The EU is an empire

Interview by Fraser Myers, Spiked, March 29, 2019.

How has the role and focus of the EU evolved over the past few decades?

Originally, the EU was an organisation for joint economic planning among six adjacent countries. The planning was sectorally specific, limited to coalmining and the steel industry, later also nuclear power, in the context of the state-managed capitalism of the postwar era. Then it grew into a free-trade zone, increasingly devoted to spreading neoliberal internationalism, in particular the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour, under the rubric of the Internal Market.
As the number and heterogeneity of member states continuously increased, ‘positive integration’ became ever-more difficult. Instead, there was ‘negative’ integration: the removal of substantive regulations that impeded free trade within the bloc. After the end of Communism in 1989, the EU became a geostrategic project, closely intertwined with the US’s geostrategy in relation to Russia. From the original six countries cooperating in the management of a few key sectors of their economies, the EU became a neoliberal empire of 28 highly heterogeneous states. The idea was and is to govern those states centrally by obliging them to refrain from state intervention in their economies.(…)

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Italian translation:

L’Unione Europea è un impero

Pubblicato su Voci Dall’Estero, 01 aprile, 2019.

Legga l’intervista completa su vocidallestero.it

Los españoles nunca han dado problemas en la UE porque sus políticos no saben dónde están metidos

Entrevista por Pablo Elorduy, El Salto, Madrid, 22 de marzo, 2019.

En el libro dices que estamos en un punto de indeterminación, de interregno, en la historia del capitalismo. ¿Qué es lo que define este punto?

La ausencia de previsibilidad. Hemos visto hechos que nadie hubiera pensado que fueran posibles en los últimos tres o cuatros años. El colapso del sistema de partidos en Francia, en Italia… Donald Trump siendo elegido. Comparo estos hechos a los fenómenos climáticos extremos respecto al calentamiento global. ¿Cuál es la explicación? Creo que en el interior del capitalismo, antes de 2008, había un consenso básico de que lo que se llama neoliberalismo podía revitalizar el capitalismo. Abriendo las fronteras, mediante el ilimitado libre comercio, etcétera. En 2008, ese consenso finalmente falló. Y todo el mundo fue consciente de que las promesas del neoliberalismo no iban a traer lo que habían prometido. Al contrario, lo que se vio fue la deuda crecer, el aumento de la desigualdad, el crecimiento estancado. (…)

Continúe en elsaltodiario.com

El imperio europeo se hunde

Entrevista por Miguel Mora, Revista Contexto, Madrid, 13 de marzo, 2019.

¿Cómo definiría esta fase del capitalismo?

El experimento neoliberal ha fracasado: no ha traído prosperidad ni ha resuelto el conflicto entre las clases, mientras vemos que en muchos países aparecen distintas formas de revuelta contra el capitalismo globalizado, movimientos anticapitalistas o, mejor dicho, antiinternacionalistas. El neoliberalismo siempre fue un movimiento internacional que abrió las economías nacionales, y ese es ahora el objetivo de la resistencia. En parte sucede esto porque la izquierda de la tercera vía se unió a la fiesta internacionalista en medio de la euforia globalizadora y perdió la conexión con la gente a la que el sistema iba dejando atrás. Por eso los “chalecos amarillos” en Francia ya no se consideran de izquierdas, porque la izquierda no ha sabido responder a sus preocupaciones y los sindicatos han quedado fuera de la lucha. (…)

Continúe en ctxt.es

Globalization and the Transformation of the International State System

Norbert Lechner Lecture, Diego Portales University, Chile, November 14, 2018.

In a globally integrated capitalist economy borders between states are supposed to become economically irrelevant. Globalization is the ultimate form of liberalization; it shields free markets, instituted on a global scale, from national state intervention, in particular of a redistributive kind. Rather than markets located in states, under globalization states become located in markets. This has momentous consequences for the nature of statehood, both domestically and internationally. States located in markets lose the capacity to protect their economies and societies from market competition; in fact their economic role, if one is left for them at all, is to deregulate their national economies in order to make them more competitive, internally first and as a consequence externally as well. (…)

Links:
Video (youtube.com)
– Continue reading on catedranorbertlechner.cl [PDF]

The artifice for capitalism’s survival will not work forever

Interview with the Greek online journal, Marginalia , October, 2018.

In your most recent book (How will capitalism end?, 2016) you mention that the history of capitalism has been, since the 19th century at least, a history of its crises. However, the various predictions of its end have been proven wrong until now. Today, alongside a widespread consensus on the seriousness of the ongoing crisis, there is a total disagreement on how and if it is going to have an end at all. How can one explain this “Babel”? Does it make sense anymore, after so many false predictions, to ask economists and sociologists to predict the future?

What older theories of capitalist decline, or capitalist end, did not know, and could not know, is how many different forms capitalism as a social and economic system can assume – from liberal to state-administered to neoliberal, or from merchant to industrial to financial, etc. etc. Often enough, these transformations happened in the last minute, forced by crises, powerful countermovements, or, not least, the rise of the state and global warfare in the twentieth century. Still, the basic problem of modern capitalism remains: it is a socio-economic regime that depends on endless growth – endless accumulation of capital – in a finite world. All sorts of tricks have been invented to suspend that problem provisionally and for the time being; but there is no reason to believe that this will always be successful. In any case, giving up on thinking only because the question is difficult is not a good idea. (…)

Continue reading on marginalia.gr
Greek version