On 25th November, coinciding with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the workshop “How is security debated within Europe’s Left and progressive forces? Considerations for a new Left concept of security” took place with around 30 participants.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women reminds us to think security intersectional and people-centred. This approach was mirrored throughout the workshop’s discussion which made clear that if we are to address security and engage in debates on it, we need to think security holistically and ask whose security we are talking about.
Current debates on security are mostly hegemonized by the Right, while repressive and discriminating policies are justified in the name of security. This ranges from foreign policy decisions to law and order practices within the EU. The notion of security is closely tied to nationalism and often referred to as protecting the national security against the “other”. Referring to security can be toxic and thus requires careful attention when and how to address it.
The debate showed on the other hand, that security is a basic need and an urgent necessity for those affected by violent conflict, police brutality, hate crimes or domestic violence. This context once more underlines the need to support transdisciplinary mobilisation and deep organising.
Struggles for peace and demilitarisation can be and already are linked to social movements and unions demanding redistribution of wealth, social security and strengthening public sectors, including the health sector. Climate and peace activists can and already are joining forces to oppose concrete fossil fuel extraction projects and accompanying militarisation and securitisation measures. Those who step-up for data protection, privacy rights and against state and corporate surveillance share a lot with those advocating for the rights of ethnic and religious minorities who are worst affected by the undermining of fundamental rights.
These are just a few examples from our exchanges that show where synergies are possible and struggles interlinked. This also forms one of the core conclusions of the workshop: our take on security relies on linking and strenghtening peace, environment, feminist, anti-racist and privacy rights struggles that all are affected by acts and policies in the name of security. Participants reminded to defend our language, to make clear that opposing current security policies does not imply opposing protection for those in need and that engaging in the debate on security requires us to speak out on whose security is debated and what kind of security matters in peoples’ daily life.
This workshop also looked back at a series of workshops on the question of security and the Left, organised by transform! europe and the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Brussels office over the past six months. Throughout these workshops, we discussed security through the perspective of different movements to better understand the challenge ahead of us. It became clear that there is the interest to discuss security from the Left and that we cannot shy away from positioning ourselves on what security means and for whom it is provided and enforced.
To keep this debate going, we will provide a publication in early 2021 with considerations for a Left concept of security resulting from the workshops we hosted. We will also continue offering space for dialogue on the topic of security and organise workshops in 2021. We look forward to continuing this very challenging but as we have experienced very necessary debate and welcome you to join us. For more information, you can contact my colleague Katerina Anastasiou or myself.