Thursday 22 November 2012 saw academics from Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain gather at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities to discuss the economic, political and humanitarian crisis created by austerity in Europe. The discussion was timely, with protests again gaining momentum across the European countries being worst hit by the austerity measures, addressing the possibilities for resistance and, ultimately, whether the future of Europe lies in this resistance or austerity.
The meeting, chaired by Birkbeck's Luis Trindade, heard the economist Andrea Fumagalli discuss the lack of a strong social movement in Italy, including the problems faced in putting theory in practice. The audience then heard from visiting professor at Birkbeck, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, who put the European crisis in its political, economic, and ideological context before giving a sober analysis of some of the options available to those trying to organise resistance against austerity.
Birkbeck School of Law's own Costas Douzinas then gave a first-hand account of his experiences as an activist in Greece before discussing whether a left government, in this case SYRIZA, can succeed. Douzinas was followed by Juan Carlos Mondero of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid who urged that we look at how Latin America dealt with their economic problems in order to chart a course towards a better Europe.
The final speaker, The Nation and Guardian journalist Maria Margaronis, offered a compelling account of real effects of the austerity measures on ordinary Greeks. As well as highlighting the very real dangers posed by a resurgence of the fascist right in Greece.
That all of those speaking are also activists added to the debate, allowing them to share their very real experiences in trying to build an effective resistance to austerity. In that regard, the debate should be essential for any students and activists interested in the European crisis, and what the future may hold for the people of Europe. The discussion was followed by a question and answer session which you can also listen to here.
A podcast of each speech can be found here