In light of the publication of the book “The Great Regression”, the Progressive Caucus* invited the editor of the collective work, Heinrich Geiselberger, as well as Robert Misik, Austrian journalist and one of the authors, to an open discussion in the European Parliament about the challenges progressive forces in Europe face today. Members of Progressive Caucus’s Steering Committee, MEPs Guillaume Balas (S&D), Georgi Pirinski (S&D), Dimitris Papadimoulis (Vice-president of the European Parliament, GUE/NGL) and Florent Marcellesi (Greens/ EFA), participated in the discussion.
Explaining the main goal of the book, H. Geiselberger, mentioned that «the past years the political debate in Germany was dominated my migration or whether Islam belongs to our country». «The political discourse was completely nationalised. Regressive topics dominate the agenda. That keeps us from talking about education, ecology, anything progressive», he said. Mentioning the opposition that runs through the book, between the notions of ‘class’ or ‘identity’ for the Left, he said that it is shouldn’t be the case and explained how the working conditions have changed today, so that «progressive fights have to be rooted in everyday life -rent, care, infrastructure».
- Misik mentioned the «danger of authoritarianism today». «It is just simple to say that on one hand we have authoritarianism and on the other liberal democracy. If right-wing and authoritarians forces are winning today around Europe, it is not because they are so good, but because progressive forces do not do enough. People then feel abandoned in a lot of fields, don’t feel represented, they feel alienated by traditional policies», he said, stressing that «people don’t trust progressives enough because the centre-Left betrayed them, and also because they think that they cannot change anything because of globalisation». But, as he said «progressive forces have to set a new agenda against the aggressive discourse of the right, so that they can influence the public debate».
- Marcellesi, while presenting the authors of “The Great Regression”, mentioned that «it is interesting to see that people and intellectuals from all over the world talk about this regression in politics». He insisted on the importance for the progressive forces to take into account the ecological dimension when organising their agenda. «We cannot talk about the economic crisis or the national rise without talking about the ecological crisis. We need to find out what the progressive and ecological forces can do against the regression of our times», he stated.
«The transnational aspect is fundamental to understand politics today. The link between the national and international framework is the issue at stake, when trying to establish progressive politics», said G. Balas, summing up one of the main dipoles of the book. «There is a huge responsibility on behalf of the leaders of the progressive forces. Today, politicians such as Macron and Renzi follow the neo-liberal agenda and try to show that there is no alternative. As an opposition to that, rose the populism», he mentioned.
«Neoliberalism has destroyed basic liberal values, such as equality or freedom to do things, instead of freedom to buy things», said G. Pirinski, while presenting the book, and explaining the notion of ‘regression’ as a collapse of the forms of society we knew until some years ago. G. Pirinski stressed the «substitution of liberal democracy with right populism and the danger for an authoritarian capitalism», noted that «we are less equipped to deal with what is going one right now than in ten years ago», and insisted on the importance for the progressive forces to «remake the case for a new welfare state in the context of a social Europe and a global agenda for sustainable development».
- Papadimoulis talked about the phenomenon of ‘orbanisation’ of the EPP, the right party in the European Parliament, since the ideas of the party of Viktor Orban «have become stronger, albeit being a minority in the beginning». «We also have the new Austrian government, the Czech president, the Polish government, the result of the elections in Italy. The limits between the traditional and the extreme right are moving. The effort of the traditional right to share a part of the agenda of the far right enables the latter. We need an international approach. We also need to think of different levels of alliances, progressive alliances, antifascist alliances with the liberal democrats, when democracy is in danger, based on the protection of human rights», he stressed.
“The Great Regression” collects contributions from fifteen international authors, taking a closer look at the root causes behind these developments, locating them in their respective historical contexts, and discussing strategies for fighting back.
In clear and unambiguous opposition to the ‘nationalist-international’, this volume responds to our current state of global turbulence by building on the power and potential of a transnational public sphere.
“The Great Regression” is a key intervention that will be of great value to all those concerned about recent developments and wondering how best to respond to this unprecedented challenge to the very core of liberal democracy and internationalism across the world today.
Read here the preface of the book: http://www.thegreatregression.eu/preface-of-the-editor/
For more info about the book and the authors: http://www.thegreatregression.eu/
Watch here G. Balas intervention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5hj_RvMHVQ&feature=youtu.be
Watch here G. Pirinski intervention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6xs9XlL9iA
Watch here D. Papadimoulis intervention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oy3LZULWyDY&feature=youtu.be
Watch here R. Misik intervention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7D8uxToT1Rw&feature=youtu.be
Watch here H. Geiselberger intervention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOfx-9a7IQo&feature=youtu.be
*The Progressive Caucus is a space of dialogue based on confidence-building and open debate. Ιts aim is to analyse differences and build bridges between progressive allies in the European Parliament and across Europe. It has been established by progressive MEPs of different political groups and is open to everyone in the community of the European Parliament standing for solidarity, democracy, social justice and sustainability. In the Progressive Caucus participate MEPs from the S&D, the Greens/ EFA and the GUE/ NGL groups.
Contact with journalists:
Mina Kostopoulou, +32 486206676
Albert Klein, +33 676881702
Facebook page: @ProgressiveCaucusEP