Two ways for ESF and the 29th of September mobilization

Tord Björk | Action,class struggle,Economy,global crisis,International action | Monday, September 6th, 2010

“Is it about time to abandon any timidity and intellectual subalternity to crack ideas”

Marco Berlinguer at Transform! website summer 2010

How shall we best support the trade union initiative for an international action on 29th of September? A discussion has emerged in the ESF Prague Spring II network were two alternatives for a call have been put forward. The decision is to merge the two. There are some problems in merging the two proposals. Both are relevant and address the crisis and what to do to go forward. But partly they are contradictory. Both also at least in their will to promote solutions address social and ecological concerns. Both are also of interest for the future of ESF. The original proposal was written by Matyas Benyik (Attac Hungary) and Tord Björk (EU Committee – Friends of the Earth Sweden) commissioned by the Skype chat meeting. In the following text I will call this proposal the first proposal. The added call was written by Elisabeth Gauthier (Transform! European network), Frédéric Viale (Group Europe – Attac France), Louis Weber (Espaces Marx – France). It was issued in April 2010 originally for other purposes. In the following text I will call this the French text.

It is seldom there is a chance to discuss the general strategy of how different movements in Europe best can unite their efforts against the crisis. A general political discussion on strategic differences in the way we see the future of ESF is at times also missing. As both issues now are put on the agenda a discussion on the differences between the two texts on how to solve the crisis might be of wider interest. This is why I send my critical remarks to a broader ESF constituency.

The starting point for the discussion in the Prague Spring II network was the general part of the Assembly of Social Movements statement in Istanbul:

Act together in Europe against the crisis

In the context of a global crisis and faced with the EU, the governments and the IMF offensive to impose austerity and social regression policies, the social movements which have gathered in the ESF in Istanbul issue a call to act together in Europe. Mobilisations and resistance movements are developing across Europe to challenge these policies. It is urgent to build, on the long term, a convergent struggle in Europe, which brings together social movements, trade unions, associations, organisations, and citizen networks. This is why we issue a call for a first step on the way to developing mobilisation across Europe, on the 29th of September and the surrounding days. We must impose alternative policies, which enable us to fulfil social needs and ecological requirements. Read more at: http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=1680

The first proposal for a call made by Benyik and Björk was titled Call to Action against the Crisis. You find the text at the bottom of this blog post.

The added French text was titled The peoples or the Financial markets? The governments and the E.U. must choose! It was issued in April and you can find it on the Transform! Website. http://www.transform-network.net/en/home/articles/display-articles/article//European-Appeal-The-Peoples-or-the-financial-markets-The-EU-and-the-governments-must-choose.html

Politically there are some differences:

The first proposal is confronting the ETUC 29 September call for ”growth” by claiming that we instead should “stopping the rich from accumulating a larger and larger part of the wealth in society”. The main call of the French text to merge with is a call against the banks: “It is time the governments of the European Union stopped the plundering of their population by the banks!”.

The main political focus in the first proposal is on uniting all social movements across all of Europe. Whether this is local, national, within EU or in all of Europe simultanously on Iceland and in Turkey, outside EU or in countries inside EU they are equally important.  The political focus in the French text is criticizing leadership and safeguarding EU as an institution: ”The attitude of the principal political leaders renewing the legitimacy of the Stability Pact … and of the Lisbon strategy is totally irresponsible and endangers the very existance of the euro and the E.U.” The struggle should focus on EU policies and the alternative is presented as supporting “A ’nationalisation’ of problems” which ”can only give more weight to nationalist trends, to Right wing, populist and extremist forces already present in Europe and to splits between North and South, East and West of the continent.” This ideology giving countries and movements in Europe outside EU the only role of being subaltern to the struggle within EU because this is the only way to avoid split between East and West in Europe is a political contradiction.

It is of course not fair to compare the two texts without acknowledging that they have been written under different conditions and for different purposes. The first proposal had to be only one page long, the French text focus upon one policy field and is valuable on its own merits for this purpose. But both contain also overlapping more general analysis and proposals which can be compared as done above. Both are addressing the crisis in the same region in the world and use some common language.

Concerning the crisis the first propsal is addressing the multidimensional crisis, ” The whole world has been hit by a severe financial, economic and ecological crisis.” The second proposal is addressing ”the crisis” but in practice this is described as a crisis of the financial markets. Both see neoliberalims as the cause of the crisis, while the second focus upon the concept financialized capitalism.

The solution in the French text is EU policies to control the banks and the financial markets. ” The governments must break with the principle “The State assumes the debts, the people tighten their belts and the profits go to the financial sector”. It must be possible to find solutions with other principles and logics.” Included is also a more detailed list how EU can control the European bank etc. The solution in the first proposal is to unite peoples movements in struggling for ”creating jobs and serving common needs”. And more specifically: ”Solutions can be found by simultanously addressing the social and environmental needs. We should elaborate constructive programs for a transition of our societies towards social and environmental justice protecting and develop our commons.” The first proposal thus has more focus on constructive solutions and integrating social and ecological concerns. It calls for confronting the accumulation of wealth among the rich rather than calling for new EU policies. I also calls for struggles beyond the market and the state by safeguarding and develop commons, which can be both public services which are protected at the municipal or national level but also be organized outside state control and market mechanisms. The French text has elaborated EU policy proposals but when it comes to finding other solutions it ends with a mere vague statement that it must be possible to find them.

In relationship with the ETUC 29th of September call for jobs and growth the call for EU policies to control the banks is complementary. Neither the ETUC call nor the French text calling for Bank control is putting the core of the present system in question neither in form or content. The ETUC call for mass actions on a Wednesday is a contradiction and an offence against the people suffering all over Europe in the hands of those in power. A work day is not a day for united mass protest. The ideological content is even worse. To call for growth is to legitimize the present ruling order and shows a total lack of interest in addressing the causes of the crisis by acknowledging the social conflict instead of postponing the issue of power struggle between capital owners and wage earners into a future and replacing this conflict with false promises for growth. The bank control statement is focused upon creating a new EU leadership by getting people to address the problems of a specific kind of capitalism, so called financialized captialism, as if financialized capitalism can be separated from capitalism. The role of the masses is equally diffuse as in the ETUC call. This state-centric policy appeal works very well as a marginal addition to the ETUC call without questioning the core of this appeal in any way.

The first proposal is confronting the basis of the ETUC call by replacing the call for growth with a call for action against the rich accumulating ever growing larger part of wealth. This is a class struggle issue rather than EU policy struggle. It can be carried out on many levels, both social and political, local, national and international or translocal/transnational. The first proposal also differs radically from both the ETUC call and the French text in its way of addressing the ecological issue. The ETUC call is a simple attack on the growing environmental concerns that puts social justice and questioning of the present development model whether it is capitalistic or planned economy focusing on economic growth. Instead of building an alliance with global peoples movements now confronting the present system and demanding constructive programs to solve the social and environmental crisis like trade unions in the South and a few in the North, Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth and the climate justice movement ETUC choice is the devastating social partnership ideology more and more turned into religion which is a threat against wage earner interests in Europe and against the future of our planet.

The first proposal is coherently addressing both social and ecological concerns in its analysis of the crisis and the negative effects of present politics and in putting forward solutions. Rather than a specific growth or degrowth ideology there is a call for united constructive efforts by peoples movements linking evironmental and social justice concerns. This is directly in opposition to the growth oriented solution presented by ETUC and also the way the French text address the environmental issue. In the Bank control text the environmental crisis is not part of the causes of the problems but comes in as something the states have lost the ability to address as ” they have restored the power of the financial markets by abandoning the idea of regulating them”. This have blocked the possibility of ”developing socially and ecologically useful forms of production, research and services”. The direction here is the same as in the first proposal but the cause is not lack of uniting social interests but to get the EU states to regulate the banks again as before. One wonders how in the first place it comes that the states deregulated the banks.

More of a problem is the ideology presented as solution to the environmental cirisis in the French text: ”The E.U. and its member states must act in a united manner at continental and planet-wide levels in favour of a new kind of ecologically sustainable development.” This is a an appraisal of the ideology behind the global neoliberal ideology which was launched at the United Nation Conference on Environment and development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The definition of sustainbale development by the Brundtland report that underpinned the Rio conference and have had a hegemonical position ever since in the sustainable development policy discussions is that sustainable devlopment is achieved through two ways. The first is sustainable growth. The second is to acknowledge that everyone have caused environmental problems and that we now all together have to solve them. This ideology became the basis for a global NGO system and dismantling of mass movements focused on conflicts whether in class struggles or class alliances against the exploiters in ecological struggles. This NGO system focused on win-win solutions and so called stake holder dialogues became a model not only for environmental issues but also social with a brake through at the Social summit in Copenhagen 1995. The ETUC social partnership ideology is one of the roots of this model and shares the growth ideology avoiding addressing social conflicts here and now with the sustainable development concept. There has been some confusion regarding the sustaionable development concept as many NGOs preferred to quote a less specific and more meaningless definition promoted by the Brundtland Commission as this defintion made it possible for many to avoid the conflictual and social side of the environmental crisis. But today the concept is mainly used by organisations as EU, corporations and main stream NGOs without a democratic or active membership to claim a false image of being ecologically conscious. Todays envrionmental movement talks about just transition as at ESF in Istanbul or sustainable societies, not sustainable development. It is a pity that the sustainable development concept is put into a text that for the rest has many better qualities and is more up to date.

There are a number of good specific policy proposals in the French text. But how they could be integrated in a call from the ESF Prague Spring II network call with the condition set that the text should not be more than one page is not easy to see. Under all circumstances is there no possibility of merging the two texts on some principle that they are equally important. On the main strategic issues they are contradictory and it is necessary to make a poliical choice.

These contradictions can hopefully be solved in an open manner. They are to a large extent contradictions that have followed the ESF process from the start. The lack of integrating the ecological and rural dimensions has been a weakness and is here once more explicit. Another is between acting simultainously at local, national or European level in a political similar direction but not necessarily promoting the same policy and the EU policy orientation. This has shown itself in a conflict between on the one side many Central and Eastern European as well as Nordic movements in the marginal and movements in the EU core states. The hegemonic position of the movements in the EU core states has been challenged by the growing concern for an All European ESF process expressed by the establishment of an All-European mobilization committee and the ESF Prague Spring II network established at a meeting in Prague in March 2010 titled Right wing extremism in a time of social and environmental crisis.

It might be no coincidence that contradictions at the core of the ESF process is brought to the forefront by the efforts of the very small and yet broad and different constituency of mainly those in the periphery of the political concerns of the hithertho dominating ESF forces. Whether the contradictions can be solved we will see. But it is hard to see that the ESF process can be fruitful in the future without integrating on equal level the ecological and social concerns.

It is clear that the first proposal is ecclectic and lacks a strong support from a well organized movement as well as institutions. Eccleticism is at times a weakness of those lacking resources. The second can fall back on a well formulated parliamentary vision of politics. The first proposal is going beyond this parliamentary limitation and can even be seen a class struggle oriented as well as confronting the whole present development model including attempting at uniting all movements instead of fragmenting them into separate policy fields. While the French text is explicitly reformistic the first proposal is focusing on uniting struggles going beyond the division not only on issues but also in reformist and revolutionary divisions. As the tradition within the left is to split these to strategies there is little support from the vested interest in left wing groups to allow for going beyond this division or even recognize that it can exist such a possbility, at least when it is put forward outside the context of established left wing organisations and academic discourse. So the possibility to have some influence with a text like the first proposal is limited. ETUC and parliamentarian left wing EU policy strategies have some more at least financial backing. The future will tell what way ESF and the peoples movements in Europe will follow.

