Europe is Kaput

Yanis Varoufakis Royal Festival Hall 00

Royal Festival Hall slowly filling up

Yanis Varoufakis Royal Festival Hall 01

introduction by Royal Festival Hall creative director

Yanis Varoufakis Royal Festival Hall 02

Srecko Horvat with Yanis Varoukis and Slavoj Zizek

Yanis Varoufakis Royal Festival Hall 04

surprise fourth guest …

Yanis Varoufakis Royal Festival Hall 05

Julian Assange

A discussion between former Greek finance minister and professor of economics Yanis Varoufakis and philosopher Slavoj Zizek at Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank in London.  Moderated by  philosopher Srecko Horvat. A surprise fourth member, Julian Assange half way through the discussion (such the magic of modern communications).

A discussion overshadowed by the terrorist attacks by ISIS Friday night in Paris.

Yanis Varoufakis was due attend a conference in Paris on Plan B for Europe. This had to be cancelled.

Why one minute silence at 1100 GMT? Why the French colours on buildings across the world?

France was criticised for closing its borders.

No one knew what was happening. It would have been remiss of France had the borders not been sealed.

We need to be wary of a backlash. We must not allow the creation of a repressive state, controlling and monitoring its citizens.

Soviet union ok it just happened to have a democratic deficit.

The same could be said of EU, ok but just happens to have a democratic deficit.

In the UK, democracy was something that grew organically. The barons challenged the King and we had Magna Carta. The merchants challenged the aristocrats. The industrialists the merchants. The proletariat the ruling class. The banks challenge the industrialists. The role of the state to act as a moderator, to stop one group exploiting another.

EU lacks democratic accountability, it is corrupt, autocratic, it takes away national sovereignty.

Proud nations, with a long history, their sovereignty has vanished into a black hole.

The foundation of the EU, iron and steel and coal federation, a cartel to benefit these industries. An administration to help it run. Agriculture added. Fixed exchange rates enabled price fixing. Fluctuating exchange rates led to the creation of the euro.  Prices could again be fixed. The bureaucrats who run the EU have contempt for democracy.

Th European Parliament a gravy train, nothing to do with democracy or accountability.

Technology allows us to communicate, as never before, and yet we are less well informed as never before. Oligarchs distort and filter the information we receive, they do so to further their own interests.

We have to be better at using technology, to network.

Is it possible to make the EU democratic? Probably not, but if we do not believe it to be possible and try, then it never will be democratic.

The ECB (European Central Bank) could write out a cheque for everyone living in poverty. Exact opposite of policies pursued by economic illiterate George Osborne who is cutting money to the poor.

Meetings of the European Finance Minsters could be live streamed over the internet.  Meetings would then be held in secret, where the real business would be discussed. Make a criminal offence. Eventually they would be caught.

Several trillion dollars siting idle. Put that money to work, invest in green infrastructure, would create jobs and benefit everyone.

We must criticise Islam. We should ignore those whose knee-jerk reaction is to scream Islamaphobia.

A Palestine singer sang of honour killings. He was booed in the US for doing so.

Human rights transcends culture and religion. That women have always been bastardised, part of culture, does not make it acceptable.

US, Europe and Russia must come together and cooperate in the fight against ISIS.

Saudi Arabia an exporter of terror.

Two competing ideologies, Islam and the Death Stars of Silicon Valley (high tech companies).

Apple is relocating factories from China to US. US factories will not employ people, they will employ robots. Robots do not spend money in the economy.

We could and should create a Basic Income.

We cannot have people who have never even visited a company, owning that company or a part of that company, speculative investment. We have to have alternative corporate ownership.

One possibility is open co-ops as postulated by Michel Bauwens. Those who work there have a stake, as do those who are effected, and the open co-op would contribute to the global commons.

An example, though not an open co-op, would be Infinity Foods, a worker-owned cooperative in North Laine in Brighton. They contribute to the local community by granting pensioners a 10% discount.

The opposite end of the spectrum, classic Death Star, facebook, information is captured from users, and goes to fill the coffers of facebook.

A Citizen Assembly, no politicians or parties (examples would be in Iceland and The People’s Assembly in England) drawing up a constitution, how they wish to shape the EU.

TTIP (linking North America and Europe), and its equivalent linking North America with Pacific Rim countries, has a geo-political dimension, it is as much about the countries it excludes (Brazil, China, Russia) as to the countries it includes. It has little to do with trade, it is about handing control to global corporations, it is being negotiated in secret. It must be opposed.

Russia and Putin are understandably paranoid. The West, contrary to agreement reached bewteen Ronald Reagan and Mikhail  Gorbachev, has expanded up to the borders of Russia.

If we do not like Putin, we should work with democrats in Russia.

The surveillance state is like God, all knowing. We can pretend it does not exist, but if we accept it exists, what impact on our behaviour?

As Paul Mason details in PostCapitalism, capitalism is dying. What comes next?

TTIP, tax-avoiding global corporations, marauding high-tech death stars, the rich guarded by private militias, mass unemployment, precarious employment competing with robots in sweatshop factories, serfs working for death star apps, intrusive mass surveillance, monitoring, logging, controlling our every thought, movement and social interactions?

A brutal Caliphate controlled by ISIS?

Or a networked, sharing, collaborative society, where wealth is evenly distributed?

On leaving, everyone asked to have their own internal minute of silence for all the victims of violence across the world.

Books for sale in the foyer by Foyles, The Global Minotaur by Yanis Varoufakis and several books by the other contributor panellists.

Sadly no book signing, the event overran by 45 minutes and the Royal Festival Hall had to be evacuated by eleven o’clock.

A very special thanks to Cristina Savini Soler who unable to attend kindly gave me her ticket.

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7 Responses to “Europe is Kaput”

  1. keithpp Says:

    The Dictatorship of Data
    http://bbc.in/1RRHXFD

  2. keithpp Says:

    Before the Israeli Right Rejoices Over Paris
    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.686074

  3. A Short Report on Zizek-Varoufakis Discussion on “Europe is Kaput”  | The Žižek Times Says:

    […] From Keithpp’s Blog […]

  4. kevin thomas Says:

    Any news on video from the event?

  5. keithpp Says:

    Video will be added, when it appears.

  6. keithpp Says:

    Video now added. 🙂

  7. keithpp Says:

    View story at Medium.com

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