Next Left Vol VIII: Framing a New Progressive Narrative





"Framing a New Progressive Narrative" is the 8th volume of the successful FEPS Next Left Book series within the framework of FEPS Next Left Programme, chaired by Dr. Alfred GUSENBAUER. The very rich, academically excellent and politically inspiring material gathered in here represents the contributions that had been received in the FEPS Next Left Symposium that under the same title was held at the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona on 9th – 11th May 2013.

This conversation attended by most renowned scholars and experts constituted the continuation of the “Transatlantic Dialogue of Dialogues”, which had been launched in 2010 at the Watson Institute of Brown University and featured also a seminar at the Institute of Global Law and Policy of Harvard Law School in 2012. For the opportunity that this partnership has been offering – we remain most grateful. Its realisation on the European side, would not be possible without a great support and involvement of Renner Institut (which has been a partner within the Next Left Research Programme since the beginning), as also the cooperation and hospitality of Rafael Campalans Foundation that hosted this event.

The crisis has become a constant feature of the contemporary times. For many, it has turned into the only reality they can remember or envisage. And that is perhaps one of the most relevant lessons to draw: this crisis has been so profound and so long lasting that it has grown to be a certain narrative in itself.

This observation provokes the following reflection. The debates about the crisis have been nourished with very rich literature, endless statements and numerous protests. The attempts to emancipate, both intellectually and politically, have still been considering that profoundly relevant to acknowledge the crisis by departing from phrases such as “searching for ways out of crisis”. The dictate of the logic has been so eminent that there is even a separate dispute on whether the situation at hand is still within the crisis, in the crisis aftermath or on the eve of the next crisis. None of the positions embodies however an ambition to really look beyond. Without denying importance to the entire solid academic and strategic work in designing “alternative recovery paths”, which constitutes a great contribution from progressive thinkers and experts, this focus remains incomplete unless the longer-term mission of the movement is being framed. And this is precisely what this particular volume is trying to answer to: an eminent need to propose a New Progressive Narrative.

The volume is composed of 5 sections and annexes. The four thematic chapters correspond to the building blocks of the symposium in Barcelona and feature the 13 written contributions, which had been presented prior to the event and amended following the discussions. As the reader will discover, they are written in respectively different formats – reaching from essays to academic papers. They present themselves a great testimony to the character of the discussions which are led within the think tank world, and which incorporate fascinating, constructive tension between scholarly and politicised currents within.

The book starts with a foreword by Ernst STETTER, Karl DUFFEK and Ania SKRZYPEK and an introduction by Dr. Alfred GUSENBAUER, Chair of the FEPS Next Left Research Programme and Esther NIUBÓ CIODONCHA, Director of the Rafael Campalans Foundation. The first chapter is entitled ‘Reinstating values-based politics’ contains the articles written by Michael D. KENNEDY, Ania SKRZYPEK, Oriol BARTOMEUS and Rupa HUQ, the second on focuses on ‘Defining Modern Progressivism’ with articles from Mark ELCHARDUS & Monika SIE DHIAN HO, Yiannis Z. DROSSOS and Inge KAUL, the third chapter covers the subjects of ’Stimulating Growth, Creating Jobs and Providing Welfare’ with the work of Paulo GUERRIERI, Rémi BAZILLIER and Anton HEMERIJCK, to conclude with the chapter entitled ‘Delivering within a Realistic Union’ with three articles by Leopold SPECHT, Matjaz NAHTIGAL and Dimitris TSAROUHAS.

All in all, Framing a New Progressive Narrative constitutes an astounding collection. The articles included abide by the principles of academic excellence, while bringing forward a set of stimulating, frequently courageous, but always politically viable proposals. Connecting different contexts and offering complex answers, they form the best proof that not only there is a way to break out of the hegemonic crisis rhetoric, but also that the strategy to accomplish it in a coherent, and ideologically integral manner is fully plausible. To this extent this exhibits a showcase that the power to restore a sense of politics and to reconnect with voters depends on bold, inspiring ideas – samples of which are is herewith offered for readers’ kind attention, consideration and hopefully further debate.