I stepped down from my role as co-chair of Eumans during the Eumans Assembly last 22 November. If you don't have time to read the words below, in the recording at this link you can listen to the reasons that led me to do so.
I think it is important to leave a trace of this choice, which was well thought out but no less painful, because it is part of a journey we have made together and because it can be useful for Marco Cappato, the Board and all the people who, together with him, want to continue to try to carry on Eumans' journey. And I thank Marco for asking me to share them in this form.
Writing to you is also a way of thanking you and acknowledging the important initiatives we have carried out together over the years, some of them truly extraordinary, such as the EU Can Do It Petition to the European Parliament during the pandemic, the European Citizens' Initiative Stoppglobalwarming.eu or the Warsaw Congress for Sustainable Peace, Democracy and Freedom in March 2022.
At the same time, I hope you understand the strain of having to synthesise complex thoughts and reflections, of personal and political analysis, on these years... and thus the inevitably limited nature of this piece of writing (which was originally 10 pages... fortunately for you :))
I start with the results of the questionnaire sent out this summer. The response rate demonstrates unequivocally the prevalent - in fact almost total - Italian nature of what we have made immense efforts to make a pan-European movement of popular initiative and non-violence.
The reasons for my choice are first and foremost rooted in considerations about the functioning of the movement and its priorities that I have shared over the years in various meetings and documents. Considerations that explain for me why none (or almost none) of the non-Italians we have met and involved have decided to invest in the construction of the movement itself. These are motivations, necessarily partial, which have been attempted - unsuccessfully - on several occasions, but never with the necessary radicality.
I therefore offer them as a concrete political act, which I hope will prompt those who remain to put more radical reflection on the table.
Eumans has always lived between two tensions. On the one hand, the driving force of Marco Cappato and the group of Italian people who founded it. A force rooted in a decades-long history, in a cultural and political context, in a method of initiative but also of organising political work, which can be summarised succinctly in the division between Executives and Militants and in the centrality of the leader's vision. On the other hand, there is the second, let us say 'foundational' tension, namely that of a transnational horizon centred on the need to conceive and activate initiatives between European individuals and organisations.
Holding these two forces together has gradually become more and more untenable in the long distance of the European space, at least for me certainly. This methodological tension (and thus of a political and not neutral nature) becomes even more difficult to manage in a complex dimension such as the one in which - after Gdansk and in spite of Gdansk - the choice of proceeding by 'all-inclusive motions' around the concept of a 'Package of Initiatives' evolved later into the 'Government Plan for Europe': multi-territorial, multi-lingual and multi-initiative.
Added to this is the feeling that Eumans' caring work over time has been delegated to me - also as a woman and perpetrating, perhaps unintentionally, gender dynamics on which it would be important to pause and reflect. The grand visions were not matched over time by an awareness and transformation of collective care work that needed to become structural. In terms of information flow, comprehensibility and sharing of choices, care of communications, internal and external.
Attempts were made, also with the contribution of many activist people. But the urgency of the initiative always took over.
To the point of impacting the ability to listen and generate collective action. In me first.
Often the dynamic of choice was therefore based more on the criteria of authority of an established leadership or on the budget or the human and economic resources available at the time than on a truly shared and collective political analysis.
Many people have pointed this out to us over time. But we failed to accompany the change.
In other cases, some goals have gone 'outside' Eumans, for example that of European democracy, requiring additional work in coalitions such as Citizens Take Over Europe, which is a natural forum for credible action on the reform of European democracy, but which is itself a space requiring cooperation and care.
There was also insufficient attention to the manifestations of fatigue, emotional and physical as well as mental - within and without. Tensions caused by nervousness during meetings, the rush from one meeting to the next, little time for listening made the daily work around the initiatives almost performative, creating a strong discrepancy even between the paid team and the activist team.
The fact that the European Citizens' Initiatives are such a fragile instrument is a factor to be added to this overall assessment. Engaging all this high intensity inside and outside of us for what is a very fragile political result also increases the levels of disappointment. This issue is part of the broader framework of the 'democratic emergency', which in my opinion is almost as serious transnationally as the climate emergency - and deeply connected to it - and which impacts precisely the most fragile and most oppressed people by class, gender, race.
This is why I believe that if one had to choose an initiative on which to completely refound Eumans, it should be that of the non-violent and collective struggle for the protection and transformation of democracy. External and internal to the movement.
And so I do not agree with the choice of a transversal approach to so many issues, which I do not believe can be achieved with the current structure and with the European elections just around the corner. All the more so given the Italian prevalence within the movement.
In fact, the risk that Eumans, while not changing its statutory nature as a non-electoral subject, turns into an electoral committee for Marco - without this being matched by a real reflection and radical transnational restructuring of the movement, becomes a risk for the very existence of Eumans.
It would then certainly be difficult to explain this choice, even beyond national borders, without a work of internal self-consciousness within the movement that would then manifest itself in clear communication.
What I see shaping up under the current conditions from the ongoing processes is the attempt to make some European citizens' initiatives, an electoral mobilisation for a candidacy of Marco in a deeply "sick" Italian democratic system and a process of internal restructuring necessary for transnationalisation coexist simultaneously.
These are three immense actions, and for me unfeasible with the current resources. What would be crushed would first of all be the statutory part of Eumans as a pan-European movement.
To this I am unable and unwilling to give body.
I have no answers. And that is also why I am resigning.
At the same time, listening to myself, I realise that my political thinking and acting are more effective now in this fluid and less identity-based mode. I need a further period of study and action for a radical transformation of democracy that puts people back at the centre - including their intimate wills and possibilities for participation that are often rooted in inequality and discrimination. I need deeper feminist political action in local, national and transnational society and to understand how to design networks of care and cooperation.
The choice to resign in advance of the convening of the next Eumans Congress is a personal and political choice, matured in the process of healing from the Burn-out that struck me at the end of March this year and that took 4 months of great effort to get me back into a state of balance, emotionally and mentally.
Burn-out is something that initially confronts you completely with yourself - with all your limits, weaknesses, contradictions, mistakes - but then, once a few flames have passed and with the necessary psychological support - and a lot of love from the people next to you - it helps you recognise that it's not just you, but there are structural conditions in the context and the way you have been working that make it possible and fair to say that you can't do it any more. And I admit that it is not easy to also recognise your limits, to say enough is enough, when your personal investment has been so great.
I think it is important from a scientific point of view to point out that data show that women and LGBTQIA+ people experience burn-out more often. This is indeed a mental health, social and cultural problem and it is important that it is looked at within organisations that care about the quality of democracy and people's lives.
In the deep conviction that from the body of people one can go to the heart of politics, I also add this juncture to my letter.
I hope that these words of mine and this fundamental choice of mine can be a cue for those who will remain to work with Eumans and for Eumans; I will be very happy if it is deemed necessary to go into the specifics of some of the points raised, and I will be at your side as always for the challenges that unite us, starting with the end of life initiatives and the care of democracy. But I will do so from a feminist perspective, seeing the 'democratic emergency' as the central point of my action. Because I think that this is the first urgency to be addressed, also and above all with the tools of non-violence, to ensure that the solutions to the great challenges of our time truly involve and liberate the most oppressed and marginalised people.
With extreme gratitude to each of you for the road we have travelled together and for what I have been able to learn from our meeting.
Virginia Fiume (Gilla)