Skip to main content

EU Uber Alles? Neoliberal echoes of a darker, mid-century plan for continental unity

The unflinching support for the EU and its institutions is not about preventing European countries from becoming “Afghanistan.” Not about preventing collapse. Not about the inconvenience of long lines at passport control. It is about promoting an ideology, a specific worldview, a vision for the way the world should work.

by Michael Nevradakis

Part 5 - Why the fear of losing the EU?

For some of those who favor the EU, their support often approaches levels of blind dogmatism. The main issue to contend with here though is why do such large segments of the political, business, and media elite so strongly support the EU, the Eurozone, and all of its associated institutions and policies?

In a word, the reason is neoliberalism. Based in part on “third way” politics, which burst to the political forefront in the 1990s with the likes of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, it is the idea that capital, including “human capital,” should be able to flow freely across borders—or better yet, that borders should be abolished altogether. It is an idea that pays lip service to democracy and social justice but that preserves the primacy of international financial capital and so-called “free trade” über alles.

Greek Prime Minister Tsipras, defending his government’s policy of maintaining Greek membership in the Eurozone, argued in a recent interview that Greece would turn “into Afghanistan” if it left the common currency bloc. However, as evidenced by Tsipras’ aforementioned victory speech, the end goal is preserving the idea of “Europe”—as conceptualized by today’s European Union—at all costs, even if it means breaking campaign promises (or outright lying, if you prefer) and implementing policies that are toxic for the country and its people.

Some of the more laughable defenses that have been heard in favor of EU membership—as exemplified by the heated pre- and post-Brexit referendum rhetoric, concern such awful inconveniences as having to wait on line at customs control or at currency exchange. Somewhat more serious arguments concern the loss of the right to seek employment in other European countries. Doom-and-gloom scenarios, such as the one put forth by Tsipras and also much of the press and mass media, predict economic failure and catastrophe for those who dare depart from the Eurozone or the EU.

This unflinching support for the EU and its institutions, though, is not in reality about preventing European countries from being transformed into “Afghanistan.” It is not about preventing collapse. It is not about the laughable inconvenience of waiting on long lines at passport control. It is about promoting an ideology, a specific worldview, a vision for the way the world should work.

How exactly does this new, visionary world work in reality? What is the end goal? Let’s take the “free movement of labor” as an example. The positive spin that is often placed on this issue points out the advantages of being able to seek work in 28 EU member-states, increasing options for those seeking jobs and the pool of potential workers for employers.

In actuality though, such policies promote a “brain drain” from poorer EU member-states towards those that are wealthier. This perpetuates a spiral of impoverishment in countries such as Greece, from which an estimated 600,000 people have emigrated just during the years of the economic crisis, draining the country of a significant percentage of its educated professionals, the know-how and innovation they could provide, and the contributions their employment would make to the national tax base and pension system–further perpetuating the vicious economic cycle.

Indeed, it can be surmised that a portion of the still significant levels of support for EU membership in Greece stems from individuals who do not view EU membership in terms of the country’s best interest but in terms of self-interest — such as the opportunity to escape the “hellhole” that is Greece and to move to other, wealthier countries that are deemed more “civilized.” Motivated self-interest can also be seen in certain professional categories, such as academics for instance, who fear losing such benefits as EU-provided or EU-supported financial grants.

On their end, employers do not wish to lose what amounts to a pool of surplus labor. This has nothing to do with meritocracy, competition, or finding the best candidate to fill available positions. It has much more to do with increasing labor supply and lowering wages accordingly, essentially pitting labor against itself. As an ancillary benefit, the impoverishment of EU member-states such as Greece creates an internal bloc of countries with educated working populations, proximity to the rest of Europe, free trade and the same currency, and labor conditions and wages rapidly approaching third-world levels. This leads to “investments” (including the aforementioned privatizations) in these nouveau-poor nations, while “free” trade allows cheaply-made imports from economic powerhouses such as Germany to be dumped on local markets.

