Proposals for a Charter for the European Social Movement

24.09.2009
A text authored by Pierre Bourdieu and other members of the Raisons d'agir-collective following a series of meetings and discussions with representatives of various social movements and unions.

For the social movements that have emerged throughout Europe over the last few years to take root and flourish, it is necessary to coordinate, initially on a European level, the various groups - trade unions, associations and NGOs devoted to human and social rights-, within an organized network, whose form has yet to be invented, and which will be able to develop our forces, harmonize objectives and elaborate common projects. These movements, despite their differences and occasional disagreements all advocate the defence of those who have been left aside by neo-liberal policies, and the resolution of the problems left aside by these policies.

As these problems are ignored or repressed by social democratic parties above all preoccupied with managing the present economic order of thingsso as to keep their hands on the helm of the state, and which have come to accept growing inequality, unemployment and casualization, an authentically critical counter-force must be capable of bringing them constantly back onto the agenda, by developing new forms of action expressing, as in Seattle, the true aspirations of the citizenry.

Since such a counter-force has to confront international forces like the multinational companies and institutions, it must therefore in turn be international and, to start with, European. Being confronted with forces aiming at the conservation or restoration of the past, most notably by the dismantling of what is left of the Welfare state, it must be a force or movement which, like the social movements of the XIXth century that gradually imposed the conquests of the Welfare state, can and should force international organizations, national states and their governments to propose and implement effective measures to control the financial markets, to fight inequalities and to impose a better distribution of wealth within and between nations.

For these reasons we propose that, before the end of the year 2000, General Estates of the European Social Movement be held with the objective of elaborating a charter of the social movement, and building the foundations of an international structure bringing together all the intellectual and organizational forms of resistance to neo-liberal policies, with the greatest autonomy from parties and governments.

This conference should be concerned firstly with providing a forum of discussion of the various projects of social transformation which oppose the social and economic processes presently under way (flexibilization, casualization, pauperization, etc.) and of the ways of combating the law-and-order policies which European governments are now using to neutralize the effects of these processes; secondly, with the establishment of permanent links facilitating rapid mobilization with a view to common action of all the groups concerned, - without introducing any form of centralizing control or losing the diversity of their respective inspirations and traditions, thirdly with the definition of common objectives for concerted action at a national or international level oriented towards new forms of social solidarity based on unified and improved social benefits.

The convergence of all those whose daily combat against the most harmful effects of neo-liberal policies provides them with a practical knowledge of the subversive potentialities of such actions and its creative possibilities could spark of a process of collective creation capable of offering all those who no longer feel at home in the world as it is a realistic Utopia around which their different but converging combats could be articulated.