BREXIT and the Future of Europe

Brexit and the future of Europe

“The United Kingdom’s fateful decision to break away from the European Union makes an eventual dissolution of the 28-member bloc practically irreversible.”  — George Soros

Britain’s vote to become the first country to leave the European Union came as a severe blow to those who believed in the integration and cohesion of the European community. The Brexit vote reflects a divorce between the EU and sizeable segments of the European electorate and threatens the survival of the post-war European project. Although Britain was always a reluctant member of the EU, yet the loss of one of its biggest members will definitely force major changes on an embattled bloc already struggling to deal with growing populism, a migration crisis and economic woes. It is being expected that Brexit could inspire other disaffected nations to consider a way out unless the bloc responds to anxiety across the continent over jobs, immigration and globalization.

The Brexit has sent shockwaves around the globe giving birth to chaos in stock markets and plunging Pound and Euro exchange rates. As the surprise settles, an even more uncomfortable sobering spreads: the disintegration of the globalized power blocs can get expedited. The referendum has opened a Pandora’s box, as similar initiatives for leaving the EU may now pop up in several European countries like Spain, Greece and Italy. Nobody can precisely know how long the EU, a complex economic and political union ailing with many crises already, will still be able to keep up, but its disintegration is under way.

Let’s not be mistaken: The European Union has alienated countless millions of workers and ordinary people all over the continent; for many “EU” has become the very synonym of a hostile “establishment.” While it began as a progressive project for freedom and solidarity among the peoples of Europe, committed to never again repeat the terrible wars of the 20th century and authentically humane initiatives, the EU has developed into an anti-democratic, neoliberal technocracy with ever-decreasing legitimacy and benefit for the Europeans. Preaching noble values of human rights, social democracy and peace, the rulers of the EU have led a scrupulous austerity regime, gradually expanding precarious work conditions for millions. The wide gap between its social rhetoric and the implementation of free market policies gave many people the feeling of being constantly betrayed by an anonymous superstructure, which they cannot participate in or reach out to.

In their blind obedience to the orders from Washington and the corporate world, European leaders have endlessly fooled their people. Whether it is about secretly handing the last remaining democratic powers over to multinationals and abolishing fundamental environmental, consumer and worker rights, as it is prepared in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, about ruining their own countries’ trade by installing economic sanctions against Russia, or about participating in the extremely dangerous deployment of NATO troops to Eastern Europe, there is hardly any demand from the US that the EU and European leaders wouldn’t fulfil, however devastating its consequences for Europe may be. Just how narrow the ideological tolerance within Europe has become could be seen from German foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier’s courageous statement by which he dared to condemn the military drills in Eastern Europe as “warmongering” against Russia. As he stated the obvious, he provoked pure outrage from fellow politicians and the media in the Western world.

Or take Greece, for instance. A year ago, the EU establishment carried out collective punishment against an entire nation for being so impertinent to demand an exit of the austerity policies. How enthusiastically have countries like Greece, Portugal and Ireland joined the EU, dreaming of economic progress, continental integration and solidarity and how badly have they been impoverished and robbed of their sovereignty by being trapped in astronomic debt. However, this is not an issue of Southern vs. Northern Europe, but one of redistributing wealth from the 99% to the 1% throughout Europe. “Austerity is,” as Chomsky noted, “really class war.”

Capitalist globalization has corroded the social fabric of societies around the world, destroyed solidarity among people and established an anonymous hyper-individualized climate of fierce competition, loneliness and struggle for survival. People are left without any positive prospect for the future. They feel constantly cheated on by something or someone that they cannot even precisely name. The tensions emerging from the extreme levels of inequality, corruption and lack of prospect have become massive in nearly all Western countries today. Societies — both in Europe, North America and basically worldwide — cannot be kept together for much longer on the basis of the existing social, political and economic orders.

