Foreword by Martin Schulz
We are living in troubled times, and one sometimes gets the impression that the world is coming apart at the seams. And for exactly this reason I am convinced that progressive forces have a duty to ensure social cohesion in times of turbulence. This is the core element of our policy – which now applies more than ever and on a global scale.
Cohesion, as our core socio-political task, is the focal issue of the present report. Not only is its content significant and differentiated, its success lies largely in the fact that it has been compiled by various progressive, clear-thinking politicians from four different continents. I would therefore like to thank all those who have contributed to this outstanding report.
As progressive forces, we are currently facing tremendous challenges everywhere in the world. We are experiencing a global expansion of financial capitalism that is increasingly challenging the primacy of politics. The resulting social distortions are fuelling doubts about the capabilities of open societies and democratic politics. Does politics still have the capacity to make a difference, exert influence and solve problems? In this context we face a growing legitimation problem that can hardly be overestimated.
Authoritarian forces throughout the world are using this legitimation problem to impose a view of politics and society that is diametrically opposed to our progressive convictions. Newly arisen international forces of chauvinism are challenging our liberal democracies. These forces stand for aggressive rollback politics in every respect, for nationalistic policies of exclusion and for the fight against an internally and externally open society. One thing is quite clear: we are at the forefront of the battle to retain sovereign control of our economic, social and political model. But for this reason we also need to offer a positive and progressive programmatic definition that can serve as a conceptual guideline for us and our partners. We need a generic concept both for the formulation of our future policy and for the ability of progressive, social democratic and socialist parties to form an outward alliance.
In this report we propose that the answers to the challenges of our day and age be discussed under the title “social and ecological transformation”. At first sight, one might consider this heading a bit too far-reaching. I personally think the opposite is true. For if we aspire to actively support the global rejuvenation of left-wing politics, we need a wide base of understanding and we need to use the all-encompassing term “transformation”. By doing so, we aim to focus on the necessity of interaction between fundamental social and economic changes and emphasise the importance of the relevant stakeholders and social forces. This heading is not only intended to apply to environmental and climate policies (a context in which the word “transformation” is already commonly used), it must also be understood in a more multidimensional sense – after all, we are dealing with a significant reformation of economic structures, democratic practices and, last but not least, our political culture.
At the same time, it is quite clear that a global social and ecological transformation of this kind will only be a success if we, as progressive, social democratic and socialist parties, join forces and succeed in winning over strong partners in society for this alliance. We need the trade unions, we need the social movements and, above all, we need all those committed people who have a desire for change and for whom only we can provide a platform. As a strong progressive alliance tackling a broad range of issues and supported by wide, diversified sections of society, we can face up to our global responsibility. This, and nothing less, is the issue. Let us seize the opportunity to do so.