• Seminar Report
  • “Navigating the Left’s Strategies vis-à-vis Europe in Times of Multiple Crises”

  • By Angelina Giannopoulou | 22 Feb 18 | Posted under: European Union , The Left , Transformative Strategies
  • This seminar is one of the cornerstones of the strong and stable cooperation between transform! europe and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and takes place every year aiming to tackle crucial strategic question for the European left forces and the radical left strategy towards the European Integration.


    Event: two days Seminar
    Title: “Navigating the Left’s Strategies vis-à-vis Europe in Times of Multiple Crises”
    transform! europe, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Society for European Dialogue – SPED (Czech Republic)
    16-17 October 2017
    transform! europe’s headquarters, Gusshausstrasse 14/3, 1040 Vienna, Austria
    Angelina Giannopoulou, transform!




    Bringing together political actors from parties and movements as well, young scholars, left academics and people from left and progressive foundations we attempted to organize a debate around the most challenging issues of the current political developments in Europe, but also of topics that are of historical importance for the left as a current.

    The debate was unfolded through 12 sessions that were divided mainly by their relevance to the current political juncture and the hot question of the European Integration as a strategy between sovereignty and transnational democracy. Forty speakers and approximately 15 people as attendees got zealously engaged into a dialogue that revealed both the consensus and the disputes within the left in Europe.

    What is central in this period is not only that the balance of forces remains unfavorable for the left, but the fact that the left – especially the political left – seems detached from the working class and those people, those social strata that appeared as the big losers of the globalization. One of the goals of that seminar was to prepare the organized forces of the European left towards a strategy that starts with the decision for the European Progressive Forum and meets the tipping point of the European elections in 2019. 

    Three of the most fundamental question that were addressed during the event were:

    1. How can the European left overcome the far right reinvigorated by the political crisis in several countries and in Europe as a whole?

    2. What are the possible strategies of changing Europe? Can the European Union be transformed on the basis of the existing treaties and their framework? If not, what results from such a hypothesis strategically?

    3. Which could be the criteria for a left alternative plan for Europe and could these criteria contribute also to the discussion regarding the unity of the progressive forces? Is this unity an end in itself or it must be seen as means to the end?

    In parallel, a part of the left, that questions the European integration as such, bases its discourse and analysis on the concept of national sovereignty and the self determination of the national states. Sovereignty and self determination have always been a key point within the left tradition. However, the stance of the left towards internationalism – on the one hand – and people’s sovereignty/self determination – on the other hand – is undeniably a weak spot on the left line of reasoning. What does sovereignty really mean in an economically and politically globalized world? Could the return to national sovereignty be a key element of the strategic project of the left? Moreover, it is profoundly naive the “faction” of those who advocate a radical plan for European integration to be considered as apologists for the EU’s neoliberalism and most certainly is naive as well, the “faction” of those who stand for the breakaway of the EU, highlighting its dead-ends to be deemed simplistically as nationalists, or even more sometimes as racists.

    The round table that took place during the first day under the title “An alternative plan for Europe: Tracing the criteria, designing the conditions, finding the allies for a radical left strategy. A dialogue among the Party of the European Left, the GUE/NGL, Plan B platform” moderated by Haris Golemis, the scientific and strategic advisor of transform! europe brought together people from different starting points: Helmut Scholz, MEP of Die Linke, Federico Severino, director of Instituto 25M, Sophie Rauszer, assistant in GUE/NGL, representative of France Insoumise, Waltraud Fritz-Klackl from the Political Secretariat of the Party of the European Left, and Tatiana Moutinho, activist in the movement against austerity in Portugal presented their views on the crucial issues of the left, the Europe and the struggles of our times.

    It goes without saying that sometimes in politics there is no such thing as a “common ground” and the dilemmas can only but lead to a rupture. But for most of the times, there is not only black and white. Leftist have been historically forced to choose among the fifty shades of gray. These are the times when we should remember dialectics and dialectical materialism. We need to put all these concepts and questions (internationalism, European integration, federalism, sovereignty, nationalism etc.) under the methodology of dialectic materialism. Such a methodology can produce a comprehensive interpretation of “where do we stand and why”. This is the mayor step towards a strategy that will actually reboot the left in Europe. A strategy that its very core will be class politics, as a radical response to the social question, and a new perception, a new re-imagination of democracy.

    The organizers of the seminar evaluated the event in quite a positive way. Not only the debates were fruitful, but also managing to gather people from very different backgrounds, age groups, regions and field is in itself a rewarding initiative. transform! has collected some of the speakers’ contributions and presentations (on the right; they will be completed) and, as in every year, together with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation we will produce a documentation of the seminar that will be spread through our networks and our partners and most certainly it will be a preparatory material for the next strategic seminar of the two foundations, taking place in July 2018.

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