[fse-esf] Annamaria Artner: A voice from Eastern Europe-Theses
mbenyik at freemail.hu
Fri May 30 15:12:27 CEST 2008
A VOICE FROM EASTERN EUROPE - THESES
Dr. Annamaria Artner
senior research fellow
Institute for World Economics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
"What we expect of the left in Europe today" International Conference
Paris, Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 May 2008
GUE/NGL, European United Left/Nordic Green Left
1. The situation is grave:
- Today capitalism is the prevailing social system in the world, without any meaningful living alternative
- this made the development of the new stage of capitalism, the total victory of transnational monopoly capitalism (TMC) possible, which is detrimental for all of the Earth's resources (incl. human being) and for itself.
- This total victory makes the capital free to increase profit and opress wage-work.
- This increasing pressure evokes the resistance of labour but the capital has unrestricted means against this resistance.
- The working class (being dissolved in global production network, competing against each other because of relocation of capital, part-time work, home work, service workers, unemployed, underclass, weak TUs etc.) has been fragmented and can easily be turned against each other
2. The Left is crushed
- The collapse, the profanation, the discrediting of the systemic alternative (Eastern European transitional societies, called also 'state socialism') went hand in hand with the further shift of the social democracy to the right, which has always danced attendance on the capital: the transition from the Western welfare state to the neoliberalist rule of capital and from the Eastern mixed (double faced) societies to the (semi-)periferial capitalism was started by conservatives, but this process has been accomplished by the subsequent social democratic governments.
- The political 'Left' became the left of the bourgeoisie, and it is more neoliberal than the neoliberals, including anticommunist, nationalist, exclusionist ideas (e.g. blackening the historical struggle of working class, evocative voices against immigrants, protection of national market and national capital etc.)
- The majority of the society is disappointed in the traditional left wing parties. One part of the working society pursues its fragmented, often infantile and ridiculous protest campaigns in civil frames often with meaningful anarchistic influence. Bigger and bigger part of the working class, however, is getting under the influence of the extreme right.
3. Europe - there is no separate way
- In the transnational capitalism (globalized world) Europe has no special role. Its competitiveness is over against the low wage competition of Asia. The remains of the European economy can only be preserved by lowering wages. This means that the European working class alone is not able to break out of the squeeze of global capitalism.
- Like it or not, the Western leftwing has to know that i) the working class of the developed countries has been the aristocracy of the world working class ii) this working class aristocracy has lost or is just losing its welfare state built on the exploitation of the inequalities in the world economy and demonstrative effect of the Eastern transitional ('soviet') societies. This welfare state belongs to an earlier age of the history (state capitalism) and so its restoration is not possible in the age globalization.
- On the periphery of Europe the rule of the capital has much more serious effects and shows its effects faster and more sharply than in the centre.
o In Hungary - as all over in Eastern Europe - the defenselessness of the working class is bigger than in the richer countries. The basis of subsistence is in danger, while informal economy is large, and children are suffering of starvation, malnutrition in whole regions. The "Left" has lost its credibility in the eye of the masses, because here it was mainly the political 'Left' which has taken the most radical measures for restoring the rule of capital and the safeguard of the production of profit. Hence there is no 'societal Left'. The political 'Left' is a swear-word for more and more people.
o In this 'Weimarian' situation (which is also present in Western Europe) the popularity of the demagogue extreme right offering seemingly realistic responsibles and easy solutions to the real problems of the people who are materially, culturally and mentally crippled by the neoliberal and often dilettante left-wing government policies is growing. In Hungary paramilitary fascist organizations are free to march in the streets, without being banned by the social-liberalist government referring to the liberal laws. Liberalism, the unrestricted rule of the capital is delivering its children right now, namely: the new type of fascism.
- The extreme right cannot get real political power in the East until the leading countries of Europe do not support it. The question is however, how long it will remain so. Isn't the extreme right gaining strength in Western Europe? (Right wing victories in France and Italy, increasing hostility and atrocities towards immigrants etc.)
4. What to do - there is no room for retreating
- To act. The Left has wasted a lot of time. There is no time left for procrastination. The 'left' has nothing to lose , it has to act.
- To unveil the popular fallacy of the "effectiveness" of the capitalism. A capitalist company can be effective in the sense of profitability, but the whole system of production subjected to the profit is extremely ineffective, wasteful and harmful to the totality of the social means of production. Profit production either has the main production force (human being/labour force) lied in waste, and hence crippled (unemployed, homeless, paupers, 'sans papieres' etc.) or exhausts it by forcing people to work more and more intensively. The crimes committed by the profit motive against the environment, the devastations of the financial and economic crises, local wars, terrorism fed by the worldwide inequalities are well-known.
- To avoid and turn back the increasing of the extreme right influence. The developed countries of the EU are also responsible for the rising neofascist tendencies in Eastern Europe. The Maastricht convergence criteria, the liberalization of capital movements have contributed to the lowering of the real wages and/or the discretional income of the working class, and contributed also to the unemployment, flourishing of black (informal) economy - all of them are excellent substrate of fascism. Hence the most urgent task is to stop and reverse the pauperization trend of the people. Employment for all! Nobody should starve in Europe! We have to pay special attention to the biological, mental and intellectual development of children!
- To undertake the long historical struggle of the working class. Organized global resistance of the working class cannot be built on trampling the history of working class' struggle, efforts and attempts into mud. The results of this struggle are to be declared, failures should be critically analyzed in view of the future tasks.
- To build global resistance. Working class is in overwhelming majority over the owners of the capital. But as the latter is organized and globalized, the working class should also be similarly organized if it wants to defend its interest successfully. European and any other regional resistance in itself cannot be successful, as the capital can move to other regions depriving regional working class of its only source of living, namely its job opportunity (the working class has already been deprived of the production means needed for work). Hence, the resistance should be global, wherever it begins.
- To initiate a broad alliance involving other continents as well. However, this alliance cannot be led by Europe. Workers' organizations of Latin-America, Asia, Africa must be equal partners, or in certain cases and on the basis of their experiences even determinants of the alliance.
- To query privatization. The direct and long term interests of working class should be the basis of this alliance, and the question of ownership of factories, mines, infrastructures, media etc. cannot be circumvented.
- To create a document which contains the strong critique of neoliberalism and outlines the specific steps towards a possible alternative: the worldwide restriction of transnational corporations and privatisation, worldwide minimum standards on social and environmental conditions. Any person or organisation can join this alliance provided they agree with its goals. Left wing of the social forum movements, from Hungary e.g. Eszmélet (Consciousness), Baloldali Alernatíva (Left Wing Alternative), ATTAC Hungary, Karl Marx Society, and some others are definitely ready to participate.
- No time for any further delay or hesitation!
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