Alex Callinicos is an academic, editor of the International Socialism Journal and a leading member of the Socialist Workers Party in Britain. Below is a summary of his speech on the radical left in Europe at the Marxism Festival last month.
The defining issue in Europe today is austerity and resistance to it. The victories for the radical left are mixed. There has been the success of left reformism in Germany with Die Linke as well as anti-capitalist parties in Greece (Antarsya), Ireland (United Left Alliance) and France (New Anti-Capitalist Party). There have been moments of electoral advance in Greece and Ireland but set-backs in Portugal (Left Bloc).
There is an important relationship between the electoral struggle and the broader movement. Electoral struggle makes a difference but its main task is to help build broader movements of struggle outside parliament. The French party is in crisis because it cannot agree on a strategy for the Presidential elections. This is a reidiculous situation when the priority must be the wider struggle.
It is critical that the square movements in Spain and Greece are united with the strike movements or the square movement will burn itself out, as the student movement did in Britain. This fusion will not happen spontaneously but must be worked for.
Movements happen independently of socialists. Our role is not just to build them, or to join them, but to intervene in them in such a way as to ensure they can win.
Judith Orr, editor of Socialist Worker, then made the following comment.
Militant working class action is vital, not just to defeat the ruling class response to the crisis, but to fight back against the fascists, the politics of despair, which is a big issue in Britain, France and Greece.
Gerhard Mosler of Die Linke in Germnay said the strength of the left party in Germany is one reason why there is not a strong fascist presence in Germany.
Alex Callincos finished by saying it is important to fight for the integration of the electoral front with the other fronts. It is only one front and not the most important.
You can hear Alex Callinicos' speech here.