5 questions on EU

by Slawomir Sierakowski

First of all let me change the order of the questions and this change will reflect an important part of my thinking:

5) The world is important, but local is more: do you agree wiht this statment?

...only a radical change of ‘what is global’ can change the fate of ‘what is local’. This is the direction of the glocalization dialectics. We also know the alternative to neoliberal globalization - a form of a world cosmopolitan democracy, in which human would get back the control over his products, the market, nation, and history. However, we do not know the way how to reach this aim. It is sure that this way would include overcoming of the prisoner’s dilemma, in which nation states, bounded by their particular inetrests, are continuously involved. The solution to the prisoner’s dilemma, meaning such a coordination of micro-rationalities so that they sum up to a reasonable macro-rationality, is only possible ‘from above’. Through achieving ‘cultural hegemony’ – speaking the words of Antonio Gramsci – and then reaching for ‘political hegemony’. The reality now does not reflect what Marx used to claim, or nowadays neo-communists like Hardt and Negri – that capitalism when would have reached the end of its consequences, would shift into socialism. Urlich Beck describes a struggle for power in the world where old rules of the game are no longer valid, and the new ones have not yet been invented. The game is most of all about the power over the souls unaware of the situation. And therefore...

4) The importance of public sphere and contemporary espressions of creativity can be considered “the common ground” to built a common Europe?

... the public sphere is of a fundamental imporatnce. Without an European public sphere there will be no united Europe, and without a united Europe it is not possible to formulate any effective answer for the onesided globalization. Nevertheless, the European public sphere hardly exists – it is still divided into national elements, which limits the cognitive horizon and the political imagination of the citizens. It makes them rather strenghten the centrifugal then integrational tendencies in Europe. The exclusively market-oriented (instead of articulation of the citizens’ views), and more and more tabloid-like media, function in the frames of transnational media consortia, whereas their products are still national. Cosmopolitan or simply integrational idea is in turn depending on the intermediation of the statesmen, and those are still more interested in the inner politics of their countries. And here in turn the politicians have to face the anxieties of their citizens caused by globalization. And this is how the vicious circle is closed, because in the frames of the nation state it is not possible to assure the lost feeling of safety by the citizens. When it comes to the ‘power over the souls’ and the ‘revolution in the superstructure’, when you can not count solely on the political structures....

3) What is the role of culture in this Europe of social and political diversity?

... the role of culture is growing. Culture is of definition harder to close in national formula and interpretations. The importance of culture and artists is growing the more because in late capitalism we face the immaterial work (creation of idea, codes, texts, programs, patents). This becomes the main factor of production (nowadays the major part of the American economy makes the intellectual property laws sector). And symbols, text, codes – this is the texture used also by the artists creating their pieces. We can expect that this concurrence leading nowadays more often to the widening of the notion of arts to the whole of late-capitalist production, will eventually be perceived as a coup on the art itself. As an atttempt of the final colonization of social communication by the instrumental logics of capitalism. After everything is controlled by the money, it is possible to reconstruct a kind of quasi public sphere: to gather people together in the shopping malls, at sponsored concerts, protect their interests in the tabloids, fight corruption in front of the tv cameras, ask them by the elections what they ‘choose’ out of the options presented to them in the media.

2) What do you think about new employment and new economical geographies in Europe today?

The game of global capital in Europe consists most of all in the deregulation of the economy, and the demolition of social services extort in the ‘New Europe’ through imposing the necessity of modernization and catching up with the West, whereas charging the Old Europe with sclerosis and lower dynamics in comparison with the economies of the developing countries (including New Europe and capitalist-authoritative China). Anxieties connected with the inflow of immigrant workers – although this makes a part of the global capital’s strategy! – evoke anty-integrational instincts and as a consequence even more incapacitate the citizens of the Old Europe, through evoking the instincts of closing themselves in national boundaries. In this way – in short – we should explain the Dutch and the French ‘no’ to the European constitution. Another thing is that the constitution project itself was blurred, and did not include answers to the fundamental questions of the époque: which direction should Europe follow – constitute an alternative to neoliberal globalization, or become a part of it?

1) Contemporary Europe structure is very diversify: how to understand
more about this new enlarged map?

It is easy to get seduced by the stories of ‘beautiful differences’ in Europe – about the virtue of diversity that our continent has assigned to itself. We have to be careful thus not to oversee the still fundamental division between the reach and the poor, between the free and the incapacitated. We live in a world of a soft – because not homicidal – but still totalitarism, according to its classical definition marking as such a system, in which every aspect of an individual’s life is under control. The system does not kill, but it can exert almighty power over ourselves. Former oppressive regimes openly violated individuals’ freedom, and also tries to control them through the control over the language. They were however limited to the public sphere, and they never succeeded to fully take over our private language. They had a concrete face, so they easily mobilized opposition. The capitalist totalitarism, governing us through media, commercials, corporations, and the dependant political class, forced to proclaim the system’s glory – otherwise it will be destroyed, since it took over the language, has become transparent for us. It is not an Orwell’s hard totalitarian system, but rather Huxley’s ‘brave new world’, full of happy slaves and silent inferiors.
So there is one rule: no rules!

Slawomir Sierakowski, sociologist, politic, writer, editorial director of Krytyki Politycznej (Political Critic) in Warsaw.