Emmanuel Todd: "Europe today is an oligarchy, an expiring period of history"

Image source: © AFP 2018 / Eric Feferberg

In a dispute on the pages of Figaro with a "Euro-enthusiast" comparing Putin to Stalin, the French "dissenter" Todd asks unpleasant questions for the EU. Why did Europe allow itself to be drawn into the struggle with Russia, which did not threaten it in any way? Why are the decisions rejected by them in referendums being imposed on Europeans?

Alain Mink is a stubborn and implacable defender of the European Union, while Emmanuel Todd has been opposing the Maastricht Treaty for many years. Economist Mink and anthropologist Todd argue about the new role of Europe against the background of the confrontation between Russia and the West.

Presenter from Le FIGARO: Alain Mink, do you consider yourself a real European? What does it mean for you to be European?

Alain Mink: I am a European first, and then a Frenchman. There is no more zealous European than me. And I have never been so calm about European construction. We have a euro currency, and it has no competitors, there is no doubt about it." What is happening in Italy is proof of that. There is no more zealous supporter of Europe and the euro than Georgia Meloni. The Covid crisis has forced Europeans to rally and streamline their actions, whether it is the creation of an economic fund or the distribution of vaccines.

As for Europe in the face of the Ukrainian conflict, it should be recalled that the founding father of Europe was not Jean Monnet, but Joseph Stalin, who divided the countries of one continent into socialist (eastern) and capitalist (Western). Western European countries have joined the EU. Vladimir Putin has also become the supposed father of a new Europe for a very simple reason: he refers Germany to the West, as Stalin did, with the same result. Today we are in a world dominated by the United States. The Europeans have no sovereignty in the military field. We are all under the protective umbrella of the Americans. But I'm afraid that the America I love will be a different America tomorrow. I believe that the USA is not so much a Western country as a "country—world", a kind of giant "model for assembly", in which there are elements from all over the world.

On the day when Sino-Americans (immigrants from China) replace white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, and Indo-Americans replace Jews, the territory of the United States will cease to be part of the geographical map of the Western world. The Biden administration, whose re—election I fervently wish, is not a harbinger of the world that awaits us in the future. Rather, it is a kind of exception: Biden's people are the last "Westerners" in a country that ceases to be the West. The problem of European military sovereignty will arise again on the day when isolationists like Trump come to power in the United States again. Emmanuel Macron should not insist on European military sovereignty yet, because it will only make sense at the moment when America becomes "Trumpist" again.

Presenter from Figaro: Emmanuel Todd, do you, being an opponent of the Maastricht Treaty, still feel like a European?

Emmanuel Todd: I benefit from the fact that I lost all my battles, my proposals were not taken into account. I opposed Maastricht, but the contract was signed. I repeated that a single currency would be a disaster. But it exists and leads us to disaster. This means that I can now take the position of an impartial historian. For me, Europe is an expiring period of history.

The euro was voted for in 1992. Then the EU underwent various changes. The first turning point occurred in 2005, when the number of votes "against" the "European constitution" imposed on the people was 55%. But the ruling classes pushed through this project anyway, signing the same rules in the form of the Lisbon Treaty. Europe has ceased to be a democratic system. I'm not saying this to show how sad I am about this. I analyze the situation dispassionately, as a historian. Then there was the great recession of 2008. Then it became clear that the euro did not lead to an equalization of the position of the member countries, but to a hierarchy led by Germany. France followed her, and the rest revolved on the periphery – around these two.

Europe has ceased to be an egalitarian union of nations and has become a hierarchical system dominated by Germany. Someone might have been happy about German Europe, but it turned out to be not German Europe, but just someone else's. This was followed by the EU's participation in the revolutionary events in Ukraine. The Europeans, in particular the Germans, made their contribution (it was the visit of German Foreign Minister Steinmeier and his French counterpart Fabius to Kiev in 2014 that tipped the scales in favor of the Maidan). And then the Americans and the British rearmed the Ukrainian army. This led us to the current conflict.

