Throughout Europe, social movements are organising against the Lisbon Treaty in massive numbers.
While governments across Europe, fearing the democratically expressed will of the people, are pushing the revamped constitution through their parliaments, the Twenty-Six County state is alone in holding a referendum.
Already, the parliaments of Hungary, Slovenia, Malta, Romania, France, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia, Portugal and Austria have ratified the Treaty, with several other states in the process of doing so.
The reality of the Treaty, however, cannot be hidden from educated citizens. This can be seen in the fact that, on the very day on which the Treaty was signed, 200,000 people protested in Lisbon against the militaristic and pro-privatisation elements present in the document.
On the same day, 300,000 people demonstrated throughout France against the repackaging of a document that they had already rejected.
Progressive movements such as Attac, who campaign for democratic control over the financial market, are organising throughout the EU member-states against the Treaty, putting forward alternative ways of international organisation that put the interests of working class people first, thus directly challenging the false consensus of neo-liberalism.
The rejection of the Lisbon Treaty’s prototype (in the form of the European Reform Treaty) by the French and Dutch electorates in 2006 reflected a growing swell of discontent with the direction in which the EU is moving. This direction entails the erosion of even the semblance of democracy through the enshrining of neo-liberal policies that take immediate priority over any other decisions that can be made.
On April 7, an estimated 10,000 protestors marched in the Austrian capital Vienna against the Treaty. The demonstration was co-organised by the French wing of Attac, clearly showing the international nature of a new movement for democracy and against the machinations of EU bureaucrats, in league with international big business and their national allies in the domestic governments.
Europe has been witnessing a rash of strikes, from Greek Dockers to Lithuanian drivers and Scottish oil-workers. Such action is the direct result of further government privatisation and the assault on rights and living conditions, directly encouraged by EU policy enshrined in the Treaty. And so it becomes clear that the very reason governments want to deny people their right to vote on this Treaty is the very reason why the people must oppose it.
Proponents of the Treaty, devoid of any argument that contains mass appeal, often fall back on the ‘what’s your alternative’ line when confronting critics of the anti-democratic nature of the EU.
All across the world, individuals, movements and governments are developing forms of cooperation that are designed for mutual benefit as opposed to cut throat competition.
In Latin America, countries that have suffered for more than a decade under the measures imposed by the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas have developed the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), which will primarily benefit human beings as opposed to businesses.
Pioneered by the radical governments of Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela the Alternative has included massive drives to wipe out illiteracy, the provision of first-class, free medical care for previously neglected indigenous communities and the exchange of oil and gas supplies in return for thousands of medical staff.
Although the Bolivarian Alternative aims for the greater integration of all Latin America countries, no people’s sovereignty has been undermined in the process and rights have been enhanced, not downgraded.
For too long, the rest of the world has been taking the medicine that some European imperialist states were, often involuntarily, feeding them. Maybe it’s time that Europe looked elsewhere in order to solve its own problems.
A No vote by the Twenty-Six County electorate in the forthcoming referendum would certainly act as a wake up call in the start of that process.
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