Asserting Global Social Rights
The concept of Global Social Rights is a key area of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s international work. We fight for the social rights of employed and unemployed workers, the precariously employed, peasant farmers, the landless, indigenous groups, women, people with different sexual orientations, those with special needs, migrants, and other groups affected by exploitation, discrimination, or racism. At the same time, we defend and promote the expansion of democratic rights, including the right to establish unions, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech.
We consider the full realization of social, economic, and cultural human rights — including the right to adequate food, adequate housing, access to education, the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the right to work, and safe and healthy working conditions — to be a prerequisite for the full realization of civil and political rights, and vice-versa. The indivisibility and interdependence of social and political human rights is a central tenet of the concept of Global Social Rights.
The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation strives to enforce these rights by helping social movements to articulate their interests and move towards self-organization at the local, national, and international level. At the same time, we lend support to political actors working to enshrine social and democratic rights at the legislative level in parliaments, as well as in international agreements and conventions.
Promoting an Ecological and Just Transformation of Society
Across the world, the neoliberal model of a capitalist, fossil fuel-based mode of production and living threatens the lives of countless people. In addition to cyclical economic crises, the past decades have also exposed us to ecological crises that threaten the climate, food production, and water supplies. In many countries, social infrastructure and energy supply networks have collapsed.
Against this backdrop, we view socio-ecological transformation as the first step on the path towards a radical restructuring of the predominant modes of production and living. We must overcome the ecologically destructive growth doctrine that lies at the heart of the capitalist mode of production, the ongoing economic exploitation of natural resources, and predatory extractivism.
We support the development of concepts and strategies that facilitate the ecologically sustainable conversion of energy supply networks and production processes. Crucially, this necessary ecological transformation must go hand in hand with a strengthening of social rights, and can only take place on the basis of democratic participation. Expanding democracy and increasing participation are therefore essential preconditions to the fundamental restructuring of the economy and society, and a transformation of the modes of production, consumption and the world of work.
Concepts such as economic democracy, climate justice, energy democracy, food sovereignty, good work, the fair distribution of gainful employment and unpaid reproductive work, basic social security, a solidarity-based economy, and the Commons provide starting points for the political, economic, social, and cultural development of a solidarity-based mode of living — a green socialism — which is our ultimate aim.
Working Towards International Solidarity, a Just Global Economic Order, and Positive Peace
Since the fifteenth century, the expansion of the capitalist mode of production has hinged on the colonial and imperialist regimes of the powerful European states and North America. War and slavery laid the foundations for the wealth of the Global North.
In the globalised capitalism of the twenty-first century, we are now seeing the emergence of new centres of international political and financial power. The dominant order structuring the global economy and global trade is creating a polarization of wealth on one side and poverty on the other, while exacerbating global inequality and injustice.
Our response to this is to fight for a just global economic order based on trade policies that strengthen social rights, ecological sustainability, local economic cycles, and fair trade. The power of transnational corporations controlling the world market must be broken and destructive free trade agreements replaced by alternatives. We must regulate today’s liberalized financial markets.
Strengthening international solidarity among workers along transnational value chains is a key element in establishing greater global justice. At the political level, therefore, our efforts are concentrated on creating global governance structures based on principles of global equality and promoting the participation of civil society. This ought to include fundamental reforms to the United Nations. We promote political dialogue on a just world order aimed in particular at empowering transnational social movements and actors from the Global South.
In this way, we also see our work as contributing to a new policy of peace, which seeks above all to eradicate the structural violence of global inequality. Our concept of positive peace understands the full realization of social and democratic rights as a prerequisite for the deterrence and resolution of civil conflicts, and the establishment of peace. Ultimately, justice and peace are deeply intertwined and mutually reinforcing.
Strengthening Left-Wing Organizing
Across the world, neoliberal capitalism’s multiple crises have triggered several waves of protest. The issues these protests have focused on are as diverse as the problems and conflicts troubling the different societies: democratic rights, working conditions, the widespread destruction of ecosystems, patriarchal social relations, racism and migrants’ rights, the right to the city, the right to land, and many other issues. Most of these struggles are waged directly by affected actors and their supporters. For left-wing organizations, such social movements represent important partners — indeed, they are often an integral part of these movements.
At the same time, left-wing organizing does more than stand up to injustice, but rather strives to develop social alternatives and turn them into reality. In many countries, left-wing parties are represented in parliament and actively involved in government. We help different left-wing actors share experiences and exchange strategies to better coordinate left-wing organizing. To this end, we connect with social movements, unions, and civil society organizations, as well as left-wing parties, governments, and institutions.
A central task in strengthening left-wing organizing is to develop a unifying class politics capable of integrating the different levels of political action — a task that involves identifying the elements connecting various struggles, and helping different actors to forge coalitions and alliances. In this context, activation methods, the analysis of media relations, negotiation, the organization and running of campaigns, and techniques gleaned from transformative organizing have proven to be effective tools. One particular challenge we face lies in the development of international networks and the encouragement of left-wing actors to develop a transnational dimension to their activities.
Left-Wing Politics of Remembrance and Critical Theoretical Reflection
The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s work is guided by a critical understanding of history and historical consciousness. The past frames conditions for political action in the present in deeply essential ways. Yet while narratives and views of history may serve to legitimize power relations, they can also serve to assert political alternatives.
As an institution based in the Federal Republic of Germany but active throughout the world, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation addresses the crimes perpetrated by Germany, such as the war and extermination policies of Nazism, or colonialism. We criticize revisionist narratives that relativize the crimes committed under the Nazis. We are interested in the history of liberation movements and of the Left throughout the world, which includes a critical examination of the history of state socialism.
In our political education projects, we develop views and narratives of history seeking to highlight — and encourage people to utilize — spaces for political action. We also discuss critical social theories, political economy, and theories of education. We believe that theoretical reflection is an integral part of political praxis. The same is true of our international work, where our points of reference are the prominent figures of socialist history, devoting particular attention to Karl Marx and our namesake, Rosa Luxemburg.