- Ramon Franquesa,
Plataforma Emancipem-nos del Euro, Catalunya-Spain
Sovereignty implies the possibility to decide on all matters affecting them, by the sovereign subject. Popular sovereignty therefore implies the ability to hear and decide by citizenship. The concept of Popular Sovereignty means that the State and the government that represents it, is created and sustained by the consent of its people.
In the past, tyrannies prevented the public could access the government of their states, but it seems that today we are moving to a new subtraction of popular sovereignty, based on void the operational exercise of the state, particularly in the field economic. Thus ordoliberalism, which will not be denied the right to vote majorities their governments, which now arises is that these governments can not address certain aspects of social life, especially in the economic area.
Europe has been the cradle and the scene of great revolutions since 1789, by which the people has conquered effective social control spaces on many areas, including economic. In particular the twentieth century Europe met, the conquest of the 8-hour day, the Russian Revolution and after World War II, the development of public protection that guaranteed a set of economic, social and labor rights, well above other places of the world.
But the construction of the EU has ended up being a perverse process, which has served to reverse these social conquests. The EU is justified to avoid a repetition of the confrontation between peoples, but has ended up being the cause of a level of social breakdown and nationalist confrontation, which brings us back to the worst moments of the last European history.
The first trap of this process was the creation of a single market without structural policies and fiscal harmonization, or social rights. Conceived as something beneficial for consumers, has finally become a hurricane for employment and the poorest and most backward productive forms of Europe. This polarization between regions and social classes increased. A later this freedom of movement of capital was added. The liberalization of goods and capital, without a common framework for labor rights and tax duties, and carried the seed of a race to the bottom among workers, which could erode the social progress achieved. But would the loss of monetary sovereignty to the late 90s, which caused a qualitative leap of imbalances.
When the crisis of 2007 the effects were revealed as clearly negative, then the official discourse step to blaming the victims (and not the executioners of this process). racism between states and within states increased. While financial across Europe were rescued generously of their speculative ventures and avoided going to jail for looting failed savings and investments, the southern states were under the control of the Troika and black men. The Germans their media would tell them it was laziness of the Greeks what had caused his misfortune (hiding half working many more hours). Among the Catalan liberal government, he blames the other Spanish disaster of his health, hiding that this caused mostly by a wild privatization, which has benefited large multinational health and alternative members of the Nationalist government.
To prevent a response of citizens to their clamorous failure, European institutions, while recognizing their subjects the right to vote, they ensured that the European Parliament does not have powers (or budget) to solve the most pressing issues of citizenship. In the speeches bloomed panegyrics to the concept of European citizenship, but in practice created an institutional framework that deprive ordinary people essential economic powers: the right to control the currency, the possibility of an effective fiscal policy, capacity governments that choose to develop economic and social policies favorable to the majority, etc.
A clear example of the unwillingness of transparency, the ban was to make a collection of signatures aimed to bring a popular legislative initiative to the European Parliament on TTIP negotiating with the US.
The imposition of the euro, is a matter of particular importance in the removal of sovereignty. With the possibility of promoting policies invigorate economic activity was closed, control of the currency was derived from the fully competent parliaments of the states, to ECB outside any democratic control. An independent ECB of national parliaments and the European Parliament, but highly linked to private financial powers. By the way, without any modesty they would contribute most of their managers (who had been career officers, specialists from the public university or research, trade union cadres, etc.).
The introduction of the euro, in a process that started with the Treaty of Maastricht, marked the end of the regulatory role of central banks and the privatization of control of monetary policy. But their ability to gangrene spread at the productive fabric of the countries of southern Europe not manifest itself until almost 10 years later. For several years, there was a huge influx of speculative capital into southern Europe, which caused rising prices and declining productive investment. Although wages were frozen, the level of consumption was not affected in the short term, because it was easy access to credit for time. That banking and financial decontrol, would cause an expansion of speculative activities, which would drying possibilities employment-generating investment and material wealth.
