Playing Home again - James Debono

Zminijietna Harga Ottubru – Dicembru 2008

For the past decade European Social Democratic parties have been playing "away" facing the attack of the rightwing which was riding on the wave of deregulation. Their only defence was joining the attack on working people's conditions and accepting the virtues of deregulated markets.

Now that social democratic parties can play home as the deregulation myth has been exposed for what it is, they appear more disoriented than ever and risk scoring own goals on their own home turf. As the right wing accepts state intervention to save capitalism, the left
wing is unable to mobilise support for state intervention to alleviate
living conditions for the common people. The left is now in the position to rehabilitate the role of the state as an actor in the economy without any fear that it will dismantle those market
mechanisms which create wealth and prosperity. 
What's sure is that the left should learn the lesson; that of sticking to its ground. Yes principles have to be adjusted and constantly redefined to new and changing realities but not abandoned. And that also applies to other issues like the defence of civil liberties,
multiculturalism and European integration. The left will never win the battle against the far right if it panders to the same sentiments.
Joining the attack on the most vulnerable is not just immoral but a recipe for the break up of the social fabric. By playing on the far right's turf the left will end up playing away on away territory where the right will always win.
What we need now is to redefine multiculturalism, set in motion instruments of dialogue and inclusion, and redefine the concept of nationhood around the notion of active citizenship and shared democratic values rather than blood and soil. Pandering to the right's law and order xenophobic discourse has failed in France, Italy and Austria.

But neither is retreating to the liberal elite enclave an option. The challenge is to present populist policies centered around the need for
more security.  But to do so the left has to refine and widen the meaning of security. Yes the left can articulate an alternative discourse of security which is no monopoly of the right. I would propose the following points:
1) Security from deregulated markets which could impoverish everyone in a single blow.
2) Security from contamination by Nuclear power, GM foods, electro magnetic pollution and other threats to public health.
3) Security from the break up of the social fabric through an active
   integration policy and a new sense of nationhood redefined as loyalty to democratic and pluralistic values.
4) Security from unilateral foreign policies which unleash dangerous wars which make our world unstable through more European integration and a democratisation of the UN.
5) Security from poverty through the institution of basic income (with
   pensions being the first to be reformed along this line)
6) Security from the commodification of basic public services which should be reliable, accountable, and in public hands.
7) Security from invasive and arbitrary violations of privacy by both state and corporate interests.
8) Security from all fundamentalisms which breed terror through the
   uncompromising defence of secular values which should be the basis of a redefined nationhood.
9) A secure environment for small and sustainable self-run businesses and cooperatives to flourish and create wealth.

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