This is a rush translation of an article from the current edition of Revista Pueblos. It is by Jesús González Pazos of Mugarik Gabe Euskadi.
Whilst we go on thinking we still live in a democratic Europe, in reality we are witnessing the first steps in a coup d’état, and the possible establishment of a long era of social and financial fascism. We understand that this is a severe claim and might be immediately considered both an exaggeration and gratuitously alarmist. However, let us analyse just two obvious elements, which are public and widely known, which have occurred in recent months, affecting what we had always been told were cornerstones of democratic systems: constitutions and electoral processes.
The former, obviously so in the Spanish state, were always stressed to us as near untouchable so as to safeguard the social and political stability of the Nation State. We do not believe this to be the case, but this is what the majority of the political class has always maintained. And they would say to us that, as a last resort, any constitutional reform would demand a long process of political discussion and debate and, with clear proposals that were widely understood by the citizens, would be countersigned by the latter. However, in recent months we have witnessed fast-track processes of constitutional reform, practically carried out without the citizens, in whom sovereign power resides in a democracy, finding out what it is that has been reformed and why. At best, we know that it has something to do with the deficit, the now compulsory budgetary stability and the crisis that has dominated the European political and economic stage for more than four years (a crisis, by the way, which they continually said was temporary and would lift soon, and which has proven right those of us who have claimed from the beginning that it is a structural crisis of the capitalist system). We can therefore claim that this sovereign power that resided in the citizens has suffered an obvious and forced displacement to the economic powers. That is who now decides on the constitutional changes and reforms, so that what is known as the delegated power of the people, which is supposed to reside in the so-called political class, simply approves what is prescribed by this new usurping sovereign power.
The second obvious element of the coup d’état that is underway can be found in the electoral process and the selection of rulers. Here, this usurping sovereign power mentioned previously now decides if the electoral process is necessary or if it can be done away with, in the first steps towards the dispossession, here also, of the right of a society to elect its governing class. In this vein we have witnessed in recent months the unilateral changes of government in Greece and Italy when they were no longer of use to the economic powers. Thus, when George Papandreou and his government no longer had the strength, or the worth perhaps, to inflict more cuts on the punished Greek people, their downfall is brought about and their substitution is imposed, with another government composed of the so-called technocrats brought in. In Italy, where a litany of scandals had reduced Silvio Berlusconi to a joke, but none of them had brought about his exit from the government, it was also the economic powers who in a matter of hours decided and carried out his replacement by another technocrat. And these activities become obvious and clearly displayed, as messages to those who might be so capricious as to conduct measures out of line with the dictates of ‘the markets’.
But careful with the technocrats, as it conjures up an image of people with high technical qualifications, beyond the vices and failure of politics, and neutral as regards ideologies: above ‘good and evil’ and, as such, the only potential saviours of the critical situation. However, both Lucas Papademos in Greece and Mario Monti in Italy come directly from the economic powers and they have built their careers amid financial networks to the point of being central to measures taken in eras that preceded the current crisis and which largely caused it. Lucas Papademos , for example, was first chief economist and vice-governor of the Bank of Greece from 1985 to 2002, and went on to occupy the vicepresidency of the European Central Bank. Mario Monti had, among other responsibilities, the role of European director of the Trilateral Commission (a lobbying group of obvious neoliberal tendency) and advisor to Goldman Sachs, during the period that this company helped Greece hide its enormous deficit, the origin in large part of the current Greek situation and of the brutal economic measures now being imposed on it. So, who has decided that these characters, on account of their apparent, though arguable, technical qualifications, have the ability and right to be at the helm of governments of systems that are democratic in theory? Since they come from banks and financial institutions, how can we assume that their measures will not be in the service of these entitites and their interests in making a profit, responding to their demands and actions instead of the improvement of social and economic conditions for the populations of their respective countries?
These are some of the elements that provide us with evidence that we are witnessing veritable coups d’etat which, beyond doubt, prostitute the so-called European democratic system and impose a social and financial fascism in the service of the economic elites and their interests. In the service of the so-called ‘markets’ – we are constantly fed the idea that these entities are anonymous and diffuse, almost unidentifiable. This makes it harder to recognise them as the parties responsible for this crisis situation and for the grave attacks that, under the excuse of the crisis, they are carrying out against an entire nucleus of rights acquired through social, political and labour struggles throughout the 20th century. In this way, by blurring out the guilty parties, by ensuring that society cannot focus exactly its demands and protests on the people directly responsible for the situation, the guilty parties protect themselves. However, it must be said that these ‘markets’ have names and surnames; they gather at Davos and Bilderberg, they can be found at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and the Trilateral Commission, in the famed ratings agencies and the boards of directors of the big banks. There you will find the people taking the decisions, the people who define how and when constitutions are modified and who should occupy the governments in systems that are now merely presumed to be democratic.
It is precisely these economic groups who have reacted with the measures that they now impose on us. Only two years ago, during the first months and effects of the so-called crisis, certain political sectors timidly dared to identify guilty parties among the financial powers. There began to be talk of the need to reform capitalism by recognising its profound crisis, there was talk of the need to control the financial system, being the cause of the crisis and because of its unlimited ambition, there was talk of serious action to be taken against tax havens and fraud and all manner of measures were deemed necessary in society. Although this political class never had any intention of replacing the system but merely to modify it just enough so as to maintain it, the reaction of the economic elites, of ‘the markets’, with their absolute control and manipulation of most mass media outlets, has caused all that to be forgotten and these timid measures are not even considered nor is any accountability sought from those who have been the direct instigators of the crisis in the capitalist system. There was forceful questioning of the failure of the neoliberalism imposed over the last decades and today, just two years later, the measures applied against us carry all the trappings of neoliberalism in its most orthodox form and they are being imposed by those who boast about it. Debate and deliberation has been diverted away from these points onto the imposition of social and labour cutbacks and the destruction of the rights of majorities and, as thus, towards social and economic fascistisation, with the consequent control of a powerful minority over the social and political life of society, towards the uncontrollable rise in their profits.
Therefore, if we accept that what has been pointed out here is an important part of potential new scenarios in Europe, there will be many doubts, confusions and hesitations, but there are dominant questions, such as: how long are we going to wait to react, when the road of cutbacks and loss of rights that they have been leading us along in recent years is by no means finished, and in fact they will keep going deeper? In this old Europe constituted by old peoples, we still have within our hands, but perhaps for not much longer, such is the grave risk we run, the ability to halt the coup d’état, to prevent social and financial fascism from being imposed on us.