On Tuesday the 9th of February a new social movement was born in Berlin. DiEM25 (Democracy in Europe Movement to give the full title) has declared that it wants to revitalise Europe as a democratic union instead of a technocratic superstate. The central figure in DiEM is the former finance minister of Greece Yanis Varoufakis, but there are dozens of supporters from across the European political spectrum involved.
DiEM’s manifesto, which you can find on their website sets up the present EU configuration as a product of its origins as a cartel of heavy industry in the 1960s. The current corporate-bureaucratic superstate evolved as more nation-states joined and ceded their sovereign power to centralised institutions like the European Central Bank and the European Commission.
Anger is rife in European states; something has to give. The mainstream media presents two options for Europe; retreat back to the nation-state or surrender to the democracy-free EU. DiEM offers another choice; a surge of European democracy in the face of technocracy.
DiEM’s overarching democratic ambitions are inseparable from its goals of self-government. At the heart of that struggle is the mission to free all levels of government from bureaucratic and corporate power. This is not state socialism; this is something not new but different. The concept of the demos is central to DiEM25’s aims. They want a return to the agora of Athenian democracy, but obviously without the slaves and disenfranchisement of women.
What does privacy have to do with DiEM25?
At the moment, the EU is negotiating two massive trade deals- the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). Negotiations for both trade agreements are secret. Politicians (national and EU representatives) who want to read the draft have to go into secure rooms without assistants or note-taking equipment.
DiEM25’s immediate demands include uploading documents to the internet and- just like in Egger’s book The Circle all EU Council, Ecofin, FTT and Eurogroup meetings have to be live-streamed. They are running with the Wikileaks mantra of “privacy for the weak, transparency for the strong” here.
Seeing into these trade deals is of the utmost importance to those concerned with online privacy. Surveillance is not just the plaything of security and intelligence agencies it is a major piece of the digital economy. As Evengy Morozov writes in the Guardian:
“Essentially, citizens not only won’t have a right to privacy but their very attempts to hide something will be interpreted as either an offence against free trade or as an effort to undermine national security. But even if citizens vote to elect a government that promises to reverse this despicable trend, that government itself is likely to be sued out of it; the treaties will contain all the necessary legal instruments to do so.” (The Guardian)
Varoufakis calls himself a libertarian Marxist. You will not be able to wrap your head around that one with a less-than-pithy meme; read a book instead.