Remember - and look ahead

11 November 2018

Remember - and look ahead

The heads of state and government of Europe turned much of their attention today to the commemoration of the end of the First World War. That's a good thing, because every war was and is one too many. But the French president Immanuel Macron chose to make this the start of his campaign for the European elections. Showing his colours, he entered the liberal 'family' of which the Dutchman and member of the ruling VVD party Hans van Baalen is the chair, the ALDE. In doing this they are identifying themselves with the europhile 'centre', according to which next year's elections revolve around whether you are for or against European cooperation. This is all simply a smokescreen. The real choice is between still more neoliberal predatory capitalism, and a just society where it isn't Shell and Unilever but the workers and small firms who call the shots. In other words it's between the right, which includes Macron, and parties such as the SP. Time to turn off the smoke machines and clear the air. Time for justice.

I'm of course not cynical about the remembrance ceremonies that have been held in the last few days. Just this year I happened to be in France and passed many monuments in memoriam of the victims of the First World War. We should stop and reflect, just as we should for the victims of the other wars waged since and in which the West appears to have been governed by the arms industry and oil giants rather, than a longing for peace, such as in Iraq. It is this which undermines Macron's credibility, being as he is a supporter of a strong, European defence force and, in particular, especially in his buying and researching new weapon systems. And this is the same Macron who has to date refused to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia, despite these weapons being deployed in the inhuman attacks in Yemen. France's arms deals were more important to him than are their Yemeni victims.

The commemoration was further tarnished by the fact the Macron's words fit perfectly with the propaganda model which the European bubble wants to see, one in which because the critical citizen is impressionable in the face of anti-EU sentiment, we shouldn't respond with rational arguments, but rather play on the emotions. So whoever is against the existing EU is a nationalist and a supporter of war. If you're in favour of the EU as it is, you recognise the importance of peace. Angela Merkel, who will address the Parliament plenary in Strasbourg in the coming week, will likely come out with the same sort of line. The left in Europe must not fall into this trap. We aren’t short of emotions, but ours come in response to the way in which people throughout the EU are being exploited in the name of budget fetishism and the fetishisation of the market. The leaders of the left parties who gathered this week in Brussels are calling, each in his or her own way, for resistance – against neoliberalism, against 'market think' and for a strong public sector with good health care, good education and well-equipped police. Next year's elections to the European Parliament must principally concern these issues. Are we going to allow the multinationals, with the support of Macron and his ilk, to continue to call the shots in Brussels, or will we take back the power?

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