Srecko Horvat: "Inside this EU, against this EU"

Srecko Horvat is a philosopher from Croatia. With Yanis Varoufakis, he is the co-founder of DiEM25 movement and both are currently candidates in Germany for the European Parliament elections, on the European Spring coalition list. 

Can we come back a bit to the starting point of DiEM25? In June 2015 there was the referendum in Greece and the movement was created in February 2016? Did you draw the conclusion from the Greek referendum that there is no national left alternative possible and that the struggle should be fought at a transnational level?
I met Yanis Vaoroufakis already back in 2013 in Zagreb, before he became finance minister of Greece. Naturally, during the OXI referendum in 2015, I was, with many other activists from all parts of Europe, in Athens. I can tell you it was the last summer of hope in Europe, when everything seemed possible. Just remember that more than 61% of the people voted OXI (no to austerity). After this "Greek spring" was crashed by the so-called Troika (ECB, EC, IMF), and Varoufakis resigned, we came together with a conviction, perhaps utopian at that time, that only a Pan-European movement can be a way out of this deadlock where even national governments - not to mention the people - don't have any power confronted with major financial institutions or private banks. Today we have more than 100,000 members across Europe who share the necessity of our Green New Deal program, which as you can see with Alexandria Ocasio Cortez but also with Fridays for Future, the millions of children protesting for immediate climate action, is becoming a truly trans-national struggle. Because there is, at least not yet, no Planet B.
Several left parties in Europe don't have a clear stand on the EU and regularly claim that if the EU is not reformed according to their wishes, their country should leave. Why is this a wrong strategy?
It's enough to look at Brexit to see how the process of "exit" can turn out. It reminds me of that great movie by Luis Bunuel, "The Exterminating Angel", about a group of people stuck at dinner without the ability to leave the house, with very surreal things starting to happen. And even if you succeed to leave the house, in this case the EU or Eurozone, what then? China? Russia? Arabs? There are no geopolitical islands, not even Switzerland is an island, especially in a multi-centric world in which the EU is rapidly losing its geopolitical significance, so if it's not Europe, you have to make a choice. It seems as if no one, precisely in this century of geopolitical re-alignement, in Europe understand geopolitics anymore. We need more trans-national cooperation, but not in the way the current EU is doing it.
At DiEM25 you advocate for a democratization of the EU institutions and set some milestones like a European constitutional assembly. Three years have already passed. How do you assess your first three years? Do you think you already had a positive impact on European politics and institutions?
I think, besides building up a real pan-European movement, we succeeded to shift the political debate by our stance "inside this EU, against this EU". How many political parties still advocate the "exit" from the EU as their main political desire. There is no single mainstream, even populist party, which is advocating it in the context of European elections.
Under the umbrella of DiEM25, you launched the European Spring campaign for the European Parliament elections partnering with other leftist movements, you claim to be the “first-ever transnational list”, what does that mean as people will still vote for national lists?
When you run a pan-European movement and compete in several European countries for the European elections, the first thing you notice is how different the rules are in each country. Very often it is surreal. The very fact that you have different rules in each country, in one you have to collect 5,000 signatures, in another 150,000 if you are running as a new party. It is a scandal that the EU still doesn't have transnational lists. This is why we are simulating one. You can vote for one single program and one list independently of your country, because the program is coherent and encompasses the whole of EU. The usual business is that conservative, liberal, green and even left parties often have even contradicting programs (on migration or the Euro, for instance), but they still run together, and then in the end they form an incoherent family in the European Parliament. 
Why Yanis Varoufakis and you are on the European Spring list in Germany and not another country? 
Because Germany is the leading country of the Eurozone and at the same time a candidacy of a Greek and Croatian sends a strong message both to Europe's deep establishment and the electorate itself that it is finished with the divide between the North and South, between the centre of the EU and its peripheries. It's not the Germans against the Greeks, or the Croats against the Germans, only by overcoming standard national politics we can build a different Europe. At the same time, I have a personal motivation, the country where I was born doesn't exist anymore, not because Yugoslavia collapsed so it doesn't exist, but because tens of thousands of young people are emigrating from Croatia precisely to Germany. More than 350,000 Croats live in Germany today. And all together more than 1 million people from ex-Yugoslavia. These people - and their problems - are hardly represented in Germany. And it's also about time to speak about the dire economic and political situation in the Balkans. Take air pollution, or the utter lack of investment from Europe - not China, Turkey, UAE - which is currently prevailing in the Balkans.
In April 2018, Yanis Varoufakis sent a letter to other European leaders of the left to cooperate for the European Parliament Election. But none big established leftist or green party has joined the European Spring coalition, is that a disappointment?
We have no time for disappointments.
Matteo Salvini also called for a “European Spring” of populists. The far-right is growing and might increase its numbers of seats in the next parliament. Its leaders are holding government positions in several countries and they are the ones setting the agenda. What do you think?
Did you see what effect Salvini's words had? None. Did anyone officially join his "European Spring"? You can't even join it, because it's just an empty word. What I can see, just look at the mess with Viktor Orban, is that the conservatives and populists are losing ground. At the same time, you have an incompetent establishment with someone like Antonio Tajani saying that Mussolini did "some positive things". Are you scared of the populists or should we rather be worried that the president of the European Parliament utters these words - including that Dalmatia and Istria are Italian - without being forced to resign? When faced with both the dangerous populists and representatives of the EU who are a shame for the EU and so-called European values, European elections are obviously becoming a crucial struggle for Europe's future.
Usually, the winners of European elections are the non-voters. What is your strategy to convince these people that they should cast their vote next May?
It's called the Green New Deal, namely, a major green investment of 500 billion euros per year. It would be funded by the net issues of European Investment Bank bonds, whose value would be stabilized by the ECB's announcement that it stands by in the secondary bonds markets to buy these bonds if needs be. To put it more simple, Europe desperately needs massive investment into green technology, from electric public transportation to solar panels, which would be linked to job creation and something that we call the Universal Basic Dividend - a tool for the post-capitalist future.
You recently released your program called “New Deal for Europe” which is at the same time radical and pragmatic, why did you put the emphasis on measures that can be implemented within the current neoliberal institutional framework?
These are measures that can be implemented tomorrow morning if there is political will, and without treaty changes, which is crucial. Because we believe that in order to get rid of all the bad treaties, you first need to have a constitutional process, which would be a true democratic pan-European process of drafting a new constitution for Europe. We need more trans-national cooperation, not less.
In an op-ed published in The Nation, Yanis Varoufakis also called for a post-capitalist future for Europe, how do you envision this future? 
More Star Trek, less Star Wars. We have to put technology at use to humanity, and not the other way around. Already today we have the technologies at hand to create a just and sustainable planet instead of the real existing dystopia in which we are currently living. Concretely, it would mean to use automation and AI not for creating further inequalities but for liberating humans themselves from the painful jobs they do without ever being properly paid, and literally doing what Star Trek folks do, exploring the universe and treating humans and all species as worth living and having a life worth living. Faced with the current dystopia, this doesn't sounds so utopian anymore? Actually, it's our last chance if humanity wants to survive. 
Picture by Oliver Abraham.