Saturday, December 23, 2017

VIDEO: "Meet DiEM25"

"Almost two years ago, we got together under DiEM25’s broad umbrella [Democracy in Europe Movement] to challenge old-style politics, to shatter TINA (“There Is No Alternative”) at the pan-European level, to turn Europe’s democratisation into a radical, realistic, uniting project.
2017 was an awful year for European democracy. But it was an amazing year for DiEM25. We:
  • Rallied tens of thousands of people in cities including Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin, Dublin, Belfast, Hamburg, and London, and toured the breadth and length of Greece & Italy, demonstrating that There is An Alternative; that Another Europe Is Already Here!
  • Nurtured our activists. There are now 70,000 DiEMers in almost every country on the planet!
  • Launched and pushed specific campaigns to expose the Establishment’s worst abuses – and we just filed a lawsuit against the European Central Bank to force them to release #TheGreekFiles
  • Launched our European New Dealour concrete social and economic Policy Agenda, crowd-sourced from DiEM25ers and experts across the world
  • Influenced elections with our interventions, like in Germany, France and the UK, and supported/partnered with candidates or parties that embraced them, like in Catalonia, Zagreb, Denmark and Poland
  • Welcomed progressive leaders to our movement, like Naomi Klein and Richard Sennett
  • Kickstarted the process for taking the European New Deal to a polling station near every European – at the Volksbuehne Theatre, in Berlin
  • Began electing our Coordinating Collective
  • Presented the Real State of the Union in Brussels, at the Bozar Theatre
  • Set in motion the ‘Not Just Another Political Party’ endeavour
  • Elected our first National Collectives (NCs), taking to new levels our ambitious experiment in grassroots transnational democracy – with all members (despite nationality) voting for different national collectives..."

Read more about DiEM25 here.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

"The High Cost of Denying Class War"

"In 2016, the year of both Brexit and Trump, two pieces of data, dutifully neglected by the shrewdest of establishment analysts, told the story. In the United States, more than half of American families did not qualify, according to Federal Reserve data, to take out a loan that would allow them to buy the cheapest car for sale (the Nissan Versa sedan, priced at $12,825). 

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, over 40% of families relied on either credit or food banks to feed themselves and cover basic needs..."

Read more from this article by DiEM25's co-founder Yanis Varoufakis here.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

VIDEO: "To be a progressive..." (6 months after the British election)

"It’s exactly six months today, since [Britain] went to the polls. 

As the clock struck ten and we held our breath for the exit poll, few guessed the extraordinary result that was to come. Against all the odds, a Tory landslide had been stopped in its tracks – and a big part of that was down to the Progressive Alliance...

The impact of this is already being felt. We believe we are starting to see the end of austerity, and the beginning of a restoration of our public services, with the lifting of the cap on pay rises for parts of the public sector.

It wasn’t just that the Progressive Alliance got us more progressive MPs – it introduced a different kind of politics that was non-tribal and about something bigger than any single party. Through the Progressive Alliance we found out what we all have in common...

Watching it takes us back to that time, and revives the feelings of pride and gratitude (and relief!) that we hope you share.

Some days the news can make us angry or sad, even fill us with desperation. 

On these moments, it can be helpful to remind ourselves why we are doing what we are doing, and why it matters to continue to believe in, and fight for, a better world. 

Whether you’ve seen it before or not – this five-minute story will give your progressive spirit a boost:

Watch it here (YouTube Link) 
Or here (Facebook link) "

Monday, December 4, 2017

"A ray of hope for Europeans" -- My latest article for Catalonia Today magazine

Ultra-conservatives will always do what their natures demand.

Given any opportunity, they strangle democracy while at the same time claiming that it is democracy that they want to breathe life into.

The horrifying repression in Catalonia is an extreme illustration of this and makes a perfect example of right wing crimes against humanity but it is certainly not the only current case of the most privileged in society making sure they stay in complete control.

Over the border in France, President Emmanuel Macron (the man whose election held off a far-right National Front victory) brought down his first budget.

He handed a huge €7 billion tax cut to the wealthy and slashed social spending which included robbing €1.7 billion from housing aid and the elimination of 120,000 state-funded short-term job contracts.

In Italy, three time Prime Minister and convicted tax fraud billionaire Silvio Berlusconi is gone but the forces he represented are still alive and kicking hard. In Sicily -- as with much of the country -- a rightist alliance has had considerable electoral success blaming their economic problems and high unemployment on immigrants.

Of course it is actually the policy of continuing austerity which allows precious investment to go into speculation rather than job creation that is truly at fault for low living standards there and right across the continent.

But people can see immigrants and refugees every day in the streets where they live and the market economy is harder to point at and blame. All this at a time where public health services are being sold off to private business interests and hospitals are “‘close to collapse’ in Rome, Turin and Naples.”

In the upcoming 2019 European elections there is a new and exciting alternative for voters who have seen the EU parliament as irrelevant to our lives. Understandably, most voters find it difficult to even name a single one of their representatives in Brussels but until now there has been little reason to care.

The arrival of academic and author Yanis Varoufakis’ Diem25 (Democracy in Europe Movement) has given those with a progressive outlook something credible to believe in. Varoufakis has a very personal reason to want to democratise Europe.

The International Monetary Fund and German-backed troika refused to negotiate with him in 2015 when he was the new Greek Finance Minister. Keeping his integrity intact, he resigned from the government and went on to be a cofounder of DiEM25 only one year ago.

In a remarkably short time, under the main slogan of “Transparency for Europe” this ‘pan-European’ activist movement has come up with a persuasive and comprehensive manifesto.

Their basic argument is that unless Europe and its institutions become genuinely democratic then it is doomed to disintegrate.

Partly inspired by the clear historical success of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in breaking the Great Depression of the 1930s in the USA, DiEM25 has developed its own highly detailed European New Deal to end the mainstream EU dogma that there is no alternative to more years of severe austerity and secret backroom deals.

Varoufakis and his organisation are also offering concrete proposals that include a Basic Universal Income, refugee justice and crucially, a plan to tame capital and finance. Amongst other major changes, they are in favour of “regulating banking and establishing a new public digital payments platform that ends the monopoly of banks over Europe’s payments.”

At the moment, DiEM25 is in the process of getting votes from its members to decide whether to become a political party that will stand candidates in the 2019 European election.

If the response is a ‘Yes’ then ordinary men and women across Europe will finally have something worthwhile to get behind and support.

[This article was first published in Catalonia Today magazine, December 2017.]

Saturday, December 2, 2017

"The 'tribes' of Europe"

You can always count on the British establishment to investigate how "human beings can be classified like insects," as George Orwell said.

One of their 'royal institutes' has done this, using a survey to divide up 10,000  Europeans from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK.

For what it's worth, the Find Your Tribe exercise found " six political ‘tribes’ across Europe with different views about the EU and its future.