[fse-esf] democracy - proposal Firenze+10
mestrum at skynet.be
mestrum at skynet.be
Sun Jun 24 16:09:14 CEST 2012
Thank you very much for this interesting proposal. I also fully share your analysis of what is happening at the level of the European Union. Democracy has been expelled from the economic decision-making. And this is, as we know for a long time already, at the heart of neoliberalism. I share your opinion that social movements should urgently tackle that question.
However, I do have some questions about the order in which the problems have to be tackled.
Let me try to explain my reasoning in three points.
1. Democracy as such will not solve any problem. I think it is great progress that leftwing forces now fully endorse democracy, but democracy does not lead automatically to progressive policies. All European treaties and the major parts of the economic governance mechanisms have been endorsed by our governments and by the European Parliament and/or our national parliaments. And we know perfectly well that better democratic procedures would not have changed anything for the better. Neoliberal political forces have an overwhelming majority in most of our countries, at all levels of decision-making, and even at the level of our societies. The left is losing. If current policies are so very negative, it is not because of a lack of democracy, but because of the majority of neoliberals taking them.
My conclusion from this is that we should not fight these measures because of their democratic deficit, but because of their content. These policies have perverse consequences. The will give the power to corporations and leave the majority of our people without social and economic security. We have to fight neoliberalism, and democracy will be part of that fight.
2. Democracy, by the way, is not something that has to be given to us. Democracy is ours and nothing can stop us from fighting neoliberalism. If we do not do this today in an efficient manner, I am afraid we have to blame ourselves. I continue to think that our diversity is our wealth, but at the same time we should try to look for more convergence, even if this might lead to two, three or four different strands of thinking. But then at least we know where we stand and there is at any rate a long way we can walk together. I think the Joint Social Conference is on its way to do just that, and I do hope Firenze +10 can also contribute to it.
What our movements lack today is more clarity about our objectives (are we against the European Union or are we just against the neoliberal policies? Do we want a monetary union or do we not?) and starting from there, strategic thinking.
But again, it cannot be a lack of democracy that can stop us from acting. Democracy starts at the level of people and movements, we should not wait that some parts are being given to us. We should act and take to the streets whenever we think this is necessary. By the way, this is what far right forces are doing and they are more successful than we are.
3. Where you are perfectly right of course in pointing to the problem of democracy is that we are today in a serious political crisis of representativity. Neoliberalism kills democracy. The young people of the different movements in many countries rightly point to the fact that they do not represent us. At every election in most of our countries, we see participation is falling. Most political forces in all of our countries are not only neoliberal, they are closely linked to economic forces and corporate power. And this is why neoliberalism promotes a different kind of state which is no longer responsible for social integration, but only for the protection of markets and economic actors.
So, what I think we should do is
1) Clarify the position, aims and objectives of our movements and start strategic thinking
2) Identify capitalism/neoliberalism as our main enemy and work at alternatives
3) On that basis, start to produce an attractive narrative which can convince people that our solutions are better that the neoliberal ones start to change power relations
4) In our strategic thinking and in the alternatives and narratives we have to produce, democracy and the crisis of representativity will take an important place. But democracy as such will not bring any solutions. We have to break the majorities that are ruling us now.
I think we have to work at credible alternatives first, and then use the democratic procedures we have to improve democracy itself and win with our alternatives. So, the only sentence I would disagree with in your proposal is that democracy is a necessary condition to fight neoliberalism. I think neoliberalism has to be fought in order to save democracy.
But thank you so much for this proposal which hopefully will allow us to make progress.
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