Left Intellectuals’ Statement on May European Elections

The recent election of Syriza in Greece offers a vibrant glimmer of hope for the future of social and economic democracy in Europe. At the same time, however, the rise of the right-wing nationalism, stoking strong racist and anti-Semitic sentiments, threatens the ideals of a plural and democratic Europe.

The recent election of Syriza in Greece offers a vibrant glimmer of hope for the future of social and economic democracy in Europe. At the same time, however, the rise of the right-wing nationalism, stoking strong racist and anti-Semitic sentiments, threatens the ideals of a plural and democratic Europe. Media accounts that misrepresent the importance of the growing electoral support for Syriza as the rise of left-wing "extremism" must be countered in the strongest of terms. There is no contemporary symmetry between the so-called "extremism" of left and right. The efforts to dismiss the emphatic call for economic justice in both Greece and Spain (Podemos gathered 8%) as "populist", "anti-European", or as "skepticism" misreads their political reach and importance. These radical left victories cannot be compared with the rise of the Front National in France, the UKIP in England, the strengthening of anti-Semitic parties in both Greece and Hungary as well as anti-immigrant populism in Belgium and Denmark.

The rise of the "eurosceptic" right wing responds with clearly racist platforms to austerity policies and new demographics.  The rise of the left on the other hand offers  a critique and alternative to social and economic inequalities spawned by austerity policies. To prevent violence and despair spreading further, the European Union needs new alliances across national borders and a radical re-arrangement of its institutions to achieve greater democracy and economic equality. A major public debate should be launched to discuss the future of Union, the role of solidarity and social justice and the contemporary meaning of the "idea of Europe".
The success of a democratic public debate, however, depends upon truth and transparency in the media representation of political movements and their claims.  We demand vigilant attention to the difference between political objections to austerity that seek greater inequality and those that seek greater equality. Only then can we see more clearly how the future of democracy is at stake.'

Signed: Etienne Balibar, Joanna Bourke, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, Drucilla Cornell, Simon Critchley, Jodi Dean, Costas Douzinas, Eric Fassin,  Engin Isen, Chantal Mouffe, Jean-Luc Nancy, Toni Negri,  Micael Lowy, Sandro Mezzadra, Bruce Robbins, Jacqueline Rose, Eleni Varikas, Hayden White, Slavoj Zizek.

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