Friday, October 28, 2005

European Left - The First Congress

/ manifestos / left /
Athens is hosting the first Congress of the European Left Party, a recently created trans-European Left party alliance. The necessity of such a united left on a European scale can hardly be contested, and following the "No" votes on the European Constitution referenda one could argue that an opportunity has opened for such a continent-wide, coordinated, left political coalition to be effective in fighting the good fight versus the trimumphant neoliberal advance in European societies. Yet reading the, above linked, political theses of the congress one is left underwhelmed (and wishing for a english language editor). There are the obvious general positions, an assortment of wishes, and some general directions, yet there seems to be a vagueness about the positions stated (never mind the rhetorical blandness - the Communist Manifesto, this ain't), that's rather frustrating. For example take this paragraph:

We consider social protection a central element for the cohesion of the 25 EU member countries and a true productive element. In effect, the European social model is the one able to defeat the dramatic and growing unemployment and precariousness. European Left Party's opposition is not so much to the declared objectives of the Lisbon strategy but to their subordination to the capitalistic competition politics and to their liberalizing logic. We have to think about a political economy able to stop the social decline, not only by defending social, tax and environmental standards in the global competition, but also by implementing them as true development boosters.

Yes, we must refuse to pay the price of the continent's economic decline. Our alternative economic concepts for the European union must rather focus on possibilities to stave off the economic crisis by re-launching a tangible proposal to prevent the uncertainty and precarious employment and poor living conditions of the European populations. Therefore we work towards the perfectly possible aim of full and decent employment for all of those that live and work here.

What? Which "European Social Model" are we referring to? everyone from Barroso to Chirac is paying lip service to this chameleon of a concept. Shouldn't it be somehow described? Why is the ELP's objection "not so much to the declared objectives of the Lisbon strategy" and how are these objectives conceptually separate from their "liberalizing logic". And shouldn't there be a bit more about that "tangible proposal to prevent the uncertainty and precarious employment and poor living conditions of the European populations"?

Or take this bit:

...We have supported the enlargement and integration of Europe.

We have positively agreed to and greeted the entry of 8 new Eastern and Central-European countries, Cyprus and Malta since we think that the European political space that doesn't stop on the borders of the former East/West blocks. We also notice that the accession process was not used for reviewing the hitherto practiced political, economic and social logic of EU integration. No decisive steps to guarantee the working and production conditions in all member states are recognisable. The European Union remains the big single market for the circulation of capitals and commodities and increasingly services while – against the proclamations the “labour” forces are not able and - even more - migrant men and women are not allowed to move freely.

Never mind the near-incomprehensible english here (I hope other versions are more coherent), is the EL seriously saying that the EU expansion such as it was, with seriously reduced cohesion funds for most Eastern European new members, should have been "positively greeted"? How can one separate the general "ideal" from the way it is implemented? Isn't it obvious that this hasty and incomplete expansion makes the prospect of a more democratic union, that is more than a free-trade zone, quite impossible - and that this was why it was greeted by American neocons and among European anti-integrationists wholeheartedly?

Anyway, despite the fact that the Left remains annoyingly vague and murky about what it wants, I hope the result of the congress offers something better than the initial documents and that the EL parties continue to cooperate and gain support across Europe.

Note that theoretically the congress should be broacast through this link, though it hasn't been working for me today....

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