When the crisis of 2007 all jump into the air, people began to crudely feel the consequences of the trap had placed them. It was then that people (and many so-called experts who merely act parrot the official line), warned that the loss of ability of states to regulate the economy, at no time was accompanied by any attempt to Community institutions assume that role. On the contrary, those institutions explicitly renounced to take responsibility for addressing the problems that the model could cause: unemployment, radicalization of economic cycles, regression of income distribution …
That was evident not only that business cycles still exist under capitalism, but states losing the capacity for monetary issue, had lost a public instrument to balance income and expenditure, an instrument to curb the speculative economy and an instrument for regain competitiveness without wage employment or sacrifices.
The cycles had not disappeared and the recession took possession of the situation with a hardness greater than that of 1929. Then it was revealed that the European monetary system, by subtracting the monetary emission control and service of public institutions, involved the loss of a fundamental mechanism of protection of domestic production and put the state at the foot of the financiers. If the sovereign monetary issue is the banks that are in a weak position (power see devalued by inflation, the credits received), with the serious euro the state that remain at the mercy of the price of borrowing money. This governments of those States, the institutions that citizens could choose and control, remained in the hands of financial power.
Through this mechanism, financial power get them to be representatives of the theoretically sovereign people, who they saw forced to impose terrible sacrifices its people.
Of course this would cause great political and legitimacy conflicts to those governments.
If we return to the issue of popular sovereignty and mean by it the ability of citizens to decide on all matters affecting social life, it is easy to see that one of the problems of its exercise, is the huge field that it may affect.
Indeed, since social life involves potential decisions on many aspects, a way to hijack sovereignty in practice, in its deepest sense, it is to introduce noise and hide potential major decisions, under thousands of options banal questions. That is, disorient citizens on the priorities of the problems faced, the smaller dimensioning, to hide those who have the greatest impact on social life.
If we share the appreciation that the central axis of social conflict is the distribution of wealth, it is easy to deduce that the greater tensions in the exercise of sovereignty should lie around this issue.
But those who benefit from a privileged position at the expense of hurting majorities, try to avoid the class struggle, particularly in the exercise of sovereignty in ways that can harm them. They are aware that the vast majority. if they have the right information, they require the exercise of its sovereignty. To avoid this they will seek mechanisms to try to obstruct the exercise, in various ways, to avoid a citizens’ rebellion.
A route can be drugging society with sex, gossip, football, reality shows or video games: getting young unemployed hunt Pokemons instead of bankers. But if the recession hits hard it may stop working. The Romans who were very wise recommended “panem et circuses” but the circus alone does not seem to work, because people think and have needs that can not always forget.
Another way is to try to show that there is no alternative, relying on the use of economic, social or biological science. In recent history we have seen how the ruling classes have been covered on racism in genetics or the economy, to try to prove that there was no alternative. In the past the justification for this absence of alternative had an ideological or religious nature (God has created a world of rich and poor, etc.), today however the alleged lack of alternative is based on economic brainy character disquisitions, who repeatedly history shows no empirical validity, but academia and hegemonic media persist in defending as absolute truths.
Another resource for power is the repression of citizens. A permanent state of alarm is created, inventing or driving if an external enemy, which inevitably resorts to terrorism to justify state terror against its own people is necessary. So, the answer is repressed, social networks and media are controlled. Freedom of expression is limited. You will get to imprison or kidnap those who leak information, while the data on tax havens and privileged undergoes silence. Also they prohibit or limit labor struggles unpatriotic. It uses the lockout, blacklisting, arrests of trade unionists and students. Suspiciously, nowhere cuts have been applied to the army or police. Nothing new under the sun, Europeans have already seen that movie before the first and second world wars in the twentieth century.
But they also have another resource: try to disguise economic contradictions, enhancing conflicts of different nature. To hide the most pressing problems for people, a good method is to highlight other conflicts in order to provoke the subjective level disorientation of priorities.
