Launching of the Pierre Mendès France International Centre
"Not all actions are vain, and not all politics are dirty."
Pierre Mendès France
The fact that we live in a period of upheavals without precedent since the Second World War appears to have become an almost trivial observation. Globalisation dictates in every area, but it is above all the rule of the industrial and financial multinationals that dominates the world's economy, concentrating wealth in the rich countries while abandoning billions of people in poor countries to their lot.
States are becoming increasingly weaker, with no international regulatory body of sufficient authority to fill the vacuum, leaving the way free for any amount of speculation and the violence of nationalist and religious fanaticism. The revolution of information and bio-technologies profoundly affects our relationship with knowledge, opening new perspectives embodying both the best and the worst. Moreover, the new media of "world culture presents all this in real-time, thus accelerating the effects of these upheavals.
The traditional foundations of social cohesion are being undermined in industrial countries: work is no longer the only central value; the very structure of society is undergoing accelerated fragmentation and the area open to politics is increasingly disputed, leaving the media and opinion polls to fashion public opinion as a function of their prevailing whims. In third world and former communist countries, inequalities grow and the Mafia and corrupt elites prosper while drug trafficking fuels war and violence.
Our fellow citizens are deeply aware of these changes and the serious risks they represent for the future of mankind. But for those among them who refuse resignation, for those who cannot accept the unacceptable: wars, racism and exclusion, this is a time of uncertainty, since they know that the bodies of representation and action inherited from the past are no longer effective. They feel powerless confronted by the magnitude of the challenges. They remain attached to the values at the heart of all the combats engaged by the Left, but they no longer see how either individual, or collective action can enable them to progress and fight against the twofold trap of retreat into the clan and the logic of world-wide economic war that consumes men and women.
Let us be clear, the Left itself is partially responsible for this feeling of powerlessness. Although it recognised the dilapidation of the old formulae for action, its leaders throughout Europe have hardly sought to change them. During the eighties, they mostly rallied around the standard of managerial realism, giving their electors the impression that they had thrown their original values to the wind. It is with this false alternative of all or nothing, which nourishes spineless cynicism and nihilistic revolt, that we must break today.
The signatories are convinced that the words of Pierre Mendès France ring true: political action is not condemned to mere vanity and imposture. However, they believe that a profound renewal of the Left's ideas and methods of action is necessary to inspire anew the loyalty that existed in the combats of the past. Refusing bleak managerial logic just as that of long term prophecy in opposition, they want to encourage exacting theoretical reflection, a practical necessity for the renewal of action by the citizen, so that future reformist governments do not abandon their ideals once in power.
We are faced with more questions than answers, and the work to be accomplished entails reflection as much as action. For all that, the task is urgent, especially if the forces of change wish to provide Europe with a positive goal, not simple dilution in a single market.
It is to this end that the undersigned have founded the Pierre Mendès France International Centre, whose first aim is to evaluate the geopolitical, economic, technical, cultural and social changes that rock the basis of collective action.
In no way is the Pierre Mendès France International Centre a new political "club. Beyond partisan tendencies and differences, its aim is to provide an open forum for meetings and debates between "intellectuals and "decision-makers who refuse the established disorder, to discuss the pertinence of the ideas of the former and the bring the second to break through their managerial culture.
Until now, the respective participants of these two camps - theory and practice - mostly ignored each other. However, this situation is changing. On the theoretical side, the intellectuals who make a critical analysis of society and politics show an increasingly obvious desire to quit their ivory towers and match the results of their works with the constraints of concrete action. Likewise, in the social area, activists who were involved at the beginning of new forms of action in the citizens' networks and movements express more often than before the wish to approach politics differently.
On the "practical side, the "decision-makers have also evolved. For politicians, the virtues of the pure managerial realism of recent years are now being called into question. These doubts have also been expressed by certain senior civil servants, experts and private sector businessmen, who are henceforth more numerous in questioning the prevailing economic thought and the supposed neutrality of technical experts. This has made them pay more attention to new ideas.
The founders of the Pierre Mendès France International Centre have chosen from the outset to take on a European dimension. Given the challenges that globalisation has imposed on us all, the solutions to them can only be found by bringing together different experiences and political cultures. Naturally, such debates will be extended to the relationship between North and South which Pierre Mendès France himself called "the major challenge of the 21st century.
We therefore invite all those inspired by this adventure to sign this appeal, to help us with their contributions* and to write to us so that they can obtain all the information concerning the founding of this new tool so needed by the Left to prepare the next century.
* Practical information on membership and answer form.
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