The fracturing of the European Union

Donate

It is 70 years since large parts of Europe lay in ruins. Great power aspirations, nationalism and fascism made the continent the focus of two world wars, which together claimed nearly 100 million victims. Now, these same tendencies are spreading once again.

The fracturing of the European Union

Originally appeared at World Socialist Website

Everywhere in Europe, the ruling elites are moving sharply to the right. They are boosting military spending, taking part in the imperialist wars in the Middle East and Africa, sealing up borders and inciting xenophobic sentiments against refugees. They are developing authoritarian forms of rule and building up a police state in order to suppress growing social tensions.

After the attacks in Paris, the Socialist Party government imposed a state of emergency for three months, stationed thousands of soldiers on the streets and deployed the military’s only aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf to bomb Syria. The beneficiary of this policy has been the right-wing National Front, which became the strongest party in the first round of the recent regional elections.

In Hungary and Poland, governments openly profess their admiration for the authoritarian regimes of the 1920s and 1930s.

In Germany, leading politicians and academics demand that the country again take on the role of a “hegemon” and “disciplinarian” in Europe and aspire to be a major power in the world, as if the crimes of the Nazi regime never happened. The austerity policies that Berlin has imposed on the economically weaker EU members for years have aggravated social and political tensions throughout Europe.

Even the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who otherwise is a political follower of the German chancellor, criticized Angela Merkel in the Financial Times this week for pushing economic policies that are fanning the flames of populism and damaging incumbent governments across the continent—and are based on double standards favoring Germany and hurting Italy. Governments in Warsaw, Athens, Lisbon and Madrid had lost their jobs because they followed the policy of fiscal discipline without true growth, Renzi complained.

Numerous recent comments in the media focus on the potential break-up of the EU under the pressure of growing contradictions and tensions.

Reuters correspondent Paul Taylor writes under the headline “Europe’s year from hell may presage worse to come”: “The crises of 2015 have threatened to tear the Union apart and left it battered, bruised, despondent and littered with new barriers.”

EU Parliament President Martin Schulz warned in Die Welt that no one can say “if the EU will exist in this way in a decade”. The alternative, he writes, is “a Europe of nationalism, a Europe of borders and walls. That would be devastating, because such a Europe has led our continent in the past repeatedly into disaster.”

An editorial in the Süddeutsche Zeitung even demands a “Plan B” in the event that the EU breaks apart. The main danger comes less from Greece and the refugee crisis or an exit of Britain than from “neo-nationalism”, the newspaper states.

While these and other comments warn of a break-up of the EU and the possible consequences, they do not answer the question of why nationalism and militarism are flaring up again in Europe. Indeed, they do not even pose the question.

Contrary to the claims of official propaganda, the EU has never overcome the conflicts that made Europe the center of two world wars. The EU does not unite the peoples of Europe, but has always been a weapon of the most powerful economic and financial interests against the working class at home and international rivals abroad. It is a hotbed of nationalism, inequality, dictatorship and war.

The EU is living proof that it is impossible to unite the continent on a capitalist basis. The defence of capitalist private property and the free movement of capital and profits, which are the focus of the EU treaties, inevitably have the consequence that the most powerful corporations in the EU set the tone and the strongest states impose their will on the weaker. Instead of alleviating national and social contradictions, the EU exacerbates them to the extreme.

The enlargement of the EU into Eastern Europe a decade ago did not bring democracy and prosperity. The new members have served the major European corporations as a source of cheap labor. Their welfare programs are being destroyed, wages kept low and unemployment high, while a small corrupt elite enjoy prosperity.

The EU, and especially Germany, took advantage of the financial crisis of 2008 to dictate unprecedented social cuts in the name of fiscal consolidation. In Greece, which was made an example, the average standard of living declined by 40 percent in a few years.

The EU and its members have responded to the growing social tensions with militarism and increased repression. The real or supposed danger of terrorist attacks have served as a pretext for further anti-democratic measures.

With the refugee crisis, the consequences of imperialist wars in the Middle East and North Africa have returned to Europe. The refugee issue has further polarized Europe. While large sections of the population react with solidarity, the ruling circles have unleashed a furious campaign against refugees, building up border fences and fighting each other.

The dangers arising from the break-up of the EU are very real. New wars and dictatorships, even within Europe, loom. This danger cannot be prevented by defending the EU, but only in a relentless struggle against it and the capitalist system upon which it is predicated.

The only way to unite Europe in the interests of its peoples, to use its vast resources in the interest of all and to prevent further wars, is through the United Socialist States of Europe. Only the independent mobilization of the European working class on the basis of a socialist programme can halt the impending disaster.

Peter Schwarz

Donate

SouthFront

Do you like this content? Consider helping us!