Tord Björk

CALL TO ACTION IN EUROPE
AGAINST THE CRISES
(Draft2)

We call upon all social movements in Europe to unite against the crisis and participate in the international day of action on 29th of September initiated by the European Trade Union Confederation. Only together can we achieve the necessary solutions to the social and environmental crisis. We say yes to solutions creating jobs and serving common needs paid by stopping the rich from accumulating a larger and larger part of the wealth in society.

The whole world has been hit by a severe financial, economic and ecological crisis. Globally is the region most severly hit Central and Eastern Europe. But all over Europe from Latvia to Iceland, Russia to Romania and Greece to Spain we can see social and ecological problems growing and we are sure that the worst of them are still to come. Today’s crises are  systemic ones driven by the neoliberal ideology that have sold out long-term investment, jobs, wages, the environment and the general well-being of the planet and its people for the benefit of a few.

The representatives of the social movements of Europe gathered in Istanbul between 1st and 4th July 2010 explored the effects of these crises on the lives of people. They came to the conclusion that the EU and the IMF with the complicity of the governments impose austerity and social regression policies, which cause serious social degradation and make people fall into poverty. The global crises are spilling over into our lives, threatening jobs, savings, pensions and public services and environmental protection everywhere!

To challenge these policies it is an urgent need to build an European wide struggle, which brings together social movements, workers, peasants, women, youth, environmental and others organized in associations, trade unions or networks of different kinds. Solutions can be found by simultanously addressing the social and envrionmental needs. We should elaborate constructive programs for a transition of our societies towards social and environmental justice protecting and develop our commons.

We call upon all peoples movements in Europe to act against the crises and struggle for solutions that give jobs and make the rich pay. What we need is a massive mobilisation across all of Europe on the 29th of September 2010.

16th August, 2010.Prague Spring II Network

ESF-6 Istanbul 1-4th July 2010 Final Assembly of Social Movements

ASM – Assembly of Social Movements

EUROPEAN SOCIAL FORUM
ISTANBUL 1-4th  JULY 2010

FINAL ASSEMBLY
(Notes taken, documents organized by Mariangela Casalucci and Elettra Anghelinas)

The final Assembly has been divided in two parts:

10 – 11.40        Information about the ESF, presentation of final declaration  and debate
11.40 – 13.00  Outcome from thematic assemblies and debate

It was significant to have an ESF in Istanbul, 3000 people participation, 200 meetings between workshops, seminars and assemblies and a very successful demo with more than 5000 people participating
We have held this ESF in the framework of the crisis. There were a lot of seminars and workshops focusing on this. All seminars have brought similarities and differences.
What is clear is that we want to work together and go further together without letting anybody destroying the wish of networking mobilizations all around Europe.
So we are here together to find spaces to coordinate our effort to struggle against the attack we are facing. There will be concrete actions and in the framework of the ESF we are going to join our forces

Final declaration

From the Final Assembly of the 6th European Social Forum
1- 4th July 2010
We, the participants at the Istanbul ESF, affirming that we have a strong  engagement against all war and occupation  and that we are for a political resolution of the Kurdish issue, have made the following resolution :
Act together in Europe against the crisis
In the context of a global crisis and faced with the EU, the governments and the IMF offensive to impose austerity and social regression policies, the social movements which have gathered in the ESF in Istanbul issue a call to act together in Europe.
Mobilisations and resistance movements are developing across Europe to challenge these policies. It is urgent to build, on the long term, a convergent struggle in Europe, which brings together social movements, trade unions, associations, organisations, and citizen networks. This is why we issue a call for a first step on the way to developing mobilisation across Europe, on the 29th of September and the surrounding days.
We must impose alternative policies, which enable us to fulfil social needs and ecological requirements.
All social movements call for a European assembly on the 23-24th of October (or 13-14th of November) in Paris to further our mobilisation and the coordination of our movements and also to make valuation and discuss the future of the ESF.

Outcome of the thematic assemblies and networks
held in the frame of the European Social Forum on the 3rd of July 2010
(please notice that the summaries are followed by the final declarations of each assembly in which are listed all the calls, the proposals and the appointments for the following months)

We are the people, women and men participating to workshops, seminars, assemblies and networks in the European Social Forum in Istanbul, 1st – 4th July 2010 and we call on social movements to participate and networking for the concrete actions which were discussed, proposed and now listed in the final declarations of the assemblies at the forum

Assembly on Freedom of movement, right to stay

We, the people and activist groups participating in the workshops, seminars and actions organized by the Migrant Network call on fighting for the freedom of movement and the right to stay. We call on movements, organizations, individuals all over Europe in order to struggle against the murderous European border regime in which Frontex is the driving force and for the closure of all detention centers.
We call on movements, organizations individuals all over Europe to support the struggles of workers focusing on the ones without papers and rights and to fight against the racism and the precarization and exploitation of migrants, increased in the context of the global economic crisis.
We support all the campaigns, initiatives and struggles and we call on people here on continuing and strengthening networking and proceed in common transnational struggles.

Antirepression network

We, the people involved in the initiatives of the antirepression network believe that the repression issue will be of much bigger importance in the near future because of the crisis and the social struggles emerging from this crisis. Intensify and special measures will be taken against those who right for their rights, their social security and diversity. Despite our different political opinions we call on the release of all the political prisoners, the closure of the black lists and any other measure of the global war against terror. We claim to shut down all the migrants’ detention camps and any kind of guantanamos.

Climate justice Network

We from climate and social justice movements who gathered at the European Social Forum in Istanbul call for system change not climate change for a just transition towards a good life for all. Social and ecological justice, do not contradict each other. They are and have to be complementary. We are calling for a just transition in the way we work, in the structures of production and consumption.  We need to expand community-controlled renewable energies, food sovereignty as well as public services. This would create millions of socially and ecologically useful jobs.
We in Europe are only now starting on the road towards climate justice, creating and resisting in many different ways, such as direct action, the building of local alternatives, civil disobedience or public campaigning to name a few. We call upon social movements, trade unions and civil society in Europe to engage in the struggle for a good life for all.

Education Assembly Rise up! An other answer to the crisis is possible: Public Education

We, people of the public education, gathered in Istanbul for the sixth European Social Forum call for a period of mobilization next autumn
We want to use  the 29th  of September, a day of demonstration and trade union actions across every country of Europe and the surrounding dates, to extend the mobilization and  to act together in Europe on our platform.
During this period, from the end of September to the beginning October, we call for mobilizations,  strikes, demonstrations and actions all around Europe to reaffirm the right to free public education for everybody and to defend and increase  workers and unions rights on the basis of our platform.

War and peace Assembly

The war and peace assembly denounces that at a time of economic crisis, European states are increasing their military budgets and trade of weapons. The European Union  is not the “soft power” it meant to be. To protect peace and social needs, we call peace and antiwar movements to join the trade unions protest on the 29th of September and the Week of Action against the NATO summit of 15-21 November 2010 in Lisbon.  We call for an immediate end of the war in Afghanistan and we will mobilize for the tragic anniversary of the invasion on October 8-9. The assembly strongly supports the mobilization of Kurdish and Turkish movements for a peaceful and democratic solution of the Kurdish issue, and endorses the Palestinian civil society call for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with Palestinian rights based on international law. There is no military way out of these conflict. We  support the demilitarization of Cyprus, the whole Caucasus and we stand in solidarity with the Iraqi civil society that is struggling to protect its people. All these causes and campaigns will be celebrated in the International Day of Peace, 21 September, and in the Thematic Social Forum for a Culture of Peace in Santiago de Compostela on 9-12 December.

Assembly on Labour

We call for support workers and TU in Turkey who are struggling for their rights against the severe oppression by the government and the huge attack of the transnational companies, information campaign all over Europe in order to strength unity and solidarity and prevent workers from being played out against each other; support across Europe the workers struggle against austerity programs and attacks on wages, working conditions, pensions and social programs; debate in European TU and social movements about how to adopt more aggressive initiative and strength the international prospective and coordination; the demonstrations planned for the 29th of September and surrounding days should be organized as European events in Brussels and general strikes where possible

Assembly “Solidarity of the East and the West

With regard to the upcoming European mobilisations it was said that it is preferable to develop simultaneous activities against crises, poverty, unemployment in many countries during the time of the big demonstration on 29th September in Brussels. The slogan ”Human beings are more important than banks” was suggested as well as the integration of our struggle against racism and xenophobia.
The open All-European Mobilizing Committee should support the co-operation and participation of CEE movements for the next EPAs and ESF, based upon the good experience with frequent Skype conferences.
The open-esf website should be renewed and continued with a better balanced participation of women and of CEE movements.
Everyone is invited to participate in the network “Prague Spring II” and to integrate other issues into its work, e.g. women’s issues, sustainability or social issues.
The next ESF should take place either in a CEE country or in one of the neighbouring countries like Austria.

Antimperialist Assembly (see the final declaration in the following part)

Final declarations
of the thematic Assemblies
held in Istanbul
on the 3rd of July 2010
VI European Social Forum

•    Education Assembly
Rise up! An other answer to the crisis is possible: Public Education

•    Migrants Assembly
“The freedom to move, the right to stay”

•    Assembly
“Solidarity of the East and the West”

•    From the network Climate justice
“System change, not climate change! A just transition towards a good life for all”

•    Assembly
“Peace and War”

•    Assembly on Labour

•    Antimperialist Assembly

ESF-6: Anti imperialist Assembly

Tord Björk | class struggle,ESF,global crisis,International action,Uncategorized,war | Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Anti imperialist Assembly
6th ESF Istanbul, 3rd  July 2010

The Anti-imperialist Assembly gathered on the occasion of European Social Forum, with 300 participants from Nepal, Greece, Turkey, Kurdistan, Palestine, Germany, Italy, Basque Country,   Britain, Croatia, Austria, Spain, Sweden, Mexico, Denmark, Cyprus, Switzerland, Catalonia, Portugal, Norway and Belgium declares the following points:
-That without struggle against capitalism, a consistent fight against imperialism is not possible;  since imperialism is the highest stage of the capitalist world system. We call all anti-imperialist forces to raise their efforts to topple the capitalist order which is in a deep and historical crisis. Socialism is the sole alternative against the capitalist system, and revolution is the only way to transform this system. “Another world” is socialism.
-That the social liberation struggles and the national liberation struggles of the oppressed nations are parts of the same front against imperialism. Chauvinistic nationalism is not anti-imperialist, on the contrary it divides and clashes the peoples and in this way it serves imperialism. Imperialism cannot be advocate of any oppressed nation, what it pursues is only to be the new dominator of those oppressed nations. Anti-imperialist struggle should be waged with an internationalist perspective to unite the peoples and oppressed nations of the world and regions.
-We declare our support for the national liberation struggles/resistances going on in Basque Country, Kurdistan, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and all others oppressed nations; and the social uprisings, revolutionary processes, worker strikes, popular resistances, youth movements and mass mobilizations going on in Greece, Nepal, India, Turkey, Italy, Croatia, Latin America and other countries. We strongly condemn all the attacks against these movements and external meddling in the internal affairs of individual countries. We condemn the Gaza Blockade of Israeli Zionism and call for the total boicott of the Israeli Racist State. We stress the vital importance of solidarity.
-That imperialism means poverty, violence and war to the women. Women’s liberation struggle is a part of the anti-imperialist struggle, and without the active participation of women’s masses the anti-imperialist front will be weak. The patriarchal system is basing itself on gender inequality, and a new society without exploitation can only be possible with full gender equality.
-The anti-imperialist unity can only be realised on a practical political basis. The peoples struggling against imperialism should come together. We call all progressive, democratic, patriotic and religious movements who fight against imperialism to form a broad anti-imperialist front. In a crucial moment of crisis of the imperialist-capitalist system, we call all the anti-imperialist forces to raise their efforts to develop revolutionary internationalist unity to fight imperialism internationally.
-We propose to the Final Assembly of the ESF;
-to decide a common day of action of the ESF to unite the labouring masses of Europe in such a deep moment of the crisis, to reject paying the bill of the capitalist crisis.
-to practise international solidarity against the war policy of the Turkish government, handling the Kurdish question with military measures instead of discussing it with popular representatives; and solidarity with the Kurdish politicians and freedom struggle activists, who were imprisoned depending on the so called ‘Anti-Terror’ Law and will be brought to their first trial on the 18th of November in Diyarbakir.

