DIEM25’s Democratization Project Enters the Political Arena

Also published on Truthout and Swedish ETC

To confront the Establishment head-on, and bring about the progressive Europe that is desperately needed, we call on activists everywhere to practice ‘Constructive Disobedience.'”

The quote is a call to not accept an undemocratic EU. But the democracy movement DIEM25 (Democracy In Europe Movement) is far from a pure protest movement. DIEM25 asserts that the refusal to accept proposals from the EU must be supplemented with counter-proposals. Since it began in 2016, alliances with progressive movements and politicians around Europe have been created and there has been a continuing dialogue with its members. Questions have been put to others, as well as to their own members regarding how the EU and Europe can be democratized. How to put an end to banks, technocrats and a European political consensus that lack political visions and solutions to widespread European unemployment, but give provides financial aid to banks and the “deep establishment.”

This spring, the “European New Deal” was introduced, in which the answers to the questions can be found in the form of principles and proposals for concrete political changes: principles such as the conversion of wealth into investments that favor a green and sustainable economy, but also offer anti-austerity and job-guarantee programs. Bank capital, inheritance taxes and green taxes will redirect resources to demos, the people.

DIEM25 has, in just one year, transformed its political manifesto into concrete policies. Thesolution to what it considers to be Europe’s biggest problem — unemployment — must be tackled first by reining in banks and the entire financial sector so that stability can be created in a Europe that is about to be torn apart by economic and social forces. The overall aim is to restore optimism and people’s trust.

Today, the biggest “political movement” consists of all the Europeans who choose not to vote at all. In the French election, 9 percent cast their ballots for nobody — more than at any time after World War II. There are thus millions of potential voters in Europe who neither want to vote for nationalism/right-wing extremism nor neoliberal status quo politics — an empty space of political ground that DIEM25 wants to fill.

But is DIEM25 just a new left-wing initiative? Taxes and regulations are, after all, old traditional left-wing politics.

There is a more holistic and less identity-oriented view of politics at its foundation. DIEM25 seeks alliances with groups, movements and politicians regardless of their party affiliation. It was the lack of ideological prestige that was the prerequisite for my personal commitment and desire to act politically.

There is no single party whose leadership is capable of extricating itself from micro-political squabbles and having the conversation that we must have on the basis of policy and the honest exchange of ideas that does not allow politicking. Nation-state politics is not fit for purpose.

A politically unique and telling example of how DIEM 25 differs — with its more holistic view of which powers rule our world — is the way the movement wants to draw attention to Silicon Valley as a destructive form of internationalism.

Google and other social media providers today gather information from all those who use their services. The problem is not that information is gathered; the problem is that every individual contributes to this social capital but lacks control over it. Until today, a biological person has had legal protection against abuse. But today, that person has expanded into also being a “cyborg”: a digital person. But that human being lacks human rights. With smart technologies, people are becoming a bit smarter, but at the same time, companies and authorities are constantly allowed to be even smarter, because they can collect the material and always stay one step ahead. Unless you, as an individual, give your permission to businesses and authorities to exchange information about and dig into your private world, you’ll be locked out of the social network. Absolutely unacceptable.

DIEM25 wants to create a counterweight to Silicon Valley through a free, open and decentralized technology. They want to create an internet where each citizen has control over his or her own location and private information. The internet can then be based on such a technologically open bank of citizen information, which means that all exchanges of information are based on the integrity and dignity of individuals. In other words, the influence moves back to people. Something that should be self-evident in a democracy.

As an active member of DIEM25 and of the Validating Council, I have, during the past year, both contributed to and been able to observe how new activist groups are starting up in country after country, and how competent people who are passionate about community and a different Europe have been appointed. This movement is growing in leaps and bounds right now, and the next natural step is to form itself into a political party — Europe’s first transnational party.

Greek journalists are speculating as to whether DIEM25 founder and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis will now return to Greek politics. But as a transnational party, it is all of Europe’s DIEM members who will decide in which countries DIEM25 will start its party activities.

In September, one week before the European Commission has its State of the Union speech, DIEM25 will hold the event, “The Real State of the Union” in Brussels, where the launch of DIEM25 as a party will develop, focusing on the 2019 European election.

“We will shake Europe — gently, compassionately, but firmly.”

A gigantic democratization project that could, of course, move in any direction. But for me, who for 25 years has not voted for a parliamentary party, it inspires hope in a necessary and unique time of political turbulence.

Liberation or Protectionism

Also published on Dissident Voice and Democracy Chronicles

The Western world has slowly been forced to realize that the old cornerstones of society are no longer a given. Liberal market economy, representative democracy and the shift of influence away from citizens up to a global and unreachable level makes for a drop in confidence.

The new political currents have led the rulers of the West to react with alarm. Finally, there has begun to be an understanding that the left-right-scale no longer applies. It has been replaced by a people-elite scale or a close-large scale. But instead the debate is dominated by the fear of populism. News reporters and political analysts now travel across Europe in droves, from election to election, country to country, in pursuit of a single election result that may indicate a break in the trend and a return to the old ways.

In fear of the new politically radical currents, whether they have traces of right, left, liberal, green or anarchy, what is perhaps the West’s greatest cause for pride, the tolerance of minorities, has been curtailed. Radical political ideas are under constant attack from a middle layer of politicians and the powers that be.
People’s longing for something new remains.

