A new internationalism is beginning to emerge in Europe. People’s movements as the peace movement, migrant movements, farmers, environmental movement and the trade union as well as the left and other red-green political movements begin to gather into several new joint all-European initiatives. Here is a critical assessment.
Europe in motion
Most innovative is the initiative of international peoples’ organizations to launch regional decision-making assemblies that agree on common demands and actions in cooperation with popular movements on other continents. A meeting with participants in this collaboration was held in Barcelona 19-20 January called Europe in movement. About a hundred participants from twenty-one countries participated. The idea is that people’s movements supported by left parties cooperate in anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, feminist, ecological and other issues. A permanent secretariat is being built and a school for activists hopes to organize on each continent. The peasant movement Via Campesina is one of the most driving forces behind this initiative.
The initiative has had major problems finding partners in Europe, which is perceived as a continent of fragmented movements. Thanks to Podemos, however, the meeting was made possible. On other continents than Europe, the initiative has advanced further. The long-term cooperation between popular movements in Latin America has been a model where the MST school in Sao Paulo serves as a convergence space. Particularly vigorous is the initiative in Africa where people from 33 countries participate, and a school and secretariat for the whole continent have beeen set up in Zambia. After pan-African socialism has been almost dead for a long time, it has now gained momentum. Tunisia’s trade union is bringing movements from 11 Arab countries together and continues the Arab spring under difficult conditions but with renewed courage. In Asia, regional cooperation is under way in South Asia with Bangla Desh as coordinators and also in Southeast Asia is the process on its way.
From Sweden, only the Friends of the Earth participated. From Denmark and Finland none but several from Norway. Norway’s Social Forum was represented by its vice-chairman, a young activist from red youth, former and present international secretary of the party Red, who doubled their membership in the last year with many young people and received electoral successes, as well as a Kurd from Trondheim. Other parts of the periphery of Europe were better represented, as Ireland and CEE countries including Russia and Ukraine as well as all of Southern Europe. Countries in the centre like the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom were absent, Germany represenbted by very few. The meeting decided on regional follow-up. Most well-prepared were Central and Eastern Europe with a Assembly of Resistance / Resistance Meeting in Budapest, which will be held 2-4 March. From the Nordic countries, Red took on coordinating the contacts. The Balkans can build on the already functioning cooperation between young small socialist organizations. France decided to be part of the PIGS network while a cavity remained in the center of Europe. Cooperation on all continents will lead to a joint global meeting this autumn in Caracas.
Social forum in Europe
The European Social Forum (ESF) remains in Central and Eastern Europe. They are more often more radical than the left-wing forums in Western Europe, more focused on fighting militarization, strikes and supporting tenant struggles than in the West. The first was held in Vienna in 2012, the second in Wroclaw in 2016. The next is called Assembly of Resistance in Budapest, Budapest, March 2-4, with participants from other parts of Europe. This not only as a follow-up meeting after Europe in Movement in Barcelona for the Global People’s Movement assembly in Caracas, but also connected to the World Social Forum to be held in Salvador, Brazil in March this year. The first ESF was held in Florence in 2002 with 50000 participants and a mass demonstration with the Iraq war with 1 million participants. The second last in Malmö 2008 with 15000 participants and the last in Istanbul 2010 with 3000 participants. National Social Forum remains in Finland and Norway. In some countries in central and eastern Europe, social forums exist as remaining contact formal or informal networks in countries such as Russia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria with the European Social Forum Network Prague Spring 2 against right-wing extremism and populism as a cohesive force.
The seminar Another Europe is possible organized at the EU Summit in Gothenburg, November 18, 2017 by Activists for Peace, the People’s Movement No to the EU, the Friends of the Earth Sweden and the Latin American groups together with European Parliamentarians from the Geens and the Left Party, had speakers organizing the Assembly of Resistance in Budapest and attended at the Europe in Movement meeting in Barcelona, both as part of global processes for the World Social Forum in Brazil and the Caracas People’s Movement meeting. It is thanks to endurance of social forums that Europe’s periphery in Central and Eastern Europe has been able to become a coherent force, making Eastern Europe an increasingly important player from the Balkans to Ukraine and Russia in the emerging emerging European internationalism.