ESF 2010 – Old surface, young undercurrents

Singing in the ESF demonstration

The European Social Forum in Istanbul 2010 was fun. As the practical capacity has weakened as shown during the ESF in Malmo 2008 and even more so in Istanbul 2010 there is no host organizer or European Preparatory Assemblies able to provide political direction or a market place of interest to NGOs. The old leadership building its strength on a costly model for participating in the preparatory process have lost its appeal and there is no alternatives in sight. In this situation of uncertainty there is space for experience exchange on agricultural farming in the Mediterranean, initiatives against the repression of climate justice organizers or establishing systematic knowledge of the consequences of the crisis in Central and Eastern European in a way that can influence the total outcome of ESF in spite of being in the periphery. There has always been space at ESF for a myriad of activities, the difference now is that there is a loss of one hegemonic mainly Western European radical mainstream left wing predicable outcome.

ESF 2010 began with a seminar on the future of ESF. There were 3 speakers introducing the subject and 15 making interventions, in total 18. Out of these speakers 2 came from Central and Easterna Europe including Turkey, one from Russia and one from Mesopotamian Social Forum, 16 from the West. One was young, the rest were old, mainly 50 years and above. 4 women were speaking. 6 of the contributors to the debate came from France, 2 from Italy and Belgium and 1 each from Austria, Germany, Greece, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the two Eastern countries already mentioned. Many were left wing trade unionists including the two introductory speakers from the West saying things which everyone could agree to as there is a crisis in Europe not only for the society but also for the social movements. The speaker from Mesopotamian Social Forum included the ecological crisis but was fairly alone. Among the audience there was none from rural or peasants movements and maybe 4 out of 80 environmentalists. Among the more odd left wing syndicalist analysis of ESF was the point made that small NGOs at ESF with lobbying as their main poliical tool was a problem. Such organizations have become very rare in the process at least since ESF in Malmo. More important was the notion that there is a need for more general debate on the linkage between different issues, a proposal made by Via Campesina ahead of ESF 2008 and then rejected by a French trade unionist but now when it is put forward by trade unionists might be excepted. The class, gender and ethnic conscious methodology of the two recent successful US Social Forums was rigthly promoted by several speakers as inspiring and one of few challenges for the ESF future put forward which was concrete although limited to form.

Instead of a lively political reference to a common platform as the World Social Forum declaration or addressing the problems in the region were the global financial crisis is hitting harder then anywhere else in the world which is in Central and Eastern Europe the reference is instead ”the left” and Western European problems which should be addressed at ”the European level”. What this omnipresent term left is or how this European level looks like is not very well defined. Except by the only young voice in the debate coming from Germany and the trotskyist 5th International. This international organization is extremely small and specialized in producing youth activist speeches proclaiming the same solution to every problem, mass mobilization at the European level on whatever opportunistic left wing issue that seems of current interest for the moment, a mass mobilization that should be carried out by others, mainly trade unions. Others at this debate on the future have not much more to offer for the role of ESF than being this left wing support to convince big trade unions to act although using another language.

Young undercurrents beneath the old surface

Struggling collectively for better and cheap or free public transport was one of the answers on the problems of cars dominating the cities and causing environmental problems. And what a struggle. Students from Istanbul showed us at a seminar and asked us all to join. It was a street theatre they performed to make people aware of the problems for students with longer and longer travels by buses they cannot afford.

It all started with an explanation of the situation for students in Turkey and the daily struggle to get to the university. In a corner the music started and suddenly were we all encompassed by the atmosphere of lively streets, moving bodies and the daily controversaries to get on board on the bus. Four green banners demarked the inside and outside of the bus, a driver stopped the students from entering whenever there was something missing, and there was often something missing. But the collective helped and argued and somehow it seamed as if the male bus driver always lost the battle against the mostly female students. Chanting, singing and arguing the student collective and their driver moved on and we all were moved, by the energy of the political statement, the music and the laughs and the joy.

In the next room the Russian Institute of Law had a seminar on right wing extremism. The daily struggle was as present here, in an even more physical form. First they came and beat us with the fists and we had to learn how to fight with fists to. Then they came after us with knives and we had to learn to use knives to. Now they come with pistols, first using rubber bullets and them live ammunition. The leader of the Institute of Law was shot down and killed together with a young journalist right on the doorsteps in the middle of Moscow one and a half year ago. Both participated at ESF in Malmö and were involved in exposing Russian crimes in Chechenya.

The immediate threat of violence is not only present when the young antifascists speaks, Anarchists rather than Communists or Social democrats. It is also very present in an exhibition made by a young artist on antifascism. Here violence is also very present, and the need to fight back. The rebellion in the Sobibor extincition camp in 1943 is a starting point in this presentation of anti-fascism. Some 300 death camp prisoners rebelled under the leadership of the Communist Aleksander Pechersky. One of very few rebellions in the death camps and the most successful. Most of the escapees were hunted down by the Germans and their Ukrainian helpers but more than 50 made it conquering freedom. In total between 150,000 and 250,000 jews losts their lives in Sobibor, 50 survived the war. In the exhibition is also the 150,000 volunteer partisans mobilized to defend Moscow from the enclosing German troops presented as an example. Ulriche Meinhof is also presented as an example of how the children of the Nazis generation rebelled in Germany. But the main focus is on today’s antifascism. The Russian antifascists that get killed, people willing to fight back. The statistics is also there, being an antifascist in Russia is risky. The exhibition ends with a statement on sorrow and pain. The picture that the organizers liked the most was a a human being with the back against the viewer and the muscles without skin upon one of the shoulders with the message under: ”And if somebody says to me: we are the wall. I’ll say I am the shoulder.

The official image in Western Europe of Russia is that it is fixed to the history of World War II as the result of manipulation by the authoritarian government. The maker of the antifascist exhibition cannot be accused of hoping for the Russian or any government to come and help people. It is up to ourselves also in the worst conditions. And in spite of this perspective far from giving up in front of authorities the theme is partly the same as that promoted by official Russia, the efforts made to stop fascism during World War II. But with another focus that both governments and their allies in media industry have in both Russia and the West. That of activists willing to fight voluntarily, often young activists and often if not totally left out in the history making especially in the West. Millions are spent on how horrible the Nazi death camps and war was, but what do we know about the most successful violent revolt in the death camps? The antifascist story does also not end there. It continious until today when the struggle is also a question of life and death.

Statistics on number of people killed and injured by fascists in Russia the last years.

One of the criticism against the Istanbul ESF states:  ”For us the greatest criticism of this forum was its failure to provide non-hierarchical, participative, polycentric spaces in the meetings themselves. With notable exceptions, every seminar or workshop (there seemed little difference between the formats) was conducted in the same way: the ‘experts’ sat at the front, the floor listened to them reciting what they already knew. This series of laborious, monotonous monologues would come to an end, after two and a half hours, to allow for ‘questions’ – and a further 30 minutes of non-sequiturs. Even when direct questions were asked, the sessions were so poorly facilitated that those asked the questions were rarely given the opportunity to answer. All this made engaging and productive dialogue a practical impossibility”. (From Red Pepper, link se below).

This was not a problem for the seminar on right wing extremism. The atmosphere was young, sincere and open minded. An exchange of experience took place and different means of communications including both speaches, videos and the exhibition filling the walls and giving a different character of the space then that of an academic setting. All were young, the organizers, the speakers and almost all the audience. And the speakers did not comment on antifascism, they were antifascism. There also lacked afraidness for being intellectual. The exhibition started with a quote from John Heartfield: ”One has to make an antifascist exhibition, not an exhibition about antifascism. You see the difference?”

Climate justice transition and food sovereignty seminar making the room more suitable for horizontal experience exchange

Many of the environmental workshops and seminars were also vital with many young participants, a lot of experience exchange and young leadership of the political merging process towards a common statement on just transition to solve the climate crisis. The seminar on sustainable transition lost most of the speakers due to misunderstandings and that it was taken out of the Turksih version of the programme. The hieraric way the room and furniture was arranged did not encourage much vital discussions either. But these disadvantages was turned into its opposite. Among the participants there was a lot of experience from both small farmers, trade unions, and environmental activism to turn the seminar into inspiring each other while finding ways to address ways to strengthen direct producers in agriculture and industry  as well as building new ways of direct relationships between producers and consumers promoting both sustainable agriculture, food sovereignty and more power to direct producers and consumers.

The climate justice drafting group in a successful attempt to occupy a piece of grass

The strength of ESF showed itself when an open drafting committee met to discuss the formulation of a climate justice statement from the seminars to be presented at the final Assembly of Social Movements. At such occassions one have to count on very different backgrounds of the drafters, very limited time with few of any more chances to meet, practical problems of finding a place to meet, write a draft, copy and distribute it. The climate justice movement have been bogged down after the successful mass actvities in Copenhagen during the climate summit in a lack of making a difference between defensive and more forward looking strategies. The movement have to a large extent avoided combining a system critical direct action resistance with a broad appeal for sustainable transition addressing questions of interest for people in their daily life. In this way the movement have been caught in either demanding every action and alternative programme to be equally radical and denouncing every bit of defensive actions within the present system as least say the UN negotiations or issues of interest to main stream trade unions as green jobs or environmental NGO pragmatism losing the system critical goal out of sight. Instead of struggle ideology has a tendency to become the most important, to some anarchists the question of work has been seen as adjusting to the system and instead of a constructive program that can give jobs to many access to resources has been seen as the only demand that the movement should put forward. Other see clear ideology as the most important step at the moment, be it degrowth or ecosocialism.

All these dead end streets were avoided quickly. Degrowth was seen by all from very different backgrounds as an important topic to discuss but not to use to frame the whole statement. Instead the issue of work and social revolutionary perspectives were put forward as most important. The issue of the need for broad social alliances was also something that was not necessary to discuss. Within the ESF frame work what can take time in other situations is immediately avoided here as cooperation between social movement is at at the core of ESFand thus a starting point for discussion, not a point to get bogged down by. All reports from different seminars also pointed in the same direction, there is a need for both strong resistance and alternatives. Thus contrary to many other arenas ESF was very useful for finding common system crtitical common ground without getting trapped in one or another mainly ideological main point. The resistance against the main proposed outcome of the ESF Assembly of Social Movements, a call out for participating in the mobilization on the 29th of September against poverty was also clear and yet not secatarian. The slogan made by the European Trade Union Confederation for this event is to demand jobs and growth, soemthing that is contrary to the social-ecological concerns of the climate justice movement. The point was made hilw at the same time the main focus is on establishing own actions in October for System change – not climate change and hopefully influence also other social movements to become more ecologically conscious while promoting a just transition for both rural and urban areas which cannot only solve the climate cirisis but also be a tooo  for social justice and thus provide a much needed alternative vision for the future of Europe.

