After arguing in a pair of Guardian op-eds last month that a worldwide progressive movement is needed to counter the unifying rightwing “that sprang out of the cesspool of financialized capitalism,” former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis announced in Rome on Friday that he and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) plan to officially launch “Progressives International” in the senator’s state on Nov. 30.
Varoufakis told BuzzFeed News that the movement aims to challenge an emerging extremist alliance of nationalist political figures—from immigration critics such as Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to President Donald Trump’s ex-White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who is working to garner voter support for rightwing parties ahead of the May 2019 European Parliament elections.
“The financiers are internationalists. The fascists, the nationalists, the racists—like Trump, Bannon, Seehofer, Salvini—they are internationalists,” Varoufakis said. “They bind together. The only people who are failing are progressives.”
As Sanders wrote in the Guardian, “At a time of massive global wealth and income inequality, oligarchy, rising authoritarianism, and militarism, we need a Progressive International movement to counter these threats.” Warning that “the fate of the world is at stake,” the senator called for “an international progressive agenda that brings working people together around a vision of shared prosperity, security, and dignity for all people.”
Varoufakis, denouncing the global “brotherhood” of financiers and “xenophobic rightwing zealots” who foment divisiveness to control wealth and politics, said in the Guardian that those who join the movement “need to do more than campaign together,” and proposed the formation of “a common council that draws out a common blueprint for an International New Deal, a progressive New Bretton Woods.”
In addition to the forthcoming progressive alliance—which incoming Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO, will reportedly be invited to join—Varoufakis is leading the campaign efforts of European Spring, a new progressive political party, for the upcoming European Parliament elections.
The former Greek finance minister, who resigned from his position in 2015 over clashes with EU leaders about his country’s bailout plans, was in Rome on Friday to challenge the financial policies of Salvini, who is refusing to put forth a new 2019 budget after the European Commission rejected his government’s proposal because it would raise Italy’s deficit in violation of eurozone rules.
As BuzzFeed reports:
Varoufakis bashed the Italian government for seeking special treatment instead of demanding new budget rules that would benefit all of Europe. But Varoufakis also believes that financial reform requires a more centralized financial system—national governments currently have to bail out banks when they get into trouble, even though the euro and investments flow across borders. He also said the tax cuts contained in the Italian budget would benefit the rich instead of stimulating economic growth.
“Austerity for the many and socialism for the bankers has given rise to the present fascist moment in Italy, to the collapse of the political center everywhere, and to the reactionary, divided Europe that Mr. Trump dreams of,” Varoufakis said. “Today, here in Rome we’re saying enough. Another Italy, another Europe is not only possible, but it is here,” in the form of his party’s “progressive, ecological, feminist, humanist, rational program.”