transform! europe Projects 2010/2011
The effects of the present crisis on the ideological, political, programmatic and cultural orientation of the European social and political actors
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• The General Assembly of Transform! (in September 2009) decided to structure its work in 2010 on two main lines: the crisis (reasons and characteristics, economic social, political and ideological consequences) and the strategic issues at stake for the Left in Europe. Elisabeth Gauthier is responsible of running the work on the Crisis project and simultaneously of Chapter 1 of present project, which is the responsibility of Haris Golemis.
• It is on the first chapter of our project 2010/2011 “Political and strategic prospects of the European Left” that I would like to ask your help. We are seeking to try out, on a European scale, a new type of joint drawing up of analyses, on the basis of jointly established criteria and several stages (see the appendix for the project agreed by Transform!’s General Assembly). We apologise in advance for the tentative steps that this new effort may involve. We want to try and go beyond a simple adding up of country or party case studies, which nevertheless are necessary in our common effort. Instead we want to increase our knowledge and our capacity for shared analyses within our Network.
• You will find just after this, an indicative questionnaire, which could help you in preparing your contribution, so that the workshop in Majorca (march 12th – 14th) and its follow-up becomes more fruitful. We would greatly appreciate if you could send me your contributions before the end of February. Otherwise, please have them ready at Mayorca.
• The starting point of our research is the fact that the world crisis is not working in favour of the Left. It is accompanied by the crisis of social-democracy, but also of that if the transformative Left. Where some Left parties win some successes, they are brittle. In Europe, the forces of the Right — sometimes even of far Right — are winning influence. Whereas it is urgent to act on the social, political, and ideological levels to face up to the crisis, the Left feels rather powerless. Its very survival remains an essential concern. At the same time, the crisis is accelerating a variety of processes, accentuating the contradictions, giving rise to new paradigms. With our project we want to make a modest contribution to a better understanding of what is common or different in the problems at issue and in the efforts to get out of them.
Transform! members and member-observers are asked to prepare a contribution (country case study) in each section of the study, either using their own resources or assigning this to external experts.
Your contributions, apart from their autonomous importance, would also help the persons responsible for each section of the study (and the corresponding chapter in the final Transform publication).
In writing the country reports, we suggest that the people responsible in each political foundation try to find competent respondents who accept to answer, without any formalism or official posturing the questions that we have drawn up, which are based essentially on the articles published in the periodical Transform! and our seminars.
While theoretical concepts underlie the formulation of the project’s main lines and of the questionnaire, our aim here is to start from concrete country experience, presented in a critical manner.
In view of the diversity of European realities, it is important to collect answers coming from Scandinavia as well as from Southern, Eastern and Western Europe, from countries marked by differing configurations of capitalism, balance of forces and political traditions.
We hope that this series of questions will enable us to have reports that will then be used in a comparative analysis. At a later stage, this material could be completed, if desirable, by a series of interviews and discussions with key persons in various European countrie.
The other sections of this two year project can use the same, similar or different methodology. This is a Transform! participative project. Each participant, every organisation and/ or Transform member or observer-member is asked both to make contributions to the issues to be investigated and to do so in the forms it wishes. Every organisation is called on to make proposals and to find solutions that it considers relevant to sustain the debate.
We would greatly appreciate if you could actively participate in this part of the Project by writing the country reports, following the lines of this questionnaire. It is not essential that every question should be “answered” in the report, but this method is intended to help us to elaborate comparative analysis. Do not hesitate to add your comments — complementary points, criticisms, suggestions…
We thank you in advance for your kind participation in our common effort,
Elisabeth Gauthier, Espaces Marx, Member of the Managing Board of transform! europe, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 0033661704304
Haris Golemis, Nicos Poulantzas Institute, Member of the Managing Board of transform! europe, email@example.com, phone: 00306972080374
1. Interpretation of the crisis.
1.1. Was the Left in your country surprised by the crisis?
1.2. What interpretation of the crisis has the Left in your country adopted (financial crisis, a world economic crisis, a crisis of the capitalist system, an ecological crisis, other)
1.3. Do you think that the crisis is of the same type in all countries and especially in all European countries? What is the opinion of the Left in your country?
2. The crisis and political contents
2.1. How is the Left in your country responding to the crisis on national and international level and why? (possible proposals: regulation of the financial system, nationalisation or socialisation of the financial and/ or other sectors, a different distribution of wealth, boosting employment, fighting against job insecurity, increase of wages, increase of unemployment benefits, fighting against poverty, industrial policies, “green development”, economic democracy in the public and private sector, restrictions of powers of shareholders, investment funds etc, control of banks, restriction of public deficits, redirection of the rescue packages, improving the place of youth, women and migrants in society, abolition of the Lisbon strategy, change of the ECB policies, abolition or change of the Stability and Growth Pact, international cooperation, a new international order, other)
2.2. Has the Left in your country changed its political priorities of the last two years because of the crisis and how? If not, what do you think it should do?
2.3. Has the Left in your country significantly changed its programme because of the crisis and who? If not, what do you think it should do?
2.4. Has the Left in your country developed theoretical work on the subject of the crisis and of what kind? If not, what do you think it should do?
2.5. Has the Left in your country launched specific campaigns to counter the causes/consequences of the crisis?
2.6. Has the Left in your country changed its view of the state and state intervention in the economy? If not, what do you think it should do?
2.7. Has the crisis led the Left in your country to introduce ecological issues in its programme?
2.8. What does the Left in your country think about the EU possible responsibility for the crisis, as well as its policies to overcome it? Has the crisis influenced the attitude of the Left towards the EU? What is your personal opinion on the issue?
2.9. Do you think that crisis the crisis has influenced the balance of social and political forces in your country?
2.10. How do you think neoliberal hegemony has been affected by the crisis (it has been : plunged into crisis, broken, made more vulnerable, been renewed, left intact)
2.11. Has the social and political Left in your country had any successful struggles during the crisis?
3. The crisis and systematic issues
3.1. Does the Left in your country insist that the systemic nature of the crisis requires the transition to a new national, European and global state of affairs (another kind of economy, another kind of social development, another kind of ecological development, a widening of democracy, another kind of society)? If not, what do you think is needed?
3.2. Do you think that the depth of the crisis has changed the discourse of the Left in your country and in what way? (radicalisation of its criticism, use of terms such as anticapitalism, postcapitalism, socialism, communism, others)
3.3. Has the crisis led the Left in your country to change certain of its analytical concepts?
3.4. Does the Left in your country see the present crisis as an “opportunity”? (for social transformation, in order think again what is the Left, for extending its influence, for progressing in building conter-hegemony…). What is your opinion?
3.5. Has the Left in your country changed its political style or practice during the crisis? If not, what do you think it should do?
3.6. What is presently the dominant scenario of the Left in your country, regarding the crisis (we are close to an exit from it, we are far from an exit from it, other)?
4. The crisis and (some) political confrontations
4.1. Which political confrontations have been at the heart of the Left/Right political clashes over the last two years?
4.2. In what way do these confrontations differ from the confrontations before the crisis?
4.3. Have you been faced with an accentuation of authoritarian governmental action?
4.4. Have you been faced with a reform of the State and of local government in this period
4.5. Are there appreciable changes in the confrontations within the institutions?
4.6. Are proposals for protectionist policies being developed by the Right or the Left in your country?
4.7. Do Left criticisms in your countries of the E.U. go as far as to propose that your country abandons the euro-zone? What is your opinion?