Parts of the Swedish ESF delegation

There were of course a lot more young undercurrents. To my surprise the Swedish delegation was dominated by many young people interested in environmental, urban agriculture movemnts, trade union issues and the financial crisis. One aspect was that some of the present young researchers were involved in finding out more about agriculture and the situation for the rural population. This young and often female intellectual energy going into issues of less interest to young actvists in earlier times is an interesting phenomena. More predictable was that the visible and vocal youth presence came from small left wing radical groups which is not so much an undercurrent but part of the old ESF pattern. But it is of special interest when it reflects new mass mobilizations as that among students in many countries.

How important are the young undercurrents?

Other observers seems not to notice the young new undercurrents that here is described. One can ask how important they actually are. Before more extensive reporting from ESF in Istanbul is accessible, specially from young activists themselves it is of course har to make a good assessment. But some notions can be made.

Turkish left wing group not afraid of new global environmental and other issues. To a large degree were young activists in Turkey involved in both social and ecological struggles on water, climate, agriculture and public transport.

Firstly it seems as at least among the Western participants the young currents can be divided into those that are fully noticed by observers from small left wing groups and those that are not or rather indirectly seen as a threat to making something mobilizing out of ESF. (See links below) Thus the vocal 5th International trotskyists highlights the strong anticapitalist and antiimperialist messages from the antiwar and education networks during ESF while for the rest sees ”bland NGO” politics in other issues. The young new undercurrents that are involved in system critical agricultural, climate, public transport or antifascism conflicts are disregarded or maybe seen as part of the bland NGO politics to be criticized. A member of the German trade union youth is taken as an example of how bad influence there is from less radical groups not believing in the possibility of ”the idea of developing from the social forum movement, a movement to change the social system.”

So those that take notice of young participation seems unaware of the new system critical undercurrents at ESF. To some degree they have always been there and may not have more weight then earlier. Two factors may show that there is a difference and the young undercurrents goes beyond occasional presence in some seminars and other activities at ESF. One is that the strength of agricultural, rural, water, climate and other envrionmental or social ecological issues to much a degree is built on youth participation and have maintained it steps forward after ESF in Malmö. This interestingly in spite of that central actors in Malmö as Friends of the Earth and Via Campesina promoting these issues was much less present at ESF in Istanbul. The other factors is the central role played by open minded Central and Eastern European youth. There were also quite large youth participation from some Western European countries. The difference is two folded. Altough the CEE participants are involved in many different issues as the social and ecological crisis, antifascism or feminism and come from different at times opposing ideological trends they tend to see themselves more as part of a joint alternative movement and furthermore come more collectively organized often brought by some of the social forum cooperation. While some Western youth seems mainly focused on one aspects as the need for a new methodology at ESF or avoiding or letting small left wing groups dominate CEE youth have a more general view integrating both methodological and political concerns while at the same time being more central in the delegations from their countries. They seem also to have less problems with the old ESF leadership from their countries and in some cases like Ucraine be totally dominated by young activists from different strands.

Your observer resting for a while at a seminar photographed with his own camera by some anonymous activist interested in complete documentation of ESF. The T-shirt states in Finnish We snowmen against global warming.

Conflicts

Under the circumstances of and old left wing and trade unionist leadership in decline and yet still able to make ESF happen according to the ideas of an open space to anyone willing and resourceful enough to make it while new young undercurrents yet has not formed a strong self understanding and presence the conflicts that occured during ESF in Istanbul are to a large degree obscure and short lived though at times disruptive. The visible predictable conflict is between different parts of the left mainly sharing the same urban and trade union bias in loocking at how to move forward while strongly disliking each other. Different trotskyist groups of the smallest kind tries to convince a smaller and smaller number of ESF participants to mass mobilize on an European scale against the social crisis, left wing trade unionists do the same but with less anticapitalist and antiimperailist slogans. The weakness is there for everyone to see. The main outcome at the final Assembly of Social Movement is not to call for a coherent systemcritical mobilization on the issues discussed at ESF with success, but to call for participation in a mobilization called for by ETUC without having an own agenda.

In the seminar on how to struggle against right wing extremism a conflict occured that highlights the problems of ESF and the European social movement. Here mainly Central and Eastern Europeans came together but also Western Europeans to discuss and make contributions from different parts of Europe and different perspectives. In the exchange of ideas a young women from Ukrainian Social Forum came to notify the audience about a climate change meeting that will take place in Kiev. It was clear that the audience had very different back ground from strong antifascists struggling daily to defend their lives to more broad campaigning for tolerance against racism or antifascism seen in the light of the social and ecological crisis and possible to put i a wider context. A German journalist and expert representing a trade union made an excellent overview of the European situation. The diverse discussion though annoyed him so much that he angrily had to state why he left before the seminar closed. The discussion in his view had not at all been about what he had come for addressing the struggle against right wing extremism at the European level. The petty national and diverse contributions did not impress upon him. He did represent a trade union with many million members and he had expected a lot higher quality we understood. At the surface he was fully correct. The discussion had been diverse. The problem is simple. In most countries in Europe the number of actvists and resources are so small that an issue as right wing extremism has to be put into context. Whether this is how right wing politics is part of nationalism with neoliberal practice selling out the national naturqal resources to Western capital causing social and ecological problems like in Southern Caucasus, or that right wing politics is the main force behind climate scepticism and denial of environmental concerns. Many in the audience are well aware of that what they say may not be highly relevant immediately to the topic. But they are also aware of the limitations of the movements and countries they come from and fully willing to learn and see if it is possible to connect experience from different countries, get inspire and do something in spite of not being a trade union with millions of membersor being payed for coming with well researched material on the situation at the European level of right wing extremism.

Turkish activist agricultural action in the ESF demo

Another conflict which I heard about from different sources with very different interpretations seems also interesting and have bearing on the way ESF is heading. Young Turkish activists claimed that rural issues were blocked from becoming important in the Assembly of ecological crisis. The group that especially blocked this Turkish intervention was Anarchists from Germany. The other version was that Turkish activists were unable to understand how their specific national concerns had to put into a wider European level to be of interest in a common statement. In one version the conflict is about disinterest for rural issues, in another version the difference is between more narrow minded national understanding and a more higher European level of thinking.

Thus what we have is an old left calling for action at the European level, seemingly opposing each other whether they are main stream trade unionists, left party of some kind or sometimes even anarchists, all from Western Europe. The mindset seems often to be that of either organization with plenty of resources to have experts on European level negotiations and issues or specialized in European rhetoric and little action. On the other hand we have a more lively participation especially from Central and Eastern Europe. Thus a young women from Armenia can get inspired by the concrete experience of repression during the Climate Summit in Copenhagen last year refering to here many arrests by the police herself back home. National and local experience can be part of a vivid international exchange of ideas.

Dancing during the ESF demo

Conclusions

Politically what we see is a conflict between periphery and center of Europe. Issues, countries and movement regraded as of less importance for the power positions of the European left are systematically and mainly without intent marginalized. With a hard defensive struggle ahead left wingers and trade unionists cling to each other more and more desperately hoping for that well informed, well organized mass mobilization at the European level meaning under Western European leadership with very little interest of rural or environmental issues.

This position in all its forms, from trade unions the left wing parties of all sorts are now disintegrating. New movements like the climate justice movement is no alternative. While the environmental movement with it s long time social justice concerns ir of vital importance for carrying forward a just transition alternative equally important for solving both the ecological and social crisis there are strong deficits. To a large degree the climate justice and environmental movement is a movement without theory with problems of becoming relevant for people in common in their daliy life.

Climate Justice speaker at the final assembly from the UK climat camp movement discuss with Swedish actvist after ESF

The situation is thus more open than ever, and maybe more hopeful for ESF than one could think. The World Social Forums have similar problems but is more vital. It is no coincidence that when Europe failed to support the CEE participatiion substantially it was WSF that in the last minute put forward some resources to enable a larger presence in Istanbul from the region most severely hit by the global financial crisis. The US Social forum is an excellent example on how the forums can be used for social movement experience exchange and mobilization. The advances with the Mesopatiam Social Forum and other forums in the Maghreb region is also signs that the social forum might have a future also in Europe. Because what is the alternative? Where else is all social movement challenged to participate in a common exchange of experience and assemblies to mobilize. The decline of ESF might therefore be a good sign. To at least social forum organizers in CEE coutries Istanbul showed some strenght. For the first time an All-European Assembly could be arranged at ESF with a balanced participation both from the West and the East. Mirek Prokes from Czech Social Forum was pleased with that 21 countries were present and finally 150 participants came from CEE countries in the last minute in spite of that there were only 60 announced some weeks before. The strong young leadership in the CEE delegations is also a positive sign for the future as well as the ideas to continue follow-up by organizing regional events in the All European process and the Prague Spring II network against right wing extremism. Many at ESF from different strands seams also to agree on the need for avoiding the same old formula hoping for an evermore larger ESF but rather becoming more diverse and strengthening both intellectual and mobilizing activities in a joint ESF process. Such a transition period might lead to disintegration but also result into something new more capable of overcoming the mehodological and political problems of the ESF to face the social and ecological crisis and being a mobilizing strength for popualr movements.

Tord Björk

Friends of the Earth Sweden, coordinator of the EU committee

Some links to articles on ESF:

Sad Spectacle in Istanbul
08 July 2010
By Boris Kagarlitsky

The Sixth European Social Forum ended in Istanbul on Sunday. For those who had attended previous forums in Florence, Paris, London and Athens, it was a sad spectacle indeed. There were few participants and the speeches of the delegates resembled a superficial retelling of the discussions that took place at similar meetings in previous years.

There was genuine enthusiasm after the first Social Forum eight years ago.

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/sad-spectacle-in-istanbul/409968.html

Report from the ESF in Istanbul

The sixth European Social Forum was dominated by bland NGO politics and obfuscatory Maoism, about 3,000 people participated in the sixth European Social Forum (ESF) in Istanbul. There were 200 seminars about the economic crisis, climate change, students’ protests and many other topics.

http://www.permanentrevolution.net/entry/3099

Parteien & Demokratie  Montag, 05. Juli 2010
Organisierungsschwäche und relative Orientierungslosigkeit
Das sechste Europäische Sozialforum in Istanbul. Ein Resumee von Urlich Brand.

Im Mittelpunkt des sechsten Europäischen Sozialforums in den ersten Julitagen in Istanbul – nach Florenz 2002, Paris, London, Athen und Malmoe 2008 – stand natürlich die aktuelle Krise. Schwerpunkte waren die Wirtschafts- und Finanzkrise, dieses Mal besonders prominent die Klimakrise und, bedingt durch den Austragungsort, Energie- und Wasserkonflikte.

http://www.rosalux.de/themen/parteien-demokratie/nachrichten/nachricht/datum/2010/07/05/organisierungsschwaeche-und-relative-orientierungslosigkeit/thema/sprachen/parteien-demokratie/priorisierung-regional.html

ESF 2010: Das Europäische Sozialforum am politischen Abgrund        PDF         Drucken         E-Mail
von Martin Suchanek, www.arbeitermacht.de        06.07.2010 – bisherige Aufrufe: 651

„Das Sozialforum ist noch nicht tot, es vermodert nur am eigenen Laib”, so fasste ein Teilnehmer ironisch-verärgert, das Europäische Sozialforum (ESF) 2010 zusammen. ….. Auch wenn es momentan der einzige „Raum” auf europäische Ebene ist, wo Tausende zusammentreffen und hunderte VertreterInnen verschiedener Organisationen die Koordinierung des Widerstandes vorantreiben können, so zeigte sich in Istanbul auch, dass eine große Mehrheit der informellen Führung des ESF, der dominierenden Kräfte aus linken Gewerkschaften, von attac, auf Vereinigungen, die der europäischen Linkspartei nahe stehen usw. das einfach nicht wollen.

http://www.linkezeitung.de/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8996&Itemid=1

Why Low Turnout at ESF March?