This was already noticeable 5-6 years ago with the North African uprising, the protest movements around the Mediterranean Sea and the Occupy Movement and the “1% of the population ruling over 99%”. The two western political “people’s outrages”, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as president, are thus a natural consequence of years of a growing fatigue in the political status quo in favor of the more popular and cohesive.

In Spain, a referendum on independence is due in September. In Scotland, a new application for one has been submitted and in California, signatures are being collected to create a referendum on independence. In Europe, there is a growing dissatisfaction with the EU as a sphere of power. In all these examples, calls are made for independence, nationalism and/or regional rule. But the trends are rarely discussed in the same debate. Self-government in the form of a protectionist nation state seems to be something completely different from a struggle for independence, even though there is merely a difference of degree in the aspiration for self-rule and control.

It is a longing for liberation from the big and incomprehensible beyond human contact that is the motivating common denominator. In a smaller context, this can be noticed when social services such as schools, healthcare or different types of service facilities are concentrated into central municipalities in the name of efficiency and economics. Or when jobs disappear or are moved elsewhere and people are forced to break up from their loved ones and their neighborhood culture. A development that few politicians want to touch and which is beyond people’s influence.

The western growth machine creates communities with millions of “non-people”, unemployed youth or senior citizens who lack social significance. At the same time, a clique of financially well-off’s just grows stronger. Solutions seem to be lacking within the current political and social western framework.

The longing for a real society; for justice and community, seems impossible to stop in these times of break-ups, individualization and lack of human dignity.

The new perception of in what direction society is heading, has created new alliances of political movements as, for example, the European DIEM25 which works for a democratized and transparent EU. DIEM25 and the new French President Emmanuel Macron, as well as the radical American Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, reflect rather well the current state of affairs, both in Europe and the US; either new radical political currents beyond the classical political choices, or, as in the case of Macron, a longing to move away from the old at the same time as there is a wish to be anchored in the old. A political three-way-forecast à la 2017. But the biggest political change is not about who is elected but rather about the distrust of the eligible. Both Macron and Donald Trump are both politically skilled businessmen who have perceived a new radical need for change, unlike the classic politicians and their eternal promises of change which are no longer considered credible. The political change from left versus right to small scale versus large scale, regardless of which political icon that represents it, was completely unthinkable just 3-4 years ago.

The direction of regionalization and “the small-scale” causes fears; both among those who are afraid of an increasing intolerance to minorities as well as among liberal market forces and globalists. Those who want to restore participation, proximity and popularity see liberation.

Is it then possible to regionalize our societies without losing a tolerance for others? The answer should be obvious. Intolerance is not created by diversity; it is created by economic injustice and the lack of influence, involvement, belonging, respect plus the absence of a sense of community. People who are satisfied and feel visible do not look for someone to blame.

Was the decision to close down the Greek banks illegal?

Also published in ETC (Swedish newspaper)

The European central bank (ECB) refuses to publish the legal opinions that enabled ECB to shut down the Greek banks 2015.  The hush-hush surrounding the ECB and the Euro group and the blackmailing of the Greek people is obviously a process that would not pass an open examination. The citizens of Europe are given even more reasons for questioning the current democracy and their politicians.

In June 2015 ECB ended emergency lending to Greece’s banks after the Greek government announced a coming poll regarding the conditions for another loan. The Greek people voted no to the conditions as it would have prolonged the depression. The Greek government did however submit to the conditions and to surrender to the power of ECB and the EU-politicians. The finance minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned. His reason was that the government had won the election by promising a decent agreement with ECB but that was never achieved. The Prime Minister Tsipras and the left party Syriza humored the banks and EU-politicians.

2015 the democracy movement DIEM25 was presented with Yanis Varoufakis as a co-founder and with the motto: “The EU will either be democratized or it will disintegrate”. DIEM25 is looking for a political diversity e.g. green, radical left or liberal but not for an EU-exit. Rather they wish to “repair EU”. Since the introduction DIEM25 has grown to 25 000 members in more than 56 countries.

As part of DIEM25’s vision of a more transparent Europe Varoufakis and the French radical left leader Benoit Hamon started a campaign in February 2016 in order to urge ECB to publish the legal opinions that the closure of Greece’s banks were based on.

By the time of the closure of the banks ECB conducted a private legal firm that formulated the legal opinion also called the “Greekfiles”. Greece was informed of the closure by the Eurogroup, a group of finance ministers from the Eurozone-members.  DIEM25’s opinion is that ECB is following a political agenda and is not acting as an independent central bank. Also, the Eurogroup is acting outside a juridical protocol and do not document there meetings. On the contrary, everything must be kept secret.

In July 2016 Mario Draghi, the ECB:s president was asked to open up the Greekfiles but refused. He referred to juridical  circumstances that has been questioned from a juridical point of view as well.

Not only do DIEM25 envision democracy and transparency. As the only Swedish official active member as part of the Validating council I can testify that this culture is also something that exists “inside” DIEM25 as far as I’ve experienced. There is a vivid dedication to create a new kind of democracy. In DIEM25 you’ll find an inspired Europeans independent from national borders as well as economical frameworks.

The Swedish opinion is moving towards a Swexit. Despite a new political landscape and a stream of   new political opinions nobody seem to be willing to move away from their political comfort zone and really act upon the lack of democracy signed by all our political parties in the middle of the epicenter of Europe. Political circumstances that citizen’s notice and make conclusions from.

DIEM25S’s request for publishing the Greekfiles is a concrete example of how not to obey before the “euroconcensus”. DIEM25 aims straight for the core-issues; the lack of transparency and democracy.

In times of re-actions this is much needed Action.