The author notes the need to move forward shaping a progressive international agenda through initiatives like the Global Progress Conference
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These are difficult times, for both progressives and workers. Years of domination by the conservative paradigm, characterized by deregulation and the search for the greatest benefit, above all other moral, social, or economic considerations, have led to an economic and financial crisis of great magnitude.
Unfortunately, the pessimism seems to be empowering a significant portion of our citizens, which is understandable given the difficult situation prevailing in many Spanish homes. But we must denounce this pessimism as the right is stirring it up, not by chance but by electoral calculations. Conservative leaders seem to follow the principle that guided violent groups that auto-proclaimed the other ideological extreme: "the worse off, the better."
That irresponsible right is not satisfied with having caused, due to neoliberal policies, to the current crisis. And there is no hint of self-critique; they systematically dedicate themselves to blaming liberals for it, Barack Obama and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero know it well.
However, the representatives of the right refuse to exercise a responsible opposing role, deliberately concealing its alternative, which unfortunately seems based on the George W. Bush and José María Aznar model that was exercised during their governance. A policy based on deregulation, absolute primacy of markets and which has led to the current crisis. And so, when the next crisis erupts the middle and lower classes would be the ones to put the other cheek to the market's invisible hand again.
Unfortunately this is not a mere hypothesis of what might happen with a conservative government, just look at the situation that currently exists in the UK. British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has launched an austere plan which that reduces State spending through the mass dismissal of civil servants (it is estimated that the affected are approximately 500,000 British workers) and huge cuts in education, health and other social spending. An example, tuition fees will rise from 3,200 to 9,000 pounds per year (i.e. from 3,800 to 10,600 euros). The direct consequence is the increase in inequality, widening the gap between the upper class and lower-middle class.
Imagine that this very idea were carried out, in our country many people would be angered, but certainly not the popular leaders. And Mariano Rajoy said in an interview with El País in Spain that he would apply an adjustment plan similar to the British prime minister.
There seems to be no alternative and that we must stick to the liberal orthodoxy, embodied here by Mariano Rajoy and in the United States by people like Sarah Palin.
But that's not true, a social exit of the crisis is possible, a cessation based on an innovative and progressive agenda, which sets the foundation for the development of a new economic model that allows an escape from the dynamics of speculative bubbles and crises. A new model that leads us to an economic social and environmentally sustainable society.
With this objective, the IDEAS Foundation and the Center for American Progress have organized a meeting of leaders that has just taken place in New York. It has involved leading figures from the international center-left sphere, such as Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Felipe González, with politicians of the younger generation of Social Democrats like Carme Chacón, Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Matthias Maching.
This reflects the conviction that the solution to the current situation should go through a international action done by progressives. Likewise, intergenerational work may also be useful. As Carme Chacon said during the meeting, Clinton, Blair and González have already faced, in their course, bad economic times which were caused by conservative policies, and therefore their experience and knowledge will be very positive.
This meeting has neither been an isolated nor punctual event; it is part of the Global Progress initiative. This initiative was launched in 2008 by IDEAS and the Center for American Progress, with the collaboration of many international think tanks. Its aim is to strengthen relations among politicians, intellectuals, academics and progressive strategists from around the world, facing the task of developing a new common agenda.
The result of this initiative has already seen the realization of numerous seminars, congresses and conferences that have addressed environmental, economic, social, and political issues. Also during 2011 we will continue working on the program to be realized during the spring, the Global Progress Summit held in Madrid. Both the generation of progressive leaders who ruled the continent during the last decades and new and future leaders, who will face the need to give impetus to the progressive thought and action, will be participating in the seminar.
Ultimately, it is possible to achieve a social outlet to the crisis, and it must come from a new and innovative progressive agenda. In the same vein, we must continue working with our colleagues from other countries, to prepare and develop another economic model. Let’s oppose the pessimism fueled by the right combating it with optimism and determination t to work towards a solution for a social outlet to the crisis and a model of an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable society.