Business and civil society or workers?

Submitted by AWL on 31 October, 2018 - 10:14 Author: Theodora Polenta

The Europe for the Many conference in London on 26-27 October was billed as bringing together progressive political forces and civil groups across Europe to offer an alternative.

However, the top-billed speakers were the Portuguese Prime Minister and the Greek Finance Minister. Among the speakers on municipalities was the Kemalist (CHP) mayor of Cankaya, a district of Ankara.

Such forces represent no potentiality for egalitarian politics. The Syriza-led government in Greece is implementing of austerity, memoranda, and detention centres. The CHP has suppressed Kurdish rights and implemented IMF “structural reform programmes”.

Although Another Europe is Possible and European Alternatives were co organisers, the tone of the meeting was set by the LSE “Civil Society Research Unit” and geared towards policy advice to existing governments: “a reflexive participatory research process involving citizens, policy makers, business people and civil society representatives”.

Momentum organiser Laura Parker spoke in the final plenary about the need to challenge nationalism, to build a left that can fight and win at a pan-European level, to transcend national borders. It was not clear whether her speech was in a personal capacity or representing Momentum.

As regards Momentum’s silence on the Brexit debate, she talked of Momentum needing not to be perceived by the media to undermine the leadership. On the members’ consultation on Brexit now launched by Momentum, she acknowledged the restrictiveness of the questions posed: members are being consulting on defending the existing EU citizens’ rights in Britain, but not on defending freedom of movement between EU member states for future EU migrants.

Another Europe is Possible has spoken out recently for free movement, and said that the “fight to stop Brexit is not a fight for the status quo... We need to end fortress Europe, not build fortress Britain.”

But AEIP needs to avoid the danger of being lured by the “post-modern” Left of glorification of social spaces, of movementism, of the “rights”, and so on.

To paraphrase, stopping Brexit must be the act of the workers themselves.

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