The European Union Leviathan and its Attack on Democracy

On the occasion of the tragedy of the current virus, there was no need for many words to acquire the confirmation that the European Union deserves the title of Disunion.

We are all experiencing difficult times in this dire situation, but for the unemployed, the illicitly employed, the precarious, and in general all those excluded from economic security, the times are dramatic, and they are close to the threshold of survival. Many have lost their jobs, regular or illicit, and have nothing to live on, and are having great difficulty imagining a future for themselves and their children.

In the mystique of clichés, distortions of meaning constitute a formidable barrier to a correct deciphering of events. A resounding example of terminological deception is the term “European Union” (I stress the term Union). It is likely that the majority of European citizens make use of this designation without reflecting on the unconscious assumption that it possesses, albeit in a sub-optimal form: minimal elements of democracy, fairness, and solidarity. Some suppose that the EU is a confederation of states (without understanding that in that case the participating countries would have retained the essence of their institutional and monetary sovereignty), others go so far as to think that the EU is instead a federal state, with a government, a parliamentary assembly, a central bank, and perhaps a common army. Still others know that in today's European Union there is nothing federal or confederal, but they think that we are working on an ambitious project, the construction of the United States of Europe, or something similar.

None of these assumptions are true, however. The prospect of one day reaching a European federal state similar to the US has never been considered in any EU treaties, let alone included in any EU political text or declaration since 1955 (Messina conference) until today, for the trivial reason that the leading countries (Germany and France) have always abhorred it, even perceiving the reason: there is no European people. Since the genesis of the European project, Italy, on the other hand, has been naively seduced by the fascination of this chimera, passively subjecting itself to the North-European political-institutional initiatives, incapable of designing an autonomous teleology centred on its legitimate interests.

It is worth emphasizing that the European Union today is a non-democratic institution, without a government, administered by unelected officials, whose career and star salaries depend on the survival of a Leviathan based on rules incomprehensible to the average educated European citizen. I believe that few have ever found the courage to go through the European constitutional rules, namely the Treaty on European Union (TEU, Maastricht Treaty), the Treaty amending the Treaty on European Union (TFEU, Lisbon Treaty) on the Functioning of the European Union or the TCEE (Treaty establishing the European Economic Community). These are texts - which refer from one rule to another or to addenda that can only be found after lengthy research. Without hyperbole, they can be defined as incomprehensible, a labyrinth built to hide legal meanings and political objectives, diverting the attention of subjects damned to obey without understanding, an artificial construction where the law of the jungle prevails, that of the strongest, certainly not that spirit of solidarity of which the pages of the treaties and the mystifying lexicon of its officials are full, in addition to that of the Italian politicians subjugated to it. At a time when the full brunt of the virus was hitting the tormented Italian territory, our European partners (certainly not friends) were even denying us the protection masks legally purchased or in transit.

But let's see how it's come to this. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, we are witnessing an acceleration of the process of economic-institutional restructuring of Europe, which the mainstream calls the process of European construction (Europe must therefore be built, since it does not exist in nature!). In small steps, in those crucial years, democracy was taken away from the member states and entrusted to a non-elective ultra-state technocracy at the service of the Euro-transnational financial elite. The claimed legitimacy of this preter-constitutional authoritarianism was justified by the non-existent democratic will of the European peoples, many of whom were not even consulted (e.g. the Italians), while national parliaments were defrauded of the constitutional prerogatives won through centuries of struggle.

This technocratic neo-constitutionalism has constituted the techno-legal framework to impose anti-social policies through the well-known usurping bodies: the European Central Bank, a vehicle for the transfer of public wealth to private banks while enslaved media and gimcrack governments continue irresponsibly to defend independence; the European Commission, whose members declare themselves humble servants of the common European interests; or a fake Parliament without the power that in democratic countries characterizes the essence of a legislature, the power of legislative initiative. It is enough to reflect on the fact that the most important law approved every year by the Italian Parliament, the finance law, must be submitted to the European Commission before being discussed and approved at national level.

European laws, which take precedence over those approved by national parliaments, are prepared by officials under the daily pressure of the corporate lobbyists that crowd the streets of Brussels. Made by the non-elected Commission and after a rapid changeover to the Euro-Parliament, the laws are then definitively approved by the Council, where decisions can be taken by majority, and therefore always and only if Germany agrees. In essence, a heap of outrage.

The heavy democratic deficit in the EU has led to the devaluing of the world of work and the degradation of social services, to the massacre of the economies of Southern Europe, to the criminalisation of the role of the State in the economy, to the submission to the globalized North-European oligarchies (with the complicity, it must be said, of those of the South, including the Italian ones, always in a obsequious position).

