Watering the garden in a minefield

Europeanist pedagogy in times of crisis of the European project.

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THE CALL OF THE INSTITUTIONS to vote in the European elections is more intense this time. The outermost regions are not usually very participatory. Despite everything that is played out in the cohesion policy and agrarian policy, the voters of these nine territories take it calmly on the day of the vote. Their participation is significantly below the European average.

The institutional appeal comes to be: «This time it’s serious.» In the official account, «the serious» are the inner demons that threaten the European project: the old-new nationalism, the fake news; of Russia, to the migratory pressure in the Mediterranean; from Brexit, to the installation of populist governments.

The Union «is going through the worst crisis in its history,» said MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, of the Social Democratic group, in a pedagogical mission organized by the European Parliament at the Canary Parliament’s headquarters on November 30. At his side, Gabriel Mato Adrover, also a deputy in the European Parliament, of the European People’s Party, who warned of the «return to Europe of nationalist, populist and extremist movements.» The rise of «a rampant ultra right», «the challenge to European law» by the governments of Poland, Hungary or Italy, and their disobedience of the «binding mandate of solidarity» during the migration crisis endanger the European project and deserve a response Mass at the polls next May, «he told himself, in summary.

The symptoms and the cause

Some observers begin to wonder if, in this account of the crisis in the European Union with which their institutions and agents intend to mobilize the vote, the symptoms are being confused with the cause.

This is the case of William Davies, who this Friday, November 30, has contributed to The Guardians‘ series on populism with a suggestive thesis, that of a change in the «status of the true» in society, a «different way of organizing the knowledge and trust». It has broken the contract of trust in the institutions, plunging liberal democracy and its elites – legislators, governors, officials, judges, experts, journalists … – into a crisis of unprecedented legitimacy. The model of representation of the true in liberal society has its origin, according to Michel Foucault, in the second half of the seventeenth century, with the rise of a new class of officials and experts, and the accommodation of a tacit pact in society: that, in the future, the knowledge will reside in government statistics, official documents, judgments, newspapers and scientific journals. That order has disappeared, and it will not return, «Mr. Davies maintains. The technological revolution, a globalization that leaves many behind and an identity anxiety caused by migratory movements have been drivers of change. The elites, with their behavior, have also contributed their own to their own discredit. The rise of the anti-system parties and the demagogues is only the symptom, but not the cause to which we must point, which is the bankruptcy of a system based on trust between the public and the elites.

The question is whether an election campaign will work to instill a fear of symptoms while avoiding the cause of the problem. It may not be enough to water a fenced garden in a minefield to drive out the ghosts of the European project. The agenda of the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires does not understand the increasingly local concerns of the European Union. The China-United States trade agreement, the tariff cold war between the United States and the European Union, the cracks in the transatlantic relationship or the displacement of global power towards the China-Pacific axis, which are decisive records for the future of the Union, They have been in the official statement of Donald Tusk before the G20 meeting and, on the other hand, did not appear in the intervention of the MEPs when describing the threats to European integration. And yet, as Mr. López Aguilar eloquently said: «The European Union is the measure of our identity to be globally relevant.»

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