Our first EU experts’ discussion has taken place in December 2011. It had the ironic title “Crisis, Crisis, Euro Crisis” and has helped to overcome a simplifying thinking in terms of “nation states” vs. the “European Union” and/or “Europe”. It has helped to make clear that we have to deal with different, socially heterogeneous member states and with the really existing “European Union” constituted by them. The workshop has also helped to make clear that we have to analyze the complex accumulation of capital in a globalized and globalizing world, especially in the form of financialization. Therefore, we have then come to the conclusion that above all the debt issue must be analyzed in a much deeper way, because debt expansion is effectively being used to deepen all social inequalities and to strengthen all existing social hierarchies, with a view to prevent even any first beginnings of a highly necessary socio-ecological transformation.
As a next step, the second workshop has been prepared and realized accordingly under the working title of “The Debt Issue and a New Stage of Neoliberal Transformation of the European Union. Consequences for the Left, Alternatives of the Left.” In this connection we have highlighted the “Greek Case” and have addressed the cases of other “crisis states”. We have concluded that the current debt problem is used as an instrument for enforcing a new wave of financialization. Talking about how “it is used”, provokes the question “how, by whom, and with what consequences?” So at the end of our discussion in autumn 2012, we have formulated three central tasks for further research:
- Analyzing the concrete interconnection between debt – financialization – capitalist oligarchies – production and consumption patterns; societal, ecological and global consequences;
- Analyzing possible social actions of a democratic, emancipatory and solidarity based agency;
- Formulating conclusions for focusing on the work on new political platforms within research itself and, likewise, within different fields of politics.
In this context, the “Greek Case” and the cases of the other “crisis states” remain of special interest. Our respective discussions in 2013 have made it even more clear that the left forces within the EU which want to organize solidarity and struggle for societal alternatives are more and more challenged to effectively address the two following problems which are increasing quickly:
- First, the social inequality relating to countries and regions with populations of different national and cultural backgrounds and nationalities;
- Second, the dramatically rising intensities in the relationship with EU-members as the EU and their neighbor countries.
Both problems are interconnected and we are confronted by a rise of nationalism, racism and fundamentalism.
Living in a world with dramatic changes, with new and old tendencies of increasing societal and global inequalities, with new and old developments increasing violence, we have discussed in 2014, in Belgrade, whether the core-periphery-model could help us to develop realistic strategies effectively dealing with the causes and the “causers” of these problems and the crisis. We have analyzed different cases and problems and then we have gone on to concluded: the model can explain important tendencies of the development in the EU and in Europe, but not the whole complexity of the rising inequalities and the challenges for organizing solidarity within and across our societies in a globalized world which are connected with it. Working on strategies that should strengthen us, respectively the alternative forces struggling for societal alternatives, we have asked: Why Has it been possible for the ruling forces, worldwide and within the EU to increase their power, without being impaired by the global financial and economic crisis they have caused? What does this mean for left political strategies, also and especially in the case of a left government in an EU member state? We have realized that we all need a careful “stocktaking” of the EU development since the open outbreak of the global financial crisis and the following “Euro crisis”. This stocktaking should especially help us to discuss possible scenarios of a further EU development. Of course, we shall not do this as a mere academic exercise. We shall do so to improve the analysis and the scientific work needed for the debate on left political strategies.
Regardless of the fact that we have started our series talking on crisis, the main aim of our reflections is and will be to develop a cooperation of economists analyzing and discussing with a view of strengthening left resp. socialist forces.