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The war and the Other Agenda

The war in the Ukraine created a new and very dangerous situation, which has a profound impact on our societies. The entire Left in Europe condemns the Russian invasion which cannot justified by no means, not even by Nato’s eastwards expansion. It clearly violates international law and causes immense human suffering. The left demands an immediate ceasefire and to stop the war. We are in solidarity with all those demonstrating against war and for peace, especially in the Ukraine and in Russia. We call on the political institutions to use all the available resources to promote negotiations and to achieve a peaceful solution. 

The European Left is committed to peace. We say no to war. War is not a mean to make politics. The disaster of Afghanistan clearly demonstrates that war is not a solution, and that democracy can’t be introduced by military interventions. Concerning the war in the Ukraine and question, how the Left should react, there are also disagreements on certain issues between the different parties of the European Left. This primarily concerns the delivery of arms, for which some parties are in favor and others strictly against. Another issue are the sanctions. The majority are in favor of targeted sanctions which do not affect the population but affect those who are responsible and the oligarchs. But there are also voices calling for more severe sanctions such as stopping energy imports. And also about Nato there are some differences. 

The majority judges Nato’s policy as aggressive and dangerous not being the solution but a part not of the problems we are facing. Others now have a less rigid position on Nato and are disoriented. But there is one thing very clear. The Left is the political force which is committed to peace and in favor of a political solution through negotiation. 

We need to work on establishing in Europe a system of collective security free from old and new divisions, where the sovereign equality and independence of all states are fully respected, as envisioned by the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris and all other Osce documents. Stability and peace in Europe can only be achieved through peaceful conflict resolution, arms control and disarmament measures. We are against rearmament and a new arms race. Serious political and diplomatic efforts are needed.

The European Left highly appreciates the invitation of Arnaldo Otegi from the Bask Left to a peace conference in Guernica. Guernica is a symbol for peace and for antifascism as well. Especially in the current situation an appeal for peace from Guernica would be extremely helpful. 

The war in Ukraine is not limited to this region but has a geopolitical dimension. This war is also part of the struggle for hegemony in the world. The strengthening of Nato as a certainly unwanted consequence of Putin’s aggression is in the interests of the United States and serves their efforts to assert their hegemony, which they see threatened by China. It’s worth to remember that Nato at its summit last year in Brussels identified China as the main enemy. Not least because of the geopolitical importance of the current military conflict the risks are extremely high. There is a risk that the war in the Ukraine will be transformed in a greater war, using also nuclear weapons. That would be a deadly catastrophe. 

Instead of assuming a mediating role, the European Union (EU) is becoming more and more a war party with the delivery of arms and massive military support. This is a wrong policy. The EU should make every effort for a negotiated solution to end this war. The EU should play an independent role and not be the loyal ally of the United States. In my opinion, it is very worrying that now states like Finland or Sweden are considering to abandon neutrality and to join Nato.

The war in the Ukraine should be taken as an opportunity to promote another policy, breaking with the logic of power which dominates international policy. This links the considerations about the war to the “Other Agenda” to which this edition of Questioni is dedicated. The “Other Agenda” aims to break with the predominant logic of power. War is certainly the most extreme expression of the logic of power. In its document it’s outlined that there are two principles creating the logic of power: “the private ownership by ‘natural’ right of everything and the artificialization of life”. 

Instead of the logic of power the “Other Agenda for Another World” is inspired by the logic of the conservation and regeneration of life. To break with the dominant logic and to promote another logic there are three key objectives: another use of financial resources for the preservation, care and regeneration of life, to use the knowledge for developing societies and not to be limited to private purposes, to abolish private patents not being only the source for benefit of the holders of capital like it bs the case with pharmaceutical companies. 

This initiative for another agenda is an initiative to use the knowledge and the technical progress for improving the working and living conditions and not to limit it to increasing private benefits. And indeed, we are facing major challenges that threaten the survival of humanity, such as climate change. Every effort must be made to combat these ecological challenges. This is not possible in the dominant capitalistic logic which the “Other Agenda” denounces. 

The commitment to peace and disarmament and the fight against climate change and for a better world are linked. Every cent spent for military is a cent lost for combating the climate crisis. Instead of spending billions for arms we need public investments for the necessary social-ecological transformation of the industry. We know that a production based on fossil energies has no future. We need a green industrial revolution. 

For the Left it’s clear that we have to protects the workers affected by these transformation processes and that the workers should be involved themselves.  This will be a big challenge and cannot be achieved by leaving it to the market. As it is outlined in the “Other Agenda” the public use of knowledge is crucial.

Heinz Bierbaum is President of the Party of the European Left. He is a sociologist and economist.