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Sunday 4 August 2019

On ICAN's statement about the collapse of the INF Treaty

Several participants in a email discussion about a statement from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) thought that its statement about the collapse of the INF Treaty should have put the blame on the USA, and not on both the USA and Russia. Below, I copy my opinion as I expressed it in that same discussion:

It seems to me that the essence of ICAN's statement about the situation after the USA has withdrawn from the INF Treaty, is the question: what is to be done now? And ICAN's answer is that the European leaders, and leaders all around the world, should step up and join the UN Treaty on the prohibition of the nuclear weapons (TPNW). With this I fully agree. (In order to convince yourself that this is what ICAN said, you may want to take a second look here.)

The Swedish Socialdemocratic+Greens government recently (13 July) announced that it will not ratify the TPNW. This was actually as bad news as the breakdown of the INF, at least for us in the Nordic countries. For decades, we believed in the good spirit (in favour of nuclear disarmament) of the Swedish governments, but look how they put us down! Yet the Swedish people is certainly in favour of ratifying the aforementioned UN Treaty. Almost 9 out of 10 Swedes actually said so in an opinion poll 2017. So it is this contradiction between the sound and rational instinct in favour of nuclear abolition on the side of the people, and the sick and irrational behaviour of the political system and its media, that we need to understand and develop.

Perhaps the time has come for social and political movements, including the peace movement, to focus more on abolishing the nuclear weapons than on reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide? Above all, it is necessary to explain the extent to which the ecological crisis is a consequence of the global war economy, of which the nuclear wepons systems are like the top of the iceberg.

Greetings from Finland,


Saturday 16 March 2019

Give a democratic constitution for the European Union!

The European Movement Italy has sent me an email, signed by Pier Virgilio Dastoli, formerly the aid of Altiero Spinelli at the European Parlament, asking me to support a democratic constitution for the European Union. Linked to the letter is a statement called "Give a democratic constitution for the European Union. Ten priorities for a united, democratic and fair Europe to promote peace in a globalized world" and a list with the first signatories here in French

However much I sympathize with the Federalist movement, in principle, I shall not add my personal signature to this text. I cannot avoid a feeling of hollowness and irrelevance: Do the "ten priorities" really offer a set of political guidelines, or are they only a statement of good will? As far as I can see, only a number of values are stated. These value-statements are not objectionable as such, but they can easily be, and are in fact constantly being used to mask realities that are in blatant contradiction with themselves.

If we really wish "to promote peace in a globalized" world, should we not then say clearly and loudly that there must be no new arms race, that disarmament is a top priority,and that Europe must take the lead by abolishing all nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destructions on its soil?

Is it possible to achieve "la conversion écologique de l'economie et le developpement durable" (according to the suggested document this would be the priority of the EU's budget) without a conversion of the military machine to peaceful and ecological ends?

The majority of the member states of the United Nations have adopted the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons; is it not a priority that the European Union signs and ratifies that UN treaty and thereby makes it a part of its own Constitution?

And, a propos the democracy: can a nuclear weapons state be one? Can the use of nuclear weapons ever be the will of the peoples of Europe?

The other day, I also received an email from the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. Linked to the email is a newsletter from END , the first after 30 years of silence, a silence that is thereby broken. Included in the newsletter is a new statement for European Nuclear Disarmament (END):

"We call on everyone concerned with peace and security to join in raising the alarm over the likely consequences of scrapping the INF Treaty and to work towards the creation of more Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zones, including in Europe. These efforts will complement existing global disarmament initiatives, including the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, recently agreed at the United Nations." (the newsletter is on the web, here. )

That one I have already signed.

Sunday 3 February 2019

The Russian Peace Threat (As Seen by An American)

Posted on February 1, 2019 by David Swanson in his blog davidswanson.org

The Russian Peace Threat

A lot more energy is invested by people in theorizing what respectable and corrupt influences motivate members of the U.S. Congress than at least some members of the U.S. Congress invest in thinking or in having opinions at all. If you’ve ever been the victim of one of those Tonight Show videos in which they ask you and other bumbling idiots on the street in Los Angeles to name a country, any country, or something else that easy, and you couldn’t do it, you may enjoy watching videos of U.S. Congress Members clearly incapable of finding their own asses with a flashlight and a map. Are they opposed on principle to a coup in Venezuela, or in support of one? Do they flip their position because of the party of the emperor in the White House or because of a “donation” to their campaign fund? Have they been swayed by this or that lobbyist or news report? Nope. None of it. They’re lucky if they can identify Venezuela as a place in South America where something or other happened recently. Some of these people, elected to run this so-called country, openly declare that they like to work in only one issue area, which doesn’t happen to be foreign policy. Some of them clearly oppose Trump only haphazardly and for some reason other than the babbling incoherence of his speech habits. Commentators have surmised that Trump addresses his fourth-grade-level logorrhea to the people with the misspelled signs at the fascist rallies, but it’s possible he’s actually a better communicator to Congress than some of his predecessors have been.

Of course, there are other Congress Members with intelligent informed opinions, just as there are smart people on the street in LA. And, of course, all Congress Members do have to vote sometimes, at which point it does matter who or what is determining their votes. But when it comes to thinking and forming opinions on important matters of foreign policy, the incompetence of Congress, combined with the cowardice of Congress, makes the views of those in the White House, Pentagon, and State Department all the more important. And here we’re talking about people who don’t even have to pretend to be embarrassed by being funded by weapons dealers; it’s considered a qualification. “The Russian Peace Threat” sounds strange if you’re a decent human being or if you watch MSNBC and have nightmares about Vladimir Putin. But in the halls of imperial power in Washington D.C., the threat from Russia is clearly more one of peace than war.

I just received and read a new book by Ron Ridenour called The Russian Peace Threat: Pentagon on Alert. It’s 533 pages and more a collection of incidents than an argument. A lot of it is lengthy quotations, not original writing. But it ought to be read by anyone who’s not spent years searching out the best independent reporting and historical writing about U.S.-Russian relations. Not only should we understand 102 years of U.S. antagonism toward Russia, but we should recognize the power of all those years of propaganda. Typically, the U.S. government/media has demonized a foreign ruler/government/people for some months or years to get a war going, and the effects have been quite long lasting. None of those propaganda campaigns measures up to the volume and duration and all-pervasiveness of the anti-Russian theme. It’s in everything from children’s games to adults’ books, and every adult remembers it from their childhood. It’s so dominant in U.S. culture that it even twists upside down the story of the single most important and mythical incident in U.S. history: World War II. Most of those in the United States who can even tell you that the Soviet Union was on the same side as the United States in that war cannot tell you accurately which of the two countries was in the war first or which did vastly more of the killing, dying, and conquering.

The U.S. and Russian governments blame each other for violating the INF Treaty. But Gorbachev had wanted to go much further and get rid of all of the nukes. Reagan (or, rather, the people around him who decided everything) refused. The INF Treaty was the best that Russia could get the United States to do. And it did a lot of good. Missiles were destroyed by the thousands. Verification and communication procedures were set up. The ability of warmongers to push hatred and paranoia was lessened in Washington and in Moscow. And what happened during the past 18 years of U.S.-led catastrophe-creation across the Middle East and North Africa? Russia tried and tried for better relations. The United States refused. The U.S. left the ABM Treaty. The U.S. expended NATO to the border of Russia and installed missiles. The U.S. threatened and lied about Russia non-stop, habitually. And now the U.S. President wants to leave the INF Treaty, and it hardly even occurs to anyone that Congress could refuse to allow that, if it knew what the INF Treaty was, if it wasn’t busy taking lesson on what a tweet is or how to stand up straight or tie one’s shoes.

Of course, Russia no more wants the United States to trash the INF Treaty than it wants a coup in Venezuela or the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran agreement or the U.S. refusal to ban weapons in space or cyber attacks, or the U.S. weapons in Ukraine, or the ongoing expansion of NATO, or the opposition to Russian energy deals, or most of what the government of Donald Trump does. But there is apparently nothing Trump can do that would be sufficiently anti-Russian to either satisfy the warmongers or to convince the MSNBC viewers that Trump isn’t taking orders from Russia — I mean nothing that would leave anyone alive to approve of it.

The dumbing down of discourse makes it necessary to note here that by saying the United States has not exactly been a good global neighbor toward Russia, I have not in fact asserted that the Russian and Soviet governments have always or ever been perfect models of pure loving wisdom and enlightened kindness. Whatever it is that allows one to read such silliness into words that mean nothing of the sort might be considered for elimination from our public diet.