In 1992, with the Maastricht Treaty - adopted without a serious debate and even less a popular consultation - the path towards the institutional destructuring of the democratic statehood of the member nations began. A crucial instrument of this process is the common currency, too weak for Germany and too strong for the countries of the South, which without a redistributive government would have enriched the North by impoverishing Italy and the other PIIGS.

With the single currency Francois Mitterrand intended to place the European bridle on ever looming German nationalism. Unlike Mitterrand's intentions - history teaches us that intentional actions can generate unintentional consequences - the euro has instead led to the economic, and now political, hegemony of Germany in Europe. In the 20th century Europe had a problem and its name was Germany. In the 21st century, under a different sky, of course, the scene does not seem to be very different.

Since Maastricht, European countries have lost the power to issue money, to impose limits on the movement of capital in the public interest, to legislate on economic and financial matters without a green light from Brussels-Berlin, to conclude trade treaties with third countries, to protect borders in accordance with democratically approved laws. The reunification of the two Germanies, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, was a crucial step towards the goal of a German-led Europe under the cosmopolitanism of the elite (not to be confused with internationalism, which is the alliance between the subordinate classes of different nations).

In those years, in the complicity of distracted or hired media and academics, the hegemony of subalternity to globalisation on the part of the State (or of its spoils), against populism (a term that actually accumulates poor, unemployed, underemployed, those working illicitly and a middle class that has been economically culled) and sovereignty, a noun with a double meaning, one reactionary in nature that aims at a raptor capitalism with a national profile, another social-democratic, partisan of the awakening of the state, not against other states as the instrumental hermeneutics of the mainstream would like, but as a bulwark of the interests of the dominated classes and a balance of the silent hand of the markets, perpetually insatiable in it search for profit. 

The strategy of domination by multinational financial capital assigns to the European Union the task of demolishing the independent nation state, the only body which, under certain conditions, would allow the subordinate classes to offer significant resistance. It is essential, if it does not want to die unprepared to protect the interests of others, that Italy recovers the political, monetary and fiscal initiative, seizing this extraordinary opportunity to redefine power relations in Europe.

In addition to the lack of popular indignation, however, prevented by the media blackout and the blindness of the governments in office, it disconcerts the inertia of our intellectual world incapable of creating a minimum of alternative political representation.

It is hardly necessary to point out that a distancing from the neoliberal-euro-globalist technocracy would not be tantamount to denying the deep historical, cultural, and economic ties that unite the European nations. In an alternative confederative path between sovereign states, which is quite different from today's reality, the recovered constitutional sovereignty (nothing to do with nationalism), an innate essence of any state entity, would allow even small nations an adequate protection of their interests against big nations and transnational corporations.

That a socially humiliated Europe with such a democratic deficit escapes the critical gaze of left-wing political thought remains one of the painful mysteries still unresolved (or rather solvable, but not here). It is also instrumental - as the supporters of the first hour of the current technostructure claim - to attribute the merit of peacekeeping in Europe over the last 75 years to the process of European construction. In fact, peace has been guaranteed, and not everywhere (one need only look at the former Yugoslavia), by the balance of terror, with NATO on one side and the Warsaw Pact on the other, and certainly not by a life-giving unionist process between European nations which, except the United Kingdom, had all emerged humiliated from the Second World War, and were therefore at the mercy of the American hegemonic design, in favour of European unification from the very beginning, which simplified American control over European countries in an anti-Soviet function.

Here we are back in Italy, where the Left has been talking for years about rights rather than needs, citizens rather than workers, voters rather than people. Social services, wage earners, and the middle class are still paying a very high price on the altar of the false myth of European unification, which with the rhetoric of the external bond has bent domestic resistance on the road to the destructuring of the State, vilely accused of generalized corruption and uncritical dissipation of public resources. Today, voters and left-wing elites live in the good neighbourhoods, while wage earners and the unemployed are relegated to the distant suburbs and it is no coincidence that they make reactionary choices

The distinction between those who aim at the demolition of this Europe in favour of equally liberal and class oriented national policies and those who fight for the recovery of constitutional sovereignty and the monetary and fiscal independence of the state as a prerequisite for the democratic implementation of cohesive policies, full employment, and social investment remains crucial.

Alberto Bradanini

former Ambassador of Italy to Tehran and to Beijing (2013-2015). He is currently President of the Research Center on Contemporary Cina.

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