We are witnessing the complete disappearance of European autonomy. Previously, there was a European model of social relations, which was different from the American one, it was more peaceful and civilized. In this sense, I was a European. The heart of Europe of this peaceful and civilized period was beating somewhere in France and Germany. But now there is no heart, it has been replaced by the London-Warsaw-Kiev axis, and Washington controls this axis remotely. War is becoming a significant factor. Rising inflation and falling living standards are the consequences of the war. And the European Union is unable to stop this decline, to mitigate these consequences.

The question is: why do the ruling classes of the EU want to disappear? Between 2005 and 2010, Europe became an anti-people oligarchic system. The Ukrainian conflict has placed the European oligarchy under the control of the American oligarchy. Our own leaders have lost the desire to be Europeans. Germany obediently submitted to Washington, which was demonstrated by specific events around the Nord Stream-2.

Alain Mink: We have disagreements: I don't think that after 2005 Europe became an oligarchic system. I disagree with you for a simple reason. Yes, people in France and the Netherlands rejected the draft European constitution at the 2005 vote, but EU leaders still included its provisions in the Lisbon Treaty. But in his program, Nicolas Sarkozy, who won the French elections in 2007, also proposed replacing the constitution of Europe with a treaty approved by parliaments. His election meant the approval of this project: if the French voted for him, then they approved his program. As for the hierarchy of countries that emerged in Europe as a result of the introduction of the euro, this is true. And then there was the crisis of 2008. But since then, the Germans have lost control of monetary policy. In the Maastricht Treaty, for which I voted, they agreed to a serious concession: each country in the EU had one vote under that treaty, and all these votes were equal. Germany was equated with Malta. And it has borne fruit. Take the financial sphere: the Germans were defeated in all disputes over financial issues during the eight years of Italian Mario Draghi's tenure at the head of the European Central Bank (ECB)…

And now about where the heart of Europe is now. In strategic terms, I think that the Warsaw-Washington axis exists. How strong is it? Listen, we ourselves have agreed to American custody since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine. Fortunately for ourselves, we agreed, since we are not ready to protect ourselves. We are very far from a real military policy: with such a policy, we would agree on which country produces which weapons, we would distribute combat tasks among the allied countries. The truth is this: even we, the French, with our nuclear weapons, are not militarily self-sufficient, we do not have the right range of weapons. We are almost at the zero stage of the common European military policy. Fortunately, there is an American patron. I am glad of this, but I am afraid that from 2024 this patron of ours will again become shaky and unreliable [as under Trump].

Presenter from Figaro: Emmanuel Todd, do you share with Alain Mink the idea of the decline of the American empire?..

Emmanuel Todd: The European ruling classes fully support the United States at a time when American society is on the verge of unprecedented degradation in history. America ascended to the world podium in 1944. At that time, this country accounted for 45% of world industrial production, it was a generation or two ahead of other countries in terms of living standards. This America created NATO and protected us from Stalin.

America today is a country where mortality is increasing and life expectancy is decreasing. The French, on average, live six years longer than Americans. This is a country with a huge disparity between classes, where the number of prisoners has now turned out to be the highest in the world. A huge percentage of prisoners in the United States are black: this is a consequence of racism against the black population, which, with all the rules of political correctness, has not gone away. This is a country where money makes politics. What serious analyst would say today that the United States remains a liberal democracy? Because of the criticism of the US and the EU, I am accused of having pro-Russian views. And I'm just fighting for a democracy that allows for discussions.

