Is it right to think that the European movement has the edge when it comes to owning the internet but that it fails to mobile and get out on the streets and represent what it stands for? Europa United Editor Adan Snygg gives us a guide on how to get out there and make things happen.
While federalists and Europeanists have roots going back a century or more, the modern movement is young. This is especially obvious in comparison to nationalism, a movement which has existed for at least as long as Europeanist thought has been suggested and whose roots go back hundreds and hundreds of years, giving them unparalleled depth in this veritable “culture war” that is going on. Since Europeanist thought is so young it has made this newest of mass media into the primary battle-ground: the Internet. The World Wide Web actually has a fair amount of Europeanist presence – not least of which our very own Europa United, but then also many others. They have also done well in co-opting the tools of the enemy, the Reddit group r/the_Schulz is perhaps the most prominent example of this. This is all marred by one very specific fact though: we just talk. We just write.
Pull the plug on social media now and again
An earlier piece from my fellow Europa United editor Ken Sweeney harshly criticises the British response to Brexit while comparing it unfavourably to the European response, but in many countries, we are not far behind Britain. Europeanists talk a lot, especially on the internet. There has been some great action in for example Poland and Romania as well as meetings like the ones Pulse of Europe organise. All of these are good examples of creating real change, but we need more. The nationalists still got a harsh grip on the world outside of our computer screens because they have had that grip since a hundred years or more. We can let go of the computers a bit, the world will not collapse if we spend less time debating with them on the internet. So how do we actually effect change on the real world? Here once again history has given us a good teacher, though one that many of the liberals in our midst are not keen to listen to: the socialists.
One of the many Pulse of Europe meetings taking place across the continent
Now I am not telling all liberals to become socialists, just to use their tactics. Say what you will about the left, but in Europe they managed to create change very effectively often even without being in government. How?
Action, not reaction
There is a great leftist saying when the going gets rough: “Don’t mourn, organise!”. To organise is the bedrock of creating change. Pulse of Europe has realised this, with some of their meetings reaching impressive numbers of participants. Demonstrations like those in Poland and Romania are great, but we cannot only react, we must act as well. The socialists made governments limit the power of the rich and powerful to the benefit of the weak and poor by constant action. Learning from them, Europeanists must also be more active in creating the world we want. For that to happen both the people we hope to convince and the politicians in charge have to be able to see us. That cannot be done on computers, neither by just talking.
So, what should Europeanists practically do? Demonstrations are a great way to be seen by both people and politicians, thus it is a good place to start. Call, mail or e-mail your representatives or your political party and tell them that their support of Europe is paramount to you and those you know voting for them. One person doing this is negligible, which is why we must organise. Hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands doing this is effective and visible. And when people are elected on a platform of Europeanism, keep them to their word. Don’t let them back away, don’t let them make u-turns. Are you afraid of Macron not being as much of a federalist as he claims? Keep him to his word! Call En Marche! Politicians in your area, e-mail them, go out with placates in your cities, be visible!
Get out and argue
And, if that doesn’t work, a little rioting can always be useful. I kid of course, but when things go wrong, showing displeasure is important and that doesn’t mean marching in a line looking somber. Shouting, anger and perhaps the threat of going further might have helped undemocratic governments to reform and people without rights to receive them.
We cannot just stare into our computer screens and write debate articles like this one and hope that change will be enacted. We must be out on the streets, we must talk to people, we must convince everyone of the cause. Go to those that wouldn’t otherwise hear about the Europeanist project – refugees, elderly, poor – and both engage them in our Europeanist struggles but also let them engage you. We must struggle together.
Go out now and demand change.