Terwijl het ESF steeds meer overheerst wordt door autoritaire linkse partijtjes, ontwikkelt zich een interessant nevenprogramma.

ImageAl maanden rommelt het danig in de voorbereiding van het derde Europees Sociaal forum, dat deze keer in Londen plaatsvindt. Het grootste probleem is dat een paar marxistische splintergroepjes al vanaf het begin proberen alle touwtjes in handen te houden en de programmering naar hun hand te zetten. Het betreft vooral de SWP (de Grote Broeder van de Nederlandse IS). Vreemd genoeg - of misschien juist niet - vinden ze de lokale labour-regering aan hun zijde in de vorm van de linkspopulistische burgemeester Ken Livingstone en diens stadsbestuur.
De nieuwste rel is dat geprobeerd werd om de afsluitende demonstratie tegen de uitdrukkelijke wens van de officiele voorbereidingsvergadering in, om te vormen in een anti-amerikaanse stop-de-oorlog-in-Irak demonstratie. Alsof er geen andere problemen in de wereld zijn.

Hoewel het natuurlijk belangrijk is om autoritair links te bestrijden, hebben veel activisten er wederom voor gekozen om zich daar niet toe te beperken en zijn ze gewoon gaan werken aan een onafhankelijke programmering die wel eens een stuk interessanter zou kunnen zijn dan het officiële programma.

Hieronder in het Engels een overzicht van het DIY-programma. Daaronder iets uitgebreider uitgelicht een aankondiging van het programma Life Despite Capitalism.

(Uit het onvolprezen emailweekblad Schnews:)

Ethics and ESFaetics

The European Social Forum is coming to London next week. "A giant gathering for everyone opposed to war, racism and corporate power, everyone who wants to see global justice, workers' rights and a sustainable society." Which sounds pretty good, but behind the scenes the ESF has been hijacked by authoritarian organizations such as the Socialist Worker's Party. Racist, war crazy corporate whores Neo Labour have even got in on the act through Ken Livingstone and the GLA, who have been involved in organizing and funding the events. And it's not just grassroots environmental and direct actions groups that are complaining about all this.
Recently a coalition of the UK trade justice and environmental NGOs wrote in a letter: "Many British NGOs are keen to get involved in the ESF but have found it difficult to do so because of the lack of transparency and openness in the UK process".

So, instead of standing idly by while the ESF claims to be the new representative body of "sensitive, political active citizens", we want to demonstrate "another possible world" - a world which is already here today. The world of Autonomy, Self-Organisation, Solidarity and Sustainability. There's a whole load of free/donation events happening 13th-17th, for a full programme www.altspaces.net

BEYOND ESF is a free direct action conference and celebration of self-organised cultures of resistance. The 4 main themes are Autonomy & Struggle, No Borders & Migration, Casualisation, and Social Control & Repression. There will be food, cinema and live music each evening. Beyond ESF: at Middlesex University, Tottenham Campus, White Hart Lane, N17. www.wombles.org.uk/auto On the Friday there will be A Day of Dissent Against the G8, featuring workshops, discussions and a benefit party from 11am. Details: www.dissent.org.uk

TACTICAL MEDIA PRODUCTION 4 days of events will tackle issues around communication rights: from Community and Alternative Media to Surveillance and the Security State to Intellectual Property. An Indymedia centre will be running all week to report on the ESF, autonomous spaces events, as well as covering protests and actions. There will also be a bar with cheap food, social events film screenings, media training and public access internet computers. All this at The Camden Centre, Bidborough St ( Kings Cross), WC1 www.efcr2004.net www.indymedia.org.uk

RAMPART squatted art and social space will have film shows, music and workshops, food, internet access, audio & video editing and prop & banner making. It is also home to the Mobile Carnival Forum (www.europeancreativeforum.org) and the Lab of Insurrectionary Imagination (www.labofii.net). RampART is at 117 Rampart Street, Whitechapel E1.

SOLIDARITY VILLAGE Space for co-operative practical projects for a sustainable economy. Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn and LSE Clement House, Aldwych. www.solidarityvillage.org

WOMEN'S OPEN DAY There's no money for subsistence farming, caring, volunteering, fighting for justice - but plenty for war. Women speak out together. 10am-10pm, 14th, Kings Cross Methodist Church, 57a Birkenhead St,WC1.

