What is this heterogeneous crowd of people standing in the foyer of the People’s theatre doing there? Why are they waiting hours in advance for a ticket? Why are the foreigners searching in agony for a live stream link? At the end of the day, what is this so-called DiEM25?
The manifesto was published in 9 languages recognising, and simultaneously trying to overcome, the basic difficulty of Babel and transforming itself into a pan-European movement. One thing is apparent: the Europe of today cannot communicate and agree within itself.
Of course, the fact that the only binding substance among many of the countries involved is monetary union, is worse than this multi-language effect. The first EU treaties were an effort to control prices and cartels, despite the fact that economic agreements should not be the primary concern in the unification of nations of a region. The first part of Yanis Varoufakis’s speech focused on this point and the danger coming from the efforts by the voices of nationalism to force us back to nation states.
So what is DiEM25? Srećko Horvat, one of DiEM25’s supporters responded to a question from the audience: “If this ends up as another party we would have lost the game, if this ends up being only a spontaneous gathering of people which will be dissolved either by the special forces out there in the squares or due to an inability to translate into something bigger, we would have also lost the game”.
So, I visited their website and filled in the application form. On entering my contact information I got the answer: “You are now a member of DiEM25 and a volunteer for the next big things to come. Soon we will contact you and discuss which part of the process/progress fits to your interest.”
According to Yanis Varoufakis, European institutions are seriously ill; something which was clearly demonstrated by the video presented during yesterday’s DiEM25 launch. As a first “antidote” a Europe-wide request for transparency in all official, institutional meetings was proposed. This transparency request finds fertile ground in civil society as well as in political and academic personalities who, in one way or another, have experienced the effects of decisions taken behind closed doors: most of the negotiations on transatlantic agreements (TTIP, TTP, CETA), all meetings of the Eurogroup, the negotiations among states and European institutions with the banks, the pharmaceutical companies, etc. All the “major pillars” of global and European economic policy are pursued behind closed doors or by manipulated minutes regardless of what is really discussed. This need for transparency was mentioned over 15 times in yesterday’s event and the live streaming of all these meetings was the first demand for action.
As a medium term demand the co-formulation of an alternative policy programme on financial matters, debt, poverty and labour was proposed; which will be performed through internet platforms and enriched with vital discussions. How the issues of language and access will be managed in online forums by subject is an issue that still has not been clarified. It appears that DiEM25 will try to provide the infrastructure to facilitate this dialogue in order that the final decisions among the peoples of Europe may be as participatory as possible. We are waiting for that.
The ultimate goal is to create a different model of governance with emphasis on the local community, in a horizontal organisation where the challenge of discussions and proposals will be “bottom up” and not “top down”, as we experience it today. Ambitious? Of course. Necessary? Indeed.
But heterogeneous was not only the crowd assembled at the Volksbühne. From different origins and with serious ideological differences and priorities – such as the kind of immediate action needed by our societies today – were also the official supporters presented by Mr. Varoufakis. “Will we change climate policies in order to enjoy more humanistic societies or will we change the system in order to succeed and have better climatic conditions?” were two dominating approaches among ecologist and leftist policies. “Should we operate within the capitalist system or should the orientation of Europe be different and if so, how?” DiEM25 and all those people who spoke from the stage agreed on the following basic points:
No European people…
- Can be free as long as another’s democracy is violated
- Can live in dignity as long as another is denied it
- Can hope for prosperity if another is pushed into permanent insolvency and depression
- Can grow without basic goods for its weakest citizens, human development, ecological balance and a determination to become fossil-fuel free.
In the speeches of the invited supporters on stage I could distinguish anger at today’s situation as a result of the policies of austerity policies, a determination for what is going to happen tomorrow, the will for equal participation of groups left behind, transparency and courage. Additionally all of them believe that if democracy is truly implemented, we will automatically have the kind of European Union we want. This is my doubt as I believe in a profound change in our values in order to be able to have the kind of Europe and the kind of world we want, putting human beings in the centre of our policies and concerns and this doesn’t come automatically. We need to work on different levels of violence and fear produced and imposed by this system and unfortunately not only in the social level.
But I don’t intend to leave these thoughts crawling in my mind. On the contrary as an active member of the worldwide humanist movement I will try together with other people to turn them into concrete proposals and to communicate them with DiEM25 as it’s surely the most interesting thing I have seen since the Spanish movements and Occupy.
The audience deified Ada Colau, Julian Assange, the young lady representing Blockupy, the artistic approach of Brian Eno. They applauded with passion every criticism of closed-door discussions of transatlantic treaties and every comment on the great efforts made by Mediterranean countries for over a year now to deal with the refugee crisis (basically Greece and Italy). They applauded Varoufakis’s admission of failure as a Finance Minister, a failure of the Greek government to get even one concession from merciless European Institutions. They warmly accepted the affirmation of Slavoj Žižek that failure was expected because the answer must come from all the peoples of Europe, as a sequel of last summer’s defeat.
And finally we remembered the words of Samuel Beckett quoted by Srećko Horvat: “Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”