The only way out of the current crisis in the European Union would seem to be through the effective unity of action of left political forces and social movements. One is prompted to go back to the slogans of US President Barack Obama’s first electoral campaign: ‘Yes, we can!’
As Pierre Laurent explains in this issue, the left that is situated to the left of social democracy, which still today stands by neoliberalism, does not, it is true, have a political majority in the decision-making bodies; however, it is becoming increasingly clear to more people that the left’s conceptions of how to deal with the general crisis represent the only productive strategy. Redistribution from the top to the bottom, more rather than less democracy, common instead of separate solutions to Europe’s problems and the orientation to internationally sustainable alternatives are the order of the day.
That the left is in a position to come close to achieving these goals is shown by the lively initiatives for change, which have emerged in the World Social Forum in Tunis and the Alter-Summit about to take place in Athens. The current issue of transform! revolves around these two events and attempts to provide theoretical buttressing to the necessary practical transformation which these events reflect. The individual contributions show that much has become fluid in the societal context: Things are not staying the way they were.
This is especially true of trade union organisation, the approach to ownership of the means of production and the mode of everyday life. Alongside traditional solutions, demands for common ownership, basic insurance, energy security, food sovereignty, etc. are coming to the fore. Increasingly more individuals are active in or around the traditional organisational structures in order to bring their mode of life into line with their ideals. Up to now it has not been possible to pool this gigantic potential of people interested in change and inspire common action. It is precisely such goals which initiatives such as the World Social Forum and the Alter-Summit serve.
Europe’s present misery can be seen as the consequence of a long-drawn-out crisis of over-accumulation. In Europe the wage rate has been declining for years and even decades, while ownership and assets as a share of income is ceaselessly rising. Excessive wealth and galloping poverty are two sides of the same coin. As a result, the exaggerated profits of firms can no longer be invested in the sphere of production but must be speculated away in the financial markets. In this the banks, which are willy-nilly the agents of this development, have been able to transfer speculative losses to the community of states. The state debt this has induced is finally then the bludgeon with which the social state is smashed and the tendency of the rate of profit to fall is stemmed.
We are effectively experiencing vast private and public poverty in a period of the greatest wealth ever amassed in human history. Instead of accepting this scandal, we need to encourage people to take their fate into their own hands and to provide for the social and political framework that is compatible with the general demand for equality and justice. In the contributions to this issue of transform! you will find much excellent analyses and interesting reflections on how to overcome the crisis – in the spirit of Pierre Laurent and the French left’s slogan, which we take to heart: ‘the people first!’
The WSF in Tunis was a great moment of solidarity with the people of
Tunisia, two years after the Tunisian uprising against Ben Ali. It brought
a burst of energy and dynamism to all progressive people in today’s world
who have felt the infective dynamism of the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia,
despite the difficulties, reflected in particular in the assassination of Chokri
Belaid, the charismatic leader of the Tunisian Popular Front.
The Photo reportage by Carla Luís, which illustrates this edition of our
journal, provides a taste of the energy which the WSF imparted to the social
movements present in Tunis. The wind of a new internationalism is blowing
over Tunis ...