Bianet has asked international and Turkish activists why so few people joined the march of the European Social Forum on Saturday.
Istanbul – BİA News Center
05 July 2010, Monday

On Saturday, 3 July, around 3,000 people joined the march of the European Social Forum (ESF) in Istanbul.

http://bianet.org/english/world/123174-why-low-turnout-at-esf-march

European Social failure?

The sixth European Social Forum took place in Istanbul at the beginning of July. Sophie Haydock and James Robertson found it left something to be desired

What location could be better for this year’s European Social Forum (ESF) than historic Istanbul – where, in tourist-brochure lingo, ‘East meets West in spectacular style’. What a fantastic opportunity to explore Turkey’s domestic issues: the Kurds, relations with Greece and the Turkish military presence in Cyprus – and perhaps, most crucially, how the people of Europe should respond to the financial crisis and get the P.I.G.S out of the IMF/EU pen?

The opening ceremony on the Wednesday 30 June certainly showed that some of this initial optimism was not unfounded, featuring a large Kurdish delegation performing a traditional dance. Under normal conditions, that action would have resulted in the swift and heavy-handed arrest of those involved. What’s more, the 2010 European Social Forum took place just five weeks after Israeli soldiers shot dead nine Turkish activists on board the flotilla bound for Gaza. Surely Istanbul would be the place to unite those wishiing to work together to end the siege of Gaza and challenge Israel’s impunity?

http://www.redpepper.org.uk/European-Social-failure

ESF Istanbul 2010
Another Social Forum was possible

www.socialistworld.net, 07/07/2010
website of the committee for a workers’ international, CWI

Support for European-wide protest on 29 September

CWI reporters

With Europe in crisis, and Turkish undergoing deep changes, the European Social forum was merely business as usual, with a declining number of participants. The summary of the forum merely made reference to the European-wide day of action on 29 September, rather than discussing and developing a strategy for the movement.

http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/4389

VI. Európai Szociális Fórum – Isztambul 2010. július 1.-4.
A harc folytatódik
Minden szervezési probléma ellenére az isztambuli fórumot sikerült megrendezni, amelyet pozitívumként kell értékelni, mert kb. 3-4 hónappal ezelőtt úgy látszott, hogy a fórum elmarad. A rendkívül szűkös anyagi háttér és humán erőforrás ellenére a VI. ESZF lehetővé tette az európai baloldal képviselőinek, civil csoportjainak az ismételt személyes találkozókat, a véleménycserét. Találkozhattunk a török szociális mozgalmak különböző áramlatainak aktivistáival, megismerhettük a Törökországot alapvetően foglalkoztató kérdéseket: a kurdok szabadságtörekvéseit, a gázai flotilla szomorú ügyét, a török szakszervezetek követeléseit.
Beszámoló az isztambuli ESZF-ről

http://attac.zpok.hu/cikk.php3?id_article=1191

Some more pictures from  ESF in Istanbul

http://www.flickr.com/search/?s=int&w=all&q=Istanbul+ESF&m=text

http://www.flickr.com/photos/onesolutionrevolution/sets/72157624451945052/

Mensaje de organizaciones latinoamericanas sobre Klimaforum10

Climate panel at the Foro Social Mundial tematico seen as a model for Cancun by some Mexican actors as RMALC opposing Klimaforum10. To the left Alejandro Villamar from RMALC, in the middle and to the right Francois Houtart. Tord Björk was the fourth participant in the panel here taking the photo.

La Alianza Social Continental, Jubileo Sur/Américas, CLOC-Via Campesina, Amigos de la Tierra América Latina y el Caribe (ATALC), REBRIP, RMALC, Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres, Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indígenas (CAOI), la Convergencia de los Movimientos de los Pueblos de las Américas (COMPA) y CADTM Abya Yala estamos comprometidos en la construcción de un proceso de movilización conjunta en torno a la problemática del Cambio Climático, sus causas estructurales y sus reales soluciones.En este proceso, identificamos algunos momentos importantes en los próximos meses, como la cumbre Enlazando Alternativas, el Foro Social Américas y la realización de la COP16 en Cancún. Dado que el tema de esta última es el cambio climático, será especialmente estratégica para el conjunto del movimiento mundial sobre justicia climática.

Como se mencionó en la carta de la Asamblea de Movimientos Sociales, realizada en el marco de la Conferencia Mundial de los Pueblos sobre el Cambio Climático en Cochabamba “Evaluamos que la cuestión del cambio climático es importante junto a otras manifestaciones de la crisis sistémica global. Para confrontar realmente la ofensiva imperialista debemos frenar la militarización de nuestros territorios y la criminalización de los movimientos sociales, toda la agenda neocolonial contenida en los Tratados de Libre Comercio, el endeudamiento ilegítimo, el poder de las transnacionales y especialmente el modelo del agronegocio y extractivo que promueven en la privatización de la vida y la naturaleza”.

Durante la conferencia de Cochabamba discutimos y avanzamos en consolidar las alianzas con el ánimo de afianzar un proceso de movilización hacia Cancún, lo suficientemente sólido para darle continuidad posteriormente. En ese sentido, se resaltó la importancia de  retomar y seguir construyendo a partir de las experiencias anteriores, como la de la lucha contra el ALCA, que permitió identificar puntos de encuentro y luchas comunes entre los movimientos sociales del continente que nos oponemos a este modelo económico y social. Estas luchas han sido visibilizadas de muchas maneras, incluyendo a través de la realización de Cumbres de los Pueblos, que son momentos de resistencia, debate, construcción colectiva y movilización. Estas Cumbres constituyen una tradición para los movimientos de todo el hemisferio y tienen una legitimidad ganada como espacio de lucha frente a las distintas iniciativas neoliberales en contra de los pueblos.

En consecuencia, frente a la COP16 en Cancún, consideramos que es fundamental fortalecer el proceso continental, articulando con redes y organizaciones de otras regiones del mundo, como lo hemos hecho también anteriormente. Si bien respetamos y valoramos la experiencia del Klimaforum, éste respondía al contexto europeo y danés, específicamente. Intentar trasladarlo o importarlo a nuestra región implica desconocer la realidad de nuestras luchas, así como la identidad y la historia de las movilizaciones en el continente.

Reconocemos la importancia de llevar a cabo articulaciones con otras regiones, en especial en torno a este tema, cuyas implicaciones afectan a los pueblos de todo el mundo. De acuerdo con el espíritu de lo acordado en Cochabamaba, la prioridad es nutrirse y articularse con las campañas, redes y organizaciones regionales y globales que en los últimos años han trabajado para enfrentar el cambio climático y defender los derechos de la Madre Tierra, y otras redes, organizaciones regionales y globales sectoriales y temáticas que han asumido el mismo compromiso. Muchas de nuestras redes y movimientos tienen trabajo a nivel mundial. En ese sentido, creemos que la convocatoria y las movilizaciones de Copenhague fueron muy importantes y es necesario darle continuidad a las alianzas que allí se consolidaron y que también venían de procesos anteriores. Sin embargo, ello no puede resultar en un desconocimiento de los procesos nacionales y regionales.

En relación con el trabajo que se está desarrollando en México, consideramos importante plantear algunas precisiones: existen varios grupos de organizaciones sociales de todo el país que está trabajando en consolidar un espacio amplio de convergencia y movilización. Este trabajo es el resultado de una autoconvocatoria de todos los interesados (entre ellos RMALC, las organizaciones mexicanas que forman parte de la campaña “Píntale la raya al cambio” , Otros Mundos, organizaciones de todos los sectores sociales incluidos miembros de Vía campesina, y algunas ONG’s comprometidas con estas luchas). Dado que se está buscando una coalición lo más amplia posible, basada en el trabajo con las organizaciones sociales, se trata de un proceso que requiere su tiempo, en el que es necesario hacer actividades de difusión, formación y discusión para construir consensos de carácter popular en torno a nuestras demandas por justicia climática.

Apoyamos este proceso desde el nivel regional y creemos que el espacio que se desarrolle frente a la COP16, debe ser amplio, tener un carácter político y de movilización, en el que sea posible debatir con las distintas redes y organizaciones sociales a nivel mundial, para alzar nuestras voces de rechazo al modelo económico y demandar justicia climática.

Message from Latinamerican organizations on Klimaforum10

Alejandro Villamar to the left from RMALC, Mexican Network against Free Trade  that have signed the letter from Latin American organization below. In the middle Nicola Bullard from CJN at the discussion on Cancun at Foro Social Mundial tematico in Mexico City before the letter was sent.

The Hemispheric Social Alliance, Jubilee South/Americas, CLOC-Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth (Latin America and the Caribbean), REBRIP, COMPA, Jubilee South/Americas, Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI), Brazilian Network for the Integration of Peoples, the World March of Women and the Mexican Network against Free Trade and CADTM Abya Yala are committed to work  together in the construction of a process of joint mobilization around the problem of climate change, its structural causes and true solutions.  We have identified several key points in the coming months including the Enlazando Alternatives Summit, the Americas Social Forum in Paraguay and COP16 in Cancun.  Since the theme of COP 16 is climate change, it is especially strategic for the worldwide climate justice movement.

As stated in the letter from the Assembly of Social Movements, held during the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change in Cochabamba:  “We consider that the question of climate change is important, together with other manifestations of systemic global crisis. To truly confront the imperialist offensive we must stop; the militarization of our territories, the criminalization of social movements, the entire neo-colonial agenda contained in the Free Trade Agreements, illegitimate indebtedness, the power of transnational’s and especially the agro-business and extractive model which promotes the privatization of life and nature”.

During the Cochabamba conference, we discussed and advanced in the consolidation of alliances to build a process of mobilization for Cancun which is sufficiently solid to have subsequent continuity.  In this respect, the importance of building on pervious experiences such as the struggle against the FTAA, which enabled us to identify points of convergence and common struggles among the social movements of the continent opposed to this economic and social model.  These struggles are made known in many different ways including via Peoples’ Summits, which are moments of resistance, debate, collective construction and mobilization. These Summits are a tradition for the movements of the entire hemisphere and have earned legitimacy as spaces for struggle in the face of a plethora of neo-liberal initiatives against the peoples.

As a result, in the face of COP 16 in Cancun, we believe that it is crucial to strengthen the continental process, coordinating the efforts with networks and organizations from other regions of the world, as we have done in the past.  While we respect and value the experience of the Kilmaforum, it responds to the European and more specifically, Danish context.  An attempt to transfer or import it to our region would not respect the reality of our struggles, the identity or history of the mobilizations in our hemisphere.

