European Integration and the Strategic Perspectives of the Radical Left

Following the debate during the General Assembly in September, the board of transform! europe agreed in its Conclave on 16/17 October on the following bullet points, outlining our common understanding about transform!’s strategy for the coming months.

This consensus should lay on political conclusions we agree upon and we consider fundamental for our strategic steps during 2019, taking into consideration that European elections is only one of the things that define our strategy and not the only one (although EP elections are going to preoccupy us for the 1st half of our working plan).

Internationalism/international solidarity, what does it mean today for the Left

We all are committed to the values of internationalism and solidarity. Irrespectively of the concrete positions which our member/observer organisations take regarding the historically defined process of European integration we reject the simple-minded ideas, which use migrants and refugees as scape goats for precariousness, housing shortage or the decline of the welfare state. We oppose the ‘securitisation’ of domestic policies and the militarization of the EU boarders. Some of us may employ the notion ‘cosmopolitism’ to label their convictions, and others not. However, it is not fathomable how the crucial global problems, climate change and migration could be addressed without a cosmopolitan outlook. We therefore reject the pejorative usage of the word ‘cosmopolitism’, since it aims at delegitimizing human rights orientated internationalism. From its on-set TE has understood itself in opposition to the Washington consensus and neoliberal globalisation. The struggle for an alternative global civilisation brought forward by the World Social Forums and the alter-globalist movement have been the incubation space in which TE has been created. It still feels committed to the uniting slogan of the World Social Forum ‘Another world is possible’.

National sovereignty/popular sovereignty and the question of democracy

Even in the era of globalisation, capital reproduction and income distribution to large extent, takes place in the frame of the (national) state. Also, the legal frame of labour relations, welfare arrangements and political democracy remain nationally based. Therefore, the states remains a relevant reference for progressive politics. We believe that respecting the national democracies constitutes one of the pillars of any model for a European democracy. Obviously, the leeway of manoeuvre for progressive politics differs according to the weight of a country in terms of number of its population and its economic and political strength. However none of the European states, not even the economically and politically most powerful ones will be able to solely cope with the upheavals of today’s world and the power of the globalised financial markets. International and regional solidarity constitutes therefore a necessity. The disfranchisement of the European people with the real existing European integration results from the popular experience that instead of solidarity and commonality, the EU -especially since Maastricht- has institutionalised a technocratic, non-transparent and increasingly authoritarian governance over the people and the states. This obvious degeneration constitutes one of the major sources for the rise of the extreme and nationalist right.

TE strives for a different type of European integration. One of its criterions is radical democratisation. There exist no ready-made solution for a democratic Europe since it can only emerge from political struggle. Respecting also the different conditions and experiences in countries and regions TE must provide the space for an unprejudiced debate about transnational democracy and, how it could be coupled with the further development of national democracies.

Labor rights-the freedom of people’s movement and worker’s struggles: the locomotive of a Europe for the people

A major victory of neoliberalism lies in the broadly acceptance of a depoliticised world of labour. Precariousness figures as a logical consequence of individualisation and commodification, many people perceive industrial relations as merely functional while they still are relations of power and inequality. Subsequently class struggle seems to be limited to the realm of distribution. The demystification of these relations require both empirical and theoretical research, including the redefinition of the very concept of labour embracing the insights of Marxist feminist research and theory. As a last consequence, the struggle for a new hegemony refers to an alternative mode of production involving industrial politics aiming at the socio-ecological transformation of the productive basis, dignified labour and the introduction of non-commodified working relations usually referred to as ‘commons’. We will further continue this strand of our program, which also allows for initiating a closer cooperation with the Green foundation.

Unity of the Left as unity for the European people

TE defines itself as a Common of the Left. It sustains a particular relationship with the EL, which has recognized TE as its official partner organisation, and vice-versa. Simultaneously we are a network comprising as well organisations without any particular relation to the EL, which are not members of a second order. This constitutes one of our comparative advantages as it potentially enables us to bridge differences between the various forces which alienate them on the political level. We understand that in the current political juncture the stakes are high, for the left group in the EP, the EL and its member parties. We support any attempt to renew the existing spaces of cooperation. In the view of the risk of further fragmentation, TE in the first place endeavours to maintain the commonality of its members and observers. Politically we defend the idea of a pluralist unity of the radical Left, which goes beyond the limits of the existing political structures of the Left. The providing of spaces for open debates among the various forces, avoiding polemics and denunciation and producing usable content, is the main contribute TE can offer in overcoming the present differences.

October 2018