From the economic point of view should be clear that the first problem that citizenship is to ensure conditions of material subsistence. Primum vivere is the most basic. Of course, this does not justify people give to decide on other less peremptory aspects, such as the religion they profess or priority between languages they use in their daily lives. But it should be obvious that in order to exercise sovereignty in matters of this nature, it is a precondition to exercise their decision, have ensured food, clothing, housing or health.
Conversely, the better the conditions of material life of a people, the better their quality of life, the easier it is to find ways of living and accommodation between cultures, beliefs and nationalities, the easier it is to resolve the contradictions in social life are given within the people, inside the great social majorities.
But the system is not at all to resolve social contradictions and conflicts within the people, but the divide et imperia. They encourage any conflict. Nothing new under the sun. In recent decades we have seen in the Third World as alternately funded all kinds of religious or nationalist faction from the lobbies of power, sometimes against emancipatory movements, sometimes simply to sell weapons and appropriating resources of devastated countries by the war. The CIA, NATO, large banks often supported and financed both warring groups, or groups that will later be cataloged irreconcilable enemies and absolute evil incarnate.
Those who think that Europe is out of this escalation is deceiving. When the system breaks down and threaten to empower the people, the economic powers not renounce stimulate conflicts in the cultural field, in areas such as religion or nationalism. It is no coincidence that problems that the people of Europe believed overcome by the development of history, now reappearing with extraordinary virulence, precisely at this time.
Of course, we must make clear that perverse that job, does not imply the illegitimacy of those feelings. On the contrary, national or religious minorities are subjected to unfair, provocative assaults of marginalization or treatment, which feeds the confusion and conflict within the popular classes.
The crisis has led to a growing malaise within our societies. Today our citizenship is subject to a terrible psychological pressure: accept that we live worse than our ancestors. And people seek explanations for this and many unfortunately, are in conflict of cultural identities. And this, despite the objective explanation of his discomfort is simple and obvious: we live worse because it has kidnapped the ability to control the richest. And this oligarchy has been able through the use of the media they own, to introduce into the agenda of the daily life of a part of citizenship other priorities. They have managed to alter the perception of reality of large sectors of the popular classes.
In the Spanish case, the loss of living standards and rights, has favored the increase of secessionism, particularly in Catalonia. But it has not been the only factor. The cuts of the Constitutional Court over the Statute of Catalonia which had been endorsed by popular vote and the Spanish parliament, contempt for the Catalan language and culture from the state government, which is perceived not as an asset but as a problem and that seeks to appeal to Spanish patriotism against separatism, to legitimize itself in times of turbulence, they have been factors that have stimulated certainly secessionism.
But what has been the decisive engine of this social breakdown? The people of Catalonia, and their industrial sectors are devastated by globalization, but has suffered severe recession with cuts in their living standards. Between 2008 and 2011 there was a growing social reaction: It was in Catalonia where the Platform of People Affected by Mortgages that just laying siege to evictions, where a strong student response to rising enrollments arises, where his teachers made huge demonstrations were born which they placed the government on the ropes, failing in his attempt to oppose parents to teachers, also in Barcelona on May 11th in solidarity with Madrid, a process of occupation of squares against the system would begin… All this culminated in an autonomous mobilization, which overflowed the old political forces of the left, which surrounded the Parliament of Catalonia and forced its president to go by helicopter on June 15th, 2011.
It is at this point that the conservative Nationalist Party, which had supported the payment of the debt, which had repeatedly supported the Ordoliberals measures of the state parties (popular or socialist) raises the independence option, as formulated out of the crisis.
For a part of the population of Catalonia (especially professionals, people in rural areas, but also young people), this would be an attractive option. It was necessary to fight in the street, the enemy was hundreds of kilometers, and now the police would protect demonstrations rather than beat. Certainly was more attractive resolve that conflict through a referendum, which did not continue in the hard struggle developed rapidly from 2008 to 2011. A sector of local entrepreneurs, including Catalan media companies (which in the past glorified the dictatorship that prohibited the use of Catalan) were placed at the service of the project. In a few months, the pace independence 10% to almost 50% and became the axis of Catalan politics. Of course, it was used by the popular party, to ask the sick citizenship of their corruptions and cuts, it was essential to give support to save the Spanish homeland.
