Reflections on a Revolution offers one of the best international perspectives I’ve come across on the many separate-but-connected global protest movements currently bubbling to the surface. Particularly striking is a recent exchange, shown below, between the site’s editor, Jerome Roos, and the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. While Roos’ precise and emphatic delivery in confronting the austerity measures of one of the world’s “men behind the curtain” stands on its own, even more noteworthy is the detached aloofness of Schäuble’s response. At once hopeless and hopeful, the scene is an ideal representation of the primary source of conflict replicating itself in the various venues of the world today. Hopeless, in the case of Schäuble’s utter inability to tread beyond institutionalized thought patterns, or exhibit any kind of concern or interest in the plight of those actually affected by his policies. Hopeful, in the sense that a broader, more all-encompassing perspective may not be held captive much longer.
Equally indicative of the emergence of new thought patterns is a letter from Roos to the organizing secretariat of the upcoming State of the European Union, also in Florence. Noting a curious lack of diversity in the experience of those listed as participants, Roos asks a question which, perhaps unlike a year ago, is beginning to occur in the minds of more and more people these days.
Just out of sheer curiosity: since when are the CEOs of Ferrari, ENI and Gaz de France-Suez considered ‘opinion leaders’? Last time I checked they were just business leaders. Are you trying to say that business shapes public opinion in the EU? While I applaud your frankness in that respect, it might be a good idea to call a spade a spade and admit that the State of the Union was never really intended to be a “debate on the future of the European Union”, but rather a fancy gathering of technocrats, capitalists and their neoliberal intelligentsia in the academy?
Once again, the Orwellian quality of your description is thick. If this was ever meant to be a debate, then where are the civil society representatives? Where are the students? The workers? The social movements? The opposition leaders? How are we, as European citizens, supposed to take such a vacuous corporatist echo chamber seriously? Your invitation made me laugh. Not because it’s funny — but because it’s a pathetic confirmation of where the allegiances of our ‘leaders’ truly lie.