RADICAL THEORY FORUM hosts a series of discussions on the theme of "How can theory inform action?", followed by a party with films, art, spoken word and music. 11am-late, 14th, 491 Gallery, 491 Grove Green RoadLeytonstone E11. www.491gallery.com

FAIRFORD COACH APPEAL HEARING Demonstrate against detentions without arrest -In March 2003 three coach loads on their way to protest at Fairford Airbase were turned back to London. Appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand W1. 9-10am, 14th/15th www.fairfordcoachaction.org.uk

CRITICAL MASS Bicycle Protest. 15th, Meet noon at the National Theatre (under Waterloo Bridge) for an afternoon ride, or 6pm for an evening jaunt. www.londonrisingtide.org.uk

URBAN FORUM Neo-liberal policies mean the public realm is forever decreasing. This forum will debate reclaiming the rights for citizens. 15th/16th The Bartlett, UCL, Wates House, 22 Gordon St, WC1. www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/esf/

LIFE DESPITE CAPITALISM - discussions of alternatives to capitalism for today, rather that waiting for the 'revolution'. 16th-17th, Old Theatre and Clement House at the LSE, Aldwych. www.lifedespitecapitalism.org

* There's a radio www.rampartradio.co.nr and Indymedia have a breakfast show during the ESF on Resonance FM 104.4 www.resonancefm.com; 8am-9am, 15th-17th.

* 20,000 copies of the Autonomous Spaces free newspaper are available now from autonomous info-points around London. It has full details about all the events happening at the autonomous spaces with a map of venues. Get copies from LARC, Fieldgate Street or RampART, and the Camden Centre (during the ESF)


Life Despite Capitalism

Forum about alternatives in the here and now
16-17 October 2004, London
Old Building (first plenary) and Clement House (workshops and final plenary).Aldwych.
(Holborn tube, central line) Website: www.lifedespitecapitalism.org
for a map see http://www.lse.ac.uk/resources/mapsAndDirections/howToGetToLSE.htm

Jake Black, Reverend D. Wayne Love AKA, George Caffentzis, Mariarosa Dalla osta, Massimo De Angelis, Olivier De Marcellus, Ana Dinnerstein, Viviane Gonik, David Graeber, Andrej Grubacic, Marion Hamm, John Holloway, John Jordan, JJ King, Nolasco Mamani, Sandro Mezzadra, Mercedes Moya, Jai Sen, Matthias Studer, Peter Waterman, from groups and networks such as Leeds May Day group, Globalisation from Below, Alabama 3, Mute magazine, Greenpepper magazine, Proceso de Communidades Negras (Colombia), Transform-Italy, Tavolo-migranti, The Commoner, Global Roots, Peoples's Global Action, Consejo Indio de Sud America (CISA), Indymedia, Action populaire contre la mondialisation, COBAS, Centre for the Study of Global Ethics . . .and many other . . .

General Description

Life Despite Capitalism is a project/forum of collective reflection to discuss what we are for, to articulate the different values and practices we adhere to in our diverse struggles and therefore to develop and weave together new political discourses that approach the question of alternatives to capitalism.
It is a project grounded in the belief that if other worlds are possible, it is people themselves who create them and not some transcendent power with a "correct" line such as parties, states, or gods.

We call this stream "life despite capitalism" instead of "life after capitalism", in order to problematise alternatives as something in the here and now, not simply in a distant future "after capitalism" has been abolished. This means reclaiming the exercise of our many powers to do and to produce things, affects and relations; it means to relate and learn from each other in ways rooted in dignity, respect and common access to resources at any scale of social action, in any context of our lives. The challenge to the competitive and commodifying modes shaped by production for profit, and by hierarchical and vertical forms of rules of states and corporations, is a challenge that at the same time constitutes new modes of doing and social relations.

SATURDAY 16 October 2004

9:30 - 12:30 Initial plenary

12:30-14:00 Lunch

14:00-16:00 "Roots"

(first set of workshops, on communication commons, "public services" as commons, food as commons, workplace commons, and free movement as commons)

16:30-18: 30 "Swarm"

(second set of workshops, on "powers", "commons", "netwroks", "democracies" and reflection on "moments of creative excesses")

SUNDAY 17 October 2004

9:30 -12:30 Final PLENARY


The opening plenary will allow a series of speakers to rapidly evoke half a dozen very diverse kinds of commons which will be discussed in the first series of workshops. Other speakers will present reflections on the powers we exercise in our doing, the democratic forms of grassroots participation we employ that we will discuss and problematise in the workshops and final plenary.

After the first plenary, we have two rounds of simultaneous workshops followed by a final plenary. The first round of workshops, called "ROOTS", will develop the various experiences of commons and therefore of reclaiming our powers and communities, as they apply to particular themes: virtual communication commons, "public services" as commons, food as commons, workplace commons, and free of movement as commons. Speakers introduce the issue trying to address what these commons are, and how and to what extent these commons represent a challenge to capital, how and to what extent it is capital that rides these commons, and what are the possible challenges ahead. Life history experiences are shared, questions and insights discussed.

