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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Gauche européenne à la Villette

by D. B. article paru dans l’Humanité du 16 mai 2008

The European Left meet at La Villette

Translated Wednesday 21 May 2008, by Edward Lamb

Sociologists, philosophers, unionists and political leaders discussed an ideological crises in Europe during a conference held last week-end at the invitation of the Parliamentary group A United Left for Europe.

The European Left in search of alternatives

It all begins with two observations: 1) the globalization of the liberal economy is getting out of control; and 2) the stock markets have gone wild. The expansion of the free market and financial warfare are laying down their "law of the jungle" on the five continents. Furthermore, when confronted with these realities, we realize that convincing political answers are far from being operational. Whence the uneasiness in most European countries, as well as at the level of the European Union itself. Therefore, from an objective point of view, it is becoming an emergency : we can no longer satisfy ourselves with simply pushing the alarm button; we must get down to work on the energizing of the Left.

The instigators share one common conviction : the search for new directions should not disregard a pluralist approach. It was in that sense that they presented the subject to a panel of some thirty progressive personalities of very different political persuasions, whether representing the intelligentsia, associations, unions, or cultural movements. Spliting up into five workshops covering three half-day sessions should allow a debate over the important issues at stake and the directions leading to possible responses. These will be, explains Francis Wurtz, President of the group Gauche Unie Européenne (United European Left), « testimonies of citizens who exercise major functions », who have things to say about the Left, and who « have experience of the social struggle confronted with the systematic dismantling of the acquired social advances throughout Europe ». A sort of analysts’ inventory, of their observations, in the presence of some 400 guests. « A fundamental political debate », adds Patrice Cohen-Seat [1], co-founder of Espaces Marx [2].

Among the participants for France, we might mention, at random: Georges Séguy, former Secretary-General of the CGT (General Confederation of Labour), Maryse Dumas, confederal secretary of the CGT, Didier Bezace, theatre director, Régis Debray, author, Jacques Généreux, economist, Robert Guédiguian, film producer, Jean-Pierre Dubois, president of the LDH (Human Rights League), Robert Castel, sociologist, etc. As for personnalities outside of France, the list includes Josep Borel (Spain), former Socialist President of the European Parliament, Frank Bsirske, President of Verdi (German trade union federation for the service sector), Eduardo Chagas, Secretary-General of the European Transport Workers’ Federation (affiliated with the European Trade Union Confederation. Susan George, author and Chair of the Planning Board of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam, Véronique De Keyser (Belgium), Member of the European Parliament, Leïla Shahid, Palestinian Delegate to the European Union, Jean Ziegler, ex special rapporteur to the United Nations on the right to food, member of the UN Human Rights Council, as well as personalities from Poland, Hungary, Great Britain…

Translator’s notes :

[1French politician, born on november 27th 1947, member of the national executive committee of the French Communist Party

[2A research centre and "think tank" of the French Communist Party, advocating the doctrines of Karl Marx. Founded in 1995, it issues from the former Institut de recherches marxistes, or Marxist Research Institute

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