Europe is going through an emotional roller coaster. The top EU politicians all have their hands full in trying to manage and improve their half-hearted bailout attempts for member-states that are beginning to careen out of control. In all of this we can’t fail to see that the states in question are in no way being given a hand – not to mention the layers of the populations hit by the austerity measures. The goal of this unprofessional crisis management was and is first and foremost to protect European banks from meltdowns and to keep the financial markets in a good mood.
It is an irony of history that the EU states only ended up in a precarious situation when after the outbreak of the crisis in 2008 and without regard for the losses, i.e. their own budget deficits, they began to bailout the banks – with the result that the latter are now getting back from financially shaky states via exorbitant interest for state loans what they lost in the crisis and had to or still must fork over, in order to be rescued by the states in question. The alleged triumph of having gotten off lightly and weathered the crisis has long since changed into a lament over the lasting problems of the Euro zone. Transform! 9 offers analyses that show the extent of the current economic and currency crisis and try to get to the bottom of their deeper implications.
Beyond Europe, but still discernible in the old continent, there are a growing number of citizens who do not give a damn for the traditional policy and the traditional parties. From New York to Cairo, from London to Greece, it is especially young people who are signifying that they are utterly disappointed with conventional politics and aspire to direct-democracy solutions. In this the left to the left of social-democracy is in a dilemma in so far as there are no clear alternative concepts. At the moment the situation can be described sarcastically with an Austrian bonmot: “I don’t know where I’m heading; therefore I’ll get their quicker!” Or put another way: Things cannot go on the way they have been, but how things will proceed is now completely open. This exciting development is reflected in Transform! 9 by the section “Movements and Democracy”, in which the narrow confines of bourgeois democracy are addressed, which are being made even tighter via the hysteria over terrorism and are calculated to be turned when needed against activists calling for transformation.
As long as no compelling progressive solutions are found to clean up the prevailing misery, the radical right will stay afloat in ever more European countries. A tragic example of this is the mass killing by a professed lone perpetrator in Norway. This catastrophe is unimaginable without the context of the development of the right and of the springing up of increasingly more radical right parties in our hemisphere. Transform! 9 grapples in detail with this theme as well.
The repercussions of the crisis developments on the elections recently held in different European countries have varied. For the left the failure of neoliberalism and unfettered capitalism entails no automatic success. Nevertheless, here and there encouraging results could be achieved. Some case examples are presented in Transform! 9 in the Country Chronicles section.
We hope you enjoy this issue.
P.S. As illustrations for the current issue we have chosen works by the Austrian painter and draftsman Helmut Kurz-Goldenstein, a well-known antifascist. Here is more information about the artist:
Helmut Kurz-Goldenstein (1941 – 2004) lived and worked in Vienna. He was, along with Alfred Hrdlicka, one of the few figurative artists in Austria after 1945 and assimilated the traditions of an Honoré Daumier and George Grosz. At the centre of his work was the artistic confrontation with basic political themes: right-wing radicalism, third world, fascism and racism, the economic policy of the then European Community, the Nicaraguan Revolution, environmental destruction, etc.
Kurz-Goldenstein was active in numerous artistic and culture-political initiatives. Physically handicapped from birth, he worked together with other handicapped people from 1981 to 1985 in memory of the murder of “those deemed unworthy to live” by the Nazi regime on a 4 x 4 metre wood sculpture, which before it could be installed in front of Schloß Hartheim in Upper Austria, where circa 30,000 physically and mentally handicapped people were murdered, was destroyed by unidentified people.
The author André Heller wrote: “He is still interested in the conditions that create consciousness. He is a tireless seeker of underlying causes and is not afraid to go to the core of things, knowing well that one usually returns from such expeditions covered in shame”. He was a “chronicler of evil and infamy, of attempted shams, of con artists of high and low birth, of hypocrits and bigots. His lack of respect for the powerful was nurtured by the respect and solidarity of the powerless”.