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Why the euro has to be abandoned if Europe is to be saved

Summary:
Why the euro has to be abandoned if Europe is to be saved The euro has taken away the possibility for national governments to manage their economies in a meaningful way — and the people have​ had to pay the true costs of its concomitant misguided austerity policies. The unfolding of the repeated economic crises in euroland during the last decade has shown beyond any doubts that the euro is not only an economic project​ but just as much a political one. What the neoliberal revolution during the 1980s and 1990s didn’t manage to accomplish, the euro shall now force on us. But do the peoples of Europe really want to deprive themselves of economic autonomy, enforce lower wages, and slash social welfare at the slightest sign of economic distress? Are

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Why the euro has to be abandoned if Europe is to be saved

The euro has taken away the possibility for national governments to manage their economies in a meaningful way — and the people have​ had to pay the true costs of its concomitant misguided austerity policies.

The unfolding of the repeated economic crises in euroland during the last decade has shown beyond any doubts that the euro is not only an economic project​ but just as much a political one. What the neoliberal revolution during the 1980s and 1990s didn’t manage to accomplish, the euro shall now force on us.

Why the euro has to be abandoned if Europe is to be savedBut do the peoples of Europe really want to deprive themselves of economic autonomy, enforce lower wages, and slash social welfare at the slightest sign of economic distress? Are increasing​ income inequality and a federal überstate really the stuff that our dreams are made of? Yours truly doubts it.

History ought to act as a deterrent. During the 1930s our economies didn’t come out of the depression until the folly of that time — the gold standard — was thrown on the dustbin of history. The euro will hopefully soon join it.

Economists have a tendency to get enthralled by their theories and model​​ and forget that behind the figures and abstractions there is a real world with real people. Real people that have to pay dearly for fundamentally flawed doctrines and recommendations.

Why the euro has to be abandoned if Europe is to be savedNow more than ever there is a grotesque gap between capitalism’s intensifying reproduction problems and the collective energy needed to resolve them … This may mean that there is no guarantee that the people who have been so kind as to present us with the euro will be able to protect us from its consequences, or will even make a serious attempt to do so. The sorcerer’s apprentices will be unable to let go of the broom with which they aimed to cleanse Europe of its pre-modern social and anti-capitalist foibles, for the sake of a neoliberal transformation of its capitalism. The most plausible scenario for the Europe of the near and not-so-near future is one of growing economic disparities—and of increasing political and cultural hostility between its peoples, as they find themselves flanked by technocratic attempts to undermine democracy on the one side, and the rise of new nationalist parties on the other. These will seize the opportunity to declare themselves the authentic champions of the growing number of so-called losers of modernization, who feel they have been abandoned by a social democracy that has embraced the market and globalization.

Wolfgang Streeck

Lars Pålsson Syll
Professor at Malmö University. Primary research interest - the philosophy, history and methodology of economics.

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