Trying new horizons


Initial projects for open and democratic learning will be the core of the struggle for hegemony. The third thesis of Michael Brie for the debates of the Post Neoliberal Agenda


Michael Brie, Fundaçăo Rosa Luxemburgo


"A class formation", thus Wolfgang Fritz Haug in the Historical-Critical Dictionary of Marxism with reference to Antonio Gramsci, "is 'historically progressive' thanks to its historical 'productivity', that means the expansionism of a concrete political and economic regimes thanks to which it 'drives forward the whole society, by not only fulfilling existential needs but by enlarging the number of its leaders through continuous appropriation of new industrial and productive spheres of action' and by thus nourishing the convincing expectations of individual 'life perspectives'."[1]


The struggle for the active delegitimation of neoliberalism, the demonstration of its internal contradictions, the non-redemption of the goals it promised, their distortion into economic, social, cultural, ecological and political catastrophes will only become a real claim to an independent emancipative counter-hegemony, which is more than a "No!" and also more than the contrary of neoliberalism, if it takes on material force in emancipative, solidarity-based initial projects for "another world".



The strategic triangle of left politics


The project of a emancipative transformation bound to solidarity can only be realised as a Middle-Bottom project. It requires an alliance of interests, a social contract between those groups, which form the productive core strata (the "general production worker") and those, which are marginalised by neoliberalism. In such an alliance, the new

(and old) middle strata can gain a higher degree of social security, of a stable social environment and social integration, of qualitatively high-value services, of human dignity, of domestic demand for products and services. The lower strata would obtain a dignified basic insurance, access to the "freedom goods" of a society, chances for a far-reaching participation of equal value in social life. All of this must come together in a project of a new higher social productivity. However, the middle strata are still caught in the illusion that the chances of the neoliberal project are higher than the risks, or they see no alternative at all and subordinate themselves.


Such a Middle-Bottom project requires a broad political and cultural alliance of social movements, left parties and organisation as well as forces in the state apparatus, of the economy, culture, the media etc. that is superior to that of neoliberalism. In Gramsci's terms: a historical block, "the creation of aggregate capacity of action with society-wide reach."[2] However, the trade unions are still caught in a defensive battle (first signs of different approaches are emerging), social democracy sees its chances in moderate neoliberalism, social movements are to a far extent middle-class movements, the marginalised are politically and culturally still isolated.


The core of a solidarity-based emancipative transformation is formed by initial projects that give the above-mentioned Middle-Bottom alliance and the vision of a new productivity a concrete content and can become the common organising reference point of a new historical block, with the help of which we can wrestle for a change of the social relationship of forces.[3]


Initial projects, thus Lutz Brangsch, are projects of open participative, democratic learning:

1) Initial projects mediate between reform and revolution as well as between protest and shaping the society by inducing lasting shifts of power constellations and drawing a broad re-grouping, and re-definition of actors in society in their wake.

2) Initial projects must not only be designed for success but they must also make people capable of dealing with success.

3) Initial projects mediate between locality, regionalism and globalism.

4) Initial projects mediate the totality of way of life, cultural and historical identity.

5) Initial projects are processes of conscious social learning in the unity of change and self-transformation.


Main features of a transformational policy that is able to defeat capital dominance, will be, on the basis of the positions developed here, the following policy goals.


1) Overcoming of the dominance of global financial capitalism, among other things by the annulment of public debts of the developing countries, the introduction of taxes on international financial speculation and its curtailment, the creation of a new regulated world currency system, the elimination of all of forms of tax, legal and bank paradises, the gradual introduction of global minimal standards;


2) Gradual lifting of the dependence of the basic needs of citizens from capitalistically dominated markets by forms of need-oriented basic insurance, efficient public sectors in the social sector, in health, education and transport etc.; basic rights and public existential provision must enjoy precedence over free trade;


3) Build-up of a participative social democracy, beginning at the communal level up to global processes, which aligns the conditions of all economic activity with the social interests of the lower and middle strata of the population and subjects decisions to their participation;


4) Realisation of the social obligation of all property in the interests of lower and middle social strata and subsequent generations

(principle of social and ecological sustainability) as well as the co-determination of those employed as well as all groups directly concerned by the decisions of economic companies in the essential decisions of these companies;


5) Roll-back of the military imperial power of the USA and transformation of the regional organisations into powers of peace, which invest their political, economic, and cultural possibilities for crisis prevention on the basis of the UNO and under unconditional respect of international law; persecution of terrorists on the basis of the state of law principle and according to the provisions of international criminal law and procedure.


Translated by Carla Krüger, 8/3/05


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[1] HCDM, Vol. 6/I, p. 14 f. [2] Ibidem., p. 23. [3] Dieter Klein: „From the point of view of a theoretical approach of transformation, projects, which will make possible first steps into a different developmental direction, will have to satisfy a number of criteria:

1) Since the given contradictions and conflict lines in society are the point of departure of any realistic alternative, which directly concern the life of citizens, it follows that the initial projects for a different development path must concern essential unsolved problems in society.

2) Initial projects must be realistic, meaning that they offer the chance to be implemented in the foreseeable future and lead to improvements for as many wage-earners and socially disadvantaged as possible.

3 ) Such initial projects would thus permit the mobilisation of potential actors for social change. They have to be apt to hold against the TINA syndrome and the feeling of hopelessness that hardly anything can be done against the ruling policy. Important is the emergence of TAMARA experiences in society (There Are Many And Realistic Alternatives!). Empirical investigations have shown that roughly 50% of the currently hardly politically active Germans say of themselves that they would engage politically, if they could count upon a success.

4) The initial projects for the solution of current problems should make clear the opening towards more far-reaching developments and contribute to the roll-back of capital dominance, to the democratisation of social decision-making processes and to the civilising of conflicts on the basis of the reducing of repressive elements."


Published at 07/06/2005