[Note: CNS-EP (Capitalismo Natura Socialismo – Ecologia Politica, also called Ricerche per l’alternativa, Research for the Alternative) is an online journal (formerly in print in 1991-1997 and 2001-2002) and part of the CNS international network. Since the beginning of this century, with the historical defeat of the Italian and European Left becoming completely clear, the journal decided to concentrate on the alternative and the commons and to raise the visibility of social and ecological movements. The CNS-EP Collective’s position paper below is a manifesto aiming to facilitate the organization of international conferences on these themes].
The crisis of the dominant system marks the end of an epoch. It is not another phase of the same. Capitalism is unable to keep its promises of eradicating poverty and hunger, ensuring social justice, respecting the environment, and overcoming the South-North divide. It defends by means of warfare “its” right to resources South and North. It thereby pillages nature and identifies quality of life with economic “well-being.” For people in flesh and blood this means the loss of any possibility to decide over their own living and working conditions, or to have any self-determination or chance to decide about their lives’ prospects. So it has become “normal”, for example, to put one’s health at risk and lose one’s life at the workplace. Nineteenth-century representative democracy, tied to national states and political parties as the bridge between the state and citizens, is no longer enough in a context of globalization. People are no longer able to defend themselves, while Earth is on the brink of collapse because of excessive resource consumption both through extraction and emissions and waste. However, governments are insensitive to people’s demands for real democracy and they are blind to the relationship between economic and ecological crises. Unemployment and corruption spread but they–European Union governments and bankers, for example—at most busy themselves in “mitigating” austerity policies, instead of putting the economy and the planet right. The global defeat of the left over the last decades and especially in Europe—the cradle of western democracy—has allowed the ruling classes to erase the social and cultural improvements of the twentieth century and to exclude not only workers from public debate, but also the masses and their culture. This has given rise to an unprecedented social division between the 99 and 1% of the people. Leftist parties and unions have not been able/willing to change themselves to deal with the challenges of globalization and so they have enabled neoliberalism and austerity policies, while defending poorly (and therefore pointlessly) only “secure” workers. They have bought into the capitalist ideology of the market and the industrialist ideology of development based on mass consumption. This has favored the separation of life from work and economy from society, making obvious the left’s inability to perform its historical role as defender of the marginalized. In Italy, for example, the “glorious” Italian Communist Party collapsed with the fall of the Berlin wall, opening the road to the triumph of il pensiero unico (mainstream conformist thinkinglike TINA, There Is No Alternative).