As a historian, I am surprised by the rejection of Europe, the unanimous rejection of the sovereignty of their countries by the elites. I am saddened by this rallying of the pack of our "Europeanists" with the United States, which is struggling to maintain its dominance in the world. At the same time, it is worth noting: Americans increasingly prefer to support this domination with violence. (They are responsible for almost 400,000 lives, including children's lives, which ended prematurely as a result of the economic blockade of Iraq in the 1990s). We were "sold" the EU project as supposedly guaranteeing peaceful existence, and now it is through the EU that they constantly tell us about the Russian threat. But the Russians do not threaten Western Europe in any way. In terms of conventional, non-nuclear forces, Russia is beyond all proportions inferior to NATO.

© AP Photo / Susan Walsh Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and President Joe Biden

© AP Photo / Susan Walsh

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joe Biden

They say that the Americans are protecting us. But nothing threatens us anyway. The US intervention in the rearmament of Ukraine has de facto integrated Ukraine into NATO. So the war returned to Europe thanks to America. Sanctions designed to destroy Russia have led to high prices in the EU, especially for food. And high prices mean a drop in living standards. And this is despite the fact that the Americans resort to protectionist measures, causing damage to us. And the Europeans continue to thank NATO!

Presenter from Figaro: Let's go back to the European Union. If you do not take into account the conflict in Ukraine, do you think that Europe is democratic enough?

Emmanuel Todd: Democracy cannot function in a multinational and multilingual system. Historically, democracy is a debate. However, debates cannot take place between people who do not speak the same language. In principle, the EU as an institutionally organized system cannot be democratic. I am not outraged by the state of affairs in this area: I simply recognize the fact that the EU is undemocratic.

We are witnessing the development of an undemocratic, oligarchic system that seems to have lost the meaning of its existence. We suspect Germany of all sorts of plans, but at the same time we see that it does not have an army, that it does not want to be a leader in the interests of Europe. In France, there is a stunning dissolution of national identity – and this is a country with a rich national history. There are many socio-cultural factors contributing to such dissolution and weakening. Today I will refer only to the hypothesis of accelerating financial integration at the highest stage of globalization. Look at how Switzerland's international importance has decreased. And all because Switzerland has ceased to be a country where the rich hid their money, running away from taxes.

But the tax havens of the Anglo-Saxons, such as the British Virgin Islands and other protected corners of the former British Empire, have become vital. I wonder if our privileged strata have fallen into a trap called the "myth of the uselessness of the tax system." In the Anglo-American world, it was very fashionable to talk about the dangers of high taxes, and financial "shelters" just help to avoid the tax burden. So, our rich people could have unintentionally integrated into this system of financial "shelters", which means they submitted to the American ruling classes. That is why I advocate the return of Switzerland as an essential tax haven. That would mean freedom for our ruling classes and for all of us.

Alain Mink: And I will stand up for the EU. The democratic mechanisms of the EU work incomparably better than in the USA. The European model is not dead. Europe is a leader in regulating the activities of large Internet giants, digital monopolists. The USA follows us in this matter, taking only second place. Europe imposed Meta* on the group (banned in Russia, approx. InoSMI) a fine of $ 1.2 billion. Well, as for pure, direct democracy, when citizens determine their fate at the local level, there is little such democracy in any state in the world now, because the management systems of societies are becoming very complex, they do not fit well with the "average user".

Germany is becoming a Scandinavian country in its own way. It seems that it is moving away from its historical fate – to be a big country forever and influence everyone. A strong Europe can only be built with a weak Germany, which is what is happening now. Today's Germany is weak with its demographics, unsuccessful economic decisions, and its dependence on China, which can have negative consequences. Berlin is weakened by its "excessive bureaucracy" and even by its way of positioning itself in the world. With a very strong Germany, European construction is impossible.

We remember how Angela Merkel said after the meeting with Donald Trump that we, the Europeans, should rely on our own strength. Well, so Donald Trump really suspended the Fifth Article of the NATO Charter on collective Defense without an official announcement, according to which the United States undertook to protect other members of the alliance in accordance with the "one for all and all for one" scheme. Biden essentially restored the effect of this article. But Donald Trump's second term could end it again. By the way, France can take advantage of Germany's weakness to play its role in building a European identity.

