IV353 EACL statement Part 2

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at gmx.net
Wed Sep 10 09:22:39 MDT 2003

4. Formation of a supranational state, an indispensable tool for the
European ruling classes, is running up against the direct influence of US
imperialism and the heterogeneity of the EU's (main) member states. But the
main obstacle is the lack of substantial legitimacy or a broad social base.
In order to establish its semi-authoritarian state and withstand
international (above all US) competition, the EU is dismantling the 'welfare
state' and recolonising the Third World. This in turn increases popular
resistance, particularly from the working classes and youth. Europe has
become an epicentre of a global social confrontation, as shown by the huge
anti-war mobilisations that have shaken several governments. Several of
these governments (Britain, Spain, Italy) chose to back the war and line up
behind the US; they reaped a huge wave of protest and mobilisations. Others
(France, Germany, Belgium) positioned themselves 'against the war', visibly
taking their distance from the US; they portrayed themselves as peaceful,
democratic, social, humanist, 'internationalist' imperialists, concerned
about a new world order with its institutions and rules. They had two goals:
to win over world public opinion while gaining ground from the US; and to
win over public opinion at home, the better to push forwards with
neo-liberal policies.

5. The neo liberal policies of global capitalism has led to war; today, war
is leading to a new wave of antisocial policies . At the same time 'the
politics of war' is still on the agenda. The radical left rejects this
capitalist, imperialist strategy. It faces three challenges.

(1) The anti-war movement has partially demobilised since the war's end. It
was not able to stop the war. But its militancy, its huge demonstrations,
and its impact on society have reached far beyond activist milieus. It have
made it a major factor in political life, even if this has not a decisive
impact on the recent elections (in Italy or Spain for instance). The
situation in the Middle East is very unstable, specially in Iraq. The
Israelian government continues its war against the Palestinian people and
occupying its country. The US hasn't abandoned its goal to bring the whole
of the Middle East under its control, threatening the Iranian and Syrian
States, calling to destroy the popular resistance movements in the area. The
so-called 'war on terrorism' has also lead to a massive rise of racism and
direct threats to the black, Muslim, Arab, Asian communities in the
different European countries. Whatever the position of the EU governments
has been in the Iraq war, all are united and in alliance with the US to
attack the asylum and democratic rights. We cannot rule out a new threat or
military intervention by the Bush administration. It is important that
anti-war activity continue to take place regularly in each country and
across the continent, combining antiwar and antiracist mobilisations. The
massive participation of youth, in fact a new political generation occupying
the forefront of the social movements, is a key element for the new cycle of
struggles and the reinforcement of the class struggle.

(2) After the war, the 'social question' is now at the centre of the
political battle, thanks to the governments' offensive and the bosses'
offensive at the workplace level. The EU is pursuing the same policies and
carrying on with the 'Lisbon agenda' by attacking directly at three points:
(a) Dismantling the pension system and (partially) privatising it,
transferring the huge sums now in the publicly controlled funds. This
relates directly to the EU's other priority: unifying and expanding the
financial market in the interests of big capital; (b) The so-called 'labour
market reform', in order to deregulate rights in hiring, redundancies,
working time, wages payment, social insurance, etc. This is an attempt to
smash the common framework that has been crucial for working-class cohesion.
Today the 'reformers' have Germany in their sights. (c) The bosses think the
current relationship of forces now makes mass redundancies, drastic pay
cuts, speed-up and increased exploitation of labour possible. The wage
earners have accordingly responded massively with demonstrations and
mobilisations, as well as some of the most powerful general strikes in
decades in France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain and Portugal. This is a
genuine 'Europeanisation' of the class struggle: virtually simultaneous
struggles around the same problems, putting forward the same goals and same
solutions, using the same forms of mobilisation. Now on the agenda are
European struggles, organised Europe-wide coordination meetings, and
European general strikes. In short, we need more than ever to form a new,
active, militant European wide trade-union force - while the bureaucratic
apparatuses of the national union federations and the ETUC are blocking this
perspective, linked as they are to the 'Lisbon agenda', the well-known
'business summit' of the European Union (March 2000).

(3) Faced with the bourgeoisies' attempt to move forwards towards the
nucleus of a supranational, imperialist EU state, the necessity of a
European alternative can no longer be evaded. The European radical left has
been lagging behind in its discussions and in developing its programme.
While the EU is imposing its decisions - more than 60 percent of national
laws implement EU decisions; the European military force is moving into
action; the European Central Bank is exercising sovereign power over
monetary policy; EU laws
('directives')are supplanting national legislation - parts of the new
European social movement organised in the ESF, out of incomprehension,
hesitancy or ignorance, is not taking on the EU institutions. With the
Convention meeting, the Constitution being written and the
Inter-Governmental Conference looming, we must urgently make a more
systematic, more coordinated, political riposte and put forward a European
anti-capitalist alternative.