The same holds true for economic migrants and refugees, for whom we are often told there must be “no borders.” But what this influx of peoples actually represents from an economic point of view is further surplus labor, including labor willing to perform undesirable jobs at pitifully low wages. It represents a new labor pool which is, in essence, pitted against the domestic labor of European countries, suppressing wages across the board. As an additional bonus for employers, those migrants and refugees who are undocumented are far more likely to be amenable to long workdays, extremely low wages, and employment without insurance, benefits, or union membership — essentially held hostage by fear of deportation or starvation.

In other words, these migrants and refugees are exploited, and this exploitation occurs under the guise of “open borders” and “solidarity.” As this exploitation takes place, the true causes of the mass waves of migration and outflows of refugees from these countries are ignored. These, in turn, are closely related to the geopolitical ambitions and activities of Western actors, including the EU and Brussels-based NATO.

While many of those who are opposed to unchecked migration are indeed racist and xenophobic, there also exist those who oppose such migration on the aforementioned grounds, while further recognizing that states already battered by domestic unemployment are in no position to absorb a new labor pool. There are obviously non-racist and non-xenophobic grounds for opposition to the destruction, impoverishment and exploitation of these countries in the first place There are then equally sound and benignant grounds for further opposition to the exploitation of the migrant workers and the suppression of wages and elimination of jobs for the domestic workforce, especially at a time when double-digit unemployment already officially exists in much of Europe and the Eurozone.

The way this induced “free” movement operates, a significant percentage of the labor force within “united” Europe is exploited or driven out of work and forced into internal migration within the “common market,” while migrants from outside Europe add to the pool of surplus labor and drive down wages even further. Both categories of workers are exploited by the “big fish,” namely economic and industrial giants such as Germany, and by international financial capital, which together benefit quite handsomely from this situation. This is as far from a xenophobic argument as one can get.

If this all sounds far-fetched, consider the following remarks made by British Labour Party MP John Reid on the BBC’s “Sunday Politics” television program on April 14, 2013: “The Treasury insisted in having a free flow of labor because they thought it would have brought down the cost of labor.” Reid further noted that he was attacked by members of his own party for suggesting that it was not racist to discuss the issue of immigration.

This is the prevalent ideology: “open borders” under a veil of “humanism” but with the goal of the economic exploitation of workers and entire countries alike. War and conflict is fomented in some countries, economic oppression in others. The migrants fleeing these countries in search of survival and employment are then exploited by the wealthier countries, which benefit and profit off of their work and very presence in these countries, such as through the broadening of the tax base. Conversely, the countries that raised these individuals and invested in their education are left largely empty-handed, at best awaiting remittances from abroad. And all of this is couched in pseudo-humanitarian terms: open borders, free movement, and “free” trade.

Source, links:


[1] [2] [3] [4] [6] [7]

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

It has started: Spain decides permanent UBI for its citizens

globinfo freexchange
Spain appears to be the first country that will implement a permanent form of Universal Basic Income for its citizens. As the Independentreported: [emphasis added]
Spain’s cabinet has approved the creation of a national minimum income, according to a government spokesperson.

Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias told a news conference on Friday the creation of a minimum income worth €462 (£416.92) a month will target some 850,000 households or 2.5 million people.

The government would pay the monthly stipend and top up existing revenue for people earning less so that they receive at least that minimum amount every month, he said.

The minimum income would increase with the number of family members, up to a maximum of €1,015 (£916.30) each month. The programme would cost the government about €3 billion a year.

Mr Iglesias said: “Today is a historic day for our democracy. Today this government is showing that its political choice is social justice and that it takes the…

It has started: Greece becomes the blueprint for the 21st century corporate feudalism

globinfo freexchange
Greece has just become the blueprint for the 21st century corporate feudalism through a preposterous environmental bill passed on Tuesday.
Just when the neoliberal government lifted most of the restriction measures that were imposed to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, it rushed to pass the bill through unconstitutional actions. These have been strongly condemned by the main opposition party, SYRIZA.
As reported by the Associated Press:
Greek lawmakers approved a controversial environmental bill Tuesday that the opposition and environmental groups slammed for opening the door to exploratory oil and gas drilling in protected areas.

[...]

On the eve of the vote, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund said they had collected 30,000 signatures in an online petition against the legislation, which they say will remove vital safeguards for environmental protection.

