The Left We Want
See authors and signatories below
Wednesday 25 June 2003
We are citizens, local elected officials, political, professional or trade union activists. We are resolutely to the left. The primary raison d' tre of our action is situated in the absolute refusal to allow millions of men and women to suffer and in the conviction that politics can and must change this reality.
We are entering a savage world that wants to bring down whole sections of the basis for a progressive civilization.
Conservative forces everywhere have never gone so far in their attempt to impose a new economic, social, and moral order. Whether it calls itself ultra-liberal or neo-capitalist, this steamroller also flattens spirit, culture, intelligence.
Faced with this will to situate the total of human relations inside market logic and to annihilate any critical reflection, we affirm that the failures of the great Utopias of the twentieth century have not destroyed the human capacity to imagine another possible world or to build it starting now. Neither the fall of the Berlin Wall nor the electroshock of April 21, 2002* leads us to erase the values and ideas on which great hopes may be founded.
Far from constituting a contingent accident, the April 21, 2002 KO was the outcome of a long process marked by the abandonment of the sense of the Left and of those for whom it primarily exists: the "small", the humble, those "without", the working and creative world. This Left "out of sorts with the Left" about alternation when the social movement expects it to deliver an alternative.
For more than twenty years, this cycle of a left that disappoints, a right that worsens and an extreme right that proliferates keeps repeating itself. In fact, it's necessary to recognize that the most significant, and also the most regressive ruptures or attempts at rupture of our society come from the right. Every time the left refuses to clearly attack all forms of domination and oppression, the right profits from it to go further and faster toward a harder, more violent, and more unequal society.
Unfortunately, we haven't noticed the start of a beginning sincere critical examination during the recent party congresses of the SP, CP, and the Greens.
Faced with the repetitive failure of the Left party machines, we think it's time to create the bases of an alternative network on the left that are neither a preachy protest never offering anything possible, nor a casing for liberalism. Beyond our differences along the way, we share a certain urgency, and some radical choices, to believe that another world is possible and to work for it now. For us, as for many men and women in the world, it's appropriate to return to the Left's original sources.
The radicalism of our dreams and hopes is also nourished by history. Communism's failures cannot be reduced to Stalinist diversions. The failures of social democracy cannot be summarized by repeated denials. The deep source of both failures is to be found in the inability to produce relations with power that are not founded on authoritarianism, elitism, misogyny, suspicion of differences, mediocrity, the exaltation of individual sacrifice, and the permanent temptation to decide for others.
We want to promote a new activist culture in tune with the aspirations of an emancipated humanity, founded on the free confrontation of ideas, personal blossoming, parity, participative democracy, ethics, sincerity, solidarity, freedom.
This transformative purpose is already carried by social movements, local experiments, activist practices.
This abundance of protests against the established order must result, this time, in a change of policy. This is what motivates our action. We are, in effect, convinced that social mobilization which confines itself to declaring its autonomy vis a vis politics amounts to effectively delegating a political monopoly to the existing parties. We need to emerge from this scenario which invariably leads to disappointments and set-backs. We think it's time to question the dogma of separation between social movements and political interference.
When, everywhere in the world, men and women are fighting for the right to work, for shelter, for education, for equal access to AIDS treatment, for fair commerce, for peace; when men and women refuse GMOs and the sacking of their territory, when the arrogance of the powerful and the rich to presume to impose their rules on the planet puts millions of people on the street, it is truly time to question the distribution of roles between social and political actors; to conceive of an electoral moment in the service of just causes and not the reverse. It is truly time to create a network with the will to get out off the beaten and rebeaten paths. By this appeal, we commit ourselves from this moment to the goals that identify a true alternative on the left:
- Economic recovery is inseparable from social progress and occurs with a significant increase in the lowest salaries, social minima, and mass consumption.
- Europe must no longer be a monetarist pillory, but a space for social solidarities and cooperations. Poor country debts must be cancelled without conditions and financial transactions taxed.
- We declare that the suburbs are at the heart of society and of the changes to be effected by massive construction of low cost housing, by developing public services, by seizing diversity as an opportunity, by dedicating significant monies to policies of prevention, education and all that promotes "living together".
- The priority that must be given to far-reaching measures in favor of all those 'without" is in the general interest and will represent progress for all of society.
- We are in favor of voting rights for foreign residents, of the regularization of status for those without papers, of the recognition of the right of asylum, of suppression of double penalties.
When society is in profound mutation, when the elites dismiss to this extent a distant image of social and cultural diversity, when the danger of an extreme right in power is not a phantasm, one cannot, one must not, stick with this heavy status quo. Nothing would be worse than a political landscape reduced one more time to a mediocre choice between the right and a hegemonic SP, with the enormous risk that the only alternative be embodied by the extreme right, which would lead to a true disaster.
Faced with such a risk, it is urgent to federate the forces that think and act in the same direction. We launch this appeal and invite you to illuminate it with your ideas, to enrich it and to criticize it in the light of your own experiences. There is no limit to this process. The elections which take place in 2004 can be the opportunity to bring millions of people together around this alternative.
We propose to all those for whom this text resonates to make it known, to distribute it widely, to take the initiative in public debates using all available collectivities, networks, and sensibilities. We hope that it will be a contribution to a public encounter in the fall that will allow a convergence of all initiatives aiming to realize these objectives. With all those who join us in this process, we'll decide together how far we must go.
Nuri Albala, lawyer ; Jean-Marie Angelini, union member (Sneps-PJJ) ; Ariane Ascaride, actress ; Cl mentine Autain, assistant to the mayor of Paris (app. PCF) ; Patrick Braouezec, Deputy (FCP) from Seine-Saint-Denis, Mayor of Saint-Denis ; Malik Chiban, film-maker ; Isabelle Lorand, surgeon ; Philippe Mangeot, Editor-in-chief of Vacarme ; Gustave Massiah, Vice -President of Attac ; Yannick Mazevet, carpenter ; Mireille Mend s France, member of the International association of Democratic Jurists; Antonio Negri, philosopher ; Christelle Pesme, undecided young person, feminist activist ; Maya Surduts, President of Cadac (the Coordination of Associations for the Right to Abortion and Contraception); Malika Zediri, organizer of the association of the unemployed, Apeis.
Translation: TruthOut French language correspondent Leslie Thatcher.