It is for me clear and evident that the present European Commission is not providing effective answers to the current economic and social crises, and that it is imperative to seek a coherent and progressive left-wing alternative.
This political alternative needs to be built within a wide frame of progressive parties and political platforms, consider the claims of the present indignados and occupy movements, and emerge with a consistent program to be framed into a political alternative by 2014, in time for the next European election.
Meanwhile it is important, among other factors, that Europe’s Indignados movements shape a cohesive and organized discourse, because the current national initiatives have indirectly contributed to the legitimacy of nationalist narratives that dominate the European cultural discourse today. This lack of a European frame happens because parties and social movements still condition their political reading on endogenous factors - intra-national – that are usually related to the impact of the crisis and the lack of political solutions in their own countries; been therefore more convenient to organize themselves around national narratives. But in reality the conditioning factors that drive today’s European social unrest cannot be considered exclusively local. They have at least a European-wide scope. And the reasons behind the millions of Europeans in the streets are, with few cultural distinctions, shared between Greeks, Irish, Italians, French, Portuguese and British, to name a few.
Now, the lack of a consolidated European public opinion, the absence of a functional European Party System, and the ‘organic nature’ of many of these social movements (sometimes more fiction than reality) helps to explain the lack of integrated answers and the much needed construction of a coherent, shared discourse that could provide a socially valid and politically engaged alternative. And, in this sense, it is urgent to solidify the relationships between these three dimensions, so that the necessary intra-systemic change can occur within a legitimate reformist framework.
For various reasons we have not managed to build a strong European public opinion or public sphere. There are no truly effective European newspapers or television channels and the closest channels we have to a European civic space are our personal contacts gathered around social networks (eg Facebook), which are clearly insufficient to shape a shared, collective European conscience. As such, we are incapable of producing a collective narrative bounding the different shapes of public indignation.
On the other hand, the organic tradition of many social movements, and its ideological backgrounds, had lead to the refuse of any institutional normality and to the inability to create effective links with other institutional partners. This pseudo-post-anarchist tradition sees the current European party landscape without left-right distinction, acknowledging no validity in any of the actual institutional structures, situation that leads to an institutional stalemate with the consolidated mainstream political system, namely with left-wing parties (the political space where a common ground could be easily explored).
Changing the current state of affairs of the two previous dimensions seems to me too demanding, as we are far from establishing the necessary common ground to reunite the scattered European progressive forces or achieve a European public sphere. The responsibility to act within the framework of the Union and provide answers to the new social and civic public claims should fall on the institutionally embodied parties, particularly left-wing European political parties. But the paradox is that today these party structures are more a part of the problem than the solution, and motivate - often rightly - distrust from an engaged civil society.
So, we need to know how to solve this dilemma in order to seek the reform of the European Republic. And the responsibility for this should lay, I repeat, on the European left-wing parties. They are politically capable, skilled and resourceful, and should present themselves as the connecting key that could bind ‘The Street’ and the ‘The Institutions’ together, within a reformist, intra-institutional frame.
Not doing so could mean the end of the European project as we know it and a return to a closed, outdated, and nationalist Europe. Basically, a return to the nineteenth century.