Timothy Garton Ash je v The New York Review of Books na podlagi nekaj zadnjih aktualnih knjig o Evropi napisal odlično osebno refleksijo na “post-wall” Evropo, na Evropo po padcu berlinskega zidu. Medtem ko se je leta 2005 vse zdelo krasno in optimistično, ena sama svoboda gibanja in trgovanja in evropskega duha, pa Evropa deset let kasneje izgleda morbidno, izmučeno, odtujeno, polno nezaupanja ali sovraštva, z zaprtimi mejami in vzponom populizma. Evropa se pospešeno dezintegrira in nihče si ne upa napovedati, kakšna bo čez naslednjih deset let.
Garton Ash nima recepta za rešitev Evrope. Pravi pa, da bi liberalci, na levi in desni, morali stakniti glave in narediti diagnozo, kaj nas odtujuje. Je to evro, so to tehnološke spremembe, globalizacija ali naključni dogodki (migrantska kriza)? Brez diagnoze ne moremo začeti iskati pravega zdravila. Ključni problem po letu 2008 je, da diagnoza ni bila postavljena, pač pa so bila zgolj predpisana zdravila. Na pamet. Predpisala jih je najmočnejša članica.
Če bomo pustili še naprej zdravljenje brez postavljene diagnoze, bodo populisti Evropo razkosali.
Cryogenically reanimated in January 2017, I would immediately have died again from shock. For now there is crisis and disintegration wherever I look: the eurozone is chronically dysfunctional, sunlit Athens is plunged into misery, young Spaniards with doctorates are reduced to serving as waiters in London or Berlin, the children of Portuguese friends seek work in Brazil and Angola, and the periphery of Europe is diverging from its core. There is no European constitution, since that was rejected in referendums in France and the Netherlands later in 2005. The glorious freedom of movement for young Poles and other Central and Eastern Europeans has now contributed substantially to a shocking referendum vote by my own country, Britain, to leave the EU altogether. And Brexit brings with it the prospect of being stripped of my European citizenship on the thirtieth anniversary of 1989.
This is a shared theme of books by Claus Offe, Hans-Werner Sinn, Joseph Stiglitz, and François Heisbourg, to name but four. Coming from very different ideological and national perspectives, all agree that it was a big mistake to create the eurozone with its present design and size—a common currency without a common treasury and shackling together nineteen quite diverse economies. Intended to foster European unity, the “one size fits none” euro is actually dividing Europe. It has revived terrible bitterness between Greece and Germany, and caused widespread resentment in both south and north. Continuing the current policies will at best result in Southern Europe limping along for years to come inside the eurozone, with low growth, high unemployment, and a culture of learned hopelessness.
These writers propose different remedies. With magnificent Cartesian clarity, Heisbourg writes: “The currently existing euro being the cause of the problem, the solution must be to abolish it coolly and by common accord.” This is rational, but is it real? Offe disagrees, asserting that the euro “is a mistake the undoing of which would be an even greater mistake.” Stiglitz and Sinn offer a smorgasbord of more or less radical reforms, which I have neither the space nor the technical competence to assess.
One key to a solution, however, clearly lies in the Germany of Angela Merkel and Wolfgang Schäuble ceasing to treat economics as a branch of theology. Offe makes the sharp observation that the German word for budget is Haushalt, meaning literally household, and evoking a sense of the proverbial Swabian housewife’s good housekeeping, while the German word for debt, Schuld, also means guilt. The German press, he notes, has repeatedly referred to the PI(I)GS as “fiscal sinners.” To adapt the Bible: the wages of sin is debt.
This chronic illness of the eurozone has nourished populists of left and right, in south and north. The German populist party Alternative für Deutschland, for example, started as an anti-euro party, before gaining a much larger following as an anti-immigration party, after last year’s large-scale influx of refugees. And I have not even begun to discuss that refugee crisis, which is still shaking German society; the Brexit crisis; the Ukraine crisis; the frontal challenge posed by Vladimir Putin’s Russia to both European security and European democracies; the terrorism crisis (France, one of the main targets of Islamist terrorism, is still under a state of emergency); the demographic crisis; and the insecurity plaguing many of the continent’s young people, now sometimes known as “the precariat.” All these are distinct but mutually reinforcing parts of an overarching existential crisis that is threatening the entire post-1945 project of European union. And all feed the metastasis of populist politics.
If the post-wall era runs from 1989 to 2009, what epoch are we in now? We almost certainly won’t know for a decade or three. On a bad Europe day, and there were too many of those in 2016, one does feel like going into cryogenic hibernation; but this is no time for freezing. No, we who believe in liberty and liberalism must fight back against the advancing armies of Trumpismo. The starting point for fighting well is to understand exactly what consequences of which aspects of the post-wall era’s economic and social liberalism—and of related developments, such as rapid technological change—have alienated so many people that they now vote for populists, who in turn threaten the foundations of political liberalism at home and abroad. Having made an accurate diagnosis, the liberal left and liberal right need to come up with policies, and accessible, emotionally appealing language around those policies, to win these disaffected voters back. On the outcome of this struggle will depend the character and future name of our currently nameless era.
Vir: Timothy Garton Ash, The New York Review of Books