We recognize the importance of joint actions with other regions, especially related to this theme, in light of the implications that affect the all of the peoples of the world.  In keeping with the spirit of agreements reached in Cochabamba, the priority is to strengthen ourselves and link eforts with the campaigns, networks, regional and global organizations that have worked in recent years to confront climate change and defend the rights of Mother Earth, as well as other regional and global sector networks and thematic organizations which have made the same commitment.  Many of our networks and movements are working at a global level.  In this respect, we believe that the convocation and mobilizations in Copenhagen were very important and it is necessary to continue the alliances that were consolidated there, and emerged from previous processes. However, this must not ignore national and regional processes.

In relation to the work that is happening in Mexico, we think it is important to make a few observations:  there are a number of social organizations around the country which are working to consolidate a broad space of convergence and mobilization. This work is the result of a call which went out among interested groups (including RMALC, the Mexican organizations which are a part of the “Drawing the line for Change” campaign, Other Worlds, organizations from all social sectors including members of Via Campesina and some NGOs which are a part of this struggle).  Given that the goal is the broadest possible coalition, based in the work of the social organizations; it is a process which requires time. Activities that provide information, formation and discussion must be carried out in order to construct popular consensus around our demands for climate justice.

We support this process from a regional level and we believe that the space being developed in preparation for COP16 must be broad, have a political character and be oriented towards mobilization, where a debate can be held with networks and social organizations at a global level, to raise our voices in rejection of the economic model and to demand climate justice.

Crisis, nationalism and revolutionary possibilities: The case of Eastern Europe

Tord Björk | ESF,global crisis,political culture,popular movements,right wing | Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Crisis, nationalism and revolutionary possibilities: The case of Eastern Europe

This paper by Andrejs Berdņikovs and Steffen Böhm was presented at the Prague spring conference. It was also presented at Alternative Futures and Popular Protest conference, Manchester Metropolitan University, 29-31 March 2010.

It includes such critical remarks as:

“We see obvious signs of the rise of ultra-right wing and fascist movements all
around Eastern Europe as well as parts of Western Europe, and what we hope to show is
that fascism is a ‘logical’ successor of neo-liberalism, the way it has been practised as
‘transition’ in Eastern Europe.”

and

“This is precisely the weakness of the theoretical oeuvre of Ernesto Laclauv as well.
Writing in the post-Marxist tradition, his theory of hegemony and populism seems to be
based on the explicit or implicit ethico-normative belief that socialist revolution is part of
culture, history and political goal of social movement organising. What is less theorised
in his abstract theoretical framework is the possibility of social movement organising
leading to anti-emancipatory, right-wing and even fascist forms of ideology that,
nevertheless all legitimate capitalism, yet in different ways.

Let us therefore outline a theoretical framework that distinguishes between three politico-
ideological regimes of capitalism, which can exist side by side. It is our argument that
what we are currently seeing in many parts of Eastern Europe is not necessarily the
starting point of a socialist revolution but, on the contrary, the restructuring of capitalism
and the movement from one capitalist politico-ideological regime to another one.”
Author: andrejs.berdnikovs (at) fulbrightmail.org

The Global Climate Day of Action 2009

The global day of action started well when the sun went up over Australia and soon 100,000 demonstrated all around Australia with 40,000 in Melbourne alone. It continued with 5,000 protesting in New Delhi and demonstrations at 20 other locations in India as well as places in Nepal and Bangladesh. The ‘Beat the Heat’ rally in the Netherlands gathered 10,000, a demonstrations in Madrid and South Africa thousands.

Meanwhile with the active involvement of the new international coalition of NGOs – the ‘Global Campaign for Climate Action’, and the newly formed “350” organisation there was a vast number of 3 224 vigils across the globe. in just about every country of the world. These mainly took the form of “Vigils for a Real Deal” under the Tck Tck Tck brand or candlelight vigils under the ‘350’banner – but there were also plenty of other actions or ones that mixed various elements of the internationally coordinated campaigns.

Photos from tcktcktck campaign web site:

Australia

Australia Sydney

China

Japan

Thailand

Jordania

Sarajevo in Bosnia

Johannesburg in South Africa

San Cristobal in Chiapas

Content 12 December Initiative – huge success or background for branding?

Success or failure?

Uncertain preparatory process

The global climate day of action 2009

The main demonstration

Three left wing parties supporting the police perspective

December 12 in the media

Movement analysis

A demonstration split twice

You find extensive more material on the lack of left wing collective response to the repression December 12 – 18 and analysis at: The ALBA mass meeting: Full of lost left wing possibilities.

The Fall of the Bella Wall: Power Reclaimed

The invisible wall in our minds was going to fall. The wall between between the unprivileged and privileged humans must fall. Together with the wall between humankind and the larger living world they all fell on the 16th of December 2009. The wall of beautiful power, the Bella wall, came crumbling down when the people decided to lead towards a People’s Assembly at the Bella center of the World. The leaders of networks and organizations had to follow. Heads of states and the so called world leaders have to follow. Climate Justice is the cause. System change – not climate change the idea of how to achieve the goal. The People’s Assembly the goal and the starting point to tear down the wall between people and power liberating in one act both people inside and outside the parliamentary assemblies reuniting our bodies with our heads, and people with nature.

Reaching Tårnby square from the back it seemed already full of police attempting at arresting everybody. Photos by Tord Björk Creative Commons in this post unless otherwise stated.

We  started at Tårnby railway station in cold windy winter weather. I had locals guiding me on bike so we easily could move quick wherever we wanted strolling along the Bella center fences before we finally reached the place where the blue block were suppose to gather.

FoE Sweden activist in the midst of the wind and the crowd at Tårnby square

Classical finger tactics were supposed to be used. The idea behind this is to allow for some diversity of tactics so people can choose what degree of confrontation they like to be part of. As the whole Reclaim power action had agreed to strict non-violence code of conduct including not responding to violence from the police the room for diversity of tactics was quite small. As the Danish police had shown that it was prepared to use the new laws against peaceful non-violent protests arbitrary far beyond what can be sustained if the state wants to maintain order and democracy in the long run it was quite clear that the whole Reclaim power mass action could end in complete failure.

Map of Southern and Central Copenhagen with Tårnby at the exclamation on a red triangle at the bottom. The blue bloc was supposed to march via the yellow road to the North and then take a bend to the left to end at the gate of the Bella center, here marked as a volcano. Here people from the inside together with people pushing from the outside should create a space for a People’s Assembly for climate justice. After the Assembly a march could go back to the inner city on the West side of the Amager Fælled, the Amager Commons. Örestad, the gathering point for the green bloc is situated at the railway and motorway straight South of Bella Center.

The Blue block had applied and received a permit to march towards the Bella Center from Tårnby square, the green bloc were suppose to converge at Örestad railway station and then find their way to the same goal. Smaller affinity groups would find their own way. Our goal was to organize a People’s Assembly by somehow get into the Bella center area or at least after pushing as much as possible make the assembly at the fence together with people coming from the inside walking out.

Peasants from all over the world organized in La Via Campesina

The political core of the action was global mass movements with many representatives from the third world. In the last call-out for the Reclaim Power action it is stated: “The assembly will give a voice to those who are not being heard, it will be an opportunity to change the agenda, to discuss the real solutions, to send a clear message to the world calling for climate justice.”

People gathering at Tårnby under Jubilee South and Via Campesina flags

Originally there had been a bigger emphasis on voices from the third world. In the minutes from the Climate Justice Action meeting in June 2009 were the Reclaim Power action was decided it is stated about December 16: “On this day, the regular summit programme would be impossible. It would be the hour of the movements from below, who would speak for themselves and  decide the agenda. In particular, the voices of those affected by climate change from the Global South would have a forum.”

A very young disciplined Latin European bloc at the end ready to march at Tårnby in as good mood as everyone else.

The change from focus on being supporters particularly for voices from the South to only speak in general terms of all voices who have not been heard was a good move. Unprivileged people are everywhere and certainly among the many young activists that formed the back bone of the Reclaim Power action. The representatives from third world countries made the action strongly legitimate being able to manifest the interest of billions of people all over the world.

The mood was very good. The cause was rightful. The participants well prepared and willing to interact with whoever turned up. Everywhere there was a smile to find, a laughter to get, people willing to make humor married to politics so even the police could not resist from getting influenced.

To annoy us lobbyists for profitable climate solutions entered the scene making propaganda for the only realistic solutions.

Obviously they had a nice time in elegant white clothes, cocktails glasses in their hands, grapes to eat and posters like messages in a silent movie presenting the solutions to the world, Africa stop whining! Bangladesh buy rubber boots! or more to the point: STOP GLOBAL WHINING! But global wine drinking for all the rich is of course not to be stopped, on the contrary it is to be supported as we all know that when some get rich also some drops of wealth also will also drop on the impoverished, oh I am sorry, the poor. There is no end to the creativity of the rich and powerful entrepreneurs. They can at the same time both make all inventions necessary and write all soundbites necessary that makes the mass media happy. The act was so convincing from the beginning that some demonstrators thought it was for real.

But there is plenty of room for creativity also for everybody else in the march. Many cannot hold on to themselves and start singing. Especially British activists get more and more spirited with the help of an excellent vocalist giving us all the tune.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE – PEOPLE GOT THE POWER! The song and slogans gets us all in a better and better mood waiting for starting to move.

It is as all climate camp activists are with us from all over the world. Nothing can stop us now!

Are we ready to march? Yes we are ready to march! For Justice to fishermen (the blue banner), peasants (green Via Campesina flags), workers and everyone. For real solutions to the climate crisis and not false solutions like Nuclear power or a global market for carbon trading promoting land grabbing at the expense of sustainable food production by family farmers.

And of we go! Time to move towards the Bella center. According to Indymedia we were 500 at the Tårnby square. To me it looked as we were somewhat more.

The Reclaim Power March to the Bella Center

Along the road there were street lamps possible to climb. Well your feet will hurt a bit but you get another view. Using my bike I could go ahead and get a view from above. What will follow is an impression of the whole blue block on the way to Bella Center.

The march is surrounded by police walking, to the left also a whole row of police vans. Everywhere also police in plain clothes. Quite often easy to identify from there sturdy shoes, all the same, their branded black block look alike clothes and their standard Palestine scarfs. For a more systematic report on undercover police operations and surveillance at COP15, see: http://indymedia.dk/articles/1983

No one is illegal anti racists and precarious united banners in the march. No borders actions to address the issue of climate and any refugees received attention on the 14th of December action.

The demo van in the end of the blue bloc

The police with the full support of the government have been attacking the Reclaim power action by many different means. Mass lodging had been raided at several occasions starting more than a week in advance. CJA spoke persons of any kind have had up to six civilian police following them from the foot step their home to were they were going. More than 900 people were mass arrested, hand cuffed and abused with degrading treatment sitting on the street for hours with many forced to pee in their pants resulting in finally three people getting accused for something. Most were put in cages in a special “climate prison” were the unbroken spirit of the demonstrators made the police attacking the imprisoned with pepper spray to maintain total control. A massive police action against innocent protesters with the full support not only from the right-wing government but also in practice by the social democrats and socialist people’s party stating that their opposition to the new laws making this possible was not necessarily on principle and once they were used arbitrarily leading politicians from both parties showed a strong defense of the police as their primary task. It could not be stated more clearly, the police can do whatever they want and the organized Denmark will support them.

Our climate is not your business banner ready to continue the march. This message was one of the messages among protesters in Copenhagen that received attention by a whole day of action on the 11th of December heavily repressed by the police.

