The European Union appears as the negation of the history of the European continent, which over time has always been an archipelago of cultural and linguistic particularities and pluralities; the same ones that, following a topos that tenaciously runs from Machiavelli to the Montesquieu of The Spirit of the Laws, constitute the specific difference that distinguishes the Europe of multiple states and freedoms in the plural from Asian “despotism.”
From this perspective, the European Union is nothing more than the post-1989 implementation of the globalization project, based on the autocratic primacy of the market, on the homologation of humanity under the banner of the commodity form and on the moralistic imperialism of Atlantist traction deployed against governments not yet globalized. Thus understood, the European Union is the implementation in the old continent of the McDonaldization of society described by George Ritzer.
This project—which in essence is posed as the “suicide of Europe”—aims at the integral Americanization of the European space through the unconditional imposition of the transoceanic subculture of unlimited consumption, the deconstruction of the social model of economy with state intervention, the individualistic privatization of society, and the eradication of any identity other than the free-market creed of the financialized economy.
The repeatedly claimed possibility of a “sovereign Europe” cannot become a reality through the European Union which, as it is designed, is governed by the double fundamentum of the de-sovereignization of the economy and socio-political Americanization. In this light, the various theses of those—such as Antonio Negri and Etienne Balibar, among others—who have sought to see in the European Union a means of developing an alternative democratic policy to American global neoliberalism (it was precisely in order to imitate and implement it that the so-called “European integration” took place under the tutelage of the ECB) reveal its true nature as a mirage.
By its essence, the European Union as “passive revolution” (Gramsci), as “neutralization” (Schmitt) and as the triumph of capital after the strife of the twentieth century, is presented as the victory of the transatlantic monocultural project of a Europe inserted into the global market without borders, without nations, without traditions, without cultures, without limitations, in which the intrinsic reification of “the American way of life” is destined to be replicated also in a new “European way of life.”
Depoliticization, mediated by the annihilation of democratic sovereign states, advances in parallel with the Americanization of the old continent, that is to say, with the imposition on the peoples of Europe of the atomized model of unlimited competitiveness, typical of the imperialist thalassocracy of the Stars and Stripes of the Atlantic Leviathan.
There is nothing strange, then, that what Hegel, in his Lectures on the Philosophy of History, related to the American reality, where the state, already at that time, acted as “an external institution for the protection of property” and moved by the purpose of fostering “a society having its origin in individuals understood as atoms” similar and competitive, is increasingly occurring in the old continent.
The secret of the “European dictatorship” is hidden in the private and transnational currency called the Euro—true and authentic pillar of liberalism as a method of government—which makes devaluations and public investments impossible, with the obvious consequence that the only way to recover competitiveness is the “internal devaluation;” that is, the devaluation of wages (a measure entirely consistent with the massacre of classes typical of the post-1989 scenario). The latter, complemented by the persistent policies developed under the slogan of cuts in public spending and “waste”—that is how social rights are contemptuously apostrophized in the liberal neo-liberal language—provokes social genocides to the detriment of the peoples, the workers and the middleclass, and to the benefit of the unintelligent expertocracy and the unelected technocrats coming from the mists of Brussels and the International Monetary Fund.
Once again, far from being a neutral mediator of commercial exchange, the Euro acts as a method of liberal government; or, if Luciano Gallino’s image is preferred, as a “straitjacket” to prevent social policies in favor of the classes that live from their work. In other words, it emerges as a deflationary mechanism devised ad hoc to prevent nation-states from financing themselves by minting money or issuing bonds guaranteed by a State Bank—weighed down by such restrictions, states are forced to bow to the market, de facto recognizing its superiority.
As Carlo Galli states, “the Euro was an objective openly pursued by the elites as an ‘external support’ to limit the economic sovereignty of Parliament, preventing ‘social drift.'” Its aim is, in all respects, the destruction of the old European model of state-moderated capitalism, replaced by the American type of savage privatizations and the suppression of any residue of the welfare state. Herein lies the essence of the Euro as a “threat to the future of Europe,” according to Joseph Stiglitz’s icastic (and unequivocal) formula.
In this respect, it is not at all surprising that among the most fervent supporters of the subtraction of the monopoly of currency from the national states appears von Hayek, the tutelary numen of liberalism, the champion of the ruling class. The latter, in view of the triumph of the Market over the State, of Capital over Labor and of Economics over Politics, expressly proposes the denationalization of currency. More specifically, he suggests “withdrawing from the state the monopoly on currency and replacing it by a competition between private banks supplying money in exactly the same way as any other enterprise supplies goods or services.”
