Transform! Europe was founded in 2001 to initiate and promote alternative thinking and political dialogue aimed at transforming contemporary society according to social, feminist, ecological, democratic and pacifist values. During the complicated though necessary processes of “Europeanisation” of the left taking place within a neoliberal dominated European Union and capitalist globalisation, Transform! was established as a net- work of mainly European organisations working in political education and critical research. From its inception Transform! Europe has worked toward a new and common political culture of the left in Europe.
One of the most active European networks within the European Social Forum and the World Social Forum, it became a partner of various European initiatives on social, economic and political issues and at the same time is working within social movements and networks (e.g. the Charter for an Alternative Europe). With considerable flexibility and diversity of forms, partners and structures Transform! Europe provides a space to generate left synergy, in part by initiating projects or supporting those of other innovative left forces.
In comparison with most European organisations of the radical left Transform! Europe comprises organisations of a very diverse character. Some of its participants define themselves in relation to parties of the European Left (EL), others feel close to parties of the Nordic Green Left Alliance, and others in turn belong to neither of these groupings and maintain a completely independent position. Transform! Europe, how- ever, works closely with the GUE/NGL, the group of EL and Nordic Green Left parties in the European Parliament.
Despite their diversity, all of Transform!’s partners are united by their determination to resist neoliberal hegemony in the domain of ideas and culture and in their endeavour to develop political alternatives aimed at enhancing the left’s emancipatory capacity.
The major projects of Transform! Europe in 2007 are the following:
Transform! Europe is developing its activity at the same time as the different European party families, the Social democrats, the Greens, the Liberals and the Conservatives, are creating political foundations at the European level complying with current guidelines of the European Commission and the European Parliament, which have also established European funding for these foundations.
Transform! Europe therefore proposed to the EL and other organizations of the European left the launching of a joint effort able to cope offensively with the challenge posed by the new approach of the EC and the EP, an approach which obviously opens up new possibilities for the left as well. An enhanced cooperation among the different left forces could focus on concrete research work of common interest without infringing on the independence of the partners and their different characters and needs.
The EL on its part replied positively to this proposal and in April recognized Transform! Europe as a partner organization in the establishment of a political foundation of the European Left. Meanwhile, a joint working group of the EL and Transform! has been established which developed an initial project eligible for funding by the European Commission (see also the article by Walter Baier, Left Actors and the European Social Model) and which will be submitted in September. Since the Transform! network has members in Scandinavia and in Finland a discussion with the Nordic Green Left Alliance has been initiated, which may lead in the medium term to intensified cooperation.
With the journal Transform! we hope to open up a new space for political- intellectual debate and dialogue within the European left. It is true that the internet has significantly intensified cross-border communication between people, and we believe that the left has still not fully exploited its possibilities. Nevertheless, the printed word, the print media, is still enormously important for intellectual discussion as well as for simple communication.
Our magazine, whose first number we here present to the readers, will appear bi-annually in English. Each issue will focus on a commonly determined theme important for the work of the Transform! network. The current issue’s focus is the future of Europe and the possibilities of transforming it. Alongside the thematic focus, there will be contributions on current left developments on the international level or in single countries. In addition, our magazine will report on current initiatives and projects of the Transform! network.
Any attempt at founding a transnational medium represents, to some extent, an experiment and an adventure. It involves not only trying out new ways of working and starting to communicate in a language which for most participants is not their mother tongue, but also at the same time creating a basis for people of different political cultures to work together. Through this journal, therefore, we would like not just to initiate and support common left political projects, but also to contribute to the genesis of a new common political culture of the left. In so doing our journal is committed to a renewal of the European left.
This journal is a common project of the whole network. This first issue’s authors come from twelve European countries, the text is compiled in Austria, edited in New York City, and typesetting and distribution are done in Germany. We take this opportunity to thank all of the collaborators for their work, their willingness to be flexible and their capacity for improvisation.
Organising a project of this kind on a European scale is ambitious and needs time to develop. We therefore ask our readers to forgive us for any hopefully minor errors that may occur.
We look forward to receiving your criticisms and suggestions, as well as your substantive contributions regarding the topics covered by our journal.
Michael Brie, Official Representative, Transform!
Walter Baier, Coordinator and Editor, Transform!