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The third grassroots meeting of Attac regional groups in Berlin
[2008-05-08]

Revolutionary dress rehearsal for the ESU

The third grassroots meeting of Attac regional groups in Berlin

Participants showed themselves generally satisfied with the results of this grassroots meeting of attac regional groups, the third of its kind after those in Jena-Weimar in 2006 and Toulouse in 2007, and they were at least 26 to have followed the meeting attentively throughout, 6 from France (3 from Paris, 2 from Toulouse-Tarn and one from Lyon), 2 from Poland (Kielce), 2 from Russia (collaborators of the Alternativy foundation, which together with Boris Kagarlitskii's Institute for alterglobalisat reflection and Karine Clement's Institute for Collective Action belongs to attac Europe's closest partners in Russia), 5 members of the federation-wide Attac EU working group, 1 attaci from Wismar, 1 from Leipzig, 4 from Jena-Weimar, 1 from Erfurt and 5 Berliners from the working groups against the war, against railroad privatisation, the project group Agenda 2010, the working group on language and the working group on Europe... The meeting began with a buffet dinner in mild May air in front of the attac café. The traditional 1st of May morning demonstration of the DGB trade unions from Keith Street to the Brandenburg Gate was unfortunately drowned in rain, but after a brief rest in the attac café, we gathered again for the alternative Euro May Day parade from Boxhagener to Lausitz Square and here weather, mood as well as political orginality were in sync. On the one hand, there were highlighted topics such as precarity and marginalisation, on the other hand topics of social philosophy, in slogans such as: “Communism would be nice...“, “Communism is a dream!“ or rather: “Let's not wait for Communism!“ Long dry again and well exposed to the sun, we reached the attac booth: “Bowling away privatisation!“ on Mariannen Square. Next day, in Berlin's “House of Democracy“ we started with the seminars, from whose conclusions one might almost again deduce a “Berlin Manifesto“, similar to the “Weimar Manifesto“ that developed out of the first meeting. With respect to the first topic privatisation, the participants convened that for the toppling of privatisation, there is necessary 1) a relatively narrow goal, that one may not, like the Russian CP for instance, immediately demand a revision of all privatisations, but that it is necessary to concentrate on preventing concrete single projects or to get them retracted, that 2) there needs to be a broad alliance, and that 3) it is important to avoid sleaze and in particular to maintain independence from political parties. Cases from Jena and Erfurt (flats), Leipzig (city works) and Berlin (water) served to illustrate these points. In the afternoon, we then focused – inspired by a very detailed power-point privatisation by the Parisian attacis – on so-called flexicurity by which the EU Commission understands a combination of flexibilisation of labour markets with simultaneous cushioning by social security, while in reality, the developments in France, Poland, Germany and the comparison with Russia clearly show that it comes to an elimination of social security, dumping wages, discrimination of young people, the elderly (especially retired people), migrants and difficult living situations, that it is therefore more correct to speak of “flexicarity“, meaning flexibilisation plus precarisation. Later in the afternoon, we then passed on to the discussion of global Europe, where speakers and participants in the discussion from Germany and France agreed that there is a close relationship between governments and lobby groups, and that there is, even though an even closer cooperation is headed for, already a close collaboration between Europe and the USA (examples TABD, “Transatlantic Business Dialogue“ and “Council on Foreign Relations“ initiatives), whereby such policies such as unjust trade treaties, commercialisation of armament and miliarisation and blocked climate protection negotiations, as well as the Lisbon Treaty now in the process of ratification are largely determined. These and other topics were continued and discussed in even more detail at the friendly dinners, with solidary cash register(!), on May 1 and 2 and the city tour for the least tired. The crowing glory of the meeting was on Saturday the discussion of the alternative European constitution proposed by the attacis from Lyon (to be found on the website of attac Lyon), whose discussion continued until the early afternoon when really the last had to go home. The attempt of the Lyon comrades to anchor democracy and the separation of powers at the European level was appreciated, and there were comments which were considered useful on monetary policy, the regulation of defence matters and property questions (liberty of capital circulation and taxation of firms). On the latter point, the colleague from attac Lyon suggested a taxation both of the wage differentials within the firms as well as of the dividends paid as well as a strengthening of co-determination at the firm level. At the same time, the power of capital shall also be restrained by way of narrow restrictions on private credit creation as well as non-investment budgetary expenditures still within the framework of the existing system. There will now be created a Wiki where there may also be entered comments in German and Italian, and people are cordially invited to contribute. There were suggestions to concentrate at the next meeting, probably in Poland or in Paris, on the work on this alternative constitution in particular, whose spread and success would certainly be tantamount to a kind of “revolution“, thus the final word of the colleague from Lyon.


Carla Krüger

Federation-wide attac EU working group Germany

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