Silent Opportunism of the Socialist International

I experienced a shameful moment, when I heard that Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party of Egypt was a full member of the Socialist International, the London-based global family of social-democrats and socialists. It is already one problematic thing when the US for geopolitical matters – stability in the region, rewarding Egypt’s peace with Israel – is supporting an authoritarian ‘’pharaonic’’ regime, but it’s much more problematic when social-democrats, self-declared ideological champions of democracy and social justice, welcome this party as one of its political sister-parties.

I experienced another shameful moment, when I found out that the Mubarak-party was expelled from the Socialist International just several days ago (31 January 2011). In his letter to the General Secretary of the National Democratic Party of Egypt, Luis Ayala , SI’s Secretary General, states that ‘’we are, as of today, ceasing the membership of the NDP. (…) The current massive calls being made today by the citizens of Egypt for freedoms and rights point to the dramatic failure of the Egyptian government to deliver to its people and to the failings of the NDP to live up to its promises. (…) Consequently, we consider that a party in government that does not listen, that does not move and that does not immediately initiate a process of meaningful change in these circumstances, cannot be a member of the Socialist International”.

True as this may be, of course, the SI’s  late calling of democratic sensibility is shameful and opportunistic. This behaviour of the SI represents part of the ideological and moral crisis of the Left, being so much a non-critical part of the global establishment.  Since the heydays of Olaf Palme, Willy Brandt and Bruno Kreisky within the SI, we have never heard anything substantial from this on paper mega-organisation any more. Rumours of ”imperial expansion”, self-congratulating congresses and meaningless manifesto’s only. The SI is no voice against the crisis of global financial capitalism, nor a voice for democracy in the Arab world, as was illustrated in the case of Mubarak’s SI-membership.  The process of globalisation urges for a better global family of social-democrats.

  • Henning Meyer

    Rene, I couldn't agree more. Not just the SI, but there is a lot in the 'progressive institutional structure' that is frankly self-serving without any discernible positive impact. It's time somebody seriously looked at this…

  • Rene

    You, are right, Henning, this points at a more general problem of effective international cooperation of the progressive family. Once we were ahead in this, but ''reception party socialists'' took over without much passionate principal reflections.

  • Henning Meyer

    Absolutely and this begs the question of why so few people ask the fundamental question of 'what are these institutions for?' and 'do they serve their purpose well?'. They sometimes seem to me a bit like a club that is just a social space for members.

  • Stuart White

    Very well said!

  • Laurent Bouvet

    Well said Rene !!! The love of bureaucracy is far greater than the love of democracy.

  • Rene

    Yes, and the love for pseudo-power: the more parties SI-member the better, whatever their origin or principles or practices..  

  • Henning Meyer

    It looks like you really struck a nerve here Rene. Also more than 80 people already sharing this on Facebook.

    This is apparently where the SI is based, an office block in Clapham. I have lived in London for the best part of 10 years and never heard anything about any activities…