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DiEM25 DiEM25 & Progressive International: Connecting the Common Cause & Going Global

What happens when you fuse a philosopher and a reluctant politician? Answer: a prototype but prophetic movement whose time has come.

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The Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM25) launched in 2016 in Berlin, its values and motivations combining reactionary and visionary zeal. Now its policy-making and membership growth seem expedient and provide optimism for the post-viral 'new normal'.

This human-centred 'anthropocene', now in seismic shock, is being forced to confront... well, everything: political structures, economic models, citizen engagement. DiEM's two driving pillars - universal basic dividend (as distinguished from universal basic income) and the Green New Deal - now seem to provide the only coherent package of integrated strategies aimed at correcting the serious deficits that humankind is experiencing.

Basic income is no longer the stuff of economics lectures, with UK claimants having received their first 'furlough' payments via their employers recently. The alternative notion of a universal basic dividend - a proportion of company profits going to a European central fund - may require another global shock in order to be considered, but who knows. It's now on the agenda.

Initially a pan-European movement spread across 33 countries, DiEM25 now draws in global activists, if proof were needed that the democratic deficit, social injustice and the rise of the 'precariat' are no longer minor, collateral blips in the post-capitalist era.

David Adler is a member of DiEM25's Co-ordinating Collective and Co-ordinator of the forthcoming strategic alliance with the Sander's Institute Progressive International (PI).

Adler says the collaboration began in 2018 with a joint open call to gather under its auspices all progressive, democratic organisations for the purpose of common-cause action. At that stage, no-one could have (but perhaps should have) foreseen the world events of 2019, the year of global protests: the Gilet Jaune, Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion, Hong Kong students.

For decades, the world elected to put its collective, over-consuming, environment-encroaching head in the sand, and the biosphere bit back. "The pandemic has accelerated the urgency to counter sitting governments of the world exploiting fear, especially the far right," Adler tells me.

Will the alliance between DiEM25 and PI lead to a global political party? Adler gives a vehement 'no'. This is not a precursor to an electoral platform, but a new form of power forged by, and derived from, 'a diversity of associations', including trade unions, tenants associations and social groups. Political parties are welcome, but as members of a project 'engaged in the full scope of [the project's] activity'.

Adler prefaced last month's DiEM25 TV interview with filmmaker and activist Astra Taylor with the project's vision to re-imagine political institutions, but the business sector too. Of them, 'matching the scale of corporations to the scale of action' is the project's primary driver, for example the fast-moving proposal for a 'No Amazon Strike Day'. Crucially, major global financial institutions are also in the main sights of the project. "We need better international institutions [...] to challenge the unreliable managers of unreliable debt."

This is markedly different from the 'beauty contest' electoral relationship based on party political lines, and, if they opt to sign up as members, parties will sit within a newly defined, multi-lateral structure of global agencies.

The paradox here is stark. As the network of interrelated, monopolistic corporations develop, so grows the precarious group. This Uberised constituency of frequently non-unionised sub-occupations are now visible to us. The groups may be diverse - hospitality, warehouse and call centre workers, for example - but in common they were the first to be furloughed or laid off, some within hours of official recognition of the virus. The low-paid and under-paid those working in care, nursing, food, retail - still work, and risk their lives doing so.

On Brexit? Adler's sentiment is very much the mantra that although Britain has left the EU, it cannot leave the world. As the pandemic illustrates, we really are, it seems, in this together.

The official launch of DiEM25-Progressive International is planned for 18 September in Reykjavík. In the run-up, from May onwards, the soft launch process begins with the release of action-oriented tools and resources, providing the blue-print for subscriber members to form think tanks and working groups. A wire service of articles, with global translations, will open up access and shared knowledge to enable horizontal connectivity between subscribing member agencies.

'Making solidarity feel real', to quote David, could be the strapline for these next steps.

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