Facing challenges together

EPA

Middle class depletion & the rise of extremes


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This article is part of New Europe’s: Our World in 2016

Belgium- Brussels : Europe is facing multiple crises. Two of these, the social and political crises, are major, while others such as corruption, immigration, and security – though equally important are easier to address.

The social crisis

The middle class is the essential element of stability for societies. In the past decades after its creation, the European Union had witnessed a standard growing of the middle class. That was the defining element that placed the EU at the center of the world map of political gravitas. Now-a-days, primarily because of growing unemployment and economic depression, the middle class of Europe is rapidly being depleted.

Europe must reverse this trend.

A deep political crisis

A lack of real political leadersship has given room for Administrations to thrive. In our days, the EU and its Member States are in many cases led and controlled by non-elected, thus politically not-legitimized, Administrations. This has generated an unbridgeable gap between citizens and states. As a result, political extremes continue to grow dangerously; neo-communists in the poor south and neo-Nazis in the north.

Like a political recurring nightmare, such extreme elements taking the shape and form of political parties legitimized by our democratic principles and sensitivities, will appear in power sooner than later.

In this context Europe has to find its ‘way out’ and minimize the damage of its wrong choices. The fatalistic approach of many European leaders that history repeats itself, thus little or nothing can be done, is wrong.

History does not repeat itself. People who do not learn from history though, do repeat the same, historical mistakes.

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EU-USA: The sane pole in an insane multipolar world

Europe must learn from its mistakes and re-define itself before reaching the point of no return. Because, whether we like it or not, Europe is still a democratic continent but if extreme governments come to power and rule, Europe can kiss democracy and freedom goodbye. Europe has to learn from the United States, which in matters of wealth and prosperity, despite many shortcomings mostly of social nature, is the leader. And in this case Europe must follow the leader.

Austerity in Europe led to Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain, the National Front in France, just to mention a few of the side-effects of strict financial discipline and over-regulation.

The United States print dollars à volonté, securing jobs, growth and social wealth. In addition the USA efficiently functions on a few, simple strict rules and with an aversion to overregulation. And, no matter how strict American justice is, it is more just and fair to ordinary citizens than in some EU Member States, unfortunately not few.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is an excellent mutually beneficial initiative. Both sides must gain from it. Yet for any major agreement to succeed, the accord of societies involved is necessary. This is what both parties should look after. Social consensus is the main element of any transnational agreement. Without social consensus the content of any agreement, no matter how good, becomes irrelevant.

We must learn from the United States how to liberalize our economy and how to liberate all productive forces of our society. This will bring Europe back to growth and prosperity.

Also, the United States has much to learn from the European Union. We have the know-how of a ‘social Europe’. The American society needs to introduce new ideas in this field.

Tacit Tolerance

Europe should look to strengthen relations with its traditional oversea ally, the United States of America. Europe and the USA together can help each other and stabilize the West, securing growth and stability.

Together, the two must carefully bring Russia into the fold of the Western democratic front. Russia is no longer a communist country and could potentially prove a serious economic and military ally.

In this context, we should not lose sight of the fact that only a quarter of a century ago, Russia experienced democracy, for the first time in its history. Indeed, it emerged from totalitarianism of centuries culminating in seven decades of communist dictatorship to which, Western powers were exhibiting a ‘tolerance of convenience’.

It is this tolerance that helped shape both the USA and Europe into the democratized counterweights of a Russia threat; the sane pole of power in an insane multipolar world.

It is this same tacit tolerance, that the West has no choice but to exhibit to (the far-right for our standards) Russia .

Yet of primary importance and before anyting else, Europe and America must rediscover each other as both share the same values of civilization: Greek philosophy, Roman law and the principles of the French Revolution.

Together.

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