Producing this issue of Transform ! was an exciting process. Long after we decided on the focus of right-wing extremism in Europe, the world began to move – on the one hand, with the uprising in North Africa and other Arab countries; on the other hand, the environmental catastrophe in Japan, with an earthquake, tsunami and atomic-reactor fallout. To treat these issues adequately, we tried to find authors and provide space.
In this we succeeded quite well with the contributions of Gabriele Habashi, Joachim Bischoff and Elmar Altvater. However, as to the question of the use of atomic energy, the discussions seems far from over; rather it is just beginning. Left European opinion on this issue seems divided. Further discussion will be indispensable.
As the development of right-wing radicalism as well as Europe’s ongoing currency instability emphasises, the world has entered a crisis of the prevailing model of civilisation. Capitalism, growth-oriented as it is, always clearly shows that it is thoroughly incapable of even beginning to solve the global crises in the domains of the environment, energy, immigration, education, poverty / exclusion, etc. Just in the last year, which the European Union dedicated to the struggle against poverty and social exclusion, a round of state austerity programmes were passed, which were mainly at the expense of the unemployed, welfare recipients and nursing-home patients. Aspects of this dilemma, along with the incapacity of the dominant economic order to cope with the need for a materially at least halfway carefree life, are addressed in very diverse but very exciting ways by the essays we have brought together for this issue.
Right-wing radicalism, this edition’s focus, is introduced by Jean-Yves Camus’ lead article. In what follows, the status and development of right-wing radical parties in various European countries and regions is examined. In this, the aim was less completeness than the demonstration of typical developments, and the relation of traditional right-wing parties to the right-wing fringe.
This edition is rounded off by a series of articles that deal with basic aspects of the European Union and fundamental European issues. In my opinion, Conrad Schuhler’s reflections on alternatives to the current monetary policy of the European Commission and European Council, as well as the study by Richard Detje et al. on the negative attitude of the German population to the austerity policy of its government (though their attitude not resulted in actions) deserve careful attention.
Unfortunately, we did not have a report on the recent World Social Form in Dakar in time for this issue. Thanks to Carla Luis, Deputy of Portugal’s Left Bloc, we could at least present photos of the event’s venue. She requested that we publish her photos with the following accompanying text.
Senegal is a remarkable country, and you cannot go to Africa for the first time without strong feelings.
You can count on the joy, the sympathy, the mess and the smog, quiet villages and the impressive strength of Senegalese creativity and the energy of women.
These pictures try to illustrate a bit of this “total impression” I was able to see.
For instance, the kids playing in a tannery garbage dump, where their mothers were probably working, showing that, despite all the smell and worst conditions, childhood joy will always exist. Women can be strong everywhere, and in Senegal you understand the practical energy and creativity they need to have. It’s in their blood, and it’s really something you can see. From agricultural workshops, to more specific women rights issues, women and their colourful clothes were something impossible to miss.
Then the artisans. Men coming from everywhere, working on whatever there was to be worked on. You look at them and wonder where they will be and what they will be doing next. It’s a moving world full of moving people and you feel it there most of all.
Small villages can present another reality to you, if you have the chance to get out of Dakar. Quiet places by the sea always have colourful fishing boats called “pirogues”, which signifies “all you can do with it”. You can catch fish which women sell in crowded markets, sometimes in the absence of basic hygienic conditions. When fish, opportunities and hope are lacking, pirogues can go to the sea at night, and instead of fish, it’s people they take in it – dreaming of a better world, dreaming a dream everyone is entitled to have.
Don’t expect to visit Senegal and come home immune to all that you have seen. This creative energy enters you, and it’s not easy to forget – to imagine other people’s dreams, to mentally live part of it. The world is all of its parts, and this is just a small part of what we had the opportunity to see.