In France, there have been endless mass protests and strikes against the neoliberal labour reform of President Hollande. It’s a resistance of dimensions unheard of in recent decades and some are speaking of the “second French Revolution”.

In addition, there is the ticking time bomb of the Greek debt crisis, there is a looming global financial meltdown; then, there is a refugee crisis which has not been solved but just sealed from world’s attention. Furthermore, there is an ecological crisis of planetary dimension with existential threats to the survival of the human population. Brexit is just a tiny puzzle piece in a much larger process of entropy taking place all over the world — the systems of society, politics, economy, but also of culture and people’s coexistence are bound to disintegrate because they have produced crises that have corroded social cohesion and destroyed the basis of life on this planet.

This is the beginning phase of a global revolution that will turn societal conditions upside down. No one can stop this transformation, but we can influence where it will go. Will the disintegration of the globalized systems lead to fascist violence and molecular civil wars as some fear or will it lead to a process of planetary renewal and liberation?

Alongside the collapse of the inevitable old system and rise of right-wing spectres, there is another vision for the future. The entropy of the centralized systems of power must not lead to chaos and destruction, but to the emergence of a new type of free society based on autonomous communities. Community is the key word for a humane future in Europe and worldwide. We human beings are communitarian beings in essence; we genuinely thrive to the extent that we are bound with fellow human beings in solidarity and trust. The insanities of today’s late stage capitalism could only be invented and executed by people who have lost their social and ethical anchor. The era we are coming from, the epoch of patriarchy, imperialism and capitalism has systematically destroyed communities and isolated people from one another. Imagine the collapse of this system is accompanied by the emergence of new types of communities everywhere. People would develop an autonomous cultural life; they would organize new networks of regional self-sufficiency and take basic resources back into their own hands, creating authentic forms of bottom-up grassroots democracy. They would develop new forms of social coexistence based on transparency; people would participate in each other’s lives instead of closing their private doors behind them. Imagine people could dare so much truth and compassion among each other that a society would come into being that no longer needs to be kept together by static rules, police and authoritarian structures, but by the quality of life we all most desire: trust.

Imagine a new European community and eventually planetary community will develop, replacing the centralized power systems with an alliance of interconnected autonomous communities setting the foundations for a new epoch based on solidarity among people and cooperation with the powers of nature. Imagine this growing planetary movement would share an essential ethical code and would replace the drive for personal profit with the drive toward participation in and service for the greater benefit of humanity and the Earth. Imagine this movement would gradually dissolve the old nation-states, power blocs and cultural borders. Communities would be home to people from all over the world, including refugees. Once people have again found home in a real community, they no longer need to violently defend the construct of their “fatherland” against people from elsewhere.

In order to start such a transformative movement, we need models which show that a new society based on communitarian coexistence, trust between people and regenerative autonomy is possible. We need places for new holistic research to develop the ecological, technological, economic, political, social, spiritual structures necessary to become once again compatible with life, nature and humanity’s deeper longings and motivations. There already exists an enormous amount of knowledge and solutions in this direction, but they need to be fused into a concept for a new global culture.

You may find it too utopian and far-fetched but the more we see the dimensions of the current global crisis, the better we are in a position to see the necessity for a fundamental redesign of the way we inhabit this planet. This is not the time to be “realistic” in the narrow conventional sense, because if we think like this we do not even have to begin. It is not the time to think about slow incremental change, but to think about complete revolution, to dare a lot, dream big and see the most beautiful vision of what our world can be. This is what it is to be radical in times of such tremendous transformation.

Evolution does not advance gradually, but in leaps — once a pattern of organization is no longer functional, living systems undergo a period of turbulence until they suddenly leap into a more complex pattern of organization. This is the process we are undergoing as a species right now, the process we are participating in and co-creating. The clearer our vision, the more we can help birth the future we want. We cannot leave this up to some president, institution or guru; nobody else will do it for us. Now is the moment to start building a new humane culture and it begins by seeing its actual possibility.

Courtesy:  Global Research

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