Speech by Walter Baier at the 6th Party Congress of the Party of the European Left, December 14th, 2019
We live in times of an epochal transition: the digitalisation of the working world, increasing global inequalities, a change in economic and political power relations on a world-wide scale – all of them putting to the test our analyses and capacity to act.
We are witnesses to massive social struggles and uprisings: Hong Kong, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, the world-wide mobilisation of youth against climate change, and also the awesome struggle against the pension reform in France all of which together form one long chain of dissatisfaction.
It seems, we live in a world, in which the ruled ones do not want to proceed in the old way and in which the rulers cannot continue ruling in the way they used to. However, we have to ask ourselves if and to which extent we are up to meet these challenges and which answers we will give in this situation as the global and the European Left.
The messages of the nationalist Right are simple: “Make America great again!”, “Make the UK great again!” They are also dangerous, because the USA account for no less than 40 % of the global arms expenses: with this military potential at hands and their dominance of the global monetary system, they are able to force their will on their allies even regardless of better judgement, as could be seen during the last NATO summit in London.
The misconception of the nationalist Right consists in their belief that in an increasingly interconnected world individual states can solve their problems at the cost of others and by resorting to violence.
After decades of war and colonialism Europe would have the obligation to know better and to do better.
Fridays for Future have at least achieved that in the guidelines for the European Commission the goal of a European Green Deal has now been proclaimed. The vice-president of the Commission is to take care of that. But, typically, a neoliberal hardliner is placed right before his very eyes as the commissioner for economic affairs. But how should it be possible to save the environment without a breech with neoliberalism, i.e., the unlimited freedom of capital?
It is equally upsetting to watch the verve with which the President of the Commission urges the EU towards becoming a military superpower. Enormous amounts of money required to bring about ecological transformation are to be handed over to the arms industries no matter if they already represent the greatest danger to the environment also in zones of relative peace.
Mrs Von der Leyen even called the Commission “truly geo-political”. In that she is not any different from Emanuel Macron who, as he expressed it, wants to teach the EU the “grammar of power”. Yet, “geopolitics“, when announced by a German politician cannot but have a special ring in our ears and trigger bleak associations.
Our results in the EU-elections were disappointing. We can only change that when we become stronger at a national level.
But, if we have learnt anything at all from the experiences of Syriza, then it is the lesson that none of us can win alone. That is why we need a European strategy.
For that we founded the Party of the European Left fifteen years ago.
The Political Document of this Party Congress mentions important goals:
- A socio-ecological transformation, a European Green New Deal;
- In order to finance this Green New Deal, we need another, socially just system of taxation;
- We need overcoming inequality;
- As an alternative to the militarisation of the EU, we demand not a military but a security architecture comprising the entire continent.
But this can only be the beginning.
Christine Lagarde has ordered a review of the strategy of the European Central Bank, the first one since the great crisis. We, the Greeks, Portuguese, Italians, French, Spanish and all the others have to say something on that issue.
The upcoming year will see the beginning of the two-year public debate on basic principles regarding the future of the European Union, which was decided upon by the European Commission and the European Parliament. In this, a critical debate of the European treaties cannot be avoided. This includes the opportunity for us to speak about the fundamental changes the EU needs to undergo.
It is foreseeable that the upcoming period will not only be one of political and social struggles but also one of ideological confrontations, of struggles between antagonistic ideas for a liveable future.
We must, in spite of all differences among us, enable ourselves to develop a strategy for a Europe of decent work, of gender equality, of social security, of human rights for all, of peaceful coexistence on our continent of people based on equal rights.
This is a huge challenge for the new leadership of the EL which you will vote for at this party congress.
Transform! europe will mobilise all its capacities to bring us forward in this debate.
Find the documentation of the 6th congress at the website of the EL: https://www.european-left.org/campaigns/european-left-congress/