Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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< view full issue: Nationalism and far right II
Carlos Carnero

​Europe's effectiveness against nationalism and globalisation

Managing Director of the Alternativas Foundation

The European Union may today be the most hated political onject by the nationalists and the most furious supporters and radical opponents of real globalisation.

This is logical.


On one hand, the Union is the first known supranational democracy in history and both its development and its evolution over six decades have been inspired at all times by ideas that are the most remote imaginable from nationalism.

A nationalism, let's not forget, that was the dominant ideology which, concealing deep economic interests, caused the emergence of the two great conflicts that devastated Europe in the twentieth century: the First and Second World Wars.

In fact, we can say without fear of contradiction that the founding fathers of the European construction process would subscribe to the letter to the phrase that the very last President François Mitterrand delivered before the European Parliament floor in 1995 -on one of those occasions in which I can say "I was there"-: "Nationalism is war".

But not only because nationalism provoked those hecatombs and the terrible crimes against humanity that took place in that period -beginning with the Holocaust- the founding fathers bet on initiating the adventure of European construction.

They also realized that the progressive overcoming of borders in all economic and commercial areas would have a multiplying effect that would allow a united Europe to progress geometrically, something essential to be reborn from the ruins and build the welfare state.


Economic progress is what, step-by-step, has turned the EU into the most socially advanced space on the planet, which to a large extent has led to the dream of equality and well-being dreamed by generations for two centuries.

If the EU is the first known supranational democracy, it is no less true that it can also be defined as a union of values so as to guarantee rights.

These European values, which today appear in the frontispiece of the Treaty and whose statement cannot be more clear: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, Rule of Law and respect for human rights, including the rights of people belonging to minorities. Common values that, as indicated by the EU Constitution, are common to the Member States in a society characterized by pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, united and equality between women and men.

Is it possible to find a better scale of values against the ideas of nationalism? Probably not.

This is why it seems coherent that Marine Le Pen, Wilders or the Northern League see in the EU an anti-nationalist political construction, refractory to the proposals of the Far Right and in which their racist and xenophobic programmes have no place.

Unfortunately, many Europeans have supported such programmes at the polls. To explain this, there are reasons that have to do directly with the economic crisis that has hit millions of the general public hard since 2008 and that the EU has not been able to manage beyond the policy of long periods of extreme austerity.

But it also explains the lack of conviction (and credibility, we have to say) of many European political leaders and opinion makers when defending our values and fighting a battle of ideas that for too long has been hegemonised by those that sees to weaken them or, directly suppress them.


A battle of ideas that can and should be done with the anti-nationalist flag par excellence: that of the twelve stars with a blue background, that of the European Union. Well, in response to intransigence, exclusion and hatred, the proper response is to defend Europe more and not less. Macron and their presidential campaign were a great example of success based on this argument.

In their own context and forgetting about the logical differences, so have the Spanish democrats when they have suffered the onslaught of the independence nationalism in Catalonia -which sought to break up the 1978 Constitution and go beyond the will of the general public- had the EU supporting its side without fissures, defending the unity of the country and remembering that Europe is not built by raising walls, but by breaking down borders.

Nevertheless, I wrote at the beginning that the Union is also the object of wrath of the most furious supporters and radical opponents of real globalisation.

Globalisation is not something that fell from the sky, but rather the result of the dialectical development of economic and political historical processes, taken together as a whole: capitalism in its current phase -both in the centre and in the periphery of production modes-, the disappearance of the Berlin Wall and the new orientation of China, among others.

Within this framework, we need to understand the existence of sectors that bet on neoliberal and deregulated globalisation, for the competitive jungle between countries and people, where only the strongest would end up winning at the cost of enormous sacrifices for the majority of Humanity and for the Planet. President Trump and the hedge funds as good examples.

They know quite well that the EU does not share this point of view. Because it does not suit us? Of course, because our model of society -the welfare state- needs another context to maintain itself and develop and because of its genes wild competition has disappeared and regulations prevail. So much so that the Union can be taken into consideration as the greatest law-making power in the world through its legislation, its trade agreements and its commitments with pacts such as Paris against climate change.


Interestingly, the radical anti-globalisers forget something so fundamental and simply put the EU in the globalisation-without-rules bag, being completely wrong, since in reality the Union is today the most favourable factor for the reorientation of global processes in an economic, social and climatically sustainable sense.

So much so that the modulation of globalisation depends directly to a large extent on the strengthening of the European Union, on its greater capacity to propose and act on a global level.

Which means that it is impossible to declare alter-globaliser without being a Europeanist at the same time, because without having instruments to exercise it in practice is meaningless.

The conclusion cannot be more clear: moving towards a federal Europe, with more powers and resources and also more effectiveness in decision-making processes, is the best we can do to defeat nationalism and achieve a more just world. The objective factors are present for us to achieve it. Now we need to have the political will to do it. The 2019 European elections provide us with an extraordinary opportunity to move in that direction.



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