Altersummit grew out of the European Social Forum with trade unions in Belgium and France and ATTAC as the main cohesive force. At a major meeting in Athens in 2013, a longer platform was agreed upon against the austerity policy for democratic, social, ecological and feminist political options. The network sees its primary asset to effectively influence EU policies. The form is meetings where decisions are made in consensus, conferences, a website with statements about current events and action days. Political parties are not members but active contact with parties is taking place to conduct a dialogue.
Altersummit had been invited to Europe in movement in Barcelona but did not have enough people to participate when it collided with another meeting. The underlying thought to be primarily a force to influence the EU makes the Altersummit having a lesser role in the now-emerging European internationalism where no longer the impact of the EU is the most central. It has already been a serious concern in processes like the European Social Forum were countries such as Norway, Serbia or Russia have been seen as marginal being otuside the EU. Now after Brexit a European internationalism that is limited to the influencing th EU something for the museum.
Another concern with the Altersummit has been the great emphasis on making longer platforms the basis for work without being able to follow up the breadth hoped for in action. Central is also the strong commitment to a European trade union movement that lacks a common view both in terms of the struggle and the requirements. Everything from LO in Sweden emphasizing that it is not a Swedish trade union movement’s tradition to demonstrate on the street, to members of the international trade union movement’s main working against free trade agreements such as TTIP and CETA and being accustomed to making their demands on the street. The division of the trade unions in the more established trade unions of the ETUC and more radical democratic or anarcho-syndicalist trade unions also contributes to the difficulty of uning the forces. In addition, the established trade union in Europe is a further away from the trade unions in the South than the peasant, women, environment or peace movement are in relation to the corresponding organizations in the South. Thus, the Altersummit lacks the strength of being part of a global civil society cooperation. In practice, however, for many years, it has been the most ambitious initiative of movements cooperation and influence, especially in the field of trade union rights and in the fight against privatization of health care.
Marseille European Forum
The Marseille European Forum was held November 10-11 2017 with the aim of organizing an annual forum that brings together European left, green and progressive forces. The forum wants to bring together a wide collection of left, green and progressive parties, networks and political movements, trade unions and social organizations, NGOs, intellectuals and citizenships across Europe. The dominant force among the 100 organizations supporting the initiative is left-wing parties in almost all European countries including Labour from UK, and some outside the EU. There are also single green parties and DiEM25 supporting the forum. Other forces are national unions in Germany, the CGT in France and the metal workers in Belgium, ATTAC, the Left European Training Organization Transform!, the Left in the EU poarliament as well as single migrant and refugee policy organizations, Stop the War !, Blockupy and some foundations and institutes. .
The final declaration of the Marseilles meeting criticizes authoritarian, patriarchal and anti-social policies and the limitation of workers’ rights, environmental destructio and works for a peaceful Europe. It is expressly opposed to the policies of various European governments and the EU. One wish is to develop an alternative model for European integration that contributes to a fair world order that can withstand the construction of an ultra-liberal, authoritarian Europe and can counteract reactionary and fascist forces. One hopes to develop joint campaigns, for example, popular initiatives against TTIP and CETA as well as campaigns for women’s rights and gender equality.
On the paper, this initiative has the widest range of supportrts. Here are many of the forces that initiate the European Social Forum like Attac and CGT and new left initiatives such as the Varoufakis Democracy in Europe Movement 2025. What is kind of political decisions these forums may make is, however, unclear. The concrete examples mentioned are limited campaigns that already have functioning European networks dominated by Western Europe. When political orientation becomes more elaborate, it is about alternative models of European integration more than how people’s movement can drive a more coherent radical struggle, whether they are neutral or against the EU. The risk is obvious that the major parties and popular education institutions that support the initiative repeat the forum model, which, in the name of the European Social Forum created a left-wing and fragmented intitiative increasingly in the hands of NGOs. The hierarchical party and popuar education institutes preach horizontalism while in practice this model led to professionalization when horizontal left activists was offered a career in left-wing hierarchic institutions or professional NGOs governed by donors.