Catalonia today we open a process of secession that divides in half our population. The feeds separatism claim the right to decide and popular sovereignty. But the paradox is found in the conservative nationalist party that leads the current process, it has imposed its partners to question the EU resign or stay in the euro. independence of Spain, by advertising for a better country, but renouncing citizenship restore monetary, fiscal and decide on economic policy sovereignty. Is rhetorical appeal to a limited sovereignty to the flags that will not solve the real problems, which are at the base of discomfort.
How to intervene in such a complicated situation? Of course there are no easy solutions in the context of real social life, because feelings are deeply accented in people. However, it is possible to act from a perspective of inclusion, seeking creation of popular unity, overcoming cultural conflicts, placing strongly to the fore economic class conflict and seeking inclusive formulas that allow a common and harmonious coexistence, that is fully respectful of the cultures of each person.
To advance some proposals in this direction we could say:
1. Explaining what are the real causes of the malaise objectively, ie the dictatorship of finance capital through the implementation of the European Commission and gadgets as its monetary system or TTIP.
2. Raising regain popular sovereignty in these areas, with argued and articulated proposals. Especially in the economic sphere: break with the euro system, non-payment of the debt, oppose TTIP-CETA-TISA, etc
3. Articulating complicities in the European framework to propose formulas for cooperation among peoples, in a direction opposite to competition, to address the aggressions of the great financial powers and the states and multilateral organizations that protect them.
4. Promoting from the recognition of the right to decide on all (including the borders that every human group is granted) and from the recognition of popular sovereignty, coexistence and co-management proposals to control from society, excluded from the social majority today, management of economic policy.
If it comes between remain equal or vote independence, today the people of Catalonia is divided in half. But instead there is a majority position in favor of a federal constitutional process, if possible. Neither the Spanish nationalists, nor the Catalan nationalists support that may be an option. Some prohibit any kind of referendum, others in their informal referendums leave only choose among all equal or independence. But it is still possible to build a large majority for a constitutional output, together with the rest of the Spanish people.
The last elections gave the best result to the forces of a new type (En Comú Podem) that surpassed long nationalists of all kinds and again allowed to place in the foreground the economic contradiction, class conflict.
Moreover social movements continue to maintain their pulse and patient perseverance in the defense of schools, hospitals, pensions, unemployed, against evictions, etc. showing that the struggle is the way, there are no shortcuts that allow us an easy and glamorous exit to dispossession are suffering. Our separation is not between those who speak Catalan or Castilian preferably, but among those suffering cuts and those who benefit from them. The people of common (ECP) and CUP-CC shared daily struggle and repression. It is harder, because it forces continue fighting in the streets, to stay in front of the media system (in the hands of two nationalisms), to fight plutocrats who live in our territory and speak like us, but are not ours. It is harder, but it is the only effective way to regain sovereignty and emancipate.
If a state allows an illegitimate foreign debt, which reached 100% of GDP, its people are not sovereign. That state becomes an executioner of his people, to extract an eternal and unpayable income, which tend to increase the weight of the interest generated. The euro has become sovereign states of old, colonial governments in a metropolis resident financial parquets and private banks that control the ECB. Changing borders and create new states to submit to the European Monetary System diktat, is not to achieve any sovereignty. Slavery is to keep most different forms.
Any exercise of sovereignty that meets the primum vivere is obliged to question the debt and the monetary system, that causes and maintains. To perform this exercise of sovereignty and survival a high social support and complicity with the citizens of the neighboring nations will be necessary. In the case of Catalonia, including other nations that make up Spain. Therefore, if we want to break that cage in which we have locked in the Spanish case it is necessary to reach formulas of cooperation and solidarity among peoples and nations first; and also with neighboring peoples who shared prison sentence within the EU and its monetary system.
September 16, 2016