Building Red-Green Alternatives: Can Commons Challenge Neoliberalism From Below?
Above Photo: Inger. V. Johansen, Tom Kucharz, Satoko Kishimoto / Photo: Bettina Gram
The sixth Transform!Danmark Conference, focusing on the development of left economic and ecological alternatives, took place in Copenhagen on 18 March. Once again, it focused on sustainable and fair transformation, as well as a changing society in Europe and around the world.
As opposed to the 2013 and 2014 conferences, where alternatives to growth were the main topic of discussion, this edition continued down the path embarked upon during the 2015 and 2016 conferences, with the aim of bringing together red and green alternatives. Its goal was to contribute towards bridging the gap between the two, whilst concentrating in particular on the issue of Commons. With the combination of red and green alternatives in a global context, we consider the Copenhagen conferences to be crucial steps in the tactical and strategic work undertaken by transform! europe.
Focusing on Commons
Following on from our fruitful experience at the 2016 conference, when the issue of Commons was discussed as an integral part of the economic and ecological alternatives we are seeking to develop, we made Commons the focus of this year’s conference. We decided to address the subject from different perspectives, including how to use Commons in transforming society and the limitations involved in doing so.
This was an extremely successful conference. We even managed to incorporate Commons into our general debate on alternatives, linking it to the all-important red and green strategic perspectives of our conferences.
Nevertheless, we have concluded that, here in Denmark, it is still difficult to raise the debate on Commons at conferences. In this country, Commons is almost exclusively discussed in a few closed political and academic circles. The number of participants at this conference was fewer than on previous occasions, with a decrease in young people in particular. We believe that this reflects the problem.
We simply need more time and discussion before we are able to focus specifically on the issue of Commons once again. In the future, we will therefore choose to integrate Commons into the overall themes of the conferences and debate. We strongly feel that we need more debate on privatization and remunicipalization, which is a big issue in Denmark. This is part of a Commons agenda, but not in a straightforward way, as it is often the state and the municipalities that carry out the privatizations.
In addition, we believe that during these times of crisis, we need to raise further discussion on how to challenge and break with the system that represents the root cause of the problems.
Like last year, the way in which we organized the conference received a positive response: a plenary in the morning and two parallel seminars in the afternoon.
Besides Transform!Danmark and transform! europe, the conference was co-organized by Enhedslisten/the Red-Green Alliance, the Danish radical left party, a number of left-wing and environmental organizations, including an educational association, and periodicals.
Panels, Speakers and their Subjects
Morning plenary: “Defending public goods and transforming society”
- Tom Kucharz (Ecologistas en Acción, Spain): How to use Commons in defending public goods and transforming society
- Satoko Kishimoto (Transnational Institute, Amsterdam): Reclaiming public services as Commons: strategies for Remunicipalisation and Democratisation
Seminar 1: “The dangers of extraction – keeping raw materials in the ground”
- Sukhgerel Dugersuren (Executive Director of Oyu Tolgoi Watch, Mongolia): Extraction in Mongolia
- Jens Heinrich (Inuit Ataqatigiit, Greenland): Mineral resources in Greenland seen from a historical perspective. The background for the current situation
Seminar 2: “Commons and Cooperatives – and the struggle against privatisation?”
- Chantal Delmas (transform! Commons working group, France): What can bring the concept of Commons into the Labour Movement?
- Julieta Paredes (Mujeres Creando, Bolivia): Women creating Community
- Fred Freundlich (Faculty of Business, Mondragon University in the Basque Country of Spain): The Commons in the Core Economy? Potential Clues from the Mondragon Cooperative Experience
- Written speeches and presentations, please visit: www.transformdanmark.dk
- Reader based on results of the conference, please refer to the PDF on the right.