Short Report of a Workshop by transform! europe and Espaces Marx, Paris, 6-7 September 2012
As a kick-off to transform!’s General Assembly a seminar was held in Paris co-organized by Espaces Marx. On the basis of analytical contributions from different countries, its aim was to examine the development of political consciousness in the context of the crisis and the question of cultural and political hegemony as a challenge to the Left.
The study “The People, the Crisis and Politics” (Guy Michelat/Michel Simon) examined breaches and contradictions in relation to social and class affiliation. Hajo Holst (in a research team directed by Klaus Dörre, University of Jena, Germany) elaborated the contradiction between the critique of capitalism and the opinion claiming that society cannot be transformed from its foundations. The return of a significant class vote on the occasion of the Greek elections creating a political earthquake was described in detail by Christoforos Vernadakis (Professor of Political Sciences, Thessaloniki). Michel Vakaloulis (Université Paris VIII) presented some preliminary results of a European study on “young people and political activity” before the background of the sprawling “economy of insecurity“.
In the second round the state and development of political-ideological rule were examined with reference to different concepts – in particular those developed by Gramsci or Foucault. Sophie Heine (political scientist, ULB) pointed out that a sustainable left project has as a precondition a modern understanding of individual interest and freedom. Starting from “cognitive dissonance” between critique and adherence to the system Steffen Lehndorff (University of Duisburg/Essen, Germany) developed the challenge of making an alternative thinkable. Pierre Dardot (philosopher) interpreted the crisis of the EU as an “open crisis of neo-liberal governmentality”, with the debt crisis having extremely disciplinary effects and the question of “alternative subjectivation” gaining central importance.
Philippe Marlière (professor of political sciences, University College London) described the complexity of the emergence and positioning of a European, alternative Left and the important challenges it is facing. Taking France as an example, the emergence of social and political “fronts” was illuminated from a historical perspective by Jean Numa Ducange (University of Rouen). Armando Steinko (sociologist, University of Madrid) analysed current phenomena in Spanish society with a focus on social movements and the Left. New aspects of the European trade union movement in relation to the neo-liberal construction of Europe were dealt with by Laura Horn (University of Roskilde, Denmark).
All in all, this was an extremely stimulating workshop which will find its echoes in our upcoming publications and encourages us to posing our questions more precisely but also to further work.
Pictures by Iulia Timotin show the seminar in Espaces Niemeyer and the Podium of the Discussion: The European Abyss - Sketching Out the Quests on the Left with Haris Golemis, Ruurik Holm, Walter Baier, Elisabeth Gauthier and Pierre Laurent.