It feels a bit strange – sitting at the gate at Budapest airport, heading to Cork. I am invited speaker and Monday I will address the Poverty Summer School. It is a strange feeling to speak at the “own university” as representative of an organisation that has othing to do with it, speaking as advisor of European Foundation on Social Quality and member of the EuroMemo Group, European Economists for an Alternative Economic Policy in Europe. It reminds me of having addressed many years ago a Congress of Private and Public Welfare in Germany – then I had been talking on “Being a Stranger in the Own Country”.
And in one way or another this will also be at least background of the presentation on Cork. Being increasingly stranger in the area of social policy, being increasingly talking from the standpoint of somebody who is fully aware of a EU-development that took at some stage a wrong turn – in many respects. A strange feeling of having been part of policy-making and having left already some time ago. When I left I wrote on EU-social policy
It had been a success story since the early 1970s, when amongst others Ireland joined the institutionalised Europe. A success story topped now by Padraig’s flagship: a civil dialogue, going hand in hand with the social dialogue. A flagship going hand in hand with the beginning of another event, ostensibly a step back when the European Court of Justice rejected a fourth program to combat poverty, however a boost for getting social competencies in the later Treaties (the Employment chapter, the article 113 and even the debates of the 11th working group when it came to elaborating the “Constitution” which never came through). Success stories and at the same time critical points of ventures: separating economy and society. It had been a strange course which frequently popped up without being really and fundamentally considered. What would all this be about? An economic interest and a social interest? A general interest which lost its economy? Or an economy that claims to be in the general interest?
This is just a small paragraph of a longer story that makes me feel like somebody who is getting old and grumpy, and who is full of confidence, ready to take up the ext steps, not reinterpreting the world but aiming on changing it – as Karl told us in the 11th thesis on Feuerbach to do. Indeed, it is not the time to say good-bye.