An even dumber and more common notion about Russia, of course, is that it is a demonic land filled with subhuman monsters. In U.S. culture, one has to get to know people a little bit intimately, learn their names and some details about them, in order for them to be “humanized.” With that goal in mind, I highly recommend signing up for the following trip:

“U.S. Diplomatic Mission to the Russian Federation by American Citizens, May 30 –– June 15, 2019: When official diplomacy is non-existent, when the two nuclear Superpowers are poised for war with each other, when both major political parties support a warring position toward Russia, when only one side of the history or story is being told in U.S. mainstream media, it’s time for American citizens to search for contributing factors and travel to Russia themselves to get other points of view on these issues … and collect information to bring home, to dilute the war-making efforts. The Center for Citizen Initiatives (CCI), with its thirty-five year history working between the U.S. and USSR/and the new Russia, invites you to request an application for a 17-day diplomatic mission to Russia for American citizens. Please email me for more information: President and Founder, Center for Citizen Initiatives, Website: ccisf.org, sharon@ccisf.org.”

Wednesday 19 December 2018

"The elites talk about the end of the world, when we are talking about the end of the month"

The material interest (see above) comes across strong and clear in the slogan of the French Yellow Vests: Les élites parlent de fin du monde, quand nous, on parle de fin du mois ("The elites talk about the end of the world, when we are talking about the end of the month").

The Yellow Vests are right and Macron is wrong; the material interest must not be neglected. Actually, it cannot be neglected for long by anybody who wants to avoid political chaos.

So the elites have been wrong in neglecting the material interest of the people. In the view of the Yellow Vests, but in my view as well, the elites are also unjust, and the rage against the elites is justified.

Yet the elites are also right. (Yes, it is actually possible to be right even if one is wrong.) The elites are right insofar as they understand and are afraid of the end of our world because of our ecological and climate crisis. Of course, there is a big problem with their understanding and their fear, namely, that that they are only willing to give a away a very little part of their their riches in order to to satisfy the material interest of the people, and this only when they are hard pressed.

But there is another big problem, and this problem seems to be with the understanding of the people as well. The people, too, certainly understands that our world is traversing a period of severe and possible "final" ecological crisis. It is now common sense to demand a Green Deal. What neither the people nor the elite has hitherto not understood is that the Green Deal must include the conversion of the military machine to green production.

Demonstrators highlighted the enormous and negative impact of the U.S. military during the 2014 People's Climate March in New York City. (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/cc) Demonstrators highlighted the enormous and negative impact of the U.S. military during the 2014 People's Climate March in New York City. (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

And what Medea Benjamin and Alice Slater say about America (where they live) goes for us here in Europe, too:

If climate change is not addressed rapidly by a Green New Deal, global militarism will ramp up in response to increases in climate refugees and civil destabilization, which will feed climate change and seal a vicious cycle fed by the twin evils militarism and climate disruption. That’s why a New Peace Deal and a Green New Deal should go hand in hand. We cannot afford to waste our time, resources and intellectual capital on weapons and war when climate change is barreling down on all of humankind. If the nuclear weapons don’t destroy us then the pressing urgency of catastrophic climate will.

Monday 17 December 2018

The material interest

The first political condition for the refoundation of the EU, says Balibar, is that the peoples of the EU have a material interest in it. For us who think that historical materialism has a great point,— the point that the material conditions of the peoples are, in the last instance, decisive— this sounds very true indeed. And this truth implies another great point: history is in reality made by masses of people who, in the end, are guided by their material interest.

Yet the role of science-based technology in the human history has proved as fundamental as the material interest. Or even more fundamental, because of the Doomsday Machine. I suppose that a majority of the reading public, and even of those who not read that much, are aware of this existential threat to their own survival: The Doomsday Machine. The most detailed and chilling account of the Doomsday Machine that I know of is Daniel Ellsberg's book with that very title.(1)

But is not survival—the survival of each and everyone—then also a material interest?

"Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral" (Brecht). True, but even before the eating comes the disarmament. Let economists, like Keynes, believe that this may be so "in the long run" (when we are all dead anayway), but not right now. No, the disarming and the deconstruction of the Doomsday Machine is a very fundamental part of the present material interest. . It is the top of an enormous economical iceberg, the part of the real economy that is wasted in the war industries, the ongoing arms race, the armies, navies, military air and space forces, and the actual wars.

Economists believe that it is possible to "save the EU from itself", by fiscal policy. (2) It is not. It is necessary to take on the military-industrial-academic complex, because this is in the material interest of the peoples!

To what extent is the ecological crisis, and the climate crisis, in particular, a result of "the war economy" (Seymour Melman) ? Dear economists, could you please try calculate it?

Can the ecological crisis be solved without the conversion of the military machines to green production?

Can the democracy be enlarged in the nuclear state? How much of the democracy can even co-exist with the Doomsday Machine?

(1) Ellsberg, D. : The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner (2017). Edward Snowden tweeted about this book: "As we flirt with nuclear war for the first time in decades, @DanielEllsberg releases perhaps the most authoritative work ever produced on the subject (he helped write the plans!). "

_(2)_ See http://tdem.eu/

Sunday 16 December 2018

A reflection on Étienne Balibar's conditions for the refoundation of the European Union

Plus que d’un Jean Monnet néolibéral, d’un Charles de Gaulle européen, ou même d’un Willy Brandt qui irait au bout de ses intentions, nous avons besoin à mon avis d’un Altiero Spinelli ou d’une Ursula Hirschmann, mais multipliés par dix ou par cent, capables de rédiger à plusieurs mains quelque chose comme un nouveau Manifesto di Ventotene --É. Balibar

Altiero Spinelli's star seems to be on the rise. In a situation where many feel that the European Federalist project needs to be restarted and the EU refounded, Spinelli &Co:s Manifesto of Ventotene (1941) , in particular, is becoming a popular reference among, for instance, French Leftist intellectuals.

In a speech which he gave a year ago, Étienne Balibar listed five necessary political conditions for the desired "historical refoundation" of the European Union. I shall summarize these conditions here: firstly, a material interest of the European peoples to unite; second, a new and innovative institutional objective; third, a political ideal—this ideal, Balibar specifies, must imply an enlargement of the democracy that has so far been attained by the nation-states; fourth, a high demand of the "refoundation" that expresses itself in collective protests and cultural revolutions against autodestructive modes of production and consumption. The fifth condition, finally, consists in the defining of the "campaigns" that are needed to reduce the existing inegalities, to affront the new nationality question and meet "the challenge of hospitality" (whereby Balibar means the challenge that is posed by current and future population movements, and where human fraternity and cooperation with the nations of the "South" have to find their proper place). (1)

I shall also summarize my immediate reflections. Firstly, I think that the required material interest to unite can only be deduced from our common need to survive Doomsday in the form of nuclear war and climatic or other ecological catastrophe; second, the necessary institutional innovation and objective is inherent in the internet as a memory institution, a library ; third, the political ideal must imply the denuclearisation of Europe (2) ; fourth, in the last few weeks, the gilets jaunes have, in their own way, shown the actuality of the demand for a refoundation of the EU.(3) Lastly, it is not easy to understand who would define and synthesize the campaigns, if not a European political subject with a European leadership.

(1) See the acceptance speech that the philosopher Étienne Balibar delivered on the occasion of the awarding of the Hannah Arendt 2017 Prize, "Hannah Arendt et la refondation européenne". The text is found in Balibar's blog at the journal Médiapart.

(2) See "DiEM25 proposals for the military denuclearisation of Europe" (draft).

(3) Étienne Balibar has also contributed an interesting analysis of the Yellow Wests movement, see his blog at Médiapart.

Saturday 17 November 2018

No to NATO, No to Bases, No to Wars in Distant Places

Somebody may ask why this article by David Swanson appears in a blog called "Spinelli's Footsteps". The answer is that Altiero Spinelli was a peace activist, just like David Swanson is. M.B.

By David Swanson

As I head over to Ireland for a conference on closing U.S. and NATO military bases around the world — and at which some of us will make plans for protesting NATO in Washington on April 4, 2019 — the presidents of France and Germany are talking up the need for a European military that can fight the United States, Russia, and/or China. There are three responses to this development, two of which will get us all killed more quickly than the other.

