The following conclusions are the results of the Conference held by the European Left Party, Esquerra Unida i Alternativa and Fundació l’Alternativa in Barcelona, on 5 and 6 October, titled “Inequality in Europe”.
We live in a heartless Europe, in a Europe that is sinking into inequality. As time goes on, this Europe distorted by the crisis ever more reveals the fracture of the democratic procedures and the machinations of political and social fraud.
This fracture implies the loss of citizen rights that represented an imprint and raison d’être forged after the tensions of World War II.
Furthermore, the fraud demonstrates the lack of will (which might have been real at the time) to build new European democracies in peace, based on welfare as well as full employment politics where women are on an equal footing as regards the distribution of work and responsibilities.
The leap into the void is rather a push into the void each day for each and every one of the pillars of the previous “welfare state”: education, health, social services or strategic companies serving the public interest.
Every passing day is more unbearable in terms of customs and morals, socio-economic status, social class, place of origin and ethnic group, independent judgement or disability, or in terms of the national territory where we analyse the problem. We had a special interest in analysing the situation in the South of Europe, the so-called PIGS countries, especially in Portugal, Ireland and Italy, and more particularly in Spain and Greece.
There have been cuts in investments and public resources, as well as social services; unemployment benefits are also diminished, as well as jobs and services; big public companies are being dismantled and sliced up into pieces by creating smaller companies for the purpose of generating profit; consortiums and other constructs are more frequently used every day, as well as the so-called “governance” and the public-private collaboration. Through opaque transactions and financial engineering, these options – by “meeting the demands of the criteria of the markets” – end up diverting public resources into corporate earnings; and finally, we are witnessing the externalisation (both through sale or public sector tendering, e.g., through direct sale of the public health companies to the big private health insurance industry or, also common, transactional macro-companies that, on the other hand, profit from all kinds of privileges and government aids).
We have come to believe that we need to start by refuting the daily lies, repeated a thousand times by the media, which are acting at the service of the capitalist system, as well as fighting tooth and nail the neoliberal strategy pursued by the European Union.
We state that, even if it is hard and even if it requires a huge effort, promoting a radical change is more necessary than ever. We need to take up the myth of good practices and better intentions of that Europe that never existed. In order to do so, there are no bridging solutions or magic wands to use. Besides, it is important not to confuse the instrument with the purpose. The only way is to find the “merging points” of and common ground between social movements and organizations, and to propose social commitment and anti-neoliberal politics.
It is time to get back to those values with rights not subordinated to the economy that condemned us all to the abject poverty of a Europe that already failed 30 years ago. We need to pinpoint the indisputable and grim reality that proves the unbearable inequality between the populations and social sectors in a way that the ones that suffer the most are more penalised and the biggest losers in the current crisis scenario: women, the poorest, foreigners, handicapped people, chronic patients, workers, young people, students and pensioners, as well as other marginalised groups. This policy results in the destruction of values and cultures.
We conclude that after a good diagnosis, we must now proceed to clearly and intelligently dispute the social, economic and political hegemony of the Right in order to gain power in a democratic way by means of an electoral offensive from the inside; by building a constituent process from below and a socio-political insurrection based on ideological rearmament.
Find on the right a video summary (in spanish) of the conferenceas well as the conference programme