• Conclusions

last modified March 10, 2016 by Tord


In the present conjuncture popular movements are pressed in two directions at the same time. On one hand towards more narrow single issue tactics to be able to at least win some defensive battles and on the other hand the need to be part of a popular movement general political agenda. A general political agenda addressing and solving the multi-dimensional crisis in Europe in solidarity with the rest of the world.

There are small tendencies to do this as manifested in European days of action against austerity policies, EU migration policy, social dumping, tax heavens and TTIP last year by a wide range of movements. In the UK, Denmark and Sweden organizations from movements such as peasants, workers, fishermen and environmental groups have made just transition plans showing how constructive solutions on a number of fields can create green jobs, save the climate and promote social justice, a just transition many movements saw as important during the protests at the Paris climate meeting 2015. Blockupy unites the struggle against the current refugee politics with the struggle against austerity. The peace movement do not only demand disarmament and no to war but also that military spending should decrease to enable more money to social justice and environmental concerns. Many movements are involved in the Dismantle corporate power campaign to resist business short term profit interests and promote alternatives. In a dialogue at the World Social Forum in Tunis 2015 between oppositional groups in both Donbass and Kiev the necessity to reduce working hours as a means to stop unemployment together with conflict resolutions was seen as a means towards peace in Ukraine, a strategy of relevance for the rest of Europe as well but not included among the demands put forward by the many Western European meetings. And yet what the movements are doing is far from enough.

The popular movements have so far failed to establish a coherent common strategy to address the multidimensional crisis. The environmental and peasant movement is capable of building a more All-European agenda then most movements but then focusing upon issues as food sovereignty and climate justice rather then dare to confront austerity with demands for a full public investment of a just transition in cooperation with other movements. The Alter Summit organize actions on a disparity of issues lacking a more elaborated uniting strategy and engage movements almost only in the Western and Southern half of Europe. The European Social Forum as a place for convergence of movements has died out although it has a role in especially Eastern Europe.

Thus the new left initiatives are most welcome. One can easily dismiss them. The essence of Plan B and DiEM 25 can be summarized bluntly: What we now have to learn from Paris to Berlin and Madrid is that the uppermost convergence of all struggles are not social change but a reformed EU. The same message NGOs based in Brussels have been sending for decades, often with the use of large sums of funding from EU at the expense of political mobilization beyond the dichotomy of being for or against the EU, for or against reform or revolution. The essence of the Down with the euro initiative by International Forum for the Left and popular forces can be equally summarized bluntly: Give me that old time religion, oh sorry give me that old time ideology, put in some new language as liberal oligarchy and hope that demanding the same kind of ideology from all in a common struggle is the way forward. 

But rather then being only critical the two kind of initiatives deserves equal appreciation in the present conjuncture were popular movements are in need of being challenged were they themselves have failed. It is of importance to see that the sometimes enthusiastic support of the values shared by all the initiatives whether pro or against EU is an expression of a will to unite in common action. In terms of rethoric and inclusiveness DiEM is able to renew language beyond the more established anti neoliberal language used by Plan B. This inclusiveness addressing more concerns could do well without the lack of a social and economic to not talk about ecological coherent political strategy beyond renegotiating EU treaties. From an environmental point of view it is positive to see that not only left wing but also green politicians are involved in the project and negative that movements are more as a decoration to the project rather then at the core. Plan B has especially in Madrid shown a strong input from popular movements and campaigning organizations that to a large degree already work in a way uniting struggles against neoliberal politics whether you are for or against the EU. It is no coincidence that Via Campesina were among the speakers in Madrid as well as many from the environmental movement. In terms of political substance so far Plan B has more to contribute to a common European wide struggle than DiEM.

Whether a more radical opposition to the euro, and even EU and NATO or a more reformist will be most fruitful is to early to say. Not all the left share the interest in dividing the popular struggle in Europe in two camps opposing each others. In the debate about Brexit John Westmoreland states ”Real international solidarity means creating a Europe wide movement against austerity, militarism and racism. It is an internationalism between working class people, and cannot be created through the mechanisms of the EU.” putting equal emphasis on social and environmental concerns together with these concluding remarks. Stating a need to create a European wide movement is not necessary in contradiction to reforming or dismantle the EU, it goes beyond dichotomy.

The provocative way to speak in the name of all of Europe while having no substantial representation from half of it to the East or none at all shows the weakness of the initiatives and their colonial attitude towards Eastern Europe. The way peasant movements are almost totally dismissed together with issues of key importance to rural Europe as agriculture shows a disinterest in the periphery and inability to build a hegemonic bloc able to confront the ruling neoliberal order. It is as the left is lost in a view of politics as counting the number of voters for each issue or numbers in the envisioned mass movements needed for the revolution. They seem to forget about the material basis of society were agriculture, forestry and fishing in an economy that by definition needs wide rural areas and other forms of economy that can use urban advantages are equally important. It is as the left believes you can eat urban money and do not need an economy outside the cities because there are to few voters and mass movement activists there. Thus the issue of food lacks in the current left wing strategies in spite of its crucial role in uniting rural and urban struggles and build a hegemonic bloc to solve to multi-dimensional crisis.

