Announcing DiEM

Facebook Post after witnessing the event DiEM 25 – Announcing the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, 12.02.2016:

by a wonderous turn of events (that surprised no one more than myself) i ended up attending the inaugural event of varoufakis’ new pan-european coalition diem25 at volksbühne last night.

Read More

i expected to find varoufakis at least charming, but he did not endear himself by starting off the evening by screening an agitprop/ motivational video featuring ominous brussel technocrats vs. blooming daffodils and a soundtrack by brian eno (who will have to be mentioned again later) …

varoufakis set the tone for the evening by spouting a set of banalities that was then echoed and repeated by a (long) procession of speakers, starting with katja kipping who (bless her soul) exuded exactly zero charisma, followed by various MEPs who suffered from much the same problem.

a video address by ada colau provided a temporary moment of relief followed/ continued by her deputy and the mayor of a Coruña, two sweet looking men, who spoke, briefly, and with the enthusiasm and humility of people who have actually in some small/not so small, and significant way made a difference to (and with) a number of real and struggling people, and who i very much hope will join forces with others like themselves and carry their fight from the streets to the centres of power.

the dramaturgy of the evening seemed to rest on the simple trick that the overall number and names of the speakers was not revealed until introductions were made of each subsequent speaker by varoufakis himself, who kept suspension high by not revealing the next person’s names until the end of each short presentation.

a woman in front of me who was wearing headphones for the translation at one point started proclaiming excitedly half way through one such introduction (much louder that she realised on account of the headphones): jetzt kommt der sisek, jetzt kommt der sisek. alas he did not. for another 5 or 6 speakers.

when zizek finally did appear (again via prerecorded video message) he added little more than his usual rant at those leftist romantics who apparently do nothing but dream of revolution all day, and endorsement of a realpolitik that seemed to be the discouraging bottom line of the evening’s generally underwhelming overall message – but at least he said nothing nearly as offensive as some of the things he has had to say about various subjects (syriza’s detractors, islamic/ist refugees) over the past at least and especially six or so months. but in a way of course it never matters what zizek says as long as he looks suitably mad and dishevelled and touches his nose a lot or tugs at his hair or his shirt. some of the most known and outspoken purveyors of all conceivable forms of political correctness of this city (i am not mentioning names here) were literally doubled over in their chairs with hysterical laughter, and had me wondering when it became acceptable to make such unabashed fun of someone’s nervous tics/ bordering on medically relevant condition. srećko horvat was luckily given less of a platform then he has been in some printed and live forums recently and used his speaking time mostly to remind himself and an entirely uninterested audience of how great it was that he was once again on stage with not one, not two, but three alpha celebrity lefties whose ranks he clearly aspires to join in the near future (on the merit of achievements known to himself alone).

i had to leave around 23.30 when the promised Q & A had still not started, but varoufakis invited gesine schwan in what i felt was a nice move, to speak and explain her support for as well as criticism of the movement – in what was probably the most factually substantiated (regarding the workings of the EU bureaucratic and political structures) and interesting contribution.

ah, yes, and brian eno spoke before that (after an equally incongruous skype-in from julian assange from london) and compared diem25 charmingly to the way david bowie, and disturbingly, also the way U2, went against the machinery that had made them successful, but was now curtailing and making impossible all they initially cared and stood for. the U2 reference notwithstanding it was one of the more lucid and insightful contributions of the evening.