Normally we think of extremes on the far right and the far left, forgetting the rise of ''extreme center''. While the extreme left and the extreme right exist, they’re not very strong—though the extreme right is getting stronger. The reason the extreme right is getting stronger is because of the extreme center.
The extreme center is the political expression of the neoliberal state. That economics and politics are so intertwined and interlinked that politics now, mainstream politics, extreme center politics, are little else but a version of concentrated economics. And this means that any alternative—alternative capitalism, left Keynesianism, intervention by the state to help the poor, rolling back the privatizations—becomes a huge issue. The entire weight of the extreme center and its media is turned against it, which in reality now is beginning to harm democracy.
There are a lot characteristics that define extreme center. For one, continuous wars—which we have now had since 2001—starting with Afghanistan, continuing on to Iraq. And even since Iraq, it’s been more or less continuous. The appalling war in Libya, which has wrecked that country and wrecked that part of the world, and which isn’t over by any means. The indirect Western intervention in Syria, which has created new monsters. These are policies, which if carried out by any individual government, would be considered extremist.
Now, they’re being carried out collectively by the United States, backed by some of the countries of the European Union. So that is the first extremism. The second extremism is the unremitting assault on ordinary people, citizens inside European and North American states, by a capitalist system which is rapacious, blind, and concerned with only one thing: making money and enhancing the profits of the 1%. These two are the central pillars of the extreme center. Add to that the level of surveillance and new laws which have been put on the statute books of most countries: the imprisonment of people without trial for long periods, torture, its justification, etc.
The European Union is a union of the extreme center. It’s a banker’s union. You see how they operate in country after country, appointing technocrats to take over and run countries for long periods. They did it in Greece; they did it in Italy; they considered it in other parts of Europe. The EU is effectively a union dominated by the German political and economic elite. Its main function is to serve as a nucleus for financial capitalism and to ease the road for that capitalism.
So the EU is undemocratic; decisions are not made by parliament; the European Parliament is not sovereign. How could it be when Europe is divided into so many different states? The decisions are all made by the representatives of the different members of the European Union, i.e. the governments of Europe, which are extreme center governments in most cases. And so, the European Union has lost virtually all of its credibility amongst large swaths of the European population.
There are some things which Europeans cannot do if the United States does not wish them to do them. So, one cannot discuss Europe without understanding US imperial hegemony, both globally and certainly in Europe as it stands. It’s an alliance that the Americans control, in which the EU of course has a great deal of autonomy, but in which it still is very dependent on the United States, especially militarily, but not only in that respect.
Effectively, the EU is a very powerful bureaucracy, dominated now by the German elite, which is backed by the rest of the European Union members. If you go to former Yugoslav states, the Balkan states, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, the situation is dire. Not to mention Bosnia, which is just run like a colony. The way they used to stand up and sing hymns to President Tito, they now salute the EU flag. It’s a very strange transition that we’re witnessing in most of Europe. And the prospect of another crisis, which is being predicted now and which will be worse than what we saw in 2008, could bring the European Union down unless there are huge reforms from within to democratize, to give more power to the regions. If this does not happen, the European Union will fall.
The last economic crisis never ended, and another one may loom. Europeans have endured years of unemployment and underemployment, stagnation or falling living standards, and cuts to state services on a scale ranging from steep to decimation. The disintegration of Syria has sent a tidal wave of human misery crashing over the country's borders, some of it lapping on the shores of the European continent. And already the populist, anti-immigration right is in a strong position, from Sweden to France, Greece to the Netherlands. So when Greece's motorcycling former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis warns that Europe could be falling into ''a modern 1930s''.
It is time to sit up, listen and prepare. Instead of worrying too much about the extreme left and right, we should focus more on the extreme center.
By Guylain Gustave Moke
World Affairs Expert
Photo-Credit: Éditions ''ENI''-photo of : Guylain Gustave Moke