Thus Marseilles Eueopean Folum szeems largely to become an example of the limitations this model. It leads to lack of building strength through a mix of horizontalism on the surface and a space controlled by hierarchical organizations. A forum model that led to insufficient ability to gather stength, especially in econoimic issues. At the same time, the initiative is still commendable with its breadth and creation of a broader space that clearly includes non-EU countries. The left who, with its constant attempts to write new constitutions for the EU in the name of popular movements throughout Europe, may be forced to start their separate own organizational to promote their views, rather than diverting the movement of popular movements for all-European mobilization.
Plan B and Lexit
Plan B is a permanent conference on the initiative of leading left politicians throughout Europe to question the euro and the agreements that bind the EU to a neoliberal policy. The first was held in Paris in January 2016 with a large number of participants followed by further conferences in Madrid, Copenhagen and Lisbon. Organizers of the Copenhagen conference were Danish Re Gren Alliance and the Swedish Left Party. Plan B emerged as a reaction to how the EU forced the Greek government to its knees by closing the Greek banks and threatening to never open them again. Plan B is working to reform EU agreements and if it is not possible to work for a plan B including euro exit. The conferences have gathered many left-wing and intellectual but have had difficulty in knowing whther to deal also with people’s movements or only with parties.
Closely linked to Plan B is Lexit, a group of individuals who from the left-wing point of view wanting to find ways for countries to leave the euro. Here, the political analysis can develop beyond the limitations of Plan B conferences, where the need for the left-wing parties to not be too clear sets some limits for how far one can come. At the same time, the Lexit participants have been able to play prominent roles in Plan B meetings where the Left Parties dominate. The EU and euro criticism presented at the Lexit meeting could be brought to Sweden by the Friends of Earth, leading to the German EU critic Peter Wahl being invited to the Green Party Congress, while the left-wing debate has been less affected. Thus Lexit sometimes is of mor use for EU critical envrionmental organizations and the Geens that for the left.
Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25)
DiEM25 emerged as one of the answers to the EU legitimacy crisis after the pressure from the EU, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the IMF bringing Greece to its knees and continued austerity policy after a referendum in the country voted against this policy. At a meeting in Berlin February 9, 2016, DiEM25 was formed with participants from left and green parties, as well as movements such as the trade unions and civil disobedirnce network Blockupy against the ECB.
What DiEM25 is has been unclear. It has been said to be a pan-European movement of democrats as green, radical left and liberals, but only active in EU countries where a number of local groups emerged in most member states. In May, the discussion began to form a transnational party to participate in the EU elections in 2019. The Left Party Razem in Poland, the Alternative in Denmark and the Pirate Party in the Czech Republic are members. DiEM25 was founded by former Greek finance minister Gianis Varoufakis, who has a prominent role.
Member of Friends of the Earth and Activists for Peace, both in Sweden and the Prague Spring 2 network against right wing extremism and populism.
To understand how internationalism is now evolving in Europe, the web is not very informative. You need to be active and have direct contact with activists to be able to pay attention to what is happening. Some of the initiatives are well funded and can be followed in detail on the web such as DiEM25 and Plan B. Other initiatives built on popular movements and activists can sometimes be completely missing on the web.
Europe in motion
Information missing on the web. The organization has been organized by email.
Assembly of Resistance in Budapest Budapest 2-4 March
Information is still missing on the web. Coordination so far by email and skype
Another Europe is possible
Marseille European Forum
There is no collective website without each conference having its own. https://www.euro-planb.eu
Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25)