Original French article: Nous subissons aujourd’hui un ordre eurolibéral-autoritaire, changeons le pouvoir!; translated Wednesday, 12 June 2013, by Isabelle Métral.
We are now in a deadlock. The vast majority of our fellow citizens demand a deep change while the majority of their political “representatives” are apparently dead set on pursuing the same course: the self-defeating policies that go by the name of “austerity”.
This unbridgeable gap inevitably results in a crisis of the political system, the blatant symptoms of which are a loss of confidence in the institutions, the parties’ and party leaders’ fall into disrepute, the growing appeal of populism and abstention. People reject the “political class” because it remains deaf to their demands. The violence and depth of this rejection appears in the great public scandal that followed from the Cahuzac affair.* The French have had more than enough.
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They will not bear any more deception or any more tricks; they cannot accept the fact that their vote cannot change anything, they can’t take any more lies. The most outrageous trick – which will leave indelible marks – was the incredibly hypocritical ploy that consisted in having Parliament ratify – under the name of the Lisbon treaty” – the “constitutional treaty “ French people had clearly rejected in the referendum that had taken place a few months before.
Since this act of felony, in which the two main parties connived, our institutions have been discredited.
It is no mere stroke of bad luck if Europe is at the heart of this outrage. In the course of the last twenty-five years, the European construction has drastically changed our political system by setting the laws of the market – under the supervision of Brussels – above the supremacy of the States. As a result, it matters little whether the Right of the Left is in office.
Proof of this has been given in Germany where they have been together in office, and no wonder since they must implement more or less the same policies. But when people are left with no choice but to toe the line, the lack of a real alternative spells the death of democracy. Within such a frame, short of being addressed politically, dissent can only be ignored, or suppressed. As is the case now: the European countries, especially those in the euro zone, have moved out of a historical type of political régime (national parliamentary democracy) into an altogether different system that might be dubbed ‘Euro-Liberal Authoritarian’. Brussels’ dictates, like the setting up in some countries of governments manned by EU’s financial technocrats, are becoming more and more common instances of the change.
This drastic change itself is the all but inevitable consequence of the change undergone by the global system. In the last few decades we have entered a new phase of development of what used to be called “the third world”. After a few centuries of absolute western domination, that other world – the four fifths of mankind – is retrieving its sovereignty. Capitalism, as a consequence, has adapted itself.
By going global and financial, it has turned the threat into a historic opportunity. Not only has it made for itself fabulous opportunities for profit in this new “emerging” world, but it has also succeeded in doing the same in western countries by setting up a competition between countries and their social systems. The result of this in Europe is the deterioration of working and living conditions, de-industrialization, mass unemployment, precarious jobs, etc. Imposing such regressive policies while inequality soars to the benefit of the rich cannot be done except by imposing authoritarian régimes.
Let’s face the truth: to pursue this course would help bring into office the Far Right that is on the watch almost everywhere in Europe, and régimes that would turn outright fascist.
For the law is always the same: no social system can be dissociated from the political system that maintains it on a long term basis. That is why a real political change necessarily requires a deep institutional transformation. It cannot simply consist in restoring past conditions irrespective of the realities of the new world that now faces us.
To break with the Fifth Republic’s original authoritarianism is the necessary requisite without which there can be no change. And in order to be effective, this break must aim at the major objective of breaking with a European political order that now blocks all alternative.
A Sixth Republic and the re-foundation of the European construction are therefore the two inseparable facets of the citizens’ revolution change absolutely requires.
* See article 1806. Cahuzac was François Hollande’s minister for the budget and a fierce supporter of austerity policies when, earlier this year, it was revealed that he had evaded tax by opening bank accounts in foreign countries. Confronted with former Left Front presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon in a TV debate shortly before the scandal, he confidently declared that he had never believed and still did not believe in class war.