What Is That, a Left, European “Think-Tank”?

Short Report from the transform! General Assembly 2012 in Paris

On 8 and 9 September, transform! europe held its General Assembly at Espace Niemeyer, the headquarters of both the PCF and the French member organisation of transform!, Espaces Marx, in Paris. After the adoption of three further organisations as observers – namely transform! Danmark, Prometheas from Cyprus and Europe of Citizens Foundation (FEC) from Spain – the network now consists of 25 organisations and magazines from 18 countries.
On behalf of the Party of the European Left, Natassa Theodorakopoulou, Christine Mendelsohn and Pedro Marset took part in the General Assembly.
On the evening before, participants and guests discussed strategic questions of the Left and the tasks resulting from them for transform! europe with the President of the Party of the European Left, Pierre Laurent.
The General Assembly opened by Ruurik Holm and Elisabeth Gauthier drew a positive balance on the development of transform! in the previous year. Today transform! is consolidated with regard to both of its characteristic features. It is a pluralist, left network fulfilling the function of a political foundation in alliance with the EL. Its impact has noticeably increased in important European political areas and new partners have been won. A regional expansion, to Central and Eastern Europe among others, has been accomplished and further possibilities are opening up.

The challenge, it was stated, consisted in responding to the dramatically aggravating situation in Europe. The systemic capitalist crisis and the recent changes in the political landscape in Europe make it possible for us to determine the strategy of the network more precisely.
The ruling classes in Europe are with authoritarianism and concentration of power reacting to the systemic crisis of capitalism and the obvious failure of the neoliberal construction of the EU. By that the idea of European integration has lost a big part of credibility and the existing arrangement of inter-state and national relations is destabilised. Thus the danger of rising nationalisms is growing throughout Europe. The radical Left has reacted to this crisis of integration by calling for a “re-foundation of the EU in the spirit of solidarity”. This requires answers to another question, namely the question for the forms of a newly founded European democracy. Or to say it in other words: A radical Left raising the claim for hegemony must possess autonomous visions regarding the form of inter-state and national relations in Europe meeting the standards of solidarity and democracy, which again calls for a more inclusive perspective, even beyond the EU and today’s member states. According to our view, the decisive point is to raise the questions not in an abstract way but to develop them from a social goal, namely the goal of a social Europe of co-operation and solidarity, thereby avoiding misunderstandings and confrontations among the Left.
As far as the issues are concerned, as a political foundation on the European level we have to focus on questions of European relevance. What is decisive is the communication of the results of our work: determining target groups, opening up of new communication channels, production of results of relevance and communicability are the criteria of the strategy aiming at hegemony.
Structuring the topics in 2007 into two “major projects” (“Crisis/Crises” and “Strategy of the ‘Radical’ Left”) has stood the test of time. Therefore this structure shall be kept up and the competence acquired shall be further developed. A new possibility of expanding the radius of activities is represented by the “Akademia“-network which is to create a new space for co-operation of scientists and experts within the framework of transform!.

Most questions we are putting on to our agenda can be assigned within this framework.

  • The future of European integration und the auspices of the systemic crisis of capitalism
  • Changes in the political landscape of Europe
  • Subjectivity as the “micro-structure of hegemony“(feminist social sciences)
  • Ecological transformation of society
  • Knowledge and Information Society

transform! is posited at the interface between theory and practice. Due to this specific position we participate in movements for a European alternative, in particular the “Alter-Summit” scheduled for the first semester of 2014, together with the EL.
Both transform! europe and the EL can best fulfil the requirements of their tasks if they acknowledge both their cooperation as well as the autonomy of their work resulting from their respective specificities.
From this follows that transform! will further strengthen its links to the EL and the MEPs of the GUE/NGL close to it, to committed researchers and to the social movements. An important milestone in our work will be the European elections in 2014. Of particular importance is the improvement of our communication. The intention is to pay considerably more attention to communication in a comprehensive sense – with regard to planning, formulation of topical focuses, the execution of projects and production of texts. This includes the development of the multilingual electronic means of communication.
The General Assembly was presented with the concept for a plan of action for the upcoming year and a budget based on it. Both documents were decided unanimously after changes had been adopted resulting from the debate.
The General Assembly elected a new Managing Board, consisting of: Elisabeth Gauthier, Haris Golemis, Ruurik Holm, Gabriele Kickut, Jiri Malek, Roberto Morea and Javier Navascues (full members) as well as Jonas Söderqvist (during his parental leave Edvin S. Frid will be observing member) and a member of CUL:TRA (observing members). Since the transform! statute only permits a one time re-election of the “legal representative”, Ruurik Holm resigned from this function. Haris Golemis, founding member and representative of the NPI in the Managing Board, was voted new “legal representative” unanimously.

Pictures by Iulia Timotin and Jiri Malek