NATO enlargement

One is this. Down with the stupid, ungrateful, miserable, old-fashioned Europeans! Make them fund NATO for their own good, whether they like it or not. This is a U.S. world, NATO is its tool, and others must be made to submit and to say thank you. This response unites all variety of liberal-conservative imperialists, thoughtless accepters of corporate opinion, people who like NATO because they’ve been told Trump doesn’t, and Trump himself, who of course once blurted out the obvious (that NATO is obsolete) until the generals informed him of what his job is, since which point Trump has been the biggest NATO-booster in at least half a century.

A second response it this. Hurray for a European military! This will break up U.S. hegemony. We’ll have a multipolar world, a balance of powers, independence from the Pentagon’s imperial throne. Perhaps even peace and disarmament will follow, who knows, who cares! Dance in the streets, people, the empire is collapsing! This response unites so-called peace activists who oppose U.S. war-making (and only U.S. war making) with weapons manufacturers and all variety of war and “reconstruction” profiteers. For centuries now, armaments and empires have led to wars, not peace. While the United States spends half the world’s military spending, other NATO members spend another quarter. China spends a tiny fraction of what the U.S. and other NATO members spend, and Russia spends a tiny fraction of what China spends, and has been reducing that each year, while Saudi Arabia and other weapons customers of the NATO nations ramp up.

The notion that NATO faces some external threat has become so ridiculous that the big hope for the weapons companies has to lie in two places (well, three until the Mueller investigation — or at least the Putin-stole-the-election core of it — fizzles out). The first is getting NATO to fight itself. Split NATO into Europe versus America. Get Europe to double its weapons spending to keep pace. That’ll make a few people very, very rich. Ask a U.S. weapons CEO for his or her view, I dare you. The second is getting these new rivals to sell even more weapons to poor countries and to wage even more wars against those weapons in those poor countries. There’s an old saying: When two demented, drunken, senile dinosaurs fight, it’s the ants and flowers that suffer. Rich nations haven’t actually fought each other since the Nuremberg trials. But they heavily arm and heavily bomb much of the rest of the world, the “violent” regions of which produce hardly any weaponry (and virtually all of that in Israel). If militarism is Westerners’ idea of progress, if their vision for decades to come — decades guaranteed to see environmental collapse and refugee crises — is a reorganization of barbarism, the result will make Donald Trump look good.

A third response is this. The problem is war, not U.S. war, but war. The U.S. is the biggest weapons dealer and the biggest warmonger, so it is the biggest piece of the problem. But the problem is war. And we don’t have decades left to dick around with medieval balances of power. The earth’s climate is already doomed. Militarism is both the biggest cause of climate collapse and the only industry given a waiver in major environmental agreements. Of course, Europe should stand up to the United States and to Trump’s demand to buy more weapons and fund a bigger NATO, but not by buying even more weapons and funding a different sort of NATO! As someone who has lived in Europe and loves both Europe and the United States, I have to say I’ll be extremely disappointed if Europe cannot manage to reply to fascist U.S. buffoonery with a civilized approach. Tiny fractions of what the United States and NATO members spend on wars could provide real aid to the entire world, including to these governments’ own people. A European Nonviolent Peaceforce, a European Climate Protection Agency, a European Disarmament Project, a European Aid Mission, a European Global Marshall Plan — if you want to unite Europe in opposition to Trumpian jackassery, try one of these, not a bigger jackass. Hell, try the rule of law. The chief prosecutor back at Nuremberg claimed the standards should apply to the United States as well.

If you favor peace, the above should be obvious. I shouldn’t have needed to say any of it. But peace is often a facade covering other motivations, hiding them even from ourselves. It shouldn’t be. We should have a peace movement that backs violence no more than a campaign for virginity backs sex. We’ve had 100 years now since the war to end all wars, 100 years of endless wars to end all peace. What we need is a peace to end all wars. And we need Europe to be a part of that. Arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine, human experimentation in CIA prisons, fascist propaganda about poor Honduran refugees: these are symptoms of the larger problem, the problem people claimed to be shocked by when the “civilized” Germans started putting human beings into ovens: the problem is putting massive violence between one part of humanity and another. Don’t do it, Europe! Don’t follow a fool! Don’t confuse Hollywood with reality! Don’t escalate humanity’s self-destruction! Help us turn down a different path!

If you want to ape Trump, do it like this. Treat NATO the way Trump treats disarmament agreements: withdraw from it and do the opposite!

This article originally appeared at davidswanson.org

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Trump Marks the End of a Cycle

Analysis by Roberto Savio

Roberto Savio is publisher of OtherNews, adviser to INPS-IDN and to the Global Cooperation Council. He is also co-founder of Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and its President Emeritus.

Let us stop debating what newly-elected US President Trump is doing or might do and look at him in terms of historical importance. Put simply, Trump marks the end of an American cycle!

Like it or not, for the last two centuries the entire planet has been living in an Anglophone-dominated world. First there was Pax Britannica (from the beginning of the 19th century when Britain started building its colonial empire until the end of the Second World War, followed by the United States and Pax Americana with the building of the so-called West).

The United States emerged from the Second World War as the main winner and founder of what became the major international institutions - from the United Nations to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - with Europe reduced to the role of follower. In fact, under the Marshall Plan, the United States became the force behind the post-war reconstruction of Europe.

As winner, the main interest of the United States was to establish a `world order' based on its values and acting as guarantor of the `order'.

Thus the United Nations was created with a Security Council in which it could veto any resolution, and the World Bank was created with the US dollar as the world's currency, not with a real world currency as British economist and delegate John Maynard Keynes had proposed. The creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) - as a response to any threat from the Soviet Union - was an entirely American idea.

The lexicon of international relations was largely based on Anglo-Saxon words, and often difficult to translate into other languages - terms such as accountability, gender mainstreaming, sustainable development, and so on. French and German disappeared as international languages, and lifestyle became the ubiquitous American export - from music to food, films and clothes. All this helped to reinforce American myths.

The United States thrust itself forward as the "model for democracy" throughout the world, based on the implied assertion that what was good for the United States was certainly good for all other countries. The United States saw itself as having an exceptional destiny based on its history, its success and its special relationship with God. Only US presidents could speak on behalf of the interests of humankind and invoke God.

The economic success of the United States was merely confirmation of its exceptional destiny - but the much touted American dream that anyone could become rich was unknown elsewhere. The first phase of US policy after the Second World War was based on multilateralism, international cooperation and respect for international law and free trade - a system which assured the centrality and supremacy of the United States, reinforced by its military might.

The United Nations, which grew from its original 51 countries in 1945 to nearly 150 in just a few decades, was the forum for establishing international cooperation based on the values of universal democracy, social justice and equal participation.

In 1974, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States - the first (and only) plan for global governance - which called for a plan of action to reduce world inequalities and redistribute wealth and economic production. But this quickly became to be seen by the United States as a straitjacket. The arrival of Ronald Reagan at the White House in in1981 marked an abrupt change in this phase of American policy based on multilateralism and shared international cooperation. A few months before taking office, Reagan had attended the North-South Economic Summit in Cancun, Mexico, where the 22 most important heads of state (with China as the only socialist country) had met to discuss implementation of the General Assembly resolution. Reagan, who met up with enthusiastic British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, stopped the plan for global governance dead in its tracks. I was there and saw how, to my dismay, the world went from multilateralism to the old policy of power in just two days. The United State simply refused to see its destiny being decided by others - and that was the start of the decline of the United Nations, with the United States refusing to sign any international treaty or obligation. America's dream and its exceptional destiny were strengthened by the rhetoric of Reagan who even went as far as sloganising "God is American".

It is important to note that, following Reagan's example, all the other major powers were happy to be freed of multilateralism. The Reagan administration, allied with that of Thatcher, provided an unprecedented example of how to destroy the values and practices of international relations and the fact that Reagan has probably been the most popular president in his country's history shows the scarce significance that the average American citizen gives to international cooperation.

Under Reagan, three major simultaneous events shaped our world. The first was deregulation of the financial system in 1982, later reinforced by US President Bill Clinton in 1999, which has led to the supremacy of finance, the results of which are glaringly evident today.

The second was the creation in 1989 of an economic vision based on the supremacy of the market as the force underpinning societies and international relations - the so-called Washington Consensus – thus opening the door for neoliberalism as the undisputed economic doctrine.

Third, also in 1989, came the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end of the "threat" posed by the Soviet bloc. It was at this point that the term "globalisation" became the buzzword, and that the United States was once again going to be the centre of its governance. With its economic superiority, together with the international financial institution which it basically controlled, plus the fact that the Soviet "threat" had now disappeared, the United States was once again placing itself at the centre of the world.

As Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, once said, "Globalisation is another term for U.S. domination."

This phase ran from 1982 until the financial crisis of 2008, when the collapse of American banks, followed by contagion in Europe, forced the system to question the Washington Consensus as an undisputable theory. Doubts were also being voiced loudly through the growing mobilisation of civil society (the World Social Forum, for example, had been created in 1981) and by the offensive of many economists who had previously remained in silence. The latter began insisting that macroeconomics - the preferred instrument of globalisation - looked only at the big figures. If microeconomics was used instead, they argued, it would become clear that there was very unequal distribution of growth (not to be confused with development) and that delocalisation and other measures which ignored the social impact of globalisation, were having disastrous consequences.

The disasters created by three centuries of greed as the main value of the "new economy" were becoming evident through figures showing an unprecedented concentration of wealth in a few hands, with many victims - especially among the younger generation. All this was accompanied by two new threats: the explosion of Islamic terrorism, widely recognised as a result of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the phenomenon of mass migration, which largely came after the Iraq war but multiplied after the interventions in Syria and Libya in 2011, and for which the United States and the European Union bear full responsibility.

Overnight, the world passed from greed to fear - the two motors of historical change in the view of many historians. And this is brings us to Mr. Trump. From the above historical excursion, it is easy to understand how he is simply the product of American reality.

Globalisation, initially an American instrument of supremacy, has meant that everyone can use the market to compete, with China the most obvious example. Under globalisation, many new emerging markets entered the scene, from Latin America to Asia. The United States, along with Europe, have become the victims of the globalisation which both perceived as an elite-led phenomenon.

Let us not forget that, after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, ideologies were thrown by the wayside. Politics became mere administrative competition, devoid of vision and values. Corruption increased, citizens stopped participating, political parties became self-referential, politicians turned into a professional caste, and elite global finance became isolated in fiscal paradises.

Young people looked forward to a future of unemployment or, at best temporary jobs, at the same time as they watched over four trillion dollars being spent in a few years to save the banking system.

The clarion call from those in power was, by and large, let us go back to yesterday, but to an even better yesterday - against any law of history. Then came Brexit and Trump.

We are now witnessing the conclusion of Pax Americana and the return to a nationalist and isolationist America. It will take some time for Trump voters to realise that what he is doing does not match his promises, that the measures he is putting in place favour the financial and economic elites and not their interests.

We are now facing a series of real questions.

Will the ideologue who helped Trump be elected - Stephen Bannon, chief executive officer of Trump's presidential campaign - have the time to destroy the world both have inherited ?

Will the world will be able to establish a world order without the United States at its centre? How many of the values that built modern democracy will be able to survive and become the bases for global governance?

A new international order cannot be built without common values, just on nationalism and xenophobia.

Bannon is organising a new international alliance of populists, xenophobes and nationalists - made up of the likes of Nicholas Farage (United Kingdom), Matteo Salvini and Beppe Grillo (Italy), Marine Le Pen (France) and Geert Wilders (Netherlands) - with Washington as their point of reference.

After the elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany this year, will know how this alliance will fare, but one thing is clear – if, beyond its national agenda, the Trump administration succeeds in creating a new international order based on illiberal democracy, we should start to worry because war will not be far away.

Monday 16 January 2017

A new chance for nuclear disarmament

Mr Trump's most recent statements (on relations with Russia and the need to reduce the nuclear arsenals) brings to mind the second part of the 1980s and the Gorbachev-Reagan summit in Reykjavik. But this time the peace movement must not let itself be tricked.

The thaw in the cold war (that never really ended) should be the beginning of the beginning of a real civic movement for nuclear disarmament. The real civic movement of the 1980s, the European Nuclear Disarmament movement (and its partner movements elsewhere in the world), almost came to an end with the Reykjavik summit (1986) and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union (1987).

Ever since, the peoples have shown less and less interest in the nuclear disarmament, the dismantling of the military-industrial complexes, the conversion of the global war economy into global economic cooperation, and the the creation of the necessary "new culture" (E.P. Thompson).

Beyond optimism, or pessimism, let's agree that there is now a chance to continue the previous disarmament movements. The governments of the nuclear weapons states may achieve "nuclear reductions", but they have long since proved unable to achieve nuclear disarmament and to end their cold wars. Only a very strong, international movement from below can force them to permanently change their route before a nuclear catastrophe (or war) happens.

The nuclear armaments are a terrible historical mistake, regardless of which country's nukes we speak about. And all the political, military, economic, cultural and religious leaders who endorse the nuclear "defenses" and "deterrents" of their respective countries, are corrupt. We have the right to condemn all of them as criminals, until they deliver the abolition of these weapons.(1)

Therefore, let's support the ongoing initiative at the UN for a a ban of the nuclear weapons with all our forces!

(1) sunt enim quaedam partim ita foeda, partim ita flagitiosa, ut ea ne conservandae quidem patriae causa sapiens facturus sit. (For there are some acts either so repulsive or so wicked, that a wise man would not commit them, even to save his country) -- Cicero

Thursday 11 February 2016

DIEM25, Altiero Spinelli and European Nuclear Disarmament

Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25) is very welcome, and so is Thomas Fazi's critique, but both seem to leave the question of a potential democratized Europe's role in the world–its foreign policy and so called security policy–out of sight. Just remember that our problems are 'overdetermined' (to use a word that was fashionable in the 1970s) by global issues such as nuclear armaments/disarmament(s), plus the inherent 'incompatibility' (to use a term from software slang) of democracy and weapons of mass destruction. This means that the present nuclear states cannot really be democratic; firstly, because hitherto, at least, no people, no demos, did consciously chose nuclear (or chemical, biological, nanotechnological, robotical etc) weapons; the statesmen who decided to build such machines never had any explicit electoral mandate to do so; secondly, as pres. Eisenhower said, after WWII (and precisely because of the Manhattan project, etc.) the democracy in America threatened to be crushed by a 'military-industrial complex'. Unfortunately, the democracy in America was then crushed by the military-industrial complex.

In the 1980s, there rose in Europe a very popular and intellectually vibrant political movement against the Cold War, and in favour of liberating the geographical space from the Atlantic to the Urals from nuclear weapons. That movement has to be continued now, otherwise Europe cannot and will never be democratized. Thus one truly European author and thinker who needs to be remembered and re-read today is the late historian and peace activist Edward P. Thompson. Another is, of course, Altiero Spinelli. It is unfortunate that Spinelli is as unknown as he is in the Anglo-Saxon world, and, in general, outside his home country, Italy. Not even the brilliant autobiography of this constitutional theoretician has been translated from the Italian!

For reflection:

In the preface to the second (unfinished) part of his autobiography, dated March 1986 (only weeks before his death), Altiero Spinelli summed up the periods of his own postwar political action (in my ad hoc translation):

"My life can be articulated in six actions cycles each founded on a different hypothesis.

I. Between 1943 and 1945 I worked on the hypothesis of an impetuous democratic renaissance that would grow from the destruction that had taken place not only of the European order of the past, but also inside almost all the nation-states of Europe.

II. Between 1947 and 1954 I worked on the assumption that the large European moderate ministers, encouraged by the democratic missionary spirit which then animated the US foreign policy, and frightened by what was happening in Eastern Europe, would have listened to us and set about to begin with the federal construction.

III. Between 1954 and 1960(?) I worked on the assumption that it would have been possible to mobilize Europeanism, now widespread, into a growing popular protest - a Congress of the European People - directed against the very legitimacy of the nation states.

IV. Between 1960 and 1970 , withdrawing almost completely from political action, I meditated on the meaning of the European Economic Community, on the new aspects of introduced to the military defense by the nuclear weapon, on the possibility of a revival of Federalist action.

V. Between 1970 and 1976 I worked on the assumption that the EEC Commission might take on the role of political leadership in restarting the building of political union.

VI. Between 1976 and 1986 I worked on the assumption that the European Parliament would have to play a constituent role in European integration.

Each of these adventures ended with a defeat of the adventure itself and of me. Every time I had suffered greatly, because I had not only moved forward a reality, but also, and, above all, in vain chased a dream."

For the above quotation, see Altiero Spinelli: Come ho tentato di diventare saggio (Società editrice il Mulino: Bologna 1999 p. 348; no doubt my translation needs to be revised and amended by a native English speaker.)

(I have also posted the above comments in OpenDemocracy in reply to Thomas Fazi's critique of the DIEM25 Manifesto.)

