Judith Dellheim [Alter Summit Worklist]: Another offer to the discussion

Dear Friends and Comrades,

 The statement issued by the Plan-B-Conference/Meeting in Copenhagen makes it clear that continuing „business as usual“ is now impossible in Europe – not only for the ruling elites, but above all for us as the left. We have to ask for and to discuss the arguments about the impossibility to shape the European Union in a direction of emancipation and solidarity and about the strategic conclusions to draw from an analysis of the present situation in Europe. While welcoming the call to meet again and even in a considerably much more important framework in Rome, on occasion of the 50th anniversary of signing the Rome treaties in March 1957, we should like to stress the need for coming up with a proposal to use the meeting for a strategy debate.

And we should like to prepare an analytical background paper for this.

One task ahead to be urgently addressed we shall take up in our paper will be to clarify the breaks und turnstaken by the development of the EU and of Europe in the past decades. This will need a discussion of what we propose to call the critical caesuras of the development of Europe and of the European Union – i.e historical situations, when there were probable chances resp. concrete possibilities to avoid continuingand further reinforcing the on-going processes of militarisation, financialisation, as well as of social and

ecological destruction, and why they have not been made use of successfully. Another resp second task will be to prefigure and to elaborate the different possible scenarios of development of Europe and the European Union, as they exist today, in the present situation. (Concerning both tasks, we can already offer a preliminary reader of texts to you, which give some food for thought on these matters http://www.rosalux.de/news/42677/europe-whats-left-working-on-the-strategies.html)

As a very first step towards opening this debatewe can already propose some specific questions, as they have been formulated in conclusion of a meeting of EU experts concerning the issue of Brexit*.

 If you wish to contribute to this process of strategic reflection, we tend to think that we should collect and summarise your contributions (on one, some or all questions) until February 25th 2017 – i.e. we should get your emails no later February 20th.

 In solidarity

Judith Dellheim and Frieder Otto Wolf

Our contacts: judith.dellheim@web.de; fow@snafu.de

 *Asking the „right“ questions

 With „right questions“ we mean questions which are essential for

  • understanding the reasons, the development, the consequences of issues,

  • criticizing ideologies, explanations, theses, conceptions, theories of other forces,

  • coming into (or staying in) communication and possibly into co-operation in order to understand urgent problems and deal with them,

  • developing left wing policies i.e. struggling for a specific approach to raising societal issues while strengthening left wing forces in relation to others and in effecting a change in societal power constellations.

 Accordingly, we are trying to ask the right questions for getting into a process of communication and hopefully of co-operation with you. For starting this communication, we do not expect answers to all questions or any special sequence of answers. We shall pick up the replies as we shall get them. It is OK to try to answer one single question or only a few.

 We have formulated four different groups of questions relating to four essential aspects of political action :

I. On the current conditions for political action (What?)

II. on the reasons of our political situations (Why?)

III. on the beginnings of a common work on political strategies (How?)

IV. on organisations, parties, and on the European Left Party (Who?)

 I. What is our current situation?

1. How, why and with which political and societal consequences has the EU (as a multi-level political system) been changing and changed on the existing different levels, since the outbreak of the global financial crisis?

2. What part do and can left wing political forces play in the present socio-political state of the EU and in the ways it is building and deploying its own defensive counter-strategies?

3. What do the following six issues mean in this context?

– the „case of Greece“

– the „Ukraine problem“

– Brexit

– the rebuilding of walls in Europe (and in its neighbourhood) against refugees; refugee-deals against refugees

– dominant policies relating to Syria, and to the Near and Middle East in general

– the celebrated Paris „climate deal“.

 II. On the strategic weakness of the Left

– Why did the neo-liberal ‘revolution’ triumph and structurally weaken the left, in particular during the 1980s?

– Why, in the aftermath of the recent global financial crisis, which subsequently grew into a crisis of the euro and of the EU, did the left wing forces generally remain in a situation of defensive?

– When have there been determinate concrete events or „windows of opportunity“ for the left to make use of a given situation to do something specific and to really become stronger in the process? What was the case then and why has it happened?

– Why is it the populist right wing which is politically gleaning the profits from the unresolved crises of European societies?

– Which are the causes behind the lack of solidarity provided by the left in the EU with the elected Greek government?

– Why has the left so clearly underestimated the need to clarify what lies behind the much debated issues of “demographic pressures”, referring in reality to questions of gender relations, of inter-generation relations and of the inclusion of migrants?

– Which kinds of „fetishisation“ have impressed and influenced our own political thinking, and when and why did this happen?

– How does ‘neo-liberalism’ impact and influence even our thinking and the general behaviour of left wing forces?

– Why have the political forces of the left wing consistently failed to ask (and to answer) the question of the modes of living prevailing within present society – despite the articulate critique of these modes elaborated by the existing anti-colonial, feminist, ecological, anti-war and democratisation movements?

 III. Key questions which have to be answered urgently to even start the debate on strategies within the European left:

a) Which are the most immediate dangers to be overcome?

b) Which are the main underlying challenges, at this very moment, and which will remain central for the next few years?

c) What is realistically possible to achieve by our efforts and what does this mean in terms of further strategy building?

d) How do we have to change ourselves in order to grow stronger and to develop our own ability for working successfully on which kinds of unity and of political alliances?

e) Do we see the need and the possibility to make first steps towards starting common work on such a strategy? If YES, how can we effectively do so?

f) Which on-going activities should be initiated and supported now? What can possibly and urgently be done at this very moment?

 These questions merge into (respectively with) three further questions:

 1. How could the left become able to act a a European scale, while avoiding being naively pro-EU, with more or less neo-liberal implications, and avoiding being naively anti-EU, but far too removed from European problems and far too close to nationalist political forces?

2. It is still possible to act in an emancipatory-solidaristic way on the EU level, while fully facing the developments (already realised and still on-going) and the actual weakness of the left-wing forces – especially under the conditions of the already on-going build-up of a new wave of the global financial crisis?

3. How can the left make the aim and tendency of an „ever closer union“ effectively unreachable, while making democratic control an effectively European political issue – without falling victim to the illusionary option of simply getting all the vital decisions back to the national level (which the left should not embrace – not only because of the strange bed-fellows currently dominating anti-EU politics!)

 IV. On our organisations

Why do we, in 2016, still ask about the relations

  • between left parties and trade unions

  • between left parties and social movements

  • between social movements and trade unions

in such an abstract (unproductive and boring) way?

What are the reasons for the decline of the European Social Forum movement in this dimension as well?

 We therefore have to ask the question of the actual role and the potential of left parties more specifically:

  • Can an organisation exist and act as a party and as a movement at the same time? (If YES, what does this mean for the party organisation and life?)

  • How to organise a kind of political division of labour within the party which will help to make contradictions productive, e.g. by making use of the fact that party members are active in very different fields of activities, with very different roles and responsibilities on very different levels?

  • What can a left government really do under the current conditions?

  • Which are the criteria and conditions for its success?