  • Full speech of Rabbi Emanuel Rabinovich before a special meeting of the Emergency Council of
    European Rabbis in Budapest, Hungary, January 12, 1952 :
    Greetings,
    my children : You have been called here to recapitulate the principal steps of
    our new programme.
    As
    you know, we had hoped to have twenty years
    between wars to consolidate the
    great gains which we made from World War II, but
    our increasing numbers in
    certain vital areas is arousing opposition to
    us, and we must now work
    with every means at our disposal to precipitate
    World War III within five years.
    The
    goal for which we have striven so concertedly
    for three thousand years is at
    last within our reach, and because its
    fulfillment is so apparent, it behooves
    us to increase our efforts, and our caution,
    tenfold.
    I
    can safely promise you that before ten years
    have passed, our race will take
    its rightful place in the world, with every Jew
    a king, and every Gentile a
    slave.(Applause from the gathering).
    You
    remember the success of our propaganda campaign
    during the 1930’s, which
    aroused anti-American passions in Germany at the
    same time we were arousing
    anti-German passions in America, a campaign
    which culminated in the Second
    World War.
    A
    similar propaganda campaign is now being waged
    intensively throughout the
    world.
    A
    war fever is being worked up in Russia by an
    incessant anti-American barrage,
    while a nationwide anti-Communist scare is
    sweeping America. This campaign is
    forcing all of the smaller nations to choose
    between the partnership of Russia
    or an alliance with the United States.
    Our
    most pressing problem at the moment is to
    inflame the lagging militaristic
    spirit of the Americans. The failure of the
    Universal Military Training
    Act was a great setback to our plans, but we are
    assured that a suitable
    measure will be rushed through congress
    immediately after the 1952
    elections.
    The
    Russian, as well as the Asiatic peoples, are
    well under control and offer no
    objections to war, but we must wait to secure
    the Americans.
    This
    we hope to do with the issue of anti-Semitism,
    which worked so well in uniting
    the Americans against Germany.
    We
    are counting heavily on reports of anti-Semitic
    outrages in Russia to help whip
    up indignation in the United States and produce
    a front of solidarity against
    the Soviet power.
    Simultaneously, to demonstrate
    to Americans the reality of anti-Semitism, we
    will advance through new sources
    large sums of money to outspokenly anti-Semitic
    elements in America to increase
    their effectiveness, and we shall stage
    anti-Semitic outbreaks in several of
    their larger cities.
    This
    will serve the double purpose of exposing
    reactionary sectors in America, which
    can be silenced, and of welding the United
    States into a devoted anti-Russian
    unit.
    Within
    five years, this programme will achieve its
    objective, the Third World War,
    which will surpass in destruction all previous
    contests. Israel, of course
    will remain neutral, and when both sides are
    devastated and exhausted we will
    arbitrate, sending our Control Commission into
    all wrecked countries.
    This
    War will end for all time our struggle against
    the Gentiles.
    We
    will openly reveal our identity with the races
    of Asia and Africa. I
    can state with assurance that the last generation
    of white children is now
    being born.
    Our
    Control Commissions will, in the interests of
    peace, and wiping out “our”
    inter-racial tensions, forbid the whites to mate
    with whites. The white women
    must cohabit with members of the dark races, the
    white men with black
    women.
    Thus
    the white race will disappear, for mixing the
    dark with the white means the end
    of the white man, and our most dangerous enemy
    will become only a memory.
    We
    shall embark upon an era of ten thousand years
    of peace and plenty, the Pax
    Judaica, and our race will rule undisputed over
    the world. Our superior
    intelligence will easily enable us to retain
    mastery over a world of dark
    peoples.
    Question from the gathering : ‘Rabbi Rabinovich,
    what
    about the various religions after the Third
    World War?’
    Rabinovich : There will be
    no more religions. Not only would the existence
    of a priest class remain a
    constant danger to our rule, but belief in an
    after-life would give spiritual
    strength
    to irreconcilable elements in many countries, and enable them to
    resist us.
    We
    will, however, retain the rituals, and customs
    of Judaism, as the mark of our
    hereditary ruling caste, strengthening our
    racial laws so that no Jew will be
    allowed to marry outside our race, nor will any
    stranger be accepted by us.
    We
    may have to repeat the grim days of World War
    II, when we were forced to let
    the Hitlerite bandits sacrifice some of our
    people, in order that we may have
    adequate documentation and witnesses to legally
    justify our trial and execution
    of the leaders of America and Russia as war
    criminals, after we have dictated
    the Peace. I am sure you will need little
    preparation for such a duty, for sacrifice
    has always been the watchword of our people, and
    the death of a few thousand
    Jews in exchange for world leadership is indeed
    a small price to pay.
    To
    convince you of the certainty of that
    leadership, let me point out to you how
    we have turned all of the inventions of the
    white man into weapons against him.
    His printing presses and radios are the mouthpieces
    of our desires, and his
    heavy industry manufactures the instruments
    which he sends out to arm Asia and
    Africa against him. Our interest in Washington
    are greatly extending the Point
    Four Programme for developing industry in
    backward areas of the world, so that
    after the industrial plants and cities of Europe
    and America are destroyed by
    atomic warfare, the whites can offer no
    resistance against the large masses of
    the dark races, who will maintain an
    unchallenged technological superiority.
    And
    so, with the vision of world victory before you,
    go back to your countries and
    intensify your good work, until that approaching
    Light when Israel will reveal herself
    in all her glorious destiny as the Light of the
    World.