The movement does strategy, and uses leaders tactically: Inside DIEM25's new party
Interesting to see DIEM25, the pan-European democracy movement started by Yanis Varoufakis, make a collective decision to stand candidates in 2019's European Parliamentary Elections - indeed, to become the first transnational European party (although the Greens, the Pirate Party and Alternativet might have something to say about that!).
We noticed some of the language used, in their announcement on Open Democracy, about the way they see the relationship between movement and party in DIEM25. It's very much along the lines we've been exploring and mapping.
An excerpt (with highlights and mild edits):
The challenge DiEM25 faces as a transnational political movement and party is to remain capable of change. Precisely because political strategies are multifaceted, never fully predictable, and there is always more than one good solution, the experimental character of democracy has to be taken into account.
Against a notion of democracy as a form of government and contesting political parties, what we need is a notion of democracy which identifies social relations, everyday practice and democratic experiences as a characteristic core of democracy.
DiEM25 can remain capable of change by implementing experimental strategies. These will aim at the hypothetical testing of different options. This implies a party that:
a) remains anchored in the everyday practices of its members
b) continuously tests and modifies its principles, procedures, policies and timeline. It will critically reflect on these practical consequences, and use them to improve democratic experiences within the movement and the political party.
After the vertical and horizontal strategies of the twentieth century, Alessio Kolioulis and I argued that the new strategic horizon for political movements is experimental and circular.
As Hardt and Negri suggest in their new book ‘Assembly’ [see A/UK's Pat Kane review of "Assembly" here, PDF download], tactical leadership should be limited to short-term action and tied to specific occasions, whereas the movement itself is responsible for the strategy (Hardt and Negri speak of the strategic multitude).
DiEM25´s vote for a transnational political party is a vote for more leadership. The future will demonstrate how well DiEM25 can restrict leadership to a tactical role, or what has been referred to as 'a tool'. The chances of such an approach are promising. We hope it will protect the movement - and, at the same time, fostering lasting structures by guaranteeing long term claims AND democratic decisions.