. The European Central Bank is not a central bank at all but an instrument, commanded by a Goldman Sachs stooge, for enrichment of the banking sector and impoverishment of the working classes of Europe. Sometime soon the pretence of democracy will be dispensed with altogether [postscript: it was suggested to me this morning that ”any pretence at democracy” was fully dispensed with in the week a far right party fascist was appointed Minister for Infrastructure by the unelected Greek Prime Minister and the entire Italian cabinet was appointed, unelected, by an unelected Financial Consultant’, and I find it hard to disagree]. Communiqués that emanate from these summits are never addressed to the peoples of Europe, but to the ‘markets’, which is to say, the banks.

It was always Fine Gael’s intention that when it took power it would sign up to the institutionalised austerity demanded by the European authorities. As Paul Mason noted the other day, this entails the outlawing of expansionary fiscal policy: the authorities had ‘done what the US Republicans would like to do – and if you think about it, it has made what Gordon Brown did, and what Barack Obama (and indeed Wen Jia-bao) is doing illegal‘. If there is a referendum, the pressure brought to bear on the Irish population, so that it does not lapse once again into delinquency, will be immense. This is why national and international authorities will desperately seek to circumvent a referendum, and why anyone with the remotest interest in democracy will demand it, and then vote No, of course.

In previous referenda, political and media establisments have sought to portray opponents of the constitutional amendments among the general population as recalcitrant xenophobes and swivel-eyed bumpkins. This has always been carried without the slightest concern at the anti-democratic nature of the edifice under construction in Europe.

In fact, quite a number welcomed the anti-democratic bit: the Irish population’s congenital deficiencies were such that representative democracy was wasted on them, so it was better for Europe to exercise a firm hand. If there is a referendum, and given the experience of the recent aborted Greek referendum in terms of how that country got leaned on to pack in the silly ideas and get with the technocratic programme, it is a pretty big if, it will be interesting to see if this taste for the strong hand to rule over us blooms into a full-blown fascist reverence to those above and contempt for those below.

Well, the chickens will come home to roost sometime soon, and it won’t be pretty. Dark days await the broad mass of people living and working in Europe on the back of what has been agreed this weekend by professional politicians with one eye on the revolving door that leads to the consultancy position with the investment bank or the lobbying firm. Meanwhile, there are other places where the future looks distinctly brighter, and we in Europe should seek to learn from them and their struggles. The translated piece below, about the newly formed Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is by Juan Carlos Monedero, and was published in Público early last week.

CELAC is born, Europe agonises

Sarkozy, Merkel, Rajoy are talking about the continent. They speak of banks, cutbacks, social sacrifices. They have forgotten about Europe. Or they never understood it. They started off in the politics of politicians. And when you are socialised in those rules, you can never find the way out. You have to be shown by the people in the street.

José Mujica, President of Uruguay, is speaking with Chavez and Morales in the CELAC meetings. He says with old conviction and urgent anger: “Either pregnant women in our countries eat well or their children will be saddled with the problem all their lives!”


People’s pain. Pain of old that landed Mujica in prison. And Dilma Roussef, and García Linera, and Raúl Castro, and Hugo Chávez.


And hundreds of thousands more like them. Prison, death, opprobium. But in the end they won. They went into politcs from the street. Guerillas turned into government.

Europe has kings, nuclear weapons, international banks, risk premiums and promises of interminable working days. In South America they talk about breaking with a north that has invaded them, robbed their gas and petrol, minerals, fruit and plants. A north that has ransacked their airlines, trains, communications, soil and water. With the help of a criollo oligarchy, white and eternal, that holidayed in Miami, Paris and Madrid. The birth of CELAC was full of black people who are shadows no longer.

33 countries, 600 million people, the world’s reserve of petrol, gas and water, of biodiversity, of ancestral cultures. Neither China nor Europe understand Mother Earth. In Latin America they do. In CELAC they talk about the Pachamama. Another task for the American South that will not get resolved elsewhere.

The Organisation of American States, said Che, was the Ministry of US Colonies. They expelled Cuba after the revolution, and the continent remained silent. It remained silent when they launched the coup against Allende. It remained silent in the coup against Chávez. It showed its impotence in the coup against Honduras. Now, it has recovered its voice and it no longer needs gendarmes. Making decisions in the south about the problems of the south.


Europe was created on the ashes of fascism. The CELAC, on the ashes of neoliberalism. Without Hitler, there would be no European Union. Without the US, there would be no CELAC. Chávez understood this and he climbed up onto Bolívar’s horse to point the finger at the north for its responsibility and its threat. Hence Mr Danger. Hence Pitiyankis. This is why it had to smell like sulphur in the United Nations. So that the continent would waken up. To see the one who does not let you be who you are.

Europe had a lot and it is losing it. Latin America had nearly nothing and it is making up ground. Europe is plunged in fear. America, in hope. Its birth has just started. It has everything ahead of it. It is breathing in to take the leap. Europe is out of puff. Europe sighs, America fills its lungs with oxygen. With the same wood, you can make coffins or violins.

The CELAC is born with the will to be. It has a grip on its problems. To aim at broadening rather than deepening is generous. To seat at the same table as who could be the US’s Israel in the region – Colombia-, the country condemned to share thousands of kilometres of border -Mexico- or the government that cannot speak ill of Pinochet -Chile- is a challenge even if only for the invitation to these rulers to turn their gaze back to the South. In Europe, the core is made up of the most selfish -Germany and France- in the CELAC, the most disinterested: those of the ALBA.

The poet wrote: in Europe, the dove of peace was eaten by the hen that laid the golden eggs. [No idea what poet he’s on about] In South America, colorful birds take flight and oblige you to lift your gaze high.



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