These are limitations that can be challenged precisely because the new initiatives have made them so clear. It is now up to the popular movements especially in Central and Eastern Europe and the European peasant and environmental movement to go beyond the limitations set by the left in the west. The objective social and ecological circumstances are to a large extent far worse in Central and Eastern Europe to not talk about a refugee crisis due to the Ukrainian conflict with the need to take care of twice as much displaced persons in Ukraine and Russia as in EU countries from the misery and wars to the South of its border. Yet both social and ecological, rural and urban struggles in the region have played a role of European importance. There is no coincidence that the European food sovereignty meeting will take place in Romania with its combative rural population and a social forum gathering for the region putting emphasis on a wide range of social and environmental issues takes place in Poland. What today seems small and punctual may tomorrow be of crucial importance to all of Europe and beyond.

The challenge expressed by the left wing initiatives puts the European wide peasant and environmental movement in a key position to go outside their comfort zone in food and climate justice issues. The struggle for family farming and a sustainable agriculture in all of Europe or an end to environmental degradation cannot be won with the help only of an alliance between peasant and ecological movements or together with NGOs like Greenpeace unwilling to agree upon an antineoliberal agenda. Likewise can the values promoted by the European initiatives launched at meetings in Athens, Paris, Berlin and Madrid have no fruitful importance without rural and environmental concerns at the core.

Thus it is very much up to the peasant and environmental movement to use the momentum and develop together with other movements a general political strategy for social change built on ecological concerns in all of Europe. Only by being part of addressing the whole multi-dimensional crisis with a just transition program of interest to the majority of rural and urban people from Ural to Lisbon can the food sovereignty and climate struggles be strong enough to win decisive struggles as dismantling corporate and oligarchic rule, funding climate justice, against IMF and TTIP or ending austerity economics.

Together with the kind of movements primarily mobilized by the new initiatives there is a chance to mobilise, resist and transform Europe in solidarity with the world. The movements that are part of the Plan B, DiEM, Down with the euro and Blockupy initiatives have the must see their self imposed limitations. Rural movements are excluded and the chance for building a hegemonic bloc with the help of the environmental movement and the food issue is left aside. Strategies saying to movements in Europe outside the EU that their struggle is of no key importance will not come very far. Nor will movements inside the EU seeing simultaneous international struggle against corporate rule whether the movements they cooperate with are for or against a more federal EU see a strategy for reforming EU in a realistic way as a main road to achieve their goals.

Plan B, DiEM, Down with the euro and Blockupy are important as they show the need for new international initiatives addressing the multi dimensional crisis. Each movement keep a detailed tactical approach to its main area of interest which is also a task for many political parties on a number of issues. But a coherent general strategy is missing connecting peoples daily struggles with national and international or even transnational power relations. With a joint intervention from the environmental and peasant movement it is possible to go beyond these limitations and start to build in 2016 a general economical, ecological, social and political strategy against false solutions and for a just transition of our societies.

Tord Björk





From environmental movement to a justice movement in leap year 2016

Leap Year 2016 hang out with Asad Rehman, Naomi Klein, Bill McGibben etc. http://ecocidealert.com/?p=17689&

A review: http://ecocidealert.com/?p=17296


9-16 May, 6th International Climate and Energy Camp in Lusatia in Germany with direct action 13-16 May: https://www.ende-gelaende.org/en/


Environmental and peasant movement gathers strength in Eastern Europe 

Ukrainian peasants anti-IMF campaign: https://newcoldwar.org/the-future-of-ukrainian-small-farmers-under-threat-from-imf-mandate/

The process towards a Nyeleni Food Sovereignty Forum in Cluj-Napoca, Romania - 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPx06dCVStY


Russian Socio-Ecological Union http://rusecounion.ru/eng


Peace movement






Social forum

CEE social forum Wroclaw 11- March 13, 2016, http://social-forum.pl/en/

Previously CEE Social Forum 2013 in Vienna: http://www.sozialforum-asf.at/index.php/programm

The network Prague Spring 2 against right-wing extremism and populism http://www.praguespring2.net/

World Social Forum in Montreal



Alter Summit 

2016 declaration: http://www.altersummit.eu/accueil/article/declaration-of-the-alter-summit?lang=en

Days of action in 2015: https://www.tni.org/en/article/european-marches-october-1-to-15-actions-days-october-15-16-17




International action day March 1st: https://blockupy.org/en/6425/migrants-workers-activists-act-demonstrate-strike-a-day-of-coordinated-initiatives-against-borders-and-precarization-towards-a-transnational-social-strike/

International action in Frankfurt against European Central bank March 18th, https://blockupy.org/en/18m/call/


Plan B

For a Plan B in Europe https://www.euro-planb.eu

Pariser Plan B: Halbheit überwinden


Paris Plan B Conference on Euro regime - Save or Overcome the EU?


European left debates a 'Plan B' against austerity



Democracy in Europe Movement 25

Democracy in Europe 25, http://diem25.org/


Blockupy activist John Malamintas writes an open letter to Varoufakis before the start of DiEM 25


The answer: http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2016/01/17/diem-and-the-movements-reply-to-open-letter-by-john-malamatinas/


International forum for the Left and popular forces




http://www.euroexit.org/ Austrian anti euro manifesto web site with criticism of DiEM and Plan B


Other strategies for the EU

“Austerexit.” – Time for an exit from austerity – For the organization of a great European-wide conference of social and political resistance. http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article35892

"Our Manifesto for Europe" by Thomas Piketty and 14 others. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/02/manifesto-europe-radical-financial-democratic

"We are Europe" by Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Ulrich Beck. http://manifest-europa.eu/allgemein/wir-sind-europa?lang=en


"European Solidarity Manifesto" by european-solidarity.eu.