La France Insoumise had its summer university in Valence from 19th to 22 August. This meeting was obviously overshadowed by the Corona Crisis and its brutal impact on the popular classes in France. But also the attempts of the government to push through anti-social pension and unemployment “reforms” against vehement fights on the streets are part of the larger picture. For the preparation of the coming Presidential elections in 2020 the political program “L'Avenir en commun" from 2017 will be given a general overhaul.
transform! europe was invited to contribute from our perspective to the debate on Eco-Socialism at a panel organised by the Parti de Gauche. Florence Poznanski (General Secretary), Jean-Christophe Sellin (General Secretary, and regional counsellor of LFI) and Samantha Mason form the PCS trade union UK were panellists, with Roland Kulke from transform Europe.
The four days were packed with debates, discussions, workshops and cultural events from morning to late night. The meeting was organised in ten thematic pillars. At the peak of four days, easily more than thousand people took part. They could choose between the following subjects, of which the 1st one focused on the “democratic emergency” focusing on how power could be returned to the people. The 2nd pillar focused on the “social emergency” of declining public services, poverty and unemployment in a rich country. The “ecological emergency” made up the 3rd pillar trying to answer the urgent question: How to prevent the disaster? “Europe in Question” was the 4th cluster. The EU is not more than “a single market and the people are subject to the dictatorship of banks and finance. How can we stop this nightmare?” Without peace, we can’t achieve anything, so the 5th cluster “Peace in question” focused on the unprecedented number of armed conflicts of the French army. The 6th cluster discussed the opposition of human beings and progress vis-à-vis the onslaught of oligarchies, profit share and the stock market regime. How can the general trend towards “declineism” be stopped and a universal development be achieved in the new frontiers of digital worlds was the topic of the 7th cluster. The 8th pillar was called “The era of the people”. This title recalls a book of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Here a positive outlook towards new actors was envisioned, especially in France with the debate around a possible sixth republic. Water as a common good was the centre of the last, the 9th thematic cluster. Further multiple Workshops and trainings were offered on the side-lines, like theatre without words.
In one of his speeches Jean-Luc Mélenchon told the audience that he would reflect until October if he would be candidate for the third time. In side conversations, it was often to hear that he would be indispensable to attract non-traditional left voters.
Politically interesting were two strong foci in the argumentation and meetings: the first one was the confluence of social and environmental / climate protection policies. The second one was the operationalisation of this policy in the attempt to discuss how ecological planning of the 21st century French economy could look like. It was also interesting what was not discussed: Plan B and the exit of the Euro was a non-topic. At the summer university, you could feel a visible openness towards the Greens. The most striking symbol of this was the visit of Éric Piolle, the Green mayor of Grenoble at the summer university. Mélenchon and Piolle presented themselves on the central stage and delivered speeches that provided ample examples of political space for future cooperation, at least with the left wing of the Greens. It is interesting what this means for future collaboration on the left in France having in mind that presidential elections will come in 2022 and both would like to be presidential candidates for their respective parties.