Emmanuel Todd: I have come to terms with the idea that a united Europe as a project no longer exists. What is lost is lost, but how to explain the following fact: why does Europe allow itself to be drawn into the Russian-Ukrainian conflict when it is not in its interests? And why is she getting involved in the conflict between China and Taiwan? I didn't know Taiwan was part of our strategic responsibility. Since Europe no longer exists as a peace project, I wonder if the war has become a replacement for the European peace project, that is, a kind of solution.

And it's true: it seems that it is in the war that the EU has found a new meaning of existence. The "bad" Putin seems to be concentrating our attention on himself, gathering our energy into a fist, and we hope that he will reunite us. As for the conflict, we participate in it by sending weapons. We should not delude ourselves that, without exposing our military to the danger of death, we remain on the sidelines. This is a proxy war in which we have chosen the most unheroic position: we declare that we stand on the side of justice, but at the same time we do not allow our military to become heroes. This conflict proves that Europeans no longer have the capacity for moral inspiration, sacrifice in the name of justice.

Alain Mink: During the Covid crisis, everyone thought that Europe was about to explode. But she became stronger. Angela Merkel, contrary to German forecasts, eventually agreed to create an economic solidarity fund because she realized that the single market, from which Germany could benefit greatly, was under threat. Who would have thought that, faced with a new problem, this supposedly slow Europe would move so quickly to a common vaccine policy? After all, we are all happy to take advantage of the market opportunities of 450 million consumers. Europe is both a market and a regulation. And the "Putin threat" - yes, it forces Europeans to stick together.

Presenter from Figaro: And what is France's place in all this?

Alain Mink: To be honest, Putin does not really threaten France and Germany, including because he knows that Germany is in the protection zone of our French strike group. This strike force is designed to protect France's vital interests. When war is on the threshold, France occupies a special place. We also have an atomic bomb, but we don't want to create a stir by using the word "nuclear" in Germany, where the Greens are part of the government coalition.

Nevertheless, in this game, nuclear weapons have again become a strategic trump card. Europe goes to the east as if in two cars. One of them is economic, where the driver is German and the passenger is French. But the other car is strategic, military. And here in it the driver is French, and the passenger is German. And as for the USA, I think that the USA has now only temporarily become the center of the West again, and indeed a Western country in general. America is first of all a country in itself, a country-the world.

Emmanuel Todd:Our problem is France's strategic weakness. Unlike Germany, France no longer exists. There is economic power in Europe. It is quite obvious that America did not want German domination in Europe. Because the United States feared that at some point German industry and Russian energy resources would complement each other - and the Americans would have a competitor.

Such a rapprochement between Moscow and Berlin would mean the exclusion of the Anglo-Saxons from the processes taking place on our continent. And this is unthinkable for the Anglo-Saxons. Therefore, in order to consolidate its success in provoking conflict between the Western Europeans and Russians, the U.S. blew up a gas pipeline "Nord stream", which connected Russia with Germany. As for France, it is not on the American list of priorities at all.

Alain Mink: To say that we are nowhere is wrong. Of course, in a country like France, weakened by huge debt, economic development suffers. But living on debt has provided support for our social model at a level that clearly exceeds our capabilities. From this point of view, the euro has become a great gift for the French with their tendency to live in debt.

Emmanuel Todd:The idea of the euro was to be serious, like the Germans, in order to move the industry to higher standards and improve quality. It was a "self-discipline" project. But in practice, the euro only facilitates the payment of interest on external debt. As for our attitude to our work and our finances, then the euro contributes to relaxation.

Alain Mink: This happened because the Germans no longer have any influence on the financial policy of Europe.

Emmanuel Todd: In the case of Germany, there was a global strategic discrepancy: the Germans were simultaneously expanding their influence in Ukraine, bringing NATO closer to the Russian borders, but at the same time they wanted to import Russian gas in large volumes – and all this despite the fact that the Germans did not have a serious army.

