The Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung and its Center for International Dialogue and Cooperation (ZID)

Asserting Global Social Rights

The concept of Global Social Rights is a key area of Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung’s work abroad. 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, people 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 realisation 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 a prerequisite for the full realisation of civil and political rights, and vice versa. The indivisibility and interdependence of social and political human rights is a central tenet of Global Social Rights. Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung endeavours to assert these rights by helping social movements to articulate their interests and move towards self-organisation at the local, national, and international level. At the same time, we lend support to political actors working to have social and democratic rights enshrined 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 many people’s lives. In addition to cyclical economic crises, the past decades have also exposed us to ecological crises that have affected the climate, food production, and water supplies. In many countries, social infrastructure and energy supply networks have collapsed. Against this backdrop, we consider socio-ecological transformation the first step on the path towards a radical restructuring of the predominant modes of production and living. We need to overcome the ecologically destructive doctrine of growth that lies at the heart of the capitalist mode of production, the increasing economic valuation of natural resources, and predatory extractivism. We thus 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 an achievement of social rights and it 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 and 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 expansion of the Commons provide starting points for the political, economic, social, and cultural development of a solidarity-based mode of living – a green socialism – that is our ultimate aim.

Working towards international solidarity, a just global economic order, and positive peace

Since the 15th 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 nations in the North. In the globalised capitalism of the 21st century, we are now seeing the emergence of new power centres of international politics and finance. The dominant order structuring the global economy and global trade is creating a polarisation of wealth, and exacerbating 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 alternative agreements. We need to regulate today’s liberalised financial markets. The strengthening of 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 that are based on the principles of global equality and promote civil society participation. This makes a fundamental reform of the United Nations necessary. 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 sees the full realisation of social and democratic rights as a prerequisite for the avoidance and resolution of civil conflicts, and the establishment of peace. Justice and peace are deeply interdependent.

Strengthening left-wing organising

Across the world, neoliberal capitalism’s multiple crises have triggered waves of multiple protests. 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 relations of dominance, 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 organisations, such social movements are important partners; in fact, they are often an integral part of these movements. At the same time, left-wing organising does more than stand up against injustice. It strives to develop social alternatives and turn these into reality. In many countries, left-wing parties are represented in parliament and actively involved in government. We help different left-wing actors to share experiences and exchange strategies for coordinating left-wing organising. To this end, we connect with social movements, unions, and civil society organisations, as well as left-wing parties, governments, and institutions. A central task in strengthening left-wing organising is to develop a unifying class politics capable of integrating the different levels of political action – a task that involves us identifying the elements that connect various struggles, and helping different actors to forge coalitions and alliances. In this context, activation methods, the analysis of media relations, negotiation, the organisation and running of campaigns, and techniques gleaned from Transformative Organising have proven to be effective tools to strengthen left-wing organising. 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 memory and critical theoretical reflection

Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung’s work is guided by a critical understanding of history and historical consciousness. The past frames the conditions for political action in the present in very essential ways. But while narratives and views of history may serve to legitimise 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, we address the crimes perpetrated by Germany, such as the war and extermination policies of National Socialism, or colonialism. We criticise revisionist narratives that relativise the crimes committed under National Socialism. We are interested in the history of liberation movements and of the Left throughout the world, and this interest includes a critical examination of the history of socialist states. In our political education projects, we develop views and narratives of history that aim to highlight – and encourage people to make use of – 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. In our international work, too, we deal with prominent figures in the history of socialism, giving special attention to Karl Marx and our namesake, Rosa Luxemburg.