Beyond the drilling, this legislation is deeply problematic in many areas, as has already been estab…

Τίποτα δεν σταματάει το νεοφιλελεύθερο "οδοστρωτήρα" τους ...

globinfo freexchange
Αφού τελείωσαν τα χειροκροτήματα για τους γιατρούς του Εθνικού Συστήματος Υγείας, ο Μητσοτάκης επέστρεψε στην "κανονικότητα" της αποστολής του, που, με λίγα λόγια, είναι η ιδιωτικοποίηση και το ξεπούλημα των πάντων. Έτσι, μετά το διάλειμμα λόγω πανδημίας, φανέρωσε και πάλι το πόσο αδημονεί να οδηγήσει το Εθνικό Σύστημα Υγείας στο δρόμο της ιδιωτικοποίησης.
Όπως αναφέρει το tvxs.gr:
                         Δεν πρόλαβαν να περάσουν λίγες μέρες από την άρση του Lockdown και την απομάκρυνση, σε πρώτη φάση, του σοβαρού υγειονομικού κινδύνου της πανδημίας, και ο Κυριάκος Μητσοτάκης επανέφερε τα σχέδια για ιδιωτικοποίηση του ΕΣΥ, εγκαταλείποντας τα «χειροκροτήματα» και τις αναφορές στους «ήρωες» υγειονομικούς και στη σημασία του δημόσιου συστήματος υγείας. Παρά το «σκληρό μάθημα» που έδωσε η πανδημία στους νεοφιλεύθερους λάτρεις της «αγοράς», φαίνεται πως η κυβέρνηση δεν εγκατέλειψε ποτέ τους αρχικούς σχεδιασμούς της, παρά τον τρόπο που το δημόσιο σύστημα υγεία…

New court files expose Sheldon Adelson’s security team in US spy operation against Julian Assange

An exclusive investigation by The Grayzone reveals new details on the critical role Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands played in an apparent CIA spying operation targeting Julian Assange, and exposes the Sands security staff who helped coordinate the malicious campaign.
by Max Blumenthal
I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole.

–Mike Pompeo, College Station, TX, April 15, 2019
Part 2 - Pompeo outlines the attack on Assange
Pompeo’s first public speech as CIA Director, hosted at the Washington DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank on April 13, 2017, was one of the most paranoid and resentful addresses ever delivered by an agency chief.
The former Republican congressman from Kansas opened his speech with an extended tirade against the “Philip Agees in the world,” referring to the CIA whistleblower who handed over thousands of classified documents to leftist publishers that revealed shocking details of illegal US regime change and assassination …

The neoliberal machine mocks Millennials and Gen Xers through a documentary about Bernie's awful mistreatment by the corporate media!

globinfo freexchange
Now that the "Bernie Sanders" threat for the establishment has been neutralized (for a second time), the neoliberal machine is free to pretend that it cares about the truth.
Kyle Kulinski speaks about a new documentary by VICE about the media bias against Bernie Sanders. Although the doc trailer is pretty impressive, Kulinski starts with a pretty remarkable argument he saw on Twitter:
                         Credit to VICE. Thank you for this documentary. Curious how it released after Bernie dropped out. 

Kulinski finds that the mainstream media still have enough power to neutralize an undesirable candidate, as they did with Bernie, despite the fact that most of the people don't trust them. He also explains the demographics of this year's race for the leadership of the Democratic party.

As he supports, Millennials and Gen Xers overwhelmingly supported Bernie Sanders against the Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation (in which Bernie actually be…

Δεν τους βγαίνει με τίποτα η "στρατηγική ήττα" ...