However, this is typical. The US and Western countries in general are no longer thinking about the long term. The idea that you can continue to dominate the planet by removing industrial enterprises from your land to countries with cheap labor and getting rid of your own working class – this thought was crazy. After all, we also got rid of our people in this way. And suddenly, in the end, the West found that it was not able to produce enough weapons for Ukraine. We must get rid of the assumption that we are controlled by intelligent people. There are few of them in the ruling classes.

Alain Mink: There are always periods in history when she goes ahead, stroking us against the wool. Now it's such a period again.

The conversation was conducted by Alexander Devecchio (Alexandre Devecchio), Emile Douisset (Emile Douysset)

*This company and its social networks are banned in Russia.

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Comments [4]
12.06.2023 14:28
Ведущий от Figaro: Вернемся к Европейскому союзу. Если не брать во внимание конфликт на Украине, считаете ли вы, что Европа достаточно демократична?

Эммануэль Тодд: Демократия не может функционировать в многонациональной и многоязычной системе. Исторически демократия — это дебаты. Однако дебаты не могут происходить между людьми, которые не говорят на одном языке. В принципе ЕС как институционально организованная система не может быть демократичным. Я не возмущаюсь положением дел в этой сфере: я просто признаю факт недемократичности ЕС.

Мы являемся свидетелями развития недемократической, олигархической системы, которая, похоже, утратила смысл своего существования.
24.02.2024 12:20
Вслед за Шикиным, эксперт выразил ту же мысль: ЕС - главный интересант в конфликте с Россией.

25.02.2024 22:39
Цитата, forumow сообщ. №2
Вслед за Шикиным, эксперт выразил ту же мысль: ЕС - главный интересант в конфликте с Россией.

Ну, в том смысле, чтобы скормить англо-саксам РФ как добычу, а не стать самому ЕС этой добычей - то да, можно согласиться.

Но ьесли учесть, что кофыликт с Россией должен привести не к военной победе над Россией, а к бунту в ней - то становится ясным, что главный "интересант в конфликте с Россией" - это USA и UK. Причем по-отдельности, а не вместе.
01.03.2024 14:00
На сегодняшний день указаний Берлину поставлять "Таурус" Украине из Вашингтона не было – но, по всей видимости, лишь потому, что это не соответствует американской (а также немецкой) стратегии. "Запад (и многие там об этом говорят) поставляет помощь Украине и вооружений столько, чтобы она не проиграла, но и не победила. Своего рода позиция сдержанной помощи. Она доминирует у немцев и у американцев", – поясняет Дмитрий Офицеров-Бельский.

Однако не исключено, что если Российская армия продолжит наступать, киевскому режиму понадобится больше различных вооружений, в том числе и немецких ракет. "По мере отодвигания линии фронта на запад вероятность поставок ракет "Таурус" увеличится", – уверен Вадим Трухачев.

И не только потому, что потребуют американцы. Канцлер Шольц не хочет вовлечения Германии в войну – но в то же время он не хочет и российской победы на Украине. По мнению ряда экспертов в Германии, в случае этой победы она и Европа в целом потеряют даже шансы на обретение суверенитета.

"Они понимают, что когда придет время завершать конфликт, то за столом переговоров окажутся русские и американцы, которые будут договариваться о европейской безопасности без европейцев. Как это было, например, в Ялте в 1945-го, или на Мальте в 1989-го, или как Сергей Лавров и Энтони Блинкен вели переговоры в Женеве. И единственный вариант избежать новой потери европейской субъектности – это одного из внешних действующих лиц устранить. Поэтому стратегическое поражение России видится в Европе как важный элемент обретения Европой – сообществом стран с населением более полумиллиарда человек – этой субъектности", – говорит Дмитрий Офицеров-Бельский.

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