Apart from arbitrary mass arrests and degrading treatment to scare people from participating targeted actions against anyone that appeared to be coordinator of the action was also used as a means to further create disorder. This tactic to destroy the leadership of a movement was once used centuries ago before democratic development paved the way for the understanding that arresting the leaders for things they had not done but what was perceived as that the movement might do was an old fashion contra-productive way of handling social unrest and needed to be modernized. Thus it became committed acts of violence or explicit support of violent acts that was criminalized and not general support of revolution or leadership of a movement were someone might do something criminal that became the rule.

But not so in Denmark 2009. Here Tadzio Müller on the eve of the Reclaim Power action was arrested on no grounds what so ever. This was an arrest on fake grounds and he will not be sentenced in any normally working European court of justice. The Reclaim power action have been non-violent in its code of conduct from the very beginning and so has Tadzio Müller presented it. The arrest was once more a way to show that the Danish state with almost full parliamentary support was willing to do anything to intimidate, criminalize and oppress a regularly non-violent civil disobedience action and even normal demonstrations. The organized Denmark acted almost in unison as if thousands of participants in the Systems Change not Climate Change bloc in the December 12 demonstration and the Reclaim Power action were part of militaristically planned operations in need to be met by similar militaristic means while still maintaining a democratic face to the world. Targeted and mass arrests to scare people but still  letting those who did not want to adjust their moral to the rules of the Danish state and were willing to take risks to save the planet march under constant insecurity.

Especially risky for the Danish state was the presence of people from the third world in the march. As Denmark in the official negotiations have systematically avoided to listen to the impoverished nations and instead used its privileged power to make UN a power game for the rich and powerful it would be utterly dangerous to also on the streets attack the interest of the global majority. Thus were people from the third world released immediately after they were identified during the mass arrest at the demonstration 12th of December. At least this was the case of all third world people in a delegation were 40 people were for a longer time arrested with the exception of those from Lebanon and Corea. It may well be so that what safe guarded the Reclaim Power action were the participants from mass movements in the South. And as the march was allowed the van with loudspeakers was also a symbol of acceptance of democratic rights.

But for the rest the police constantly attacked everything else that could be seen as possible coordination following the militaristic logic which the government had approved. Nicolas Haeringer, one more of CJA spokes persons was suddenly attacked when marching by civilians not presenting themselves turning out to be policemen.

Small groups of well equipped and coordinated policemen could attack and take out whatever they wanted from the demonstration. Here above you can see them in happy mood after violently beating Nicolas to the ground and then arresting him as their successful goal was attained.

Meanwhile the green bloc was also arrested at the Örestad meeting point en masse.

Some were able to escape and made it to the Reclaim Power action at the Bella center.

Meanwhile the blue bloc had to make it and establish a People’s Assembly. Contrary to the militaristic thinking of the police the Reclaim power action functions differently. All the way to the Bella center we are chanting, what do we want – climate justice, how do we act – non-violence. The van in the back of the march repeats the messages and we follow suit. For the first time in many decades I also here from the van and people responding, we are disciplined, we are non-violent the whole code of conduct of non-violence against the police is not only soemthing written on a piece of paper, it is embedded in our bodies while we walk and talk, or rather dancing and singing our way to the Bella center.

May I take a photo and put it on my blog? Yes of course! An activist from the Italian large environmental movement Lega Ambiente is happily with many of here friends carrying a No nuke banner in the Reclaim power action to make her and their statement at Bella center.

The first time I encountered this profound way of collective discipline, joyful and knowledgeable cooperation in a mass of politically motivated people were at Järntorget in Gothenburg 2001. 800 riot policemen surrounded 500 people who were protesting at the violent behaviour of the police during three days at an EU-Summit. After many proactive mass arrests and violent attacks at demonstrations triggering riots the police shot one demonstrator whose life at the time of the protest still was in danger. Now when the EU Summit was over the police could use its full force and so it did. With the riot shields were the demonstrators pushed into a small spot and completely surrounded. The mass arrest of everyone was supposed to begin, at least for six hours detention in a special EU prison set up for the Summit with cages.

But it took time to implement the arrests. Policemen dressed up as black bloc went around outside the police cordon and tried to identify people and then the police tried to ran into the mass and grab someone. This was not popular and people stuck to each other. The proposal to leave voluntarily making it easier for the police to arrest the rest was met with the same stubbornness, here it was the time to stick together. Thus slowly  the police were able to bring out people one by one now stating that everyone still there should be arrested.

Meanwhile the chanting of slogans, singing and political teachings started. As the mass was big the way to repeat what was said was used, the same method that now was used in the reclaim power  march. The right to protest was underlined. All the songs one could think of from the International to We shall overcome and most popular Swedish children songs was sung with enthusiasm making people in a good mood. My task was to be a negotiator. Peeing was a problem. Soon some handful needed to pee so I went to the police. After a while it was possible to get contact with one of them. It was obvious that it was a problem none had thought of and that the police wanted to take a solution into consideration. He asked how many it was and I turned around asking how many needed to pee, hans up! Almost the whole square raised their hands and seemed to need to immediately go to the toilet. I could not but laugh and so we all did, the protesters and the police. The solution was than that people went to the side of the square at the building and made what they needed to in the open air.

While the police as gently as possible arrested people one by one the mass meeting continued in a better and better mood. As the demonstrations had demanded that the public sector and nature should not be commodified protection of public service was one of the political themes discussed. We came to the conclusion that there has to be better wages for the employed in the public sector, and soon the logics of the argument ened in the demand Better wages for the police! By now the barriers between the police and the demonstrators after many hours together started to brake down. Policemen were seen giving their bananas to the encircled mass of protesters. Finally after almost five hours the police in charge sent a message to the central command stating that he could see no law paragraph that allowed him to continue forcing people from leaving. If there were no answer in three minutes he would give order to the riot police to go away. There were no answer and so he left with 800 hundred policemen and two hundred or more protesters had a party.

Now the feeling was the same of commitment, humor and communication with everyone willing to listen. The predominantly very young activists were walking and talking, chanting and singing their way to Bella center. The van filled in and addressed the police, we know it, the chant went, but we seldom say it, you sexy, you sexy beneath that uniform, the message was clear to take of the uniform.

To get the march working there are lots of functions necessary. The music made by the drums gives energy to everybody and a meaningful task to many using the sticks in a rythm we all like. The clowns are a constant reminder of another world walking behind, in front or anywhere repeating the body language of the policemen until not even the police can resist and must smile or even laugh. The animals are many. Any kind of animal, polar bears, leopards, elephants, you name it. In general quite a few demonstrators hare small wonders of joyful dramatic acts. Top hats, rainbow caps, Inka caps, anything on top of your head. And banners of any kind and any color.

Another important function are the medics team and the legal team. The medics you can spot by their black cross with appropriate backpack. Alternative media is everywhere so the message does not get distorted, corporate media as media often is labeled among activists are also well represented. The large amount of media can one also suspect means that there are many policemen using media as a disguise for registering participants. After corporate mass media makes it a scandal that one of the plain clothes policemen had been wearing a DR jacket only to be used by the Danish public service TV. This recieves in main strem medie almost as much attention as the coverage of the whole Reclaim power action. But of course also many of the more anonymous media attention could have been policemen at work.

Communication is another function of importance, a function that the police on purpose tried to destroy as much as possible by arresting targeted person in advance and during the march to make as much harm as possible to the action as well as the capability to give messages to the press. The attempt works according to a militaristic principle to constantly separate the enemy scaring the supposed rank and file participant from doing any confrontational act and diminishing the capacity of the leadership to communicate at all accept for the van were communication can be heard of everyone and is necessary to maintain an image of still existing democratic rights.

Communication is still a task necessary for a march to be able to have some knowledge what the rest of the action is doing and in this case also what is going on inside the Bella center. When it comes to mass civil disobedience the mistake by the police is to believe that this is lead by someone and when the leadership disappears than the civil disobedience disappears as well. The kind of horizontal mass education and unification by means of consensus decisions before and chanting during the protest makes it very hard to penetrate and weakening an action by taking away the leadership, only brutal force is fit for that and this is maybe also the idea behind much of the police tactics supported by the politicians in Denmark. Non-violent protests should be treated as if it actually is directly violent and those stating themselves willing to use non-violence should know that they will be treated as if they are inherently violent and can be beaten and criminalized for whatever they think of doing if they oppose the government and its laws.

One of the groups strongly present at all actions and demonstrations in Copenhagen were Robin Wood from Germany. This organizations regularly carries out civil disobedience in the protection of rain forests or the climate. They had their share of people getting hand cuffed and arrested in Copenhagen as one can see on their well illustrated blog with reports from the very start of COP15 to the end. Here they are making their statement: Shopping center vegetables = Climate killers. because of this: Luxury for everyone – bio (ecological food) for all!

And here they are in the Reclaim power march approaching Bella Center stating leave it in the ground! No more new open pit mining. More pictures and reports in German you find at their blog: http://www.robinwood.de/blog

To totally wipe out the possibility for non-violent civil disobedience would mean to say goodbye to anything but secret violent resistance and goodbye to more than a hundred year of establishing democracy with civil disobedience as a main tool. Thus it was necessary to allow the Reclaim power march under the threat of immediate arrest of everyone with the most random excuse. But the capacity to communicate should be wiped out by arrests on fake grounds.

System change not climate change banner from the not so well funded network Climate Justice now with Bella Center visible to us all at the horizon.

But similar to the capacity for mass civil disobedience the capacity is there for filling the ranks of special functions. In general the kind of flat organizational structure which is characteristic for both networks organizing the action, Climate Justice Action and Climate Justice Now means there is very few involved in any central coordination. Normally this would mean that by taking some people out the whole coordinating capacity would be paralyzed. But what happens instead is that new coordination functions are established on the spot. I have seen it working in Geneva once at an international anti WTO demonstration. All the locals had left us alone to take part in another demonstration organized by Swiss organizations and there we were without knowing where to go or what to do. Somehow order in the demonstration had to be established by stopping one person from doing unnecessary things while others made us find the way. The problem is of course that by drastically taking away leadership as the Danish police systematically did more disorder can follow rather than their possible aim to maintain order.

Stop consumer terror banner very few steps from the main Bella center entrance.

It can of course result in a split among the participants causing some to make more confrontative action while others gets passive, which might be seen as the exact strategy of the Danish government. When they argued that the new law package was directed against violence when in fact according to the Danish ministry of justice it was only directed against acts of non-violent behavior the government showed the way. Create total confusion to enable a situation were any act of non-violent civil disobedience immediately is regarded as violent and thus give the police free hands to use military tactics to create constant split among protesters. What was the final purpose of this governmental strategy? To stop any social unrest in Denmark from becoming better organized also in the future as all the trade unions in Copenhagen have stated. The new law package is directed against us, against picketing, strikes or any kind of civil disobedience that have brought us democracy. The trade unions accused the government for wanting to establish a police state. Should they succeed?

Automatic metro public transport passing above the demonstrators, a means of transport many climate justice movements asks for besides bicycles.