globinfo freexchange
Τα πράγματα φαίνεται να εξελίσσονται σχεδόν όπως τα είχαμε προβλέψει.
Όπως είχαμε επισημάνει ήδη από τα μέσα Απριλίου, στο επόμενο διάστημα αναμένεται να δούμε νέες, αλλεπάλληλες "φουσκωμένες" δημοσκοπήσεις από την φιλοκυβερνητική μηχανή προπαγάνδας, ώστε να προετοιμαστεί ψυχολογικά το κοινό για το επικείμενο αποτέλεσμα των εθνικών εκλογών.
Στις δημοσκοπήσεις αυτές θα βλέπουμε ενδεχομένως την ψαλίδα μεταξύ ΝΔ και ΣΥΡΙΖΑ συνεχώς να μεγαλώνει, με μια ταυτόχρονη πτώση του ποσοστού του κόμματος της αξιωματικής αντιπολίτευσης, σε βαθμό που να δικαιολογεί την στρατηγική του ήττα.  
Ωστόσο, το 20,3% του ΣΥΡΙΖΑ, δεν συνιστά στρατηγική ήττα στο βαθμό που επιθυμεί το καθεστώς και η ντόπια ολιγαρχία, εν όψει μάλιστα και απλής αναλογικής. Οπότε θα πρέπει να αναμένουμε στο αμέσως επόμενο διάστημα ένα νέο βομβαρδισμό από δημοσκοπήσεις στις οποίες το ποσοστό του κόμματος της αξιωματικής αντιπολίτευσης θα "ροκανίζεται" σταδιακά, έτσι ώστε να δημιουργηθεί το κ…

Το κίνημα Slow News: η απάντηση στα Fake News?

globinfo freexchange
Στον θαυμαστό καινούργιο κόσμο, ο αβάσταχτος όγκος πληροφοριών που καταναλώνουμε καθημερινά έχει γεννήσει ένα δυστοπικό παράδοξο: την ίδια στιγμή, αμφισβητούμε και πιστεύουμε τα πάντα. Το μυαλό μας έχει βυθιστεί σε μια δίνη από tweets, αναρτήσεις, βίντεο, hoaxes και fake news.
Τα τελευταία χρόνια, σε διάφορα μέρη του πλανήτη, νησίδες αντίστασης έρχονται στην επιφάνεια. Ολιγομελείς ομάδες ανεξάρτητων δημοσιογράφων αγωνίζονται να οικοδομήσουν ένα εναλλακτικό μοντέλο πληροφόρησης, το οποίο βασίζεται σε μια εξαιρετικά απλή αρχή: πρέπει να κόψουμε ταχύτητα. Ένα μαχητικό ντοκιμαντέρ που έχει βαλθεί να αποδείξει ότι η δημοσιογραφία παραμένει ο βασικός πυλώνας της δημοκρατίας.
https://www.filmfestival.gr/el/section-tdf/movie/1047/13001


Το ενδιαφέρον αυτό ντοκιμαντέρ του Alberto Puliafito, ερευνά ένα νέο είδος δημοσιογραφίας που γεννήθηκε από την ανάγκη για δημοσιογραφική αυθεντικότητα μέσα στο σημερινό, χαοτικό μιντιακό τοπίο.
Σε ένα σύστημα που χαρακτηρίζεται από μια αδι…

Chris Hedges interviews Howie Hawkins, Green for President

Howie Hawkins
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and public intellectual, Chris Hedges, speaks with Howie Hawkins about the political landscape in 2020, "lesser evilism" and more.

When the US imperialist machine is using controversial books to build its propaganda

globinfo freexchange
It seems that the US imperialist machine is using the same methods it was using forty years ago at the dawn of neoliberalism and the rise of neoconservatives. One of these methods involves controversial books - often filled with inaccuracies, exaggerations, or even false facts - which were taken for granted in order to permit the imperialists to build a convenient propaganda.
As The Grayzonereported recently [most important parts highlighted]:
The U.S. assassination of Qassem Soleimani in January touched off a new wave of disinformation about the top Iranian major general, with Trump administration allies branding him a global terrorist while painting Iran as the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism. Much of the propaganda about Soleimani related to his alleged responsibility for the killing of American troops in Iraq, along with Iran’s role in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.

But a second theme in the disinformation campaign, which has been picked up by mai…

How the USA erased the USSR victory over Nazi Germany

Moderate Rebels
The Soviet Union played the leading role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II, but the US government has tried to erase its unimaginable sacrifice. Historian Peter Kuznick discusses the real history of WWII, and how 80% of Nazis were killed on the Eastern Front with the USSR.