Sunday 24 January 2016

La sfida europea - The European Challenge

"What appears clear is that the Europeans are paying, in these years, the price of their inability to prepare themselves politically and culturally to cope with the new phenomenon of globalization. Since the end of the Cold War that Europe refuses to see and meet the challenges and risks inherent in the new world picture: it has not acquired the means and tools needed for independence from the Americans in terms of foreign policy and security; it used the occasion of the enlargement to countries of Central and Eastern Europe to dilute its own identity that was founded on a political project. But the primary political project was shelved and this has fostered a revival of nationalism; It failed to anchor the German reunification in a European framework politically solid; It was caught unprepared by global competition triggered both by the post-Cold War American hegemony and by a technological paradigm shift that creates - and requires - profound changes.” (1)


  • … the new phenomenon of globalization… , but globalization is not new. (Ulrike Herrmann has a good chapter critizising the notion that globalization is new in her Der Sieg des Kapitals.) However, the Internet certainly is a novum that the Europeans need to cope with as Europeans. Firstly, its physical infrastructure should be the natural monopoly of Europe's cities and municipalities, and administrated by the librarians.
  • Since the end of the Cold war… but how can we pretend that Cold War has ended when its military-political structures (nuclear weapons and “missile defense” systems; NATO )have remained intact, or even aggravated (“cyberwar”, drones, SCO) ?
  • (Europe, but they mean the EU)… has not acquired the means and tools needed for independence from the Americans in terms of foreign policy and security… true, but why is it not said clearly that one of these tools must be unilateral European nuclear disarmament? Maybe “Publius” thinks in the opposite direction: that the EU should unilaterally acquire an own nuclear fleet and force de frappe that is independent of the USA? A Gaullist Spinelli?
  • (Europe) used the occasion of the enlargement to countries of Central and Eastern Europe to dilute its own identity that was founded on a political project … Yes, unfortunately, Europe is diluting its own identity. ( The Algerian sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas has a good article about how Europe is diluting its Secularist heritage from the French Revolution.) But is there any given European identity? No. A European identity still needs to be constructed in so far as it is still a good idea. (Journalist: What do you think of Western civilization? Gandhi: I think it would be a good idea..)

(1) Publius in the article “La sfida europea”, www.alternativaeuropea.org, 14 January 2016. In the original Italian version: “Quello che appare evidente è che gli europei stanno pagando, in questi ultimi anni, il prezzo della loro incapacità di attrezzarsi politicamente e culturalmente per fronteggiare il fenomeno nuovo della globalizzazione. E’ dalla fine della Guerra fredda che l’Europa non accetta di vedere e affrontare le sfide e i rischi insiti nel nuovo quadro mondiale: non ha saputo dotarsi degli strumenti per diventare autonoma dagli americani sul piano della politica estera e di sicurezza; ha usato l’occasione dell’allargamento ai paesi dell’Europa centro-orientale per diluire la propria identità, fondata su un progetto innanzitutto politico che invece è stato accantonato, e ha iniziato ad alimentare il risveglio del nazionalismo; non è riuscita ad ancorare la riunificazione tedesca ad un quadro europeo politicamente solido; è stata colta impreparata dalla competizione globale innescata sia dall’egemonia americana post-Guerra fredda, sia da un cambiamento di paradigma tecnologico che crea – e costringe a – profonde trasformazioni.”

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Those who do not count in the armament billions and war budgets in the climate equation will never solve it

16 November

Following the recent Salafist-Jihadi terrorist attacks in Paris the leaders of the environmental movement are now reported to discuss whether it is wise to go on as planned with the large international demonstrations around the UN climate conference in that city on 30 November and 11 December 2015.

I really hope that the civic movements will not become paralyzed. A similar situation arose last winter before the World Social Forum in Tunis. A few days before the international big meeting had Salafists shot dead at least 20 tourists at the Bardo Museum. This violence certainly got many participants to thinking twice before departure to Tunis.

Fortunately most participants continued their thinking and drew the correct conclusion: if we stay at home, we recognize that violence is fruitful and efficient and thus, tat the Salafis have chosen the right method. And so the World Social Forum in Tunis 2015 had a great many participants and became a success despite the recently-concluded terror attacks.

If civic activists and movements let themselves become intimidated into retreat and passivity they will only fall in the hands of their opponents, these governments, which hardly can avoid to turn the climate conference in Paris into yet another fiasco. Because these governments, like the terrorists, prioritize violence as problem solving method. Just look at the French government's bombing raids in Syria in response to the recent shootings and suicide attacks in Paris!

The United Nations was founded "to save future generations from the scourge of war." In a few days, the UN is to deal with another plague, i.e. climate change. This can succeed only if citizens take courage and adopt a strategy, which addresses both these problems together.

17 November

''"This movement for climate justice has always also been a movement for peace--a way for people around the world to come together, no matter their background or religion, and fight to protect our common home."''

As happy as I am about the decision of the Climate Coalition to go on with its planned peaceful actions in Paris despite the recent terrorist actions there, I still do not share your conviction that "this movement for climate justice has always also been a movement for peace."

If you can pardon me for this disagreement, I am, however, ready to agree that this movement is close to becoming a real movement for peace.

The first thing we see today on the Facebook-page of the climate coalition is the logogram for solidarity with the victims of the terrorists in Paris; I mean the logo which combines the nuclear disarmament symbol (originally designed for the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, CND) with the Eiffel tower.


My point is that, in addition to expressing solidarity with the victims of terror, this symbol should symbolize a common demand for European Nuclear Disarmament. And that the climate movement ought to say so, clear and loud!

Does this require too much? Should we focus on "the climate crisis" now, and take up the issue of world peace later? Would the nuclear disarmament priority lead to a fragmentation of the movement for climate justice?

I hope you do not hesitate to give a negative answer to these questions. The general argument in support of the view that the climate movement ought to demand nuclear disarmament (without conditions) could be summarized as follows: The armies burn more oil than many nations. Wars in the Middle East are motivated in large part by a desire to control and profit from much greater amounts of fossil fuels. The continuing nuclear arms race (nowadays often disguised with the label of "modernisation") creates a serious climate threat. Those who do not count in the armament billions and war budgets in the climate equation will never solve it.

Consider, for instance, the probability of a "nuclear winter", following upon even upon a nuclear war that would be limited in scale. But then, could a war where France would launch its nuclear strike force against an enemy, remain limited? And, just to illustrate the mention of the billions spent on armaments, of wich the nuclear armaments are only like the top of the iceberg, take, for example, the French M51-missile.

But the present situation, after the most recent incidents of Salafist-Jihadi terrorism in Paris, also urgently require the climate movement to become an outspoken defender of disarmament and peace.

The temptation is great to agree with the reasoning that, in this case, we have to accept the use of air raids and bombs, and that, from now on, it is necessary to utterly destroy the IS by violent means. However, I tend to agree, instead, with the reasoning of Pierre Conesa, a former senior civil servant at the Department of Defence and lecturer at Sciences Po, when he says, in a recent interview: "The more we get stuck in a military logic, the more attacks we will face." (Read MiddleEastEye's interview Interview with Pierre Conesa: 'We've declared war first in the Middle East' ".)

The French general and military theorist Vincent Desportes, in his statement to the commission for foreign policy and defence of the Sanate in December 2014, argued that France should not deepen its military engagement in the fight against the Daech (ISIS). "Daech delenda est" (Daech must be destroyed, for sure) he confirmed, and added: "action is needed, but who is to act?"

Thereafter, he presented the following analysis:

''Quel est le docteur Frankenstein qui a créé ce monstre ? Affirmons-le clairement, parce que cela a des conséquences : ce sont les Etats-Unis. Par intérêt politique à court terme, d'autres acteurs - dont certains s'affichent en amis de l'Occident - d'autres acteurs donc, par complaisance ou par volonté délibérée, ont contribué à cette construction et à son renforcement. Mais les premiers responsables sont les Etats-Unis. Ce mouvement, à la très forte capacité d'attraction et de diffusion de violence, est en expansion. Il est puissant, même s'il est marqué de profondes vulnérabilités. Il est puissant mais il sera détruit. C'est sûr. Il n'a pas d'autre vocation que de disparaître.'' (link to source)

If General Desportes is right in his opinion that the ISIS is a creation of the USA, and that its mission is to disappear when it has done its job-and I believe he is-then we have a double reason not to support the air strikes and the bombings. Firstly, we are a citizens movement, and as such, airstrikes and bombings should not be our business; secondly, let the monster be killed by those who created it.

