From 9-14 August, the European Network Academy (ENA) of ATTAC Europe took place in Freiburg / Breisgau (Germany). Of the about 1,300 people attending, most were activists of social and ecological movements and members of left organisations and parties.
This year, transform! europe was for the first time participating with a series of events – co-organised with other protagonists (see below for details). From the great number of very interesting workshops and panel debates only a few can be highlighted here.
We could get a glimpse on the wide range of initiatives and new movements and their creative proposals. But it also became clear that “movement” ALONE does not lead to fundamental changes. In Spain, for example, the indignados had and have an enormous range and strong support in society. But in the communal elections the conservatives were the big winners. This development has to be reflected on in a profound manner: the “aversion” against official politics is more than understandable, but that cannot mean that the general political framework or the “bourgeois” parliament can entirely be “ignored”. There can be no way around a left political project.
In a workshop in which Horst Schmitthenner from IG-Metall participated, we drew a critical balance of the social forum process with regard to the situation in Europe. The conclusion of many speakers was: we have to IMPLEMENT the proposals and decisions we made in Paris and Budapest (enforcement of the networks, more debates about contents, a permanent interactive website, few but well-prepared international campaigns, a minimum of organizational structures to realize these issues) instead of deploring again and again, like in a sermon, the actual negative situation.
About 90 people attended the 2-day-seminar co-organized by transform! europe and ATTAC-France entitled “Social Movements and Political Parties – Synergies and Limits of Cooperation”. The panel was introduced by Pedro Paez, Thomas Coutrot, Elisabeth Gauthier, Natasha Theodorakopoulou and Walter Baier. Here, too, there was very broad consensus about the deep-going character of the combined capitalist crises. About 50 people showed up at the 2-day-seminar on the international rise of the far Right. The event was the result of a co-operation between Prague Spring II, a network in the framework of the ESF-process, and transform! europe.
Besides the general evaluation (crises of capitalism, social fragmentation, “No Future”-feelings in many fields of society – factors which are used by the far Right with its national and und social demagogy) there was a very intense discussion on the situation in Europe after the massacre in Norway by a Christian fundamentalist, the Tea Party in the USA und the special situation in Eastern Europe.
All participants emphasised that right-wing populism has already a long time ago arrived in the “middle of society” and that we have to act accordingly: by now it is neo-liberal mainstream which is becoming more and more authoritarian. It is fragmenting society and thus creating the basis for the rapid growth of the far Right in all its facets (ranging from populists and far Right extremists to hard-core fascists and Nazis).
And last but not least, a workshop which transform! europe offered together with the German publishing house VSA is to be mentioned. It was entitled “Reading Marx’ Capital: David Harvey’s Guide to Understanding Contemporary Capitalism“, and was dedicated to Harvey’s recently released book, the German translation of which has been co-funded by transform! europe.