Stefano Fassina’s reply to our la Repubblica article on democratising Europe

La repubblica

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Stefano Fassina wrote the following letter to la Repubblica’s editor, in response to the article that I published in the same newspaper with Lorenzo Marsili. Over the next few days, I shall be replying to Stefano here. Meanwhile for the original version in Italian, click here. For the English language version…To the Editor:

A few days ago on this site Yanis Varoufakis and Lorenzo Marsili, two of the founders of “Diem 2025”, recalled the humiliating victory of “Oxi” in the referendum on the programme of the Troika, held on 5 July last year in Greece. They then relaunched the key objective of their movement: democratization of the European Union. For this purpose, they see as a worrisome obstacle that part of the Left, recognized in the positions of the undersigned, which “retreats to nationalist positions and throws in the towel in the dual battle against the nationalist Right and the transnational establishment.” The nationalist regression is identified in a passage of one of my writings dedicated to the reconstruction of the Left in which I point out that “The demos of the euro zone doesn’t exist. What exists are national demos, aside from the upper class, which has always been cosmopolitan and a promoter and beneficiary of the current order. National demos have different cultural, moral and linguistic natures and competing interests.” From here, I receive cultural and political excommunication through linkage to Burke and, inevitably, Le Pen and Salvini.

Unfortunately, my observation is factual, it is found in a vast progressive literature. Regarding their reference to Antonio Gramsci, let me point out that our brilliant heretical Marxist invented the category of “national-popular” to give popular roots and hegemonic capacity to that Italian Communist Party which in its symbol had the red flag with hammer and sickle resting on the flag of Italy. I also point, among the many possible references, to Sir Ralf Dahrendorf, a free marketer. In Dopo la Democrazia (After Democracy) he writes: democracy on a supranational scale “is not possible in the case of the EU, because a ‘European people’, a European demos for a European democracy, doesn’t exist either.” … “Among the idealists and the euro-fanatics, some still think that the European Union can transform itself into a kind of nation-state, only bigger: the United States of Europe. But … this is not the correct description of what Europe is or can become.” Finally, I point to a very recent policy change on CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement): all together we won the battle for ratification in each national parliament of the EU, as well as in the European Parliament.

Does recognizing the national demos mean nationalism or sovereignism? Does it mean “giving priority only at the national level” as, in addition to the excommunication, is attributed to me? No, it doesn’t. It would have sufficed to read the entire passage of my writing to understand the progressive sense of the analysis. In the cited case, I invoked “the reaffirmation of democratic sovereignty at the national level, to the extent possible in unregulated global markets, to relegitimize and relaunch European cooperation” (on, in a extended version of the same text, I anchor national democracy to municipal democracy).

So, dear friends of Diem 2025, let’s dispense with caricatures and discuss with a sense of reality. Otherwise, the Left remains aphasic and irrelevant, as occurred in the Brexit referendum, where Jeremy Corbyn felt “his” people were relying on the Right but remained prisoner of a conformist, unrealistic call to “reform Europe”.

Rather than banking on an abstract and unachievable European constituent assembly, let’s try to introduce, treaties unchanged, corrections to the functioning of the single currency, the most disruptive factor separating the peoples of Europe. For example, let’s pursue, together with “Made in Germany” mini-jobbers and with all other European workers, precarious and unemployed included, a trans-European mobilization to increase the wages of German workers thereby stemming the mercantilism of Berlin, which, through the euro, is exporting devaluation of labour.

Stefano Fassina



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