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Aurelie Trouve: "Imagine the ways we can go beyond capitalism."

Translated Tuesday 25 August 2009, by Derek Hanson and reviewed by Henry Crapo

According to Aurelie Trouve, the co-president of ATTAC (France). we are in a systemic crisis that is placing in question the very foundations of capitalism.

Today the 10th citizens’ university organised by ATTAC (France) opens at the Palais de Congres in Arles. For 5 days the 500 militants of the alternative movement expected to arrive here will put their ideas to the test in some 60 workshops and in 4 large forums.

Huma: As the central theme of your Summer University you pose the surprising question: What is to become of capitalism? Do you hesitate between giving it a new foundation or going beyond? Between moralizing it or abolishing it?

Aurélie Trouvé: In any case this question has never been put in quite such a direct way at the heart of an ATTAC university. The objective is first of all to question ourselves concerning capitalism. We, at ATTAC, have always been opposed to finance capitalism – that neo-liberal phase of extreme capitalism. But we are all today in a global crisis, a systemic crisis, which is calling into question the foundation of capitalism as a system of exploitiation of both human and natural resources. We also consider the question of alternatives. We do not just want to express a desire to go beyond capitalism.

Huma: So you are framing the question in a more global context. Does this not place you on a more political terrain? – one that constitutes a move away from the social dimension, and of the movement for popular education, as you envisaged it at first?

Aurélie Trouvé: On the contrary, the question of capitalism involves the social and civic movements in their totality. It is a political question but not one limited to political parties. ATTAC, having a role of developing expertise, is bound to pose this fundamental question, and seek ways in which this system may be superceded. Right from the start this association, which agitates for the sharing of wealth and the common management of collective goods, is clearly found to be in a perspective that seeks to go beyond capitalism.

Huma: One of the next objectives of ATTAC is the Copenhagen summit in December, on climate change. You are preparing an alternative summit. Why? and what do you intend to do there?

Aurélie Trouvé: The U.N. summit at Copenhagen will be decisive for the issue of climate. The ecological constraints and, more precisely, those imposed by the climate, are relevant for all human activity on the planet. We fear that the lowest common denominator will be agreed upon, a proposed solution not commensurate with what is at stake in this climate crisis. Above all, we fear a stratagem, a controlling influence exercised by finance over the climate issue, by the imposition of carbon trading through the market, which gives firms the right to pollute, as was agreed at Kyoto. We therefore demand, in Copenhagen, that the reduction of greenhouse gases should be set at a level in keeping with what is at stake.

Experts have advised a reduction of 40% between now and 2020. The E.U. has proposed 20% and the U.S.A. 10%. We also demand that assistance should be provided to the countries of the southern hemisphere in order for them to meet these objectives and to be able to meet the costs that climate change has already brought with it. And we also call for a massive intervention on the part of government to kick start a policy of conversion which will make it possible to reduce the sources of pollution.

Huma: You have been a very popular movement, but for a few years now you have experienced a drop in membership. Do you sense that today there is a re-awakening of interest?

Aurélie Trouvé: The internal crisis that ATTAC experienced is now over. We are now functioning in a well-balanced and democratic way. In particular, we are suffering from the general weakness of the left, not only the parties, but throughout Europe. Outside Europe the alter-mondialist movement is experiencing a very large expansion, both social and geographical and ATTAC membership is growing globally. In France, ATTAC is mobilising for Copenhagen but it is also launching campaigns – in particular one on the banks. "I make my bank change, or I change my bank." We hope that members of the public will be as active as consumers as they are in everyday life.

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