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2. séminaire spécialisé | The Left and the International Arena


Since the birth of the European labour movement, the international dimension has been crucial to the definition of the political and economic outlook of left-wing organizations. To the tendency of capitalism to extend its influence and field of action beyond state borders, socialist theorists and leaders responded with the prospect of an international alliance of workers. Throughout the 20th century, the Left’s perspective on these problems has constantly evolved. The international organization of politics, society and the economy has represented a key variable in the ideological developments of left-wing parties and movements, whether in government or in opposition, in phases of development or crisis, in times of peace or war. It influenced their splits as well as their search for alliances, partnerships or models across national borders.

This seminar proposes to explore the history of the socialist, social-democratic and communist political families by looking at their international and transnational relations. Combining different focuses and approaches, the seminar will try to analyse political history in a larger international perspective, and to emphasize the importance of international and transnational relations in shaping national and regional political cultures. This framework can help us understand crucial aspects of the history of socialism and communism, and clarify present-day political developments. In spite of diverging attitudes vis-à-vis the globalization process, the tension between the national dimension of politics and the global dimension of the economy is in fact a major component of the current ‘structural’ crisis of the Left, both in Europe and worldwide.

The seminar will focus on three main fields of research:
a) The formation of networks and the circulation of information, actors, experiences and expertise within and between the socialist and communist movements, on different scales and with different approaches and geographical focuses (European and Transatlantic as well as East-West, North-South and South-South). This includes the alternative projects of various political currents in their struggles for ideological hegemony.
b) The Left and foreign policy: the elaboration of foreign policy programmes by left-wing parties and organizations; the foreign policy initiatives of socialist and communist governments; the development of a ‘parallel foreign policy’ by left-wing forces in opposition.
c) The relations that the Left developed with international, supranational and intergovernmental organizations, both those that aimed at reforming capitalism and/or the international order (as, for instance, the League of Nations, the International Labour Organization, the United Nations or the European Union) and those that aimed at challenging them and structuring a global alternative (as in the case of the Comintern or of other organizations born in the Communist world during the postwar years).

 

Le séminaire s’articulera autour de trois axes principaux :
a) L’internationalisme et le transnationalisme des gauches : il s’agira d’analyser la création de convergences et d’alliances, la formation de réseaux et la circulation d’informations, acteurs, expériences et expertises dans les mouvements socialistes et communistes, soit au sein de la même famille politique soit entre ces familles, à différentes échelles et en variant au maximum les angles d’approche et les espaces géographiques (européens et atlantiques, mais aussi Est-Ouest, Nord-Sud et Sud-Sud). Il s’agira également de prendre en compte les projets alternatifs portés par les différents courants dans leurs luttes pour l’hégémonie idéologique sur la gauche.

b) La prise en charge par les gauches de gouvernement (sous un régime démocratique ou communiste) d’une véritable politique étrangère, ainsi que le processus de fabrication d’un programme de politique étrangère, ou bien encore la mise en œuvre d’une « politique étrangère parallèle » par les partis et les mouvements socialistes et communistes lorsqu’ils se situent dans l’opposition.

c) Les relations développées par les gauches avec les organisations internationales, supranationales et intergouvernementales, que celles-ci visent à réformer le capitalisme et/ou l’ordre international (la Société des Nations, le Bureau International du Travail, l’ONU et l’Union Européenne en constituent des exemples probants) ou qu’elles leur lancent un défi global (c’est le cas notamment du Komintern ainsi que d’autres organisations créées dans l’après-guerre au sein des mondes communistes).