And remember this universal slogan, made in USA:

"Cut the military, save the climate."(link to source)

17 November, afternoon

Today, we have learned that France requests military help from the other EU states. Time to remember Altiero Spinelli, the author of the Memorandum sull'esercito europeo, arguing for a European federation and the creation of a common European army. But that was back in 1951, when the European Defence Community (EDC) was still on the table. Ironically, "the EDC went for ratification in the French National Assembly on 30 August 1954, and failed by a vote of 319 against 264."

To be honest, I think it is already too late. But we should always say: "Perhaps it is not too late!" Moreover, we must continue to act as if things were that way.

Nuclear disarmament, however, is an either-or issue, perhaps one of the very few issues that really are of that kind. Either one of the existing nuclear weapons states -France, for example-unilaterally proceeds to abolishing those weapons, thereby opening the Exit door for the rest of us, or... well, the alternative is "Exterminism." (See E.P.Thompson, "Notes on Exterminism, the Last Stage of Civilization", New Left Review I/121, May-June 1980.)

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Comments on the "Ending of the Illegal surveillance"

The Just Net Coalition, of which the present writer is a personal member, maintains a general discussion forum in the form of a mailing list. Of key concern there are the issues pertaining to the governance of the internet. Below, I copy some notes that I recently posted in the said forum.

(Part 1)

How to end the illegal surveillance without getting rid of those states within the states: the national and imperial 'security' industries and complexes of our Atomic Age? What a formidable task, especially after September, 2001!

However, ”...closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation,” as a famous social scientist of an earlier period has constated. Foremost among those material conditions today are the peoples of the (digitally) connected world, and the Internet itself, which is, in a word, incompatible with that system of states within the states.

In order to convince oneself of this incompatibility one hardly needs to do more than open and read ”The WikiLeaks Files”, recently published by Verso Books and WikiLeaks together. (Available as an DRM-free e-book here.) What this anthology of analysis of the global US Empire, based on its leaked diplomatic cables, and introduced by Julian Assange, underlines, is that the current political leaders are losing grip; that however hard they try, they cannot control the 'intelligence', because the internet gives it away. This makes the crisis of hegemony.

Unfounded optimism? Maybe, but who said that the crisis will end happy and well? The crisis of hegemony is the crisis of leadership. The old leadership, the leadership of the bankers, corporations and traditional intellectuals, who gather at their yearly World Economic Forums at Davos, Switzerland, is waning and dying, but the new leadership has not yet been born. Unfortunately, the interregnum, in which we presently live, is all the more dangerous because of the destructive capacity of the human species: its new and enhanced scientific and technical capacity to destroy the conditions of living on this planet. Until ca 1945, only Gods where supposed to be able to do that; by now everybody knows that we have the potential—-and are even likely--to turn ourselves into the destroyers of this world.

There is also the Totalitarian danger of ending up in a situation ”worse than Orwell”--but if we really were there (as UN special rapporteur on privacy Joseph Cannataci would have it ), then how to explain the above-mentioned WikiLeaks Files, the activities of the World Social Forum, and even the persistence of institutions like the United Nations including its special rapporteur on privacy himself?

If we already lived in the kind of world that George Orwell warned about back in 1948, would there still be public libraries and librarians? Would not all those reminders of what has been, and what has been thought possible, already have been closed? The journalistic media and their personnel is one thing; they can evidently be, and they actually are, grossly manipulated, mostly in the name of 'national security', or 'economic growth'. But it would be more difficult to suffocate what Arthur Schopenhauer called ”the only reliable memory of mankind”, that is, the libraries. Not even the most Draconian totalitarianism could survive without access to the collected and organized external memory, which is just another way to say 'library'.

Here, the Internet again announces its presence, because henceforward, the library and the digital network of networks are inseparable entities, one and the same, if you like. Yet another way to put it is this: the new information technology, the Internet, is an extention of the old information technology, the library. Agreed, that this way of putting it might over-emphasize the importance of the memory at the expense of the communication. In perspective, however, that emphasis seems justified, because the library also performs the more fundamental function of communication (transmission) of the memory over time (the 'translatio studii et imperii').

To fulfil, then, the "ending of the illegal surveillance", we need to give the libraries and the librarians a bigger role in our thinking and our discussions. The librarians are a very special category of people; they deliver their services somewhere in between the states and the civil societies, and the present general crisis of hegemony hits them as hard as anybody else, but their professional ethic is intact and ready for the inevitable transformation of state power and government (the ”governance”). Thus Google or Amazon cannot become our libraries for the simple reason that they are just corporations, what libraries are not. The library has by necessity to try to be more than a corporate entity. A corporative, and even a national library is by definition a very bad and unreliable library, if it does not strive towards universality, that is, towards providing all information to everybody as fast as possible. Therefore, the direction of the US Library of Congress drew great shame upon itself when it ”decided to block WikiLeaks because applicable law obligates federal agencies to protect classified information.”. At that point, the direction of the Congress ought to have had the courage to make its own interpretation of the applicable law, based on the first amendment to the Montesquieuan constitution of the USA.

Despite the lack in political clout that some librarians have shown, the solution I should like to suggest would be to let the Internet be governed by the librarians--to the extent that the net needs to be ”governed” at all. Keeping the catalog of IP-numbers and assigned names, in particular, looks like a typical task for librarians.

Finally, a word about national sovereignty. In my comment on Jean-Christophe Nothias' posting about the ending of the surveillance I did not want to give the impression that I support abolishing national sovereignty as such. Parminder wrote about ”people's soverignty” , which I am also for. What I belive has come to its historical end is the notion that nation-states have, or should have, absolute soverignty. For instance, no state, and no people either, for that matter, ought to build, have and ”modernize” weapons of mass destruction such as atomic bombs, or other WMD (nanotech, genetech, robotic, etc) that are probably already ”developed” by those who more or less clandestinely do such things in their laboratories and factories. No ”sovereign people” should tolerate such criminal activities.

(Part 2)

I am not adverse to international law. Nor do I wish to limit the way citizens can create global rules. I will insist, however, on the need for a revolution of the existing political world system. International laws to end the illegal surveillance (the topic of our discussion thread) and abolish the weapons systems of the militant states can only come in parallel with, and upon, that revolution.

I should like to illustrate my view with a comment on what has been said (in the JNC forum and elesewhere) about the European Union and our right (introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon,) as European citizens, to launch European citizens' initiatives.

It is good that citizens now have the possibility to launch initiatives. Unfortunately, however, the range of such initiatives is all too narrow. Would European Nuclear Disarmament be accepted as a citizens initiative? No, that initiative cannot even be seriously discussed, because the European rules (European law) rule it out from the outset. The rather shaky union we Europeans have hitherto achieved permits certain states to keep and modernize their national nuclear arms in the name of their sovereignty. These states (France and the UK) have also made a separate treaty (the Teutates Treaty) on cooperation to further develop their nuclear arsenals together in common. It will ony expire after nearly fifty years, in 2060! I bet that most of us Europeans have not even heard of that treaty. It is certainly not democratic.

The original federalistic project by Altiero Spinelli and others, as laid down in their Manifesto from Ventotene (1941) was really good, and needs to be revived; but soon (from 1958 onward) the transatlantic bankers and corporations managed to hijack it and have continued to this day to steer it in accordance with their interests. If you, Jean-Christophe, would ask me for a governace model for the EU, then I would point you to the draft constitution adopted by a great majority of the European Parlament in the year 1984 (you can find the text in French and in English here. ). Of course, its provisions on the policies of the Union (Part Four) already need some rewriting; understandably, nothing is found on the Internet, for instance. However, in comparison with the Lisbon Treaty, it is an admirably clear and succinct (draft) basic international law that should even deserve to be called popular and democratic. But what are the prospects today of having such a law adopted? It could only succeed in combination with some kind of political revolution, I guess. Or maybe something like the American Declaration of Independence in 1776?

It is ”we, the peoples” who must set the agenda and put a priority order. In my life-time I have experienced at least one civic movement which actually succeeded in forcing some of the state governments to turn their coats after the wind, namely, the European Nuclear Disarmament movement of the 1980ies. The more recent fight against the ACTA agreement was also quite successful.

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Greetings from Finland

In Finland, veteran Center Party politician Paavo Väyrynen has come up with an initiative that will most probably gain the support of more than 50.000 citizens, whereafter it must be voted on in the parliament. Below, I shall quote dr Väyrynen's blog entry in my ad hoc translation into English, and give you my comment.


