Pierre Laurent: "The cultural battle is the big battle for the emancipation”

Pierre Laurent: "The cultural battle is the big battle for the emancipation”

Inaugurated in Brussels the conference

Culture against Austerity



Yesterday, February 5, has begun in Brussels the European Forum "Culture against austerity", title given to the Conference that for 2 days will debate about the culture as a tool of emancipation. Against its commercialization, against the way austerity is run down art, culture, their workers and even the very concept of culture, to make only entertainment out of it. The Party of the European Left (EL) with the Communist Party of Wallonie-Bruxelles  (PCWB) and the Cultural Association Joseph Jacquemotte (ACJJ) were the organizers of these days of reflection.

The opening shows clearly the type of culture the Left wants. The President of the cultural association Joseph Jaquemote, Jean François Lacroix, provoked the auditorium when he asked whether the culture must be an economically profitable product, and when he suggested that the cultural budget reduction is a tactic applied against the freedom and democracy.

In fact, he continued, there are two ways of understanding the democratization of culture. The first ones is the culture "for everybody" that is the one putting the bourgeois values at the disposal of the big public through the big mass media and distribution channels. The second concept is the democratization of culture "of everybody and for everybody ", with equal opportunities of access to culture but also the participation in the creation process.

In this sense spoke the EL Vice-President, Maite Mola, who introduced the subject of capitalist domination in the culture, which has commodified all cultural expressions and that aims to assimilate the workers, their cultural values to put an end to the human relations. That's why she spoke about the need to claim the culture from the left and the need that the working class could be identified with this cultural production. She remembered how the theatre, the musician, the comedians… have disappeared from the streets and, what is worse, from the mentality of the people.

"If we want people to question things, and to have an emancipation and ability to transform society, we needs culture" Maite Mola added.

The President of the European Left Party, Pierre Laurent, spoke of emancipation as well. He said it through a video as he could not be present at the event. "The battle for culture is the battle for democracy, rights, freedom, and human emancipation". He added that we need to preserve the spaces of our lives against the commodification, "not only to preserve public services but also to preserve our conscience".

He concluded by saying that "it is a battle for a new globalization. The current one is the financed one. But we want a culture of rights against policies reducing the imaginary of the people"

Nicole Cahen, from PCWB, focused on the need to think about the human quality of the culture and recalled that the first thing the fascism attacks are the cultural works so that they are not available for people.

The representative of the PCWB, Jean-Pierre Michels, who opened the Conference, stressed that the attack on culture creation is an attack on democracy and the life in common, attacks that we share throughout Europe.


From the Communist Party of Finland, Juha-Pekka Väissänen, explained that the budget that Finland devoted to culture is less than 1% and that the government is also making cutbacks in education and in the university, and for facing that, he highlighted, "we need culture against austerity". He criticized that in his country those who work in art and culture are considered private businessmen who devote themselves to a too expensive hobby.

The Finnish communist claimed the right to have leisure time for culture and enjoyment of the family and social relations. Therefore, in the program they presented at the last elections they advocated for reduce the daily working hours to 6 hours per day and 30 weekly, while maintaining the same wage, which simultaneously allows to create jobs.

Professor, writer, and anthropologist Bruno Poncelet, spoke of culture from the anthropological point of view. He explained how capitalism and economic theories arose very late in the history of the humanity, and how capitalism needed an ideology to justify itself which it is the culture and the values of capitalism.

We must resist and the culture is one way to do it, sentenced Poncelet, and we need to know how to resist to capitalism in a collective manner, but also mentally. One way to do this is through these kind of discussions and workshops in which the progressive people of the North and the South discussed on the arts and culture as a form of struggle and resistance.

The first meeting finished with the play “Karl Marx, the return” and it will continue today with different workshops and a plenary with the conclusions of the forum.