Boaventura de Sousa Santos interview to the Greek periodical Epohi


PHOTO/Boaventura de Sousa Santos

Epohi: Europe is in a big and multifaceted crisis. Do you think it is a temporary crisis, or do you think it will get permanent and irreversible features?

Boaventura de Sousa Santos (BSS): Europe is not an island. The anomic and dystopic vocation of the global neoliberal disorder is reaching new thresholds as the concentration of wealth and the environmental crisis reaches unprecedented levels. The fall of the petrodollar seems closer and closer as China and Russia buy gold and prepare to negotiate oil and gas contracts in yuan. Saddam Hussein and Kaddafi paid a dear price for their attempts and Venezuela may follow the same destiny, while Brazil, another of the BRICS, is neutralized by the judicial-political coup instigated by US imperialism. For the same reason, Yemen must be destroyed and, in line with his predecessors, President Donald Trump prepares “his” war, this time against Iran.

Particularly after Durão Barroso became president of the European Commission (2004-2014), the EU turned into a subaltern partner of neoliberal globalization. At first, only foreign countries, non-European countries in Africa and Latin American, noticed the changes as they realized how the Brussels technocrats aligned themselves almost unconditionally with US based multinationals, World Bank and IMF officers in negotiations of trade agreements. As the financial crisis of 2008 hit Europe in 2011 (Greeks have a tragic experience of it), it became finally clear to most of European citizens that neoliberal orthodoxy had hijacked the European project (probably an illusion from the start) of combining development with social protection in a wider politically democratic community. Raw economic and hence political power was in charge, the vulnerable countries were made more vulnerable so that the political costs of intervention would diminished. As I said, non-European countries knew all this by tragic experience. For Europeans it was a surprise since most them had forgotten not only about the remote past but also about thr recent one, the World War II.

In light of this, the European Union is tied up to the fate of neoliberalism; in this respect the crisis may be considered as permanent as the crisis of neoliberalism. The political disintegration began with the way the so-called “Greek crisis” was dealt with, continued with Brexit and the rise of the extreme-right under the guise of a new version of populism (always a rightist political reaction, never a leftist one).

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