Discussion on the crisis of neoliberalism and the state of the Left in the EU, held April 7, 2017 as part of the 9th annual Platypus international conference.
A united and peaceful Europe seemed to be a distant dream for a generation which went through the experience of war and destruction. Today, this hope gained shape in the new realities of the European Union. Despite its official proclamation of peace, social well-being and an “alternative to capitalism and communism” the project finds itself in a prolonged crisis with uncertain expectations. The Euro-crisis, massive austerity and the increasing interference into democratic principles, a growing division between powerful and weak economies, Germany's new hegemony and the growing influence of financial capital appear in stark contrast to the official slogans of “European values and solidarity”.
The desperate struggle of SYRIZA demonstrated the necessity and seeming impossibility of the Left across Europe to answer with a politics that would be truly international and go beyond “resisting austerity.” Despite growing social unrest, the deep ambivalence towards the EU expresses itself in the inability of the Left to formulate a coherent vision of a political alternative. At the same time, the rejection of the EU is ceded to a growing Right. What is the EU for the Left today? Does the Left believe the EU should be overcome on the basis of the EU itself, or against the EU? The clarification of its nature and appropriate responses seem to be one of the most pressing issues for the Left on the continent and beyond.