6. The EU is going to use the June 2004 European elections to carry out a
gigantic EU political, media and publicity operation from the North Pole to
the Mediterranean and from the Atlantic to the Russian frontier. Its goal is
to win over a popular base and a substantial legitimacy, which are
indispensable to neutralising the recovering social and trade union movement
and herding them into line behind an imperialist European power. European
social democracy has already taken up its battle stations in the 'spirit of
Lisbon': first strengthen European capitalism (in face of the 'American
threat') and accept a new round of austerity, in order to re-launch social
progress at some later date. The EU is supposed to become the alternative to
the US: peaceful, social, humanist, 'international', etc. This new ideology
is meant to restore a stable political anchorage to the EU state.

But the historical, existential crisis of the SP's is irreversible. This
doesn't mean that they have already lost their hegemony over the labour
movement; neither are temporary, purely electoral resurgences to exclude.
But there will be, in the present conditions of capitalism, a genuine
reconstruction of social democracy on the ideological, programmatic,
political or organisational level. Besides, the process is very uneven, from
one country to the next in terms of scope, depth and tempo, as it has been
throughout his history. (Contrast the Labour Party with the SPD or Italian
DS, or the Walloon and Flemish SPs within the same country!)

7. The EACL will take part in social, political and electoral struggles as
an independent, radical, anti-capitalist current. But we will not lose sight
of two factors that constitute levers with which to expand into a much
broader space. First, we have entered a period of political clarification of
considerable scope and depth. The process of radicalisation during the last
several years has begun to push back the political and electoral boundaries.
The traditional parties may not be moving much, but their electorates are.
Besides the war, social issues and the everyday life of the world of labour
are provoking breaks. The militaristic and neo-liberal orientation of social
democracy has led to a massive rise in consciousness. The SPs and other
left-wing parties that have participated in such governments have generally
paid a high price! Second, the huge mobilisations of the 'global justice'
('no global') movement and the popular upsurges against the war have been
initiated, organised and oriented by radical (social and political) left
forces, outside and often against the central bureaucratic apparatuses of
the traditional workers' movement. After having tried in the beginning to
discredit and criminalize the movements, they are now trying to join them in
order to win influence inside. This opens the way for broad united front
actions which widen the terrain and the political influence for the radical

All this is a reason for the EACL to be in the streets and in the struggles.
We will also be present, everywhere, in the campaign for the 2004 European
elections. Participating in this contest, is a key element for implementing
the hug energy and commitment of the social movements on the political
terrain, and for sharpening the political clarification towards the
reformist social-liberal forces.

First, we will develop our own political identity and our own platform,
which will distinguish us clearly on the basis of the experience of the last
fifteen or twenty years: - struggle against imperialist war, immediate
withdrawal from NATO; against an EU army and EU militarism; - against
social-liberal policies and against participation in social-liberal
governments; - against so-called 'anti-terrorist' policies that attack
democratic and political rights (the Spanish state has outlawed a party,
Herri Batasuna, which was legal and massively present in the elected bodies
of the state) and criminalize struggles and movements, in particular those
of immigrants and blacks; and against the EU of big capital and the utterly
anti social and anti democratic
(draft) Constitution.

This dynamic cannot be halted with limited measures, because it has become
systematic. Priorities must be changed radically: social needs for the mass
of the population must come before the profits of big capital.

Our alternative programme is as simple, easy and clearly defined as the
bosses' one: a full-time, stable job, a decent wage, and a liveable
replacement income (in the event of unemployment, disease, disability or
retirement) for everyone; radical reduction of working time without loss of
pay or intensification of work, with compensatory hiring; the right to
housing, education and professional training and health care, all good
quality; and access to means of public transport. These political and social
rights will be equal for all workers, native and immigrant, men and women.
Implementing them requires: a radical extension of public services; a
recasting of the state budget (including the tax system) which drastically
increases social spending; and a radical redistribution of wealth and income
from capital towards labour. For this purpose all anti-capitalist measures
must be taken that are needed to control and, if necessary, expropriate
private property and transform it into social, public property. Another
Europe is possible: social, democratic, egalitarian, ecological,
internationalist-a socialist Europe!

Second, the EACL will not be content simply to bear witness. To the extent
possible in each country, we will try to form alliances or electoral blocs
in order to defeat the parties of Big Capital as well as social
democracy, -both linked to the neo liberal policies of global capitalism,
and the other left parties that go along with them.

Third, the EACL will wage an active, dynamic campaign with a high political
profile in favour of an anti-capitalist, socialist alternative. The EACL
will publish its European 'Manifesto' at the next the 7th EACL Conference,
to be held in Paris in November 2003. The EACL supports the initiative of a
'Convention for an alternative Europe', as proposed by the PRC

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