By Paavo Väyrynen

Blog entry 16 July 2015,



"The single currency the euro was created in the belief that it would increase the unity of Europe. The contrary happened. It has caused serious conflicts between the euro area member states and within them.

"When the changeover to the euro was treated in 1995 in the European Parliament, I together with other center party members from the Nordic countries, was against the single currency. We held that the euro should be a common currency, to be used alongside the national currencies. This was a reasonable proposal, but we got almost no support for it.

"When this solution did not materialise, I gave my support to Wolfgang Schäuble's proposal in 1994 that the single currency would initially be adopted only by France, Germany and the Benelux countries. Others would have used the euro as the single currency alongside their national currencies. Schäuble suggested that this group of five countries would be intensified also political integration, and formed a "hard core" of the European Union.

"When the euro was adopted, only sparse member met the financial conditions of the pre-set targets, the so-called EMU criteria. Finland was among them.

"If Finland had accepted the proposed eurozone of only five states, it might have become reality. However, Paavo Lipponen [leader of the Social Democrats] and Sauli Niinistö leader of the Conservatives wanted Finland to join the eurozone as one of the first countries, although the other Nordic countries were not joining.

"So it was decided to let almost any willing country join. Greece had to wait a little bit. It just had to do some make-up on its economy indicators.

"The current eurozone crisis is due to the presence of too different economies. To this problem various contradictory solutions are presently being propossed.

"The so called Five Presidents' Report, prepared under the leadership of President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, asks for a full economic union alongside the monetary union. This would include a common Minister of Finance, a common budget and permanent systems for the transfer of funds between the member states. But this is in total contradiction with the current Finnish government program.

"An alternative option was presented last year by a working group led by economics professor Vesa Kanniainen: all members of the eurozone should again start using their national currencies alongside the euro. This is precisely the model that we, the Nordic center party MEP's, tabled 20 years ago.

"Another model, also proposed by Kanniainen, was that Finland alone would withdraw from the euro area. Over time, other countries might then follow Finland's example, and so we might end up with the Schäuble solution.

"A comparison with Sweden shows that we Finland have suffered from joining the single currency euro. Now, we should have the courage to break away from the eurozone. If we continue, we will experience great economic losses. As a member of the euro area, Finland will have to assume ever greater responsibility for the debts of other countries and will lose its economic and governmental independence.

"Finland was taken into the eurozone in violation of its Constitution without a referendum. It is high time to hold a referendum on the willingness of the Finns accept the Finnish presence in the euro and eurozone which is currently being shaped under the leadership of the European Commission.


I also intend to sign onto this "Citizens' Initiative". Yet my opinion on the EU and its problems differs from that of Paavo Väyrynen. More precisely, I do not think that the main problem of the EU is that the economies of its member states are different, or unevenly developed. Instead, the key issue is political and military. First of all, the EU needs an independent vision of war and peace. Only then can it become a real political and economic union. Let me mention the three pillars, on which I belive that the EU ought to be built: firstly, the original Eurofederalism which is found in "The Manifesto from Ventotene", written during WWII, and the "Draft Treaty", which was adopted by the European Parliament in 1984; secondly, European Nuclear Disarmament--the peoples of Europe have to break away from the hegemonies of the USA, Russia, and the other nuclear states by way of their own nuclear exit ; thirdly, the internet as a common carrier and library.

Thank you, if you read this far.

And greetings from Finland,


(via "WSF-Discuss" at http://openspaceforum.net/mailman/listinfo/worldsocialforum-discuss_openspaceforum.net)

Thursday 9 July 2015

To five distinguished economists

In their recent open letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel, the five distinguished economists Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs, Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik, and Simon Wren-Lewis portray the eurozone "a beacon of hope". I do not agree with this description. The eurozone remains a historical mistake as long as the EU is not an independent political and military union.

For basic guidelines on the EU itself as "a beacon of hope", please study The Manifesto of Ventotene and the draft constitution from 1984, which you can find at http://www.spinellisfootsteps.info

Saturday 6 December 2014

An email re "France confronting Nuclear Disarmament" by J-M Matagne

Dear Jean-Marie and all,

thank you so much for your memorandum "France confronting Nuclear Disarmament"! Hope to have it translated, or to translate it myself, into Swedish and/or Finnish. It would, of course, be good to have your memo in Finnish right now, at the moment of the decision (which was taken yesterday, by our parliamentarians) to allow the construction of yet one new nuclear reactor, this time at Pyhäjoki on the shore of the shallow Gulf of Bothnia. This new reactor will, as you know, be ordered from the Russian company Rosatom. The decision was preceded by some unworthy, and futile, debate about Finland's future dependence of Russia, and about our so called security policy.

Why were no such debates about "security policy" heard when the still unfinished Olkiluoto III reactor was ordered from the French comany Areva? Because of our supposed (or, rather, indoctrinated) "common Western values", I would think. And even more, I would add, because of the false ideology about the nuclear weapons, which your excellent memo helps us to see through and to expose (false, not only in the French case, but universally).

I would also add this: whenever their really strong economic and political interests are at stake, our top technocrats and bureaucrats will readily put aside "our common Western values".

In these days I am finishing work on a volume of E.P.Thompson's writings from the golden years of the European Nuclear Disarmament movement (1980, 1981, 1982). The book contains texts which appeared in Finnish already at that time -- like Thompson's "Notes on Exterminism" (also translated into French, perhaps by E. Balibar?), and of other essays, which I have recently translated into Finnish.

The "Exterministic" trend of our species prevails also after the fall of the USSR and in the 2010s. Only the European peace movement seems weaker than ever. Or what do you think?

All the best.


Saturday 22 November 2014


If we take peace seriously, then Malala should not have been awarded Nobel's price. The problem is not really that Malala is young, nor about her having been photographed in the company of one or another more or less abominable politician. The problem is the way the members of the Nobel committee neglect the peace. For them, peace may signify anything that corresponds to their preferred variety of goodness.

Personally, I see no reason to doubt that Malala is good and brave and admirable. But what has she done specifically for peace?

Alfred Nobel might have been just a Capitalist philantrophist, like so many others. He had, however, the good sense to take peace seriously. And we of the so called Left also ought to do so.

Peace is doable, as somebody said.

(in respons to comments by Arundhati Roy and others)

Saturday 6 September 2014

Our world is governed by nuclear terrorists

"Civil society and popular movements must start to act", yes, and I am willing to spread this message, but as long as the question of European nuclear disarmament is not high on our agenda, our "Peace in Europe" action will be groping in the dark and our future will be decided by the great powers and big corporations. And the Ukrainian crisis will continue to escalate into a new "Cold War", and the world will continue to drift towards a "Hot War" in which nuclear weapons will be used.


A senior analyst of US-Russian relations, prof. Stehen F. Cohen, recently stated (here comes four full paragraphs of quotation):

"Ukraine is linked to Russia not only in terms of being Russias essential security zone, but its linked conjugally, so to speak, intermarriage. There are millions, if not tens of millions, of Russian and Ukrainians married together. Put it in NATO, and youre going to put a barricade through millions of families. Russia will react militarily.

"In fact, Russia is already reacting militarily, because look what they're doing in Wales today. They're going to create a so-called rapid deployment force of 4,000 fighters. What is 4,000 fighters? Fifteen thousand or less rebels in Ukraine are crushing a 50,000-member Ukrainian army. Four thousand against a million-man Russian army, its nonsense. The real reason for creating the so-called rapid deployment force is they say it needs infrastructure. And the infrastructurethat is, in plain language is military basesneed to be on Russias borders. And they've said where they're going to put them: in the Baltic republic, Poland and Romania.

"Now, why is this important? Because NATO has expanded for 20 years, but its been primarily a political expansion, bringing these countries of eastern Europe into our sphere of political influence; now its becoming a military expansion. So, within a short period of time, we will have a new -- well, we have a new Cold War, but here's the difference. The last Cold War, the military confrontation was in Berlin, far from Russia. Now it will be, if they go ahead with this NATO decision, right plunk on Russias borders. Russia will then leave the historic nuclear agreement that Reagan and Gorbachev signed in 1987 to abolish short-range nuclear missiles. It was the first time nuclear -- a category of nuclear weapons had ever been abolished. Where are, by the way, the nuclear abolitionists today? Where is the grassroots movement, you know, FREEZE, SANE? Where have these people gone to? Because were looking at a new nuclear arms race. Russia moves these intermediate missiles now to protect its own borders, as the West comes toward Russia. And the tripwire for using these weapons is enormous."

