The Crisis in Europe and Left Alternatives

Report: Conference in Copenhagen, 17-18 March, organized by TransformDanmark

This was an extremely successful conference with around 170 participants – the first on these issues organized in Denmark. It was also the first public event organized by the new TransformDanmark network, which was set up at the end of February.

The impression of the conference was that there existed a general consensus among the speakers concerning the roots of the crisis and the aggressive character of the neoliberal offensive, whereas the debate on left alternatives showed a number of divisions – not least regarding how to view the EU and the Euro and the tactical questions in this context. There was a long debate at the conference on whether leaving the Euro is an option for countries in deep trouble like Greece. There were pros and cons – but also a general agreement that finally it is for the Greek people to decide.

A broad section of first rate international speakers of the Left had been invited to contribute to the conference: Samir Amin (Third World Forum, World Forum for Alternatives); Susan George (Transnational Institute); Gabriel Sakellaridis spoke on behalf of the Nicos Poulantzas Institute; Elisabeth Gauthier (Espaces Marx); Kenneth Haar, a Danish researcher of the Corporate Europe Observatory; and finally Elmar Altvater who spoke on the climate and environmental crisis and Capitalism as the only one on this issue.
In his speech, Samir Amin called for more audacity on behalf of the radical Left: People/the working class are already reacting against the neoliberal attacks and increasing poverty. They don’t accept this. The radical Left has the potential – objectively – to transform the world. 
Susan George underlined that it was difficult for the radical Left to cope with a situation where the EU elite was acting with such “secrecy – stealth – and speed”: “We have not been good enough” – “At the moment we are on the losing side” – “They are winning”.
Like Gabriel Sakellaridis, she underlined that Greece had been made a laboratory for the whole of Europe. The management of the crisis is the core of the crisis, Sakellaridis said, not the debt.
Kenneth Haar was of the same opinion and said that so-called EU crisis policies had been planned for a very long time – the crisis was an opportunity to put this into practice. He saw the main challenges of the European radical Left in the divisions with regard to short-term tactics, whereas there seemed to be strategic consensus. He also listed a number of concrete challenges posed by the situation in Europe/EU and options for the radical Left.
Elisabeth Gauthier talked about a necessary transformation of the European Left. There was an existential crisis in Europe, she said, because of neoliberal fundamentalism. Any radical proposal for reform conflicts with the existing system. The Left had to learn “to disobey”.
It will soon be possible to view a video recording of the conference on the website of TranformDanmark: