A “fair” energy transition and guaranteeing rights for all, two challenges for the left

The ideological drift of Catalan society, changes in public opinion in recent decades and the current state of the left are some of the issues that have focused the act What can the left do against the right-wing of society?organized by Public space together with the Ateneu Barcelonès this Tuesday. Starting from the sociological analysis carried out by the director of the Center d’Estudis d’Opinió (CEO), Jordi Muñoz, who offered guidelines for interpreting political preferences in Catalonia, the colloquium dealt with questions about how the left combats racism and extends rights to the whole of societythe need for a fair energy transition and the impact of political parties’ communication policies.

A diversity of issues raised by voices with a long-established track record, such as the feminist journalist and researcher Sarah Accountsthe jurist specialized in energy law and former general secretary of ICV John Herrerathe Dean of the Faculty of Communication Sciences at the UAB and former Secretary of Communication of the Generalitat, Enric Marinand the doctor, former deputy of the PSC and former Minister of the Interior, Montserrat Tura.

Munoz has pointed out that Historically, Catalan society has placed itself on the ideological axis in a centre-left position, becoming one of the societies that most defines itself in these terms in Europe, together with the Basque Country. The link of the right with the dictatorship or the interference of the national question are some of the reasons that are at its origin. Muñoz has confirmed that “there is no generalized right-wing process” in Catalonia, although this is not incompatible with the right-wing of certain sectors of society, and he explored preferences regarding issues such as taxes or migration.

As for the changes in political preferences, the former general secretary of ICV, Joan Herrera, has pointed out two elements that have recently had an influence. On the one hand, the evidence that collapse was possible when the Covid crisis hit; and high inflation, which he has described as a “dissolving factor for democracies” due to its impact on the loss of purchasing power and the alteration that this may have on coexistence.

Also, Herrera has pointed out that the collapse due to Covid is not comparable to the scenario posed by the climate emergency, which calls for “rapid and accelerated proposals in the next 10 years”. The energy transition is emerging as an urgency, but the jurist has pointed out that it must be “fair” so as not to fuel ecofascism that is already becoming a reality.

Catalan society has historically placed itself on the centre-left

Returning to the self-location in the ideological axis, the doctor and former Minister of the Interior, Montserrat Tura, has pointed out the contradiction that “in Catalonia no one has ever wanted to be on the right, but for years and years it has had right-wing governments”. Tura has reviewed some transformative achievements, especially with the universalization of healthcare. The former deputy has recalled that one of the main impacts is that while in Barcelona in 1900 life expectancy was 38 years, now it is 84. The doctor has also pointed to the so-called “Rodric trilemma”, which asks if hyperglobalization, national sovereignty and democracy are possible.

“Capitalism and money had a project and for them globalization was very good, while the nation states had difficulties to legislate on this economic phenomenon on a global scale”, he pointed out. For Tura, the current political, social and economic situation is “very complex” and “is being corrected with means from the past”, which he considers wrong.

During the colloquium, moderated by the journalist, philologist and member of the promoter group of the Foundation Public space and member of the Ateneu Barcelonès, Lídia Penelo, the journalist and decolonial activist Sara Cuentas has criticized that the framework of the left continues to be anchored in structural racism. Accounts has targeted concept “coloniality of power”where he has ensured that the right but also the left are socialized, that it is linked not only to power, but also to knowledge.

Accounts has exemplified it with issues as current as the 2030 Agenda, which has denounced that it has been colonialized by the European left. “When we talk about how to combat racism, what are the ideologies closest to social transformation doing to build human community and banish colonial practices?” he asked.

Regarding the transformative capacity of the left, the activist has pointed out that it is difficult to introduce changes in a State built in a “very vertical”, “patriarchal”, and in a way that prevents its own reform. “It is not naturalized that any person can have rights,” he added, in relation to the nearly half a million undocumented people who live in the state.

Rethink communication policies and strategies

For his part, the Dean of the Faculty of Communication Sciences at the UAB, Enric Marín, warned that globalization “it has generated favorable economic conditions for the extreme right”, influencing an impoverishment of the working class and also migration, used by the extreme right to create “fear”. “The right has developed sophisticated communication techniques,” she pointed out, noting that there are think tanks working to identify the main messages likely to be launched and also how to manipulate information. “They have identified people’s fears, what threatens identity,” she said.

Accounts: “It is not naturalized that any person can have rights”

To turn it around, Marín stated that the left also needs to think about how to build these strategies, although this is “inseparably” linked to rethink own policies. “Despite everything, until 20 or 30 years ago sustained transformative policies were made, a will that the Western left now seems to have lost,” she concluded.

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