As I pointed out in a recent article, I had the opportunity to participate as a guest of Transform! Europe at the European Social Forum. This is an alter-globalization movement. In other words, thousands of activists from around the world came together to voice the idea that globalisation must be achieved on a different basis than the Washington consensus (that is, privatisation, austerity, minimal state, deregulation). Alter-globalization requires a movement of international cooperation based on fairness, solidarity and mutual exchange in which the great achievements of progressivism – such as fair wages, the protection of workers by the labour code, the right to protest and strike and other such important vehicles of economic democracy – are at the heart of a new ‘global village’.
To reject globalisation from the position of nationalism is like saying you don’t want to be bullied by external forces, but by internal forces. It’s like saying that the problem is to avoid exploitation by your neighbour. The main problem is not the exploitation but that the neighbour is from another country. The exploitation can stay there!
It is the great hoax of the current anti-globalisation movements designed to shift the focus from local aggressors to global aggressors, in the hope that the profit-driven system of production that produces some and others will escape the popular fury alive and well.
We believe it is vital to bring to the attention of our readers a critical discussion of the globalisation movement, and to provide alternatives to the current model that do not fall into the trap of absurd patriotism that changes only the set of aggressors, not the system that makes them possible.
It is vital to understand that there are people who are campaigning for a different kind of globalisation and for a different kind of Europe. One of them is Roberto Morea.
Roberto Morea is a member of Transform!italia and a member of the Board of Transform! He is an Italian activist with a long experience in the field of common goods and was a councillor for social services in the Municipality of Rome from 2007 to 2008. In 2014, he was among the promoters of the European movement L’Altra Europa con Tsipras. In 2002 he participated in the legendary European Social Forum which succeeded in gathering one million peace activists. Maria Cernat invited him to present information about the European Social Form and his personal development within the various progressive movements to Baricada’s audience.
Roberto, you were very young when the first European Social Forum took place in Florence. Please tell us more about this experience: what made you become part of the movement?
Yes, it’s true, we were all younger and much more hopeful and enthusiastic. It was the beginning of the new millennium and a few years earlier a great global mobilisation movement had started. A path of participatory democracy was opening up with the great mobilisation around the social forums that accompanied the electoral victories of progressive governments in South and Central America.
In Europe, resistance to the expansion of TINA (there is no alternative) was growing. Allso in Italy, we were witnessing a rise in movements promoting criticism of economic globalisation, seeing clearly the social and environmental risks that its uncritical embrace would produce.
As a communist militant, I saw in the fall of the Berlin Wall the end of a political project that had not been able to keep the promises of liberation and emancipation with which it had been born.
The end of ideologies meant, in fact, the end of the role of workers in the choice of economic and social policies and, at the same time, the decline of state prerogatives and the privatisation of a large part of goods and services built with the contribution of public expenditure.
At the same time, however, I was convinced that there was a need for a reestablishment of critical thinking and an alternative to the capitalist model.
The fact that we were in Florence after the great mobilisations against the G8 in Genoa the previous year, where the choice of the powerful was to impose themselves violently, to stir up violence and to suppress the voices of tens of thousands of people by force, was of enormous significance. The risk of dividing us and weakening the protest against the strategy of permanent war was obvious. But in those days there were so many of us that in one week we organised hundreds of initiatives and dozens of assemblies, all of them with 5 or 6 thousand participants. The final demonstration on Sunday was attended by over a million people. It was really an extraordinary mood.
Which organisation did you participate in and why?
The idea seemed obvious to us that with the growing role of the European Union, we needed to organize at continental level.
It was in those very days that the idea of creating a left-wing political space in Europe was born which could bring together political forces from different nation states. For this reason, a political foundation was created to bring together the different political forces and create the conditions for a discussion between different cultures with different types of political and geographical sensitivities. That is why my commitment was immediately directed towards participating in this objective by setting up Transform! Italy (a cultural point of reference for the reestablishment of communist activism) as part of Transform! Europe, which then became the foundation of the Party of the European Left, which in turn, as a result of our contribution, would be founded a few years later.
And even if we have not always been able to rise to the challenge, I believe that this remains one of the greatest tasks we have.
What do you think was the key ingredient for the huge success that the first forum had?
The biggest impetus was to find the unity of the different movements and mobilisations. I think of the role of trade unions, the farmers’ movement, feminists, the role of degrowth anoand the commons, the environmental movements and the peace movement and against military spending. In short, there was a convergence of the many who knew how to build a mobilization in which no element of criticism of the neoliberal model was above the others; all were equal bearers of an alternative proposal and belonged, contributing to the direction of the protest march and the way forward.
Which organisation are you currently involved in? Please tell us more about what inspired you to get close to this organisation.
I am still involved in Transform! Europe and through this organisation I try to raise awareness about the need to unite. To unite the many individual disputes, the mobilisations of organised forces that often share the same analysis but are not able to go together to represent a reference point for European citizens. Too often we fail to see that the solution to the problems of each lies in solving the problems of the many. That is why I believe that nationalism, in the definition of competition between countries, is the greatest deception of all.
Tell us more about your project, the Media Alliance project.
The Media Alliance project is based on the conviction that too often public opinion is subjected to a media bombardment governed by economic and financial powers that prevents it from voicing real conflicts, instead concealing people’s real problems and creating political agendas that do not correspond at all to the real interests of citizens, which are often against the interests of workers and environmental protection. As I have said before, we need an instrument to make the voice of protest, of conflict, of alternative proposals louder, and this can only be done by uniting the large and small voices that we have. I am sure that not everyone in Europe agrees with the decision to take money away from schools, hospitals, public transport and spend it on weapons and military spending.
I believe that this position is not present in the public space either to the extent or the importance that it really deserves. This is why we thought we should make sure that the newspapers, the media – the forms of communication that exist in this large political space of the left in Europe – can come into contact and reinforce each other through exchanges of articles and points of view. Let us strengthen the voice of one in order to give more voice to all those who still believe it is necessary to imagine that another Europe is possible, and to build it, as we said at the first European Social Forum.
Photo: Roberto Morea
This article has been originally published by The Barricade. Cross-Border Talks republishes it in the framework of the Media Alliance, led by transform!italia.