Protest against European Union winning the Nobel Peace Prize
1. Wide high angle of demonstration with torches lit
2. Close up of torches being lit
3. Wide of people holding torches at protest
4. Mid of people marching in protest with banner
5. Mid of man chanting “We have right to protest war. By EU countries”
6. Close up of man marching with torch, chanting
7. SOUNDBITE (Greek) Dimitris Kodelas, Greek Syriza Party Member: ++TRANSLATED BY INTERVIEWEE++
“I think it is the people in the movements who really want peace and not the European Union, especially Mrs. Merkel and the others who tell us what we should do.”
8. Wide of people marching with torches
9. Close up of man marching with torch
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Elsa Enger, Grandmothers for Peace protester:
“The peace prize was intentionally going to go to people who were not warmongers but [pro-]disarmament, and we cannot say that about the EU. They are about as strong warmongers (as there are) in the world.”
11. Wide of people marching
12. Close up of people marching and arriving at parliament
13. Wide pan of people assembling outside of parliament
14. Zoom out from parliament to people assembled outside
About 200 people protested against the European Union being awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Sunday – a day before the prize-giving ceremony was due to take place in the Norwegian capital.
The protest was organised by the Peace Prize initiative 2012, which includes more than forty national and international organisations who have criticised the award being given to the EU.
The protesters say the fact that the EU member states combined account for a military expenditure that is second only to the US make the union unfit for a peace prize. …
Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland will hand over the prize, worth 1.2 million US dollars, during a ceremony at Oslo City Hall on Monday, followed by a banquet at the Grand Hotel, against a backdrop of demonstrations in the EU-sceptic country that has twice rejected joining the EU.
The decision to award the prize to the EU has sparked harsh criticism, including from three peace laureates – South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and Adolfo Perez Esquivel from Argentina – who have demanded the prize money not be paid out this year.
They say the bloc contradicts the values associated with the prize because it relies on military force to ensure security.
The EU is being granted the prize as it grapples with a debt crisis that has stirred deep tensions between north and south, caused soaring unemployment and sent hundreds of thousands into the streets to protest austerity measures.
The European project is not about fostering peace – It’s about fostering capitalism
Monday 24th August 2015
Capitalism gives only what we can extract from it – so if they give us a European Parliament which no-one ever asked for, let alone demonstrated for, you should smell a rat, says STEVE McGIFFEN
MY appreciation of Syriza has not really changed since the Greek capitulation to the Brussels-Frankfurt gang.
Syriza used to be Synaspismos, and the majority in that party never did really “get” the European Union, what it is, what it’s for and how those things make it unreformable. No matter. Until 10 years ago I worked alongside them in the European Parliament and they consistently voted against neoliberal proposals.
The same goes for the party I represented on the secretariat of the United European Left, the Socialist Party of the Netherlands (SP), though they were and remain much closer to “getting” the EU.
Others in the group varied in their views, but continued to vote consistently — and to organise — to oppose the increasingly extremist plans coming out of the European Commission.
Yet in the last few years, as criticism of the EU from the radical parliamentary left has become better informed and more acute, a position has developed which sees the honing of “Europe” into a hugely effective weapon of corporate capital as a recent activity. It is no such thing.
The position is based on the dangerously erroneous belief that the “European project” was originally motivated by a desire for peace.
The story goes like this — after the second world war a number of countries in Europe decided to move towards a partial integration of their economies. Hitler and others had tried this at various times in the past, but always by violence. This time democratic countries would co-operate of their own free will.
The goals would be freedom, peace and prosperity. And so, in 1957, with the Treaty of Rome, the European Economic Community (EEC) was born, and a gradual process of economic integration began, accompanied by a cautious political integration.
Everything changed in 1992, with the Maastricht Treaty which established the European Union as a vehicle for a specific form of politics, a neoliberal politics aimed at holding down wages, running down social security and deregulating markets.
Since then democracy has been increasingly revealed as window-dressing, as a series of popular votes against EU plans — France and the Netherlands 2005, Ireland 2008, Greece 2015 — has been ignored, or worse.
The main impulse behind this false view of the European project is a desire to counter the accusation — common enough — that to take an EU-critical position is to be a nationalist.
That’s why I have always described myself as “opposed to this European Union.” To go further than that, however, and to suggest that the EU is a good idea gone bad, is very misleading, perhaps dangerously so.
The EEC was not established to foster peace. This is not to say that there was no impulse to create a peaceful community of nations in place of the warring tribes who had been at each other’s throats, on and off, since time immemorial. This was a widespread feeling among ordinary working-class and middle-class people, but it was not something which particularly motivated the ruling class.
The impulse to economic integration was instead done under pressure from the two post-war superpowers.
On the one hand, fear of the Soviet Union’s appeal to working people in the West — evidenced by mass communist parties in Italy and France — meant that it was imperative that as Europe recovered from war, organised labour got a share of the spoils in the form of rising standards of living, solidly social democratic welfare states and, most importantly, full employment.
On the other, European integration and the creation of accessible markets and opportunities for investment were vital to the post-war programme of the other superpower, the United States.
Indeed, the idea of a Soviet military “threat” to western Europe was largely a US invention. It allowed the US to establish not only the EEC but Nato, a sort of protection racket which would enable it to subordinate former enemies and allies alike.
The European bourgeoisie had no problem with this, as it consolidated its own hold on power.
But as the economy hit the buffers in the 1970s and the rate of profit began to decline, the welfare state could no longer be afforded. Elements which have been retained are either those to which people, including many ordinary Tory voters, are most attached — the NHS, for instance — or those, like the benefit system, which have been retooled as disciplinary mechanisms.
Neoliberalism, a fringe philosophy until then, had come into its own. Capitalism gives only what we can extract from it. Working men and women in many countries died fighting for parliamentary representation. So if they give us a European Parliament which no-one ever asked for, let alone demonstrated for, you should smell a rat.
Only fear of our power has ever made them use their power to give us what we want. That fear has long been at a low ebb. As Thatcher and Reagan successfully stuck the boot into the labour movement, the right went on the attack.
As the Soviet Union collapsed, taking most western communist parties with it, capitalism suddenly found itself without serious organised opposition.
The Maastricht Treaty was the consequence of all of this, and it was indeed a harsher version of neoliberal economic integration than anything which went before.
Yet it is also a logical development. Like the welfare state, it is a tactic to preserve capitalism. This is the EU’s only real function.
Alexis Tsipras and Yanis Varoufakis approached the Brussels-Frankfurt gang as if they were negotiating with reasonable people who wanted the same as they did — to restore the Greek economy and save people’s lives — but had different ideas about how to achieve it.
In reality they were engaged in class war. To stand on a battlefield convinced you’re a diplomat and not a soldier is unlikely to end at all well. That’s what the Greek government did, and that’s why — for the time being — it lost.