29 août 2015

The 2nd Summer School of Ensemble ! (France) : a real success/2ème Université d'été d'Ensemble : un véritable succès

More than 400 people attended Ensemble !’s second Summer School in Bordeaux from 22 to 26 August. That’s over 100 more than at last year’s event in Pau, and a significant step forward at a time when the national, European and world situation hardly gives grounds for optimism. The development of our movement, and the involvement of new groups during the preparation for this important summer event, made possible a diversification of the subjects covered in the debates and workshops.

These included current events in Greece and the Middle East and elsewhere as well as challenges for the coming months such as COP 21, the financial crisis, Podemos, the National Front, unemployment and the rights of unemployed and precarious workers. Longer-term and theoretical issues were also debated, including Marxist theory, the trade unions, feminism, education, antiracism, the media and the role of the armaments industry – and even more unusual topics such as the philosopher Montaigne (the school took place at Bordeaux Montaigne University) , art and popular education, science and democracy and others.

The situation in Greece was ever-present during the five days of the School, as well as the related issues of our strategic approach to the European Union and our conception of the means required to create a political alternative. The Greek experience was an important theme at an international meeting with invited speakers from Syriza, Podemos, Sinn Fein, the Tunisian Popular Front and Die Linke, as well as the French Left Front MEP, Marie-Christine Vergiat.

Another important meeting on the future of the Left included a panel of speakers representing different tendencies within the Left Front, a leading left-wing member of the Green Party, and a spokesperson for the New Anticapitalist Party. The discussion did not end there, however,  as most of these organisations were present for several days. This was particularly true of two tendencies within the Green Party with which Ensemble ! has had regular contacts for several months. At the summer school, we were able to develop these contacts, extend them to new layers of activists and pursue the convergence between our organisations which has been going on for some time, thanks especially to the presence of militants from many regions of France. We should also note the participation in the debates in Bordeaux of trade unionists from the CGT, FSU and Solidaires unions, enabling us to take up the question of the role of popular mobilisations in changing the political situation, and to lay down perspectives for the future.

A meeting on the Middle East featured in particular a contribution from the well-known editor of Politis magazine, Denis Sieffert, on the question of Palestine, and a memorable speech from Sehabat Tuncel, the Kurdish activist and leading member of the HDP front in Turkey, who spoke on the heroic struggle by the Kurds in Syria against Daesh, and on the fight against Erdogan in Turkey, who is responsible for waging a new civil war.

 Sehabat Tuncel (debout), Denis Sieffert (2ème de la droite)

Artistic activities were not forgotten, including a projection of Marcel Trillat’s latest documentary on migrants, in the presence of the director.

The success of the Summer School illustrates the progress already made by Ensemble ! The founding organisations which took part in the launch of the new movement a little over 18 months ago no longer exist, and there is a sense of belonging to a single movement. The participants left Bordeaux, after thanking the speakers and the local members of Ensemble !, whose hard work ensured the school went so smoothly, with one thought in mind – next year’s event !

By Ingrid Hayes, a member of Ensemble !’s national coordinating committee (28/8/2015)

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