The rise of so-called "populist" movements in the European Union elicits many comments and analyzes. There are, however, a few missing elements that I think are essential to better understand what is happening now. The first thing to analyze, it seems to me, is the functioning of the European political superstructure in its perspective of a "power". Indeed, we are in the presence of a super-state, the European Commission, doubled by a gigantic parliament, but with fuzzy powers, because with a contradictory identity: in the one hand, it has only a very limited power which it tries to exaggerate while at the same time whole-heartedly accepting to represent a travesty of democracy, where the "representativity " is so delegated that it does not represent much more than the absurdity of the system itself.
The European Union, in its present avatar, has everything of a two-headed monster, with a head that decides almost everything and hides it, and another deciding almost nothing, while pretending to. But this monster aims to reign in the name of a political idea that may have been legitimate and honorable in its early days, but which has changed since the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties into an increasingly authoritarian economic-political ideology.
This ideology, piously called "neo-liberalism", is in fact a toxic emanation of Anglo-Saxon ultracapitamism, defended by Reagan, Thatcher and Blair. I will not go back over its characteristics, which everyone knows, but rather about the paradoxical and dangerous consequences that its application implies in what is called the “European Union” project. Indeed, both the commission and the parliament, hand in hand, try to govern like dysfunctional Siamese brothers a motley heap of countries disunited by their languages, traditions and cultures, trying to replace the national histories (often tragic) by a great European narrative (full of blissful optimism). If at first sight the intention is laudable (nobody wants a priori to fight today to defend any flag whatsoever - well, mostly anybody... but we will come back to it), the method used is more than criticizable because it is based directly, consciously or worse, unconsciously, on the colonial model.
In the colonies, all the power resided in the metropolis, and was assured on the spot by so-called representative institutions, either national or local, which transmitted directives which could not be discussed. This basic scheme is precisely what these "populist" movements mentioned above criticize and on which we will come back later.
However, the project of union is complicated precisely by the diversity of models proper to each colonizing country: between the British "home rule" and the French "universalist" model, the gap is deep, even irreconcilable. Yet we find these two models cohabiting within the current European project, and the crisis we are experiencing is the result of an internal conflict over the administration of the colonized territories of the Union, i.e. our countries.
The Anglo-Saxon side has sought to counterbalance "universalist" centralism by a symbolic delegation to "local" powers, in other words our governments. Symbolic, because despite this apparent willingness to share, it is actually to protect and favor theGreat Britain-United States axis , that is to say directly influencing nations through a discreet support to the parties, the movements and to individuals in favor of this policy. It was the essence of British colonialism, where the social and national structure of the colonized countries was kept, while imposing on them a strict political and economic control,the famous “Home Rule.”
On the French side, however, a "universalist" and centralist discourse is used to create the idea of a union that attempts to erase the negative aspects of nationalism by an equally romantic adherence to a humanistic political ideal of progress. The only problem is that it is exactly in these terms that the Third Republic embarked on its policy of full-blast colonization from the 1880s onwards. The replacement of "lower" national identities by a superior identity of progress” was the motto of these brutal politics.
As for Germany, a country that was a smaller (but nonetheless brutal) colonial power than the other two, it insists more on "pragmatism" as a political color, which is in fact the defense of its own economic interests and of its policy towards the Eastern block. Neither really centralist nor “home rulist”, it sails between the two ideologies, changing with the wind. It may be, incidentally, the most authentically "European" nation of the three cited here, because of its abominable past and its impossible desire for redemption.
The "populist" reaction we are witnessing today in all member countries can therefore be read in terms of this political reality and analyzed in a slightly different way than what the media or other "experts" offer us.
Indeed, we must first reject the term "populist", because, by definition, all political parties are populist, in one way or another, since they all make untenable promises to flatter the "people" and collect their voices. I think we should rather talk about reactive rather than reactionary movements, because not all these movements are reactionary, and if they are, not all in the same way.
What they have in common, however, is the 2009 economic crisis, which has seen their ranks grow considerably. What struck the minds was the fact that when the states were saving the banks by applying the same policy dictated by the European Central Bank, none of the people responsible for the krach were condemned, or even a little bit attacked. A second important aspect is that this government aid was financed by the radical dismemberment of social protections and the national industrial fabric. Third and last aspect, the betrayal of leftist parties in power in some countries (France, Denmark, Spain, Italy, etc.) who not only submitted to the dictates of the Central Bank and its economic lobbies (which are modestly called "Think tanks" but are, in fact, lobbies), but have also adopted Thatcher's infamous "TINA" ("There Is No Alternative") as their only justification.
However, this shift from a national center of political and economic decision to an all-powerful and meta-national entity is one of the characteristics of a colonial situation. And if we analyze the nationalist reactions we see around us through the colonial prism, we can better understand the fracture they show. It's the wrong answer to a real problem, which seems beyond us because it seems out of reach, when in fact we have the means to fight it without necessarily going through violence.
It is time for Europe to change plans, because otherwise I am afraid we will witness more and more movements of "national liberation", of which Brexit is the most spectacular and paradoxical example.
But as for us radical humanists, of which I am a part, we must come with concrete propositions, not just protests, that is to say solutions to defend dignity, coexistence and peace, with a total respect for differences. We need to invent a new form of European "social contract", far from the model of economic and political self-colonization which is being imposed on us. But this must be done in a great brotherly and respectful gathering, and not in a spirit of splitting apart, which is the characteristic of reactionary movements on the right as on the left.
We have to fight not with slovenly political slogans, but in the name of simple human dignity and the radical and inalienable right to difference.