Organizing for a Left Hegemony

In the beginning of October about 100 people – all of them activists, campaigners or organizers in left parties, social movements and trade unions in Europe and the US followed an invitation of Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung to Madrid.

Five days of intense workshops, panel discussions, lectures and debates followed, as well as a colorful and powerful demonstration for housing rights in Madrid and long talks. RLS had convened political partners and young activists from 16 countries to discuss the common and differing challenges of left actors in Europe and to learn from each other.

Among the participants and speakers were the co-chair of DIE LINKE in Germany, Bernd Riexinger, and representatives of successful mobilizations such as Momentum, La France Insoumise and People for Bernie Sanders. Urban activists and politicians from Madrid, Barcelona or Zagreb joined the discussions, as well as activists from campaigns like right2water in Ireland, Czarny Protest in Poland and the European campaign against TTIP, CETA and TISA. Least but not least, representatives and activists from left-wing parties such as Razem (Poland), Levica (Slovenia), DIE LINKE (Germany) and the Working Families Party contributed their experiences and thoughts to the debates on organizing and strategy.

In addition, RLS used the opportunity to officially open its newest liaison office in Madrid.

In the center of the summer school’s debates was the question of how the left in Europe can build and become a "third pole", a visible and powerful progressive alternative to authoritarian neoliberalism on the one hand and increasingly right-wing populism on the other hand.

The EU austerity policies have led to the rise of counter-mobilizations that demand and develop alternatives to austerity and neoliberalism. Among them the movements of the squares in Southern Europe, but also campaigns fighting for housing, health, education and the access to social infrastructure and rights for the many – not the few.

At the same time the left still faces the challenge that we need to broaden and to root our base far beyond the existing voter milieus of the left. How can the use of left-wing populist strategies and the development of a new class politics help the left to develop real connections to those who are (most) affected by austerity and exclusion? What would be the elements of such a new class politics that needs to include the diversity of interests among the popular classes? A class politics that connects class with relations such as race, gender, ecology and global inequalities.

These questions were the starting point of debates and exchange, of learning from experiences of organizing in low-income communities, in trade unions and at the workplace, of campaigning and mobilizing people in cities, nation-wide or on a European scale. From training and discussing tools such as canvassing, social media strategies or organizing approaches to reflecting and discussing the necessary transformations and re-organization of left parties and organizations – the school proved to be a space for intensive exchanges of knowledge and strategic debates.

Moreover, the participants used the opportunity to develop common European perspectives: What could be a connecting transnational strategy of the left in Europe for a rupture with austerity and a radical transformation in Europe? How can we deal with the different positionings and HANDLUNGSBEDINGUNGEN of left actors in Europe? Starting with the European elections in 2019, which will be an important milestone for developing a transnational strategy of the left in Europe.

Igor Stokfiszewski of the online magazine Krytyka Polityczna/Political Critique took part in the summer school and has summarized and published his thoughts and conclusions after a week of discussions in Madrid in his article NGOs are the Left in the East.

The first steps are made. Now we need to use, strengthen and broaden our networks and to make the conditions dance at many places!

Videos

Opening of the Liaison Office Madrid - Duration 1:09

Organizing for a Left Hegemony - a summary of the European Summer School - Duration: 7:20

Conclusions of the RLS European Summer School, brought to the point by a number of participants - Duration 00:45

Why is feminism increasingly relevant for the left?

Interview with Sol Sánchez, Izquierda Unida - Duration 5:32

Discussion with Marga Ferré (Izquierda Unida) - Duration 67:11

Interview with María Campuzano from the "Alliance Against Energy Poverty" in Catalonia - Duration 2:04