On 8th May 2021 the Prague Spring 2 Network (PS2) held a commemoration of the end of WWII entitled “Never again! We need a new détente!” In the webinar the speech of Tamas Krausz, historian, Professor of University ELTE, Hungary were read out by Matyas Benyik, President of ATTAC Hungary.
The Prague Spring 2 network against right wing extremism and populism started in Prague in 2010 together with progressive people and organisations active in the World Social Forums (WSFs) and the European Social Forums (ESFs).
This network was initiated by activists in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) together with some colleagues from Austria and Sweden. It was against populist and Far Right tendencies, which had already started to advance in the CEE region. We concentrated our cooperation on the fight against neo-Nazism and the advance of Far Right in Ukraine and in other countries of the Eastern part of Europe. The cooperation of CEE movements is very important since, according to our evaluation, in the WSFs and ESFs in the past, Eastern and Central Europeans were under-represented, the number of activists participating in the fora was small, except at the ESF in Florence and to a certain degree to that in Paris. This made us feel that we were not equal, many times we were treated not very friendly. Prague Spring 2 is still functioning, fighting mainly against the advance of the Far Right and poverty, in the spirit of the old Social Forums. In 2013, PS2 Network had the 1st Central and Eastern European Forum (CEESF) in Vienna and then, after renaming the CEESF into Assembly of Resistances (AoR), two events were held in Budapest, one in 2016 and the other in March 2018. So, members of PS2 keep up the spirit of the Forums and are trying to be active in the global arena, extending cooperation to new actors, trying to figure out the key points uniting us not only in the CEE region, but also in Southern Europe. European and world cooperation of movements is very important especially regarding the burning issues of environment, migration and the Far Right, whose advance must be stopped through international cooperation. PS2 is working very hard to restart an anti-war movement, to stop wars which cause big human, economic and environmental losses. We must fight for peace, but also against poverty, especially in the CEE region, which is closer in terms of problems to the Third World, especially Latin America and Africa, than to the core countries of Western Europe. Activists of a small country, like Hungary, cannot fight alone. We have to seek allies with whom to cooperate at European and international level.
In order to prepare ourselves for the WSF 2021 in Mexico PS2 Network held a virtual preparatory conference between 5th and 6th December 2020 aiming to bring its results to the WSF. It was highly important for PS2 to link peace, social and environmental movements. At the virtual conference social and environmental (ecological) alternatives and answers to the multidimensional crisis were sought.
World Social Forum celebrated its 20th anniversary in January 2021. The WSF events took place virtually from 23 to 31 January. Some 10,000 participants from 144 countries registered individually or on behalf of a member organisation of WSF – many others followed the thematic conferences and debates on Facebook. The participation of the CEE regionin this WSF, including the Hungarian Social Forum movement – in contrast to all previous WSF events – proved to be outstanding.
The most important result of the virtual WSF 2021 was the adoption of the Declaration of the Social, Peace and Environment Movements (SPEM), which alone was able to create a convergence of different movements. The work of the General Assembly of the movements was aimed at creating a document that summarises the situation of the world today and points the way out of the current state of the Earth and humanity, which threatens to destroy it. The final declaration, adopted in full agreement,underlines:
– the need to join forces to make the WSF more relevant and widely known;
– the present historical crisis is severely burdened by the extreme concentration of wealth and power, and the precariousness of work and livelihoods;
– the need to take the initiative locally in both rural and urban communities to give people control over the use and exploitation of land, housing and resources, thus creating a democratic economy.
The Declaration of the Social, Peace and Environment Movements is available here:
The movements of the WSF can only find and achieve the social transformations that are needed by building networks of action at the regional and territorial level. The WSF is deeply committed to building a broadly supported movement for social, ecological, economic and political transition based on intersectional equity. The rights to the Earth, nature and participatory democracy of communities are fundamental values.
To achieve this, the movements participating in the 2021 Virtual World Social Forum have decided to develop a global agenda for collective action in the near future. On this basis, the Hungarian Social Forum (HSF) developed and publicised the modalities and events of Hungary’s participation and mobilised for future events.
We have been actively involved in the preparation of the SPEM Declaration. The text proposed by Tamás Krausz entitled “Central and Eastern European Declaration for WSF Assembly of Social Movements” was accepted. Because of its importance, this declaration is quoted verbatim:
1. An anti-systemic, anti-capitalist left is looking for its place, the ideological driving forces of its action, since Eastern Europe is perhaps the most reactionary part of the world system with a Polish-Hungarian-Baltic-Ukrainian center. Here the vast majority of the population is made up of masses dumbed down by liberalism and nationalism. But trumpism is an international phenomenon. (This is also reflected in the line-up of the majority of the CEE intelligentsia behind the now ruling authoritarian power, they even swallow the privatization of universities). Since there is no mass social movement, it is a pity to blame ourselves. It’s only worth thinking about cause and effect!
2. Therefore, the first task is precisely to break free from liberalism and to become an independent actor in a spiritual, political and moral sense. Working to save capitalism in the hope that in the region (or anywhere) it can be “repaired” is an very old illusion.
3. As there is no national solution to the situation and to the “structural crisis” (Istvan Meszaros) that characterizes the whole world system, ab ovo we must join the international socialist path-finding. We think we’ve been doing this for 32 years … the result isn’t assessable yet, but it’s not just up to us, in fact, we only offer one option.
4. The option, the “tertium datur”( Georg Lukacs) – is to be assumed between state socialism and capitalism – basically consists of three steps:
a. ) to help resurrect a broad social movement that overturns the current socio-economic hierarchy and paves the way, in legal and political terms, for community ownership and organization in all areas of life, especially, of course, production and consumption.
b.) to create a multi-sectoral mixed economy in which the market, public, and community sectors would coexist for some time, but the state supports socialist community society initiatives by “controlling” capital accumulation.
c.) the very expected (“very ugly”) collapse of capitalism presupposes international solidarity, since, within a national framework, capital and the traditional state that represents the interests of capital smash all socialist-community and initiatives based on non-private ownership.
These would be the first steps in building a self-governing society on a social scale.
Now, unfortunately, debates about “what can be done” can be held without much risk … because there is no major social mass movement yet that wants to take control of its own living conditions. From the bottom up, choices like illiberal PM Orbán or other neoliberals, Putin or Navalny, Poroshenko or Zelensky have no significance. Especially since the political alliance of liberalism and the far right was formed in the Maidan of Ukraine as part of the Orange Revolution with American support and even direct US intervention. The most successful Soviet republic became the most unsuccessful system-changing republic. The reasons need not to be presented here. In any case, it is good to think of them. At least we think and are not supporting the capitalist parties, although we are joining forces with all anti-fascist forces on many issues, as the option outlined here is more likely, at least initially, to have a new fascist far-right proliferation, which we are already witnessing because the social buoyancy of Capital against the left ultimately invented the antidote. We consider the CEE social movements as part of the World Social Forum process.
On 8th May 2021 the Prague Spring 2 Network via virtual Zoom conference held a commemoration of the end of WWII entitled “Never again! We need a new détente!” In the webinar the speech of Tamas Krausz, historian, Professor of University ELTE, Hungary were read out. For further details please visit this link:
Budapest, 17th May 2021.