Nicola Fratoianni is a member of the Italian Parliament and a leader of the Italian Left coalition. In the below email he sent to our Coordinating Committee, Nicola outlines why he’s joining DiEM25, and reflects on the challenge of building a new Left in Italy.
I accept with pleasure your invitation to join DiEM25, sharing in your conviction that it is both urgent and necessary to reopen debates about the strict links between neoliberalism, austerity policies and growing inequalities. The downhill to “disintegration” of Europe (as as it was sadly but effectively described by Jan Zielonka) seems to be steeper and steeper than ever.
Even the recent outcomes of the intergovernmental summit in Bratislava show this very blatantly: with the reaffirmation of a Franco-German axis that sees most social democracies prone in front of the suicidal rigidity of austerity policies and is condescending towards the inhuman and irrational policies of the closure of borders against those women, men and children seeking in Europe protection and opportunities for their futures.
The economic-financial, media and political elites, those leading our continent, are acting as did the command on the bridge of the Titanic: they very well see the iceberg ahead, but they are too stubborn to do anything different, but to continue to steam “full speed” at it.
In doing this, they fuel even more irresponsibly the fire of self-interest and identitarian politics, of nationalism and racism, which flares at the four corners of Europe.
Furthermore, Europe is less and less relevant on the global stage, at the very time when what we need instead is that Europe be represented with a single voice, as a strong force for peace and cooperative policies, able to act on those theaters of war which, in the Middle East, as in the Mediterranean basin, now surround our continent.
As you know, with many others we are engaged in the construction process of a new left-wing political force in Italy, united and plural, which has as its primary tasks the fight against poverty and inequality and the for democracy.
A Left that would be capable of encountering the claims for change of so many, who today are resigned or discouraged, and of all those, who do not want to surrender the two variants, dominant today, of “there is no alternative”: the one that defends the neoliberal status quo and the one that results in an ambiguous and resentful populism, lacking perspective.
We’re trying to do this knowing that this Left, also in developing the social and political power necessary to change Italy, can only have the whole of Europe as its horizon of analyses and practices.
Ours is not a “naively idealistic Europeanism”: to reverse the current disruptive trends, we do not think that it is sufficient to repeat mechanically the slogan “United States of Europe” or to hope for a deeper integration process, perhaps enriched with some more attention to social needs.
There is, instead, the need to produce acts of breaking the current austerity and exclusion policies, to open in these cracks the political spaces for change.
We need – as Yanis recently said, recalling an idea that is a fundamental part of my history and of our history – to multiply the “constructive disobediences” in order to build an alternative.
This is the reason why our Europeanism is aware that any struggle for social justice, rights and freedoms of the many will not achieve any effective and long-lasting result, if it is not able to establish itself at least on a continental scale. Nothing will change if we are not able to break and overcome the too narrow national boundaries, without waiting for any unlikely top-down initiative by those elites who drove us to this point of European “existential crisis”.
But on one point we must be clear: not everyone, in the Left and in the various European countries, thinks so. Some of our comrades and fellows indicate that a return to the past of national States is a possible way out of the disaster.
We must continue to confront with them and try to change their minds.
With the arguments of critical reason, first of all: today’s small national sovereignties would be “paper boats” at the mercy of currents and storms, unleashed by the dominant financial capitalism in the ocean of global economy. Financial capitalism has created a Marxist masterpiece: it took advantage of the economic crisis to restructure itself on an international basis and to attribute to itself new tools for control and domination over people’s lives. A “revolution from above”, which the social opposition movement has witnessed passively.
With the passion of ideas: we need a new and different “internationalism”, based on the struggle for democracy and the struggle to reconquer the dignity of people, regardless of where they were born and where they live.
With the intelligence of politics: the old and new right-wing already occupy firmly the terrain of each political discourse focused on the selfish defense of national borders.
For these reasons, dear comrades and friends of DiEM25, please count on the commitment of myself and many others, who are involved in the adventure of building a new Left in Italy: we are available for a joint venture in a broader and transversal movement that rightly put in the foreground the reconquering of democracy in Europe.
member of the Italian Parliament,
former national coordinator of SEL (Left Ecology and Freedom)
promoter and member of the Executive board of SI Sinistra Italiana (Italian Left)
Rome, September 20th, 2016
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