‘New Left 95′ (Naujoji Kairė 95) movement in Lithuania
I would like to present the readers with a letter from the New Left 95 (Naujoji kaire 95) which recently started its existence in Vilnius. Even though I do not belong to the group I salute to their mission of galvanizing a political debate in Lithuania. Read the latest communication from the NK95
NK95 (Naujoji Kairė 95) is a group of Lithuanian intellectuals and activists who launched their activities on 1 May, 2007 with the declaration ‘New Left 95 Manifesto’, which brought together individual arguments on socio-political and cultural issues from the newer leftist perspective into the joint political stance of NK95.The preparation of the manifesto was coordinated by Dr Andrius Bielskis, a political philosopher with a PhD from Warwick University, who had returned to Lithuania after a lengthy spell of studies and academic work in the UK in the summer of 2006.
His presentation at the annual conference organized by “Santara-Šviesa” (the mainstream liberal organization which had been set up originally in the US by the current President of Lithuania), where he urged for debate and political action to undo unjust political and social practices in Lithuania, received a perplexed reception from the audience, but spurred an interest among younger participants, graduates from the Institute of Political Science and International Relations (TSPMI), Vilnius.
Already in December 2005 a group of university students together with few other activists involved in the protest actions against the encroachment of privatization of public spaces in Vilnius (e.g. the movie theatre “Lietuva”) gathered at TSPMI for a conference where the Vilnius Leftist Club Manifesto was signed, which paved a way for the initial consolidation of leftist activists.
During the autumn and winter 2006‐2007 people from the two groups, joined by people from other left—leaning groups and NGOs, intertwined forming the core of the present day NK95. The final consolidation of the group came in June 2007, when the first NK95 conference was organized which set the tone for the further development.
During the period of formation a virtual, email list-based, organizational form was adopted as the most suitable for the formed community of practice. The group now lists around 35-40 activists who each extends the reach of NK95 to many other groups and formally established organizations in Vilnius and other cities, thus sustaining a nation-wide network for the New Left public actions organized and coordinated by self-appointed and group approved initiators of individual actions on ad hoc basis which may involve also organizational gatherings, if required.
Main forms of actions undertaken by NK95 activists are: formal statements (letters of opposition or support, declarations, signed public statements, group petitions or other group statements), communications with a wider audience (press releases, posters, interviews, website, etc.).
The main objective of NK95 (outside the most obvious – popularization of its 45 theses from the manifesto) is to galvanize the political life in Lithuania by bringing to the fore of public debate leftist political values and ideas, with the hope that sooner or later the whole political thinking and with it political practice would shift leftwards, given the unforgiving social and political reality which demands the new left approach and ideas.
Thus the group actively promotes the values of social justice, equality, individual and collective emancipation as well as supports other socially progressive agenda (e.g. gay rights). In order to achieve this aim two strategies are employed:
1) stirring up the debate by individual or group texts (mainly channeled through Internet news portals which allow more freedom of expression for non‐staff writers as comparing to traditional media which are too corrupt),
2) organizing PR campaigns by indirect actions getting media and commentators involved in the cycle of self‐denial, which helps to raise publicity for a particular issue. Another strategy for action, which is being considered, is organizing educational events, such as seminars, conferences or evening classes for the general public, where academic potential of NK is and can be tapped.
The first two pilot events organized under the banner of “New Left audience” featured Dr Kelvin Knight (London Metropolitan University, Britain) and Mr Svenn Arne Lie (Bergen University, Norway) as the main speakers, showing the potential of such form of public action because of the enormous interest received not only from the Lithuanian leftist organizations but also from the general public.
Being aware of the limitations that any voluntary social formation faces as well as being dependant solely on individual goodwill and contribution of its members, NK95 has taken a course towards establishing international contacts at the international scene in order to be able to sustain its activism on the basis of co-sharing of resources via contact network. For that reason the Manifesto has been translated into German, English and French and contacts have been established with intellectuals from the UK and Norway as the first step towards the rebirth of the international New Left.
Prepared by Linas Eriksonas on behalf of NK95
Vilnius, 21 September, 2007