"One other thing. Russia has about, I think, 10,000 tactical nuclear weapons, sometimes called battlefield nuclear weapons. You use these for short distances. They can be fired; you dont need an airplane or a missile to fly them. They can be fired from artillery. But they're nuclear. They're radioactive. They've never been used. Russia has about 10,000. We have about 500. Russia's military doctrine clearly says that if Russia is threatened by overwhelming conventional forces, we will use tactical nuclear weapons. So when Obama boasts, as he has on two occasions, that our conventional weapons are vastly superior to Russia, he's feeding into this argument by the Russian hawks that we have to get our tactical nuclear weapons ready." (You ought to look up the full interview with Stephen F. Cohen yesterday at Democracy Now!, -- thanks to Toshimuro Ogura who pointed at it at WSF-Discuss)


Prof. Cohen mentioned the huge American mass movements FREEZE and SANE of the 1980s. He also ought to have mentioned END, that is, European Nuclear Disarmament, the immense popular and anti-systemic European movement of the same decade.

END, being a non-aligned and Neutralist movement, not committed to "the East" nor to "The West", was opening a perspective towards an alternative world system. Our Social Forum has hitherto lacked this perspective. It has postponed it, and in so doing it has been mistaken. Another world is not possible without nuclear disarmament, and nuclear disarmament will not be decided multilaterally. It has to begin in some particular country and/or region. It has to start unilaterally.

Unilateral nuclear disarmament is the right thing to do, morally. But it is also the right thing to do from a military, strategical, point of view -- a necessary condition for what can possibly be meant with "a victory".

It is politically right, because the "weapons" of today (the nuclear, but also the new genetic, nanotech and robotic weapons) are incompatible with justice and democracy.

Economically: disarmament indeed opens up an economic perspective, and the nuclear armament systems are the top of the iceberg, that is, of our "war economy", which contributes, probably more than anything else, to destroying the conditions of life on this planet.

And culturally?


Our world is governed by nuclear terrorists.

"It is hopeless. And we are not giving up." -- Jan Erik Vold

Friday 9 May 2014


In order to commemorate the work of the peacemovements during the last 100 years we arrange the PEACE EVENT SARAJEVO 6-9 June.

But who are we?

How Far Should The Library Aid The Peace Movement and Similar Propaganda? asked librarian George F. Bowerman in his address at the American Library Association National Conference in Berkeley, California 1915.

We also want to look into the future. Therefore, the workshop PEACE AND THE INTERNET is also on the program in Sarajevo. Has the Internet created the prerequiste for a more enduring world peace? How can the library contribute to "the sympathetic world spirit" (Bowerman) which will certainly also be needed?

These questions are to be discussed against the background of the recent NetMundial-conference on "Internet governance" in Sao Paulo.

More about Peace Event Sarajevo via http://p2014.eu and about the workshop Peace and the Internet via http://is.gd/KluLtD

Monday 28 April 2014

The library to govern the net? Yes, but how?

That the library ought to govern the net — to the extent that the net needs to be governed at all — is one of my convictions since long. Which means that I am an advocate of library power. Obviously, this must be a kind of soft power, or "hegemony", to speak with Antonio Gramsci (one of the Italian political theorists who has been quoted earlier in this blog).

Institutions, or at least some of them, may have lots of soft power just because that's what people have been told and shown (by parents, teachers, artists, architects, journalists, etc.). In reality, however, power is a mix of soft and hard, and that mixture, the real power, can only be had and practised by people over other people. (It is a relation between people.) So it goes without saying that library power necessarily implies power of the librarians.

But do the librarians think of themselves as a powerful, and potentially even more powerful, group? Yes and no. Remember that 'A word after a word after a word is power' (Margaret Atwood) and consider the immense power of 'literature' as an institution of society. On the other hand, the librarian is used to see herself, or himself, as service personnel who should always be satisfied with his/her subordinate role: "...blithe as a milkmaid, or sumptuously dressed according to the wishes of its masters" (Suzanne Briet).

However, to make a long story short, let me just note that there will have to be a change now that the library is fusioned into the internet. The librarians will have to 'take the case'. My Norwegian librarian friend Anders Ericson said so, and I believe he is right.

Which case, what are we talking about? In these days, the subject of this blog-entry, the so called 'internet governance', is very much 'the case' and that is precisely the one that the librarians (globally) ought to take.

R. David Lankes, the author of The Atlas of New Librarianship might be of a not very different opinion, as appears from his tweet:

In contemporary discussions about internet governance, though, library is not yet a key concept, nor are the librarians yet at the helm. This does not mean that the librarians are more passive or stupid than anybody else. On the contrary, there are clear signs that that, for instance, IFLA (the huge umbrella of the world's national and other associations of professional librarians) has arrived right at the electronic frontier. Stuart Hamilton, IFLA's director of policy and advocacy,  tweeted:

But the librarians still stay content in their subordinate roles in relation to the power of the state governments and the corporations. How to exit from this voluntary serfdom? For the moment, multistakeholder governance might be the best emergency solution to the problem of how to govern the net. At least, multistakeholder means that we are many who have a stake. In fact, we all have. But precisely therefore it must also be admitted that internet governance and global political governance are inseparable. And this, in turn, means that internet governance has to be understood as a form of global governance.

Now, think of a basic law that tells the basic rules of the global governance. As citizens of the modern world, the first thing we have to see to is that tyranny is avoided. So there must be a separation of powers. Well, the traditional Montesquieuan triad of powers is OK with the present writer. Let the parliaments and governments continue as state powers in their national contexts. And, by all means, let there be an independent Judicial Power, both nationally, locally and internationally (for the persecution of crimes against humanity and other international crimes). In addition to the traditional state powers we will need, however, a fourth one: The Library Power. This is a new kind of soft power, based on the age-old institution of the library and the ethos of the librarians. "The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities." (R D Lankes)


Post scriptum: Some days ago, Pauliine Koskelo, Justice of the Supreme court in Finland, was reprimanded for having posted emails to members of parliament. Her emails were seen as an attempt to teach lawmaking to the legislators. Some parliamentarians said that they did not need to  be lectured by a Justice.  Appearing on television yesterday, Koskelo defended her postings by saying they had not been intended to steer the decision-makers. She just wanted to inform them about some recent changes in the the positions taken by the Supreme Court. Her intention had not been to direct, but to inform. Freely, the librarians are also likely to run into conflict, from time to time,  with one or more of the three traditional powers of the state. But that's normal. No powers want to give away even an ounce of their power.

Library power is about the information that goes into the knowledge creation in the communities. Many good value-statements about transparency, acccess etc. —  all intended to steer the library power, as if the librarians would not since long ago have based their preservation (of the information of mankind) and facilitation (helping people to find and get it) on precisily those values!  —  have now been documented (once again!) in the document on internet governance from the NetMundial conference. The problem is that the executive state powers still have far too much power over the information. Not to speak about all that excessive corporate power over the information that the peoples  of this interconnected, networked world, badly need. (More often than not, the corporations tend to regard it their private intellectual property.)

In the article referred to by Stuart Hamilton (above), Danny O'Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) makes two critical points about the recent NetMundial conference on Internet Governance in Sao Paulo, Brazil:

First point:

"The NETmundial document may not be binding, but the ability of
right holder lobbyists in inserting language that has been previously been
used to terminate users' Internet connections, commandeer ISPs [Internet
Service Providers, often big telecoms -mb] to be the copyright police of
their own customers, and censor and filter the Internet demonstrates just
how swiftly even novel and apparently open deliberation of online rights can
be steered into dangerous territory. While NETmundial was far more open than
other lobbying venues, such as the ultra-secretive Trans-Pacific
Partnership, the resources of big business to wordsmith away and influence
drafters, compared to the relatively small ability for advocacy groups and
individual net users to influence the process, still shows in the final


"NETmundial's most re-iterated point, and ultimately its entire
reason for existing -- to make a strong statement against mass
surveillance  -- was also diminished by the process. For all its commitment to
transparency and openness, governments, including the United States
government, had the last say in a closed meeting at the very end of
NETmundial. Even before then, the targets of [President Dilma] Rousseff's
and the Internet technical community's ire set about weakening an initial
strong draft document, as obtained by WikiLeaks before the public

"But Internet governance forums are not the only place where the surveillance state can be challenged", O'Brien adds. Was he thinking specifically of the World Social Forum? I do not know, but I
did, while I was reading his article.

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