In a piece for Mediapart Stathis Kouvelakis analyses what’s at stake after Brexit. He is reader in political philosophy at KCL, a former member of the Syriza central committee and now a member of Popular Unity. Translated by David Broder
Stathis Kouvelakis was a member of the Syriza central committee when that party won the January 2015 Greek election. He was then among those who decided to break with prime minister Alexis Tsipras, instead advocating that Greece leave the Eurozone and make a clear break with EU institutions. He teaches and lives in London, and here he gives Mediapart his analysis of the consequences of the UK referendum.
Mediapart: How would you read the vote for Brexit?
Stathis Kouvelakis: The first thing to note is that the European Union loses all referendums over proposals emanating from the EU or which concern EU authority. The unconditional defenders of the European project have to ask themselves why that is the case. But this is the first time that the question of remaining or leaving has been posed directly. And in my view the fact that one of the three big European countries has chosen to break away from the EU marks the end of the current European project. This result definitively reveals something we knew already, namely that this was a project built by and for elites, and which did not enjoy popular support.
Since David Cameron announced a referendum on whether Britain stays in the European Union, the debate surrounding Britain's role in Europe has triggered a flurry of conjecture regarding the likely outcome of the referendum and the consequences of a vote to leave the EU.
Gordon Brown is the latest to come out in support of the campaign to stay in the EU, claiming it is "not British to retreat to Europe's sidelines" and arguing that Britain needed to be in the EU to shape the continent's responses to terrorism, immigration and climate change. The Economist published a story this week outlining security concerns and questioning whether Britain is safer in the European Union, or outside of it.
Whilst the narrative of opposition to the EU is largely dominated by the right, we've put together an essential reading list of books that critically engage with the debate from a perspective of internationalism rather than the xenophobia that is so common amongst EU critics. Additional books on the list analyse the refugee crisis, the Syrian civil war, the Greek debt crisis, and the nature of the contemporary British far right.
Also new on the Verso blog is an exclusive extract from John Gillingham's The EU: An Obituary, in which he comments on Brexit, the EU’s democratic failures and offers cogent predictions of the European Union’s decline.
(image from The Economist)
Gerassimos Moschonas, author of In the Name of Social Democracy, reflects on Syriza's strategy over the course of the negotiations, including what its achievements and failures reveal about possibilities for challenging European austerity. This piece was originally published in Telos, 22 May 2015.
In a special long-read published on his Channel 4 blog, Paul Mason offers five pictures of Greece on the verge of default.
A divided population?
As the crunch approaches the atmosphere has changed. For six months the centre right in Greece was prepared to wait and let Alexis Tsipras try—and fail—to secure a letup on austerity. Now the old political establishment has understood he intends to take this to the bitter end: a default on Greece’s June payment to the IMF, with possible dire consequences for the banks as early as Monday night.