Seductions of power

Image: Jonas Horsch
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By BARBARA SPINELLI*

Socialist MEPs live in a Eurocratic bubble, abandon their former affiliations and are disinterested in their electorate

If they were truly innovative and wanted to defend the original project of European unity, which was peaceful, the socialists and social democrats of the continent would have to examine themselves and finally admit: they cannot govern for decades in coexistence with the Popular Party, which is dominant in the European Parliament, without being contaminated by the cohabitant.

One cannot escape unscathed from a methodical, generalized and constant union that permeates all the movements of MEPs who call themselves “left-wing”, who are elected in the group called Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), and who with the left have no nothing else to see (if they ever have in recent times). Those who belong to the group are part of the circle that counts in Brussels and Strasbourg, which decide in parliamentary committees the fate not only of useless resolutions on foreign policy or human rights, but also of regulations or directives that will more or less automatically become European law . It is difficult to abandon these habits and these seductions of power.

This summit of powerful people includes both the liberals who today are inspired by Emmanuel Macron (Renew), and the Greens who have been vanguard Atlanticists since the Yugoslav war. Some recent examples: the criticism that the Greens – through the German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock – directed at Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is against sending Taurus missiles to Ukraine which, if they could reach Russia, would risk a world war . Second example, it seemed licet: the bizarre departure of the vice-president of the European Parliament, Pina Picierno (PD), who called for European sanctions (we don't know what kind) against Ciro Cerullo, Jorit in his artistic life, for a mural in Mariupol and for “adhesion to the criminal plan and genocide of the Ukrainian people by Vladimir Putin.”

Naturally, there is no shortage of socialist MEPs who think differently and try – weakly – to resist the charm as well as the many comforts of this marriage. But the device of coexistence ends up crushing them, until their figures fade and become shadows. Elly Schlein, who today leads the Democratic Party and in the previous legislature was an excellent MEP, knows something about this. And even if she decides to ignore these issues, she should know how PD representatives behave once they take root in the European Parliament. It's difficult to uproot yourself, habits don't disappear easily. The danger, for those who disagree in Europe, is to get confused with the “extremism of the right and the left”, which the leadership abhors.

On the issues that matter most today, namely the “big war” in Ukraine and the Middle East (Yemen and Lebanon, as well as Gaza), PD MEPs generally do not follow the secretariat's instructions and support the most belligerent resolutions and regulations, faithful to the Atlanticism of Matteo Renzi and Enrico Letta. Elly Schlein has not yet decided whether to favor negotiations with Moscow – and consequently suggest neutrality, or at least non-alignment with Kiev – or arm Volodymyr Zelensky until unlikely victories. But PD MEPs have clear ideas and, regarding the war, they do not listen to the considerations of the party secretariat and vote systematically like the Populars, the liberals of the Renew and the Greens. The same thing happens when discussing economic austerity.

This is what happened when Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labor Party, between 2015 and 2020, and tried to move to the left a party that for years, under Tony Blair and even during the period of David Cameron's conservative government, had become a force to be reckoned with. favor of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya: all ruinous wars, all unpopular and lost wars. With the exception of a few dissidents, Europe's elected Labor officials pretended Jeremy Corbyn didn't exist. Jeremy Corbyn was then crushed by absurd accusations of anti-Semitism, but in the meantime London had left the European Union.

The truth is that socialist MEPs live in a Eurocratic bubble, abandon their former affiliations and are disinterested in their electorate. Only what is said inside the dome and in the cafés has weight. Place du Luxembourg, at the doors of Parliament in Brussels. They imagine they are left-wing because they defend civil rights or LGBT+ rights or legal migration routes, but on today's central issue – the war, the rearmament of Europe – they are Atlanticists and that's it.

This explains the many resolutions on the war in Ukraine, approved thanks to complicity within the summit. We limit ourselves to mentioning that of November 2022, which defines Russia as a state that promotes terrorism and approves sanctions; that of June 2023, which insists on Kiev's rapid accession to NATO, as well as the European Union, and therefore prevents any diplomatic negotiations. Finally, the regulation approved in July 2023, which provides for the massive production of ammunition and missiles destined for Ukraine or national armaments exhausted due to aid to Kiev. Resolutions have no weight, being purely declaratory, but regulations are something completely different: they automatically become European law, to be applied in all Member States.

The turning point towards militarized Europe, the spearhead of an expanding NATO, occurs with this regulation, which allocates 500 million euros to manufacture one million bullets per year in support of Kiev. Almost the entire Democratic Party votes in favor. One deputy, Smeriglio, is against and five abstain. Even the paragraph that provides for the financing of rearmament with money from the European Fund for Social and Territorial Cohesion and, perhaps, from the PNRR was approved: these are resources taken from the State and originally intended for health, education and climate.

Elly Schlein insisted on eliminating the paragraph, but did not instruct her parliamentarians on what should be done if it was not eliminated. Result: only the 5 Stars voted against the regulation, the only ones who can call themselves progressive, alongside the left of the group Left. It must be said that the five stars suffered serious hemorrhages in two legislatures: some migrated to the Greens, the vice-president of Parliament, Fabio Massimo Castaldo, migrated to the Renew! Isabella Adinolfi went to Forza Italia in the Populares group.

We finally reached last February's resolution on long-range missiles to be sent to Ukraine after Volodymyr Zelensky's failed counteroffensive. For the umpteenth time, we are not asking for negotiations, but for even more weapons to reconquer all territories, including Crimea. This time there is no dissent among the old left. The Democratic Party votes unitedly for the rearmament of Kiev and for Europe to be a fortress against Russia. The MEPs who remained in the M5S are opposed. The “Ursula von der Leyen majority” is broken, but, at that point, it had already incorporated the support of Giorgia Meloni (conservative group).

A classical left could vote against European rearmament, in memory of the mistakes made in 1914, when a large part of European socialism voted in favor of war credits (in Germany, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were opposed, before being killed). . Yesterday as today, there was only the Pope to denounce the “useless massacre”. Today as yesterday, left-wing interventionism enters the scene.

*Barbara Spinelli She is a journalist and member of the European Parliament. Author, among other books, of The sovranità settles (Einaudi).

Translation: Anselmo Pessoa Neto.

Originally published on the portal Daily fact.


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