Hayek’s teleological orientation is well known. It coincides with the neutralization of democratic control of the capitalist economy by the state. In a rigorously syllogistic way, if it is necessary to annul democratic control, and the latter is based on the sovereignty of the state, which in turn implies national sovereignty over the currency as its essential moment, the consequence is very clear: it is necessary to de-sovereignize the currency in order to be able, in this way, to proceed to the de-democratization of control over the economy.
A miniature paradigm of the liberal open society, the European Union has turned into reality this syllogism developed, moreover with commendable clarity, by von Hayek. And in order to conceal its own profoundly anti-democratic status (marktkonforme Demokratie, according to the oxymoronic expression used by the German ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel), it must continually devise, using the intellectual class mediating consensus, formulas and narratives to reassure the European peoples and the dominated classes, so that the latter, more solito, will meekly accept their own subordination.
In this, the rhetoric of the everlasting fight against red and black totalitarianisms, elevated by the order of discourse to ever latent threats to the “democratic” space of the European Union as totalitarian management, plays a leading role—as a non plus ultra of mass distraction: with the not too subtle consequence of the recurrent appeal to the logical fallacy, hegemonic in the public discourse (journalistic, academic, television and radio), according to which any critic of the European integration would be, by the mere fact of being so, a Nazi in pectore. Applying Orwell’s prophecy, “the past is whatever the Party chooses to make it” for the sake of the sanctification of the existing order.
To put this whole process into practice, the new mental order, managed by the administrators of consensus and the masters of discourse, is essential—with the extravagant “verbal hygiene” they impose, it becomes impossible even to name the contradictions that surface everywhere. Following the teachings of Jacques Ellul’s Histoire de la propagande, “propaganda must be total” and must employ all the means at its disposal, assuming also the cynical assertion, difficult to refute, that it is always easier to deceive man than to make him understand that he has been deceived.
As Gustave Le Bon had already shown in his The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1895)—initiating a line of thought destined to be developed by Freud in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921)—the power of words does not depend on their meaning, but on the images they are capable of arousing. They dispense the user from the fatigue of reflection and, with a limited stock of formulas, prefigure the order of thought, discourse and imagination.
Le Bon ventures to argue that the men of power rename with popular, or at any rate inoffensive, names, realities that with their original denominations were detested by the multitudes. And he insists on the premises of repetition and contagion. On the one hand, infinitely repeated, falsehood passes for truth and infiltrates the minds of the masses, reshaping them. On the other hand, ideas exert a power of contagion over the masses, analogous to that of “microbes”—the image is Le Bon’s. These considerations can, by extension, be applied to the new mental order of the politically correct and ethically corrupt single thought, which has turned the European Union into a monotheistic religion—the Europeanist cosmopolitanism which, with its specific “anti-religion of the single currency,” considers any possible return to the state dimension a “capital sin.” With Nietzsche’s syntax, through the integral mediatization of the real managed by the hegemonic pole, “the real world ended up becoming a fable” (die wahre Welt endlich zur Fabel wurde).
In this way transformed, thanks to the intellectual priesthood, into an unreflective automatism of thought, even the welfare function, developed during the late twentieth century by the sovereign and democratic national state, which was the concrete arena in which the class conflict took place and the instrument through which social policies for the benefit of the working classes were made possible, is irresponsibly omitted once again. Also forgotten is the fact that, paradoxical as it may seem at first sight, the intuition of an integration of the European nations within the framework of a supranational union of German traction was conceived, in one of its earliest and most emphatic formulations, by the National Socialists themselves; that is, by the authors of the totalitarianism from which, by the irony of history, the Eurocrats in Brussels claim to protect the old continent.
In 1943, for example, Hitler himself aspired to overcome the disorder of the divided small nations which is what he expressly defined as “the anachronistic division of Europe into individual states,” in order to bring about the creation of the Grossraum of a united Europe with German hegemony. And even Hermann Göring, president of the Reichstag, had presented, in 1940, a plan for “the large-scale economic unification of Europe;” and this “with a view to the creation of a European monetary union” (sic!).
Naturally, the above is not intended to support the absurd and unfounded thesis that the Brussels bureaucrats are today the direct continuators of the Nazi project. They are, sic et simpliciter, the leaders of the new glamorous totalitarianism of the markets, concentrated on the figure of economic violence. It is simply a matter of challenging the locus communis according to which anyone who does not adhere, unthinkingly and immediately, to the ideal of European integration under the sign of the single currency is automatically considered a Nazi.
As we have already stressed on other occasions, the rejection of the European Union model starts, at least in our case, from the Marxian perspective of the emancipation of the universal human from capitalist contradictions, of which the European Union itself constitutes one of its maximum expressions.
Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the Intellectual, The Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns. [This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].
Featured: Deserter, by Tomasz Alen Kopera; painted in 2004.