by Suzanne Moore/The Guardian
For my generation being pro-Europe was as easy as getting on a cheap flight, and as the flights got cheaper, many people felt a little bit more European, in a “Wow, isn’t Barcelona great” way. We consumed the culture without asking who produced the politics. Anyway, the mantra is still that being in Europe is good for business and business is always good But, as I watch what is happening in Greece, I feel myself to be increasingly Eurosceptic and wondering too if Eurosceptism is not code for the anti-German sentiment that currently abounds. If the European project that once seemed so noble now comes down to the European Central Bank, which is not in any way independent but acts as a thuggish bailiff to further impoverish Greece, what actually is it? If Germans believe they should not have to pay for the mistakes of Greek governments, then they do not see the crisis of Greece for what it is: a crisis of all Europe. Bailouts have been funded for the financial sector since 2008. To simply blame Greece is unsustainable.
The contagion that the financiers fear has already happened, but not exactly in the way they say. When the workings of the eurozone are held up to the light, the gaping deficit is one of democracy. Unelected commissioners, unaccountable banks all laughably scrabbling on to the crowded moral high ground. All this depends on an agreed script: corrupt Greeks as shirkers, hard-working Germans as strivers. All of the deals have actually been about protecting German and French banks from debt write-offs. No wonder Hollande is now setting himself up as a broker seeking compromise. Every leader plays to their own public. Each member of that public will understand themselves to be more or less European. Many will already be suffering, not just in Greece but in its surrounding states, which are even poorer. Grexit, say some, will signal the end of the eurozone. No, it can be managed and contained, say others.
It can’t be. It signals a much bigger failure, which is why everyone, from the United States to Japan, is urging some kind of resolution. The “state” of Europe is imploding and it is because fiscal policy is not the same as political union. It is dividing between the north and the south, and the young and the old. The majority of those who voted “oxi” last week were young. Youth unemployment is high across Europe. We have a generation who have borne the brunt of austerity. In this country we have just seen a budget that was yet another attack on young people. This generation is not Eurosceptic exactly but it is asking for more direct democracy, because, to be frank, there could not be less of it. The bureaucracy of the EU does not speak to them or for them. Most people have no idea who their MEP is or what they do.
The left continues to function unthinkingly with a series of tick boxes. One must be pro-Europe and somehow anti-nationalist. But the world turns – and we turn with it. I supported independence for Scotland because I believe in democracy. I also think to cede all discussion of Englishness to the right has been a mistake. Once the notion of Britishness is interrogated, its centre cannot hold as it is just another vague umbrella for a nationalism that does not want to identify itself as such.
But now? Europe is at war with itself – and the collateral damage is all too real in Greece and beyond. What does victory mean in the current scenario? How can the left support what is being done? The European “Union”. Not in my name.