The second round of workshops, called "SWARM", will allow the participants in the first round to recombine along broad conceptual themes such as "powers", "commons" and "democracies" and reflection on "moments of creative excesses" with which our struggles change the culture and context of our lives. In this set of workshops, the people and themes of the previous workshop will cross-pollinate. Each workshop would be also given the task to come up with proposals for further work, action and initiatives.

In the final plenary we will have both space for report back from the workshops and collective reflection. There will be a report back from both series of workshops. Then both invited speakers and participants will comment, problematise issues, and critically engage with the discussion of the.
Speakers in particular will be asked (to paraphrase Foucault) not to impose their ideas, but to use their skills to note and give volume to the ideas emerging from the collective. Hopefully proposals for future initiatives and practices will take form, common ideas thus integrating themselves in the discourses of our concrete struggles.

Having no simultaneous translation equipment and limited time, the plenary will be primarily in English. Speakers in other languages will be translated into English. Informal translation groups will be organised for non-english speakers.

Weaving discourses of empowerment

In our effort to weave together new political discourses that approaches the question of alternatives to capitalism, we are aware the importance that discourses and the values they embed have in guiding social action, outreach and help "mobilise" and constitute new social relations across the social body. Discourses select things, decide what is important to pursue, and what is not important, what comes first and what comes last. In the discourse we want to develop, we believe that the values of our final ends are not distinct from the organisational means we employ. It is on this basis that we problematise the world around us and the practices we ourselves pursue.
In the last two decades, neoliberal globalisation has carried out massive attacks on public goods and services of various kinds. Going beyond privatisation, this agenda has commodified and individualised more spheres of life -- e.g. public spaces, collective skills, education, etc. By analogy to the original Enclosures of common land, these attacks can be understood as new enclosures of present-day commons, where the state acts as a prime agent. At the same time, the neoliberal agenda has eliminated or marginalised social-democratic forms which previously mediated between the state and civil society. Despite the semblance of choice and diversity, we are also witnessing a flattening of difference, a homogenisation of every commodity from food to software.

On the other hand, in recent years the anti-capitalist forces have grown in strength and coordination. They have developed new social forms and international networks of resistance and struggle, which go beyond demands upon the state. In all their diversity, these struggles are posing the question of commons, empowerment and grassroots democracy.

We understand all forms of struggle as rooted on some types of community, whether newly created forms brought about by struggles, or existing communities who defend themselves from enclosures and attacks. Often struggle develops communities for articulating alternatives and for appropriating resources as a collective good, in ways independent of state authority or antagonistic to it. Other times, existing communities develop struggles that in turn changes the nature of communities and their mutual relations.

Communities and commons are therefore the basis for the exercise of social powers at whatever scale of social action. Commons suggest alternative, non-commodified means to fulfill social needs, e.g. to obtain social wealth and to organise social production of whatever type. Commons are necessarily created and sustained by communities, i.e. by social networks of mutual aid and solidarity. As our movements have shown, commons and the process of people's empowerment that creates them cannot be separated from the learning practices of direct democracy, horizontality, participation, and inclusiveness to decide what are the goals and modalities of social production.

Rather than falsely counterpoise the state to the market, our strategies of struggle can identify the state-market nexus as the problem and develop strategic alternatives around extending new types of commons, strengthening and creating corresponding communities and problematising the forms of relations within them. Such activities can make "alternatives" relevant and real to many people not yet drawn into the anti-capitalist movement, yet engaged in processes of production of commons. Indeed, the commons as a contemporary project has the problem of being either invisible (the electromagnetic spectrum), criminalized (file swapping, freedom of movement), co-opted in the competitive race (workplace commons), sentimentalized (as in the real estate mania for "commons" in housing estates and shopping malls) or the immediate product of crisis (and hence taken as transitory - until capitalism takes hold - and marginal as in the urban gardens of the planet which feed in part about 20% of the world's populations). It needs a common voice. It is time we go for it!

Verschillende ESF-websites
Komende oktober vindt in Londen het derde ESF plaats. Er is veel te doen omtrent het feit dat dogmatische marxistische organisaties te zeer de touwtjes in handen hebben. Daarom is er ook een alternatieve website.
Indymedia UK heeft een speciale website voor het gebeuren.
Anarchisten organiseren daar een Autonome Ruimte.

(Dit artikel was oorspronkelijk op GlobalInfo gepubliceerd door diversen.)