“To confront the Establishment head-on, and bring about the progressive Europe that is desperately needed, we call on activists everywhere to practice ‘Constructive Disobedience.'”
The quote is a call to not accept an undemocratic EU. But the democracy movement DIEM25 (Democracy In Europe Movement) is far from a pure protest movement. DIEM25 asserts that the refusal to accept proposals from the EU must be supplemented with counter-proposals. Since it began in 2016, alliances with progressive movements and politicians around Europe have been created and there has been a continuing dialogue with its members. Questions have been put to others, as well as to their own members regarding how the EU and Europe can be democratized. How to put an end to banks, technocrats and a European political consensus that lack political visions and solutions to widespread European unemployment, but give provides financial aid to banks and the “deep establishment.”
This spring, the “European New Deal” was introduced, in which the answers to the questions can be found in the form of principles and proposals for concrete political changes: principles such as the conversion of wealth into investments that favor a green and sustainable economy, but also offer anti-austerity and job-guarantee programs. Bank capital, inheritance taxes and green taxes will redirect resources to demos, the people.
DIEM25 has, in just one year, transformed its political manifesto into concrete policies. Thesolution to what it considers to be Europe’s biggest problem — unemployment — must be tackled first by reining in banks and the entire financial sector so that stability can be created in a Europe that is about to be torn apart by economic and social forces. The overall aim is to restore optimism and people’s trust.
Today, the biggest “political movement” consists of all the Europeans who choose not to vote at all. In the French election, 9 percent cast their ballots for nobody — more than at any time after World War II. There are thus millions of potential voters in Europe who neither want to vote for nationalism/right-wing extremism nor neoliberal status quo politics — an empty space of political ground that DIEM25 wants to fill.
But is DIEM25 just a new left-wing initiative? Taxes and regulations are, after all, old traditional left-wing politics.
There is a more holistic and less identity-oriented view of politics at its foundation. DIEM25 seeks alliances with groups, movements and politicians regardless of their party affiliation. It was the lack of ideological prestige that was the prerequisite for my personal commitment and desire to act politically.
There is no single party whose leadership is capable of extricating itself from micro-political squabbles and having the conversation that we must have on the basis of policy and the honest exchange of ideas that does not allow politicking. Nation-state politics is not fit for purpose.
A politically unique and telling example of how DIEM 25 differs — with its more holistic view of which powers rule our world — is the way the movement wants to draw attention to Silicon Valley as a destructive form of internationalism.
Google and other social media providers today gather information from all those who use their services. The problem is not that information is gathered; the problem is that every individual contributes to this social capital but lacks control over it. Until today, a biological person has had legal protection against abuse. But today, that person has expanded into also being a “cyborg”: a digital person. But that human being lacks human rights. With smart technologies, people are becoming a bit smarter, but at the same time, companies and authorities are constantly allowed to be even smarter, because they can collect the material and always stay one step ahead. Unless you, as an individual, give your permission to businesses and authorities to exchange information about and dig into your private world, you’ll be locked out of the social network. Absolutely unacceptable.
DIEM25 wants to create a counterweight to Silicon Valley through a free, open and decentralized technology. They want to create an internet where each citizen has control over his or her own location and private information. The internet can then be based on such a technologically open bank of citizen information, which means that all exchanges of information are based on the integrity and dignity of individuals. In other words, the influence moves back to people. Something that should be self-evident in a democracy.
As an active member of DIEM25 and of the Validating Council, I have, during the past year, both contributed to and been able to observe how new activist groups are starting up in country after country, and how competent people who are passionate about community and a different Europe have been appointed. This movement is growing in leaps and bounds right now, and the next natural step is to form itself into a political party — Europe’s first transnational party.
Greek journalists are speculating as to whether DIEM25 founder and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis will now return to Greek politics. But as a transnational party, it is all of Europe’s DIEM members who will decide in which countries DIEM25 will start its party activities.
In September, one week before the European Commission has its State of the Union speech, DIEM25 will hold the event, “The Real State of the Union” in Brussels, where the launch of DIEM25 as a party will develop, focusing on the 2019 European election.
“We will shake Europe — gently, compassionately, but firmly.”
A gigantic democratization project that could, of course, move in any direction. But for me, who for 25 years has not voted for a parliamentary party, it inspires hope in a necessary and unique time of political turbulence.