This time I will vote in the European elections - like every other time I have been able to since I was 18. When I lived in France it was an exciting time to vote in European elections, as an EU-citizen. Michel Rocard was the PS-Spitzenkandidat. The French satirical magazine came up with the expression that rights are only lost when they are not used. This Leitmotiv reminds us that rights like freedom of association and freedom of speech thrive when there is democratic and civic space. The right wing and the new fascists seem to be copying the concept of civic “disobedience” and “occupying” the public sphere and space in a way that would make Gramsci both jealous and upset.
The coming European election will not only be between the Antis and the Pros. The Antis will try to convince us by arguing that everything can be better dealt with in the national sphere and that their motivation is social. The argument is laughable, but it is not a laughing matter. Their programme is not for the social good, if anything it is anti-social. Brennan coming to Brussels is not a joke, it is a threat and a danger! Civic movements and progressives should follow his activities and make them public while not feeding his publicity, just as they should also follow Russia’s interventions – but not only the trolls!
The Antis are interested in everything but social progress and taking care of those who are on the fringes of our societies. They want to use their anger, their concerns, the anger and concerns of the disappointed.
Pro-Europeans share a commitment to a certain idea of Europe, to generous values, to democracy. The challenge however is to avoid falling into the trap of a simple confrontation between pros and cons, because to do so would be to miss the point: European elections need to be about choices between fundamental orientations. Market radicals have imposed austerity as the cure to the effects of the crisis which followed the Lehman crash. They have managed to sell the measures which led us directly into the financial crisis as the remedy. Seriously impressive. But why should progressive pros always follow the lead of the conservative pros, for the sake of Europe? Europe will not be rescued with a little bit of social flower power, it needs a radical democratic alternative which is not provided by those on either extreme.
We are radically pro-European! Of course. But I belong to those who believe that only a radical change towards a real social Europe will open the door to integrating those who have lost faith in the European project. And to the enemies and destroyers of Europe we say: no pasarán! They will not win if we stand together and fight for our ideas! For Europe and for Democracy!