The other strategy might have been to avoid by all means that Denmark could be seen as having the same strategy on the streets as inside the negotiations to silence all unwanted voices. To make it appear as the only voices inside that really opposed the deal that rich countries including the merging powers in the South were about to make were very small and marginal has been crucial to the strategy of Denmark. I made a mistake in my pre-assessment of repression during the summit that Denmark would avoid repression of UN delegates walking out of Bella center. Such a repression would be a great obstacle for the future of the UN. At stake was a long tradition of the image of Nordic countries supporting the voices of impoverished countries and protecting the environment in the self interest of maintaining the UN as a legal way to strengthen small nations in world politics. But maybe the Danish agenda was different. Maybe it was to maintain a media image of being democratic by allowing protests under constant repression presented as the only way to avoid violence on the street while at the same time repressing the impoverished nations inside and de facto establish a new world order without any UN there to protect the rights of every nation. In such a case a People’s Assembly would be an extreme threat to the wishes of Denmark to completely handicap the UN and the impoverished countries. The media image of isolated marginal and obstructive countries would be impossible to effectively be maintained when people from the inside were going to meet people from the outside representing mass movements from all over the world. Whatever the Danish arguments were against a People’s assembly- should they succeed stopping it, one way or another?

No nuke protesters arriving at the spot where the attempts for pushing for climate justice and establishing a People´s Assembly soon will be made. The anti nuclear activists supported by more than 800 organizations also made strong actions throughout COP15 demanding that nuclear power should not be included in any climate agreement.

These were questions to ask on our way to Bella Center. But we also had to get there by knowing wich direction to go. The march was saved by the police when it came to the crossing were it was supposed to bend to the left without knowing what to do. But soon communication was established between the front and the van as well as with the walk out action inside the Bella Center. We were approaching the main gates were we at 12 should start the Peoples Assembly by pushing from the outside and meeting those coming from the inside.

Reclaim power and push for climate justice from the inside

Inside Bella center Reclaim power action. Photo with restricted copyright, www.vanwaardenphoto.com

The participation from the inside became massive. With banners stating Reclaim power and chanting a hundreds of people with many of the leaders of the global movements participating started the walk out. The indigenous in the front as during the mass demonstration on December 12. It was the same inside as outside with lively chants keeping the collective together while the blue block advanced towards the main gates (From Democracy Now report):

The chant began with Josh Kahn Russell making the announcement.

    JOSHUA KAHN RUSSELL: When I say “climate,” you say “justice”! Climate!

    PROTESTERS: Justice!

    JOSHUA KAHN RUSSELL: Climate!

    PROTESTERS: Justice!

    JOSHUA KAHN RUSSELL: When I say “reclaim,” you say “power”! Reclaim!

    PROTESTERS: Power!

    JOSHUA KAHN RUSSELL: Reclaim!

    PROTESTERS: Power!

    JOSHUA KAHN RUSSELL: When I say “take back,” you say “the talks”! Take back!

    PROTESTERS: The talks!

    JOSHUA KAHN RUSSELL: Take back!

    PROTESTERS: The talks!

    JOSHUA KAHN RUSSELL: When I say “climate,” you say “justice”! Climate!

    PROTESTERS: Justice!

    JOSHUA KAHN RUSSELL: Climate!

    PROTESTERS: Justice! Reclaim power! Reclaim power! Reclaim power! Join the People’s Assembly! Join the People’s Assembly! Join the People’s Assembly! Take back the talks! Take back the talks! Climate justice now! Bolivia! Bolivia!

    TOM GOLDTOOTH: We’re here to support our brother. We’re here to support our brother Evo Morales, who is coming today. He has given us direction, that these negotiators need to make a commitment. We need to save Mother Earth by having strong binding agreements. They are demanding 49 percent reduction targets—49 percent reduction targets by 2020, not a sellout position like United States, who’s coming here saying they’re entertaining four percent reduction levels. That’s an outrage. They are here to demand that the Annex I countries pay up, pay up their ecological debt. So this is a support of Bolivia.

    PROTESTERS: Join the People’s Assembly! Join the People’s Assembly! Join the People’s Assembly! Join the People’s Assembly! Take back the talks! Take back the talks!

    JOSHUA KAHN RUSSELL: So what’s going right now is that we’ve had a group of people from civil society inside the talks who have come outside the talks to have a People’s Assembly to put a new agenda for the talks, to reset the dirty, false solutions that are being discussed in there, to put real solutions for communities.

    PROTESTERS: We are peaceful! What are you?

Photo with restricted copyright, http://avenirclimat.info

Here the insider protesters with Tom Goldtoth from Indigenous Environmental network behind the drummer and Ricardo Navarro to the right from Friends of the Earth El Salvador (with a badge from another organization).

Photo with restricted copyright, http://avenirclimat.info

Here were Henry Saragi, general sectretary of La Via Campesina International to the right, a mass movement with 200 million members.

Photo with restricted copyright, http://avenirclimat.info

Here were Wahu Kaara from Kenya Debt Relief Network, representing the international alliance of People’s movement on Climate Change.

Photo with restricted copyright, http://avenirclimat.info

And many others but not Friends of the Earth International who had chosen to stage their own protest against being thrown out of the Bella center. Instead of supporting their claimed main cooperation partner Via Campesina who participated fully both in the inside and on the outside. FOEI chosed to stand aside and make their own sit in to protest against the treatment of themselves and some few other NGOs temporarily stopped from coming inside.

The Reclaim Power march from the inside became powerful with a lot of commitment, chanting and music.

Meanwhile the blue bloc came closer and closer to the main gates of the Bella center and were soon to be seen some 200 meters away by the bloc with yellow UN badges of walk out people from the inside. The question is what should happen?

Survival Media’s photostream at Flickr web site

The walk out bloc moved towards the fence from the inside. The police had told them not to in spite of that the situation was totally under control and the bridge over some muddy water were the inside Reclaim power could come out in the right direction was very narrow an allowed only a few to come across at the time. Thus it would have been easy to arrange so that few people at a time in good order could join the march on the outside.

Photo with restricted copyright, www.vanwaardenphoto.com

The walk out bloc advanced when the police started to beat the UN accredited delegates violently. I must admit that this I thought never would be possible. That the host country of a UN conference beats up masses of UN accredited persons to stop them from walking out to attend a People’s Assembly.

Photo with restricted copyright, www.vanwaardenphoto.com

On that bridge only 20 meters close to the people outside history was made. For each beating of danish sticks a grave was dug for the future of governments from small nations to have a say in world politics. Only the people in these nations allied across boundaries with people in other nations can now save the small countries from disappearing as a voice in international affairs.

For a full length commented video coverage of this action, see: http://www.democracynow.org/2009/12/16/police_tear_gas_beat_back_protesters

The outside push for climate justice

Meanwhile the lack of communication in the blue block caused some confusion. The march went to far and a group that was not supposed to come in front of the fence was suddenly facing the need for making a push which they were willing to but others as well. Some people from the front had to make their way through to some to the spot were the push for climate justice should start. But things were sorted out quite quickly it seemed. The number of participants was all the time limited and in general the whole code of conduct was such that any serious attempt of entering the Bella Center area more than symbolically for some meters and together with people from the inside there establish a Peoples Assembly had always been the only possible option. And so it was now with the second option to arrange a People’s Assembly and the Bella center fences on the outside.

Photo from Climate Justice Action website, Logan Dogan

The police started to kettle the demonstration coming with a row of sturdy police vans from the East. Order to go away in the name of the Queen was issued three times each in different languages. Loud and clear. Old mistakes on this point by the Danish police causing chaos should not be repeated.

Photo from Climate Justice Action website, Logan Dogan

The police advanced slowly. People were getting prepared.

Medic teams stayed closed to take care of people if necessary. Here everyone was necessary. People willing to push, people willing to be there, people prepared with treatment against the panic that easily took the grip of anyone getting pepper spray in her or his eyes, clowns making everybody happy and maybe even those who mainly were observers as myself trying to maybe do the best we could.

People were mainly young but there were also elderly. The situation became more and more tense.

In front of the police vans a barricade of bicycles was made to protect the van belonging to the demonstrators. The van was seen as crucial to maintain togetherness among the participants.

A first attempt at pushing towards the fence was made.

The police in action. Photo from Indymedia

The van was soon lost and two more CJA spokespersons arrested. People continued to push. In Swedish activist discussion forum, socialism.nu,  there has been some criticism of the unrealistic way the whole action was planned and how the continued attempts at pushing caused harm to many. In the front were some 30 people pepper sprayed making their eyes burning and 10 people got injured according to Indymedia reports. One activist were able to climb on top of a police van but was beaten to the ground by the police.

Many people have problems or get treated for getting pepper spray in the eyes while others are prepared for action with goggles.

People that were pepper sprayed by the police got helped by the medics to ease the intense buring feeling that easily causes panic.

Mass arrests started. In total some 250 people were arrested during the Reclaim power action.

The black and white photos above are from http://1000.blogsport.de/2009/12/17/images-from-copenhagen-4

Photos and report from Indymedia, http://indymedia.dk/articles/1880

Also other made attempts and some actually succeeded. A raft was constructed and people advanced across a dike. Here they were pepper sprayed and met by a dog but made it anyway to the other side thus entering the Bella center area. The People’s Assembly had managed to establish a bridge head inside at least symbolically. The people were very quickly arrested.

Seven young farmers also made an attempt according to a report made by the representative from Via Campesina at the Post-COP15 session at the Klimaforum. In line with the slogan of the young movement, Reclaim the fields, the golf course directly close to  the Bella Center was occupied to enable further advancing towards The Bella center area. Police dogs were quickly  chasing the young farmers who escaped in a tree until they were caught by the police.

Later in the evening six activists was once more able to enter the Bella center area by sneaking through the main entrance but quickly taken them as well.

The affinity group tactics made at least one symbolic victory but in general it failed. What was left after that both the affinity groups and the walk out bloc had not succeeded to establish any significant people’s Assembly inside the Bella center area was the blue bloc outside. The only remaining mass force in the action able of doing something.

But this group was heavily surrounded by police. From the North police vans came closer with riot police advancing in military style behind each van kettling the mass action completely from the North and the East. To the South was the well protected Bella center area. When no stones were in sight the police came forward and advanced in chains chasing people in front of them. Far to the West one could see police vans also approaching. The only escape now seemed to be through the marsh probably getting once feet wet.

The push for climate justice from the outside and the inside at the main gate seemed to have failed and the remaining forces trapped alone outside.

For very many pictures from the confrontations outside and some inside, see: http://www.gipfelsoli.org/Home/Copenhagen_2009/COP15_2009_Pictures/8069.html and: http://www.gipfelsoli.org/Home/Copenhagen_2009/COP15_2009_Pictures/8073.html

Renewed support from the inside

The police continued to push the masses away from the main gate into what still looked like a kettle operation enabling the police to arrest everyone at any moment.

I could not come out anymore but let myself to go aside on an isolated island in the midst of the kettled area.

Here one could see behind us three gigantic statues as witnesses with the Copenhagen coal power plant run by the Swedish state owned Vattenfall in the back ground.

Someone waved his rain bow peace flag facing Bella Center.

On top of a construction on the island others put a huge banner with a democracy arrow pointing at one direction and a Copenhagen arrow pointing at the other direction.

At the same time inside the Bella Center there came renewed support for the protesters outside and this time not possible to silence. From the main speakers tribune in the general plenary of the COP15 negotiations president Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez addressed the protesters and messages on the streets. The inside – outside action for climate justice was still there, highly present at the moment and for the future.

Hugo Chavez speaking to the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen. Photo from Telesur.

In his statement he made it clear:

“There are many people outside… I’ve read in the news that there were some arrests, some intense protests there in the streets of Copenhagen, and I salute all those people out there, the majority of them youth… They are young people concerned for the world’s future,”

and furthermore:

“I have been reading some of the slogans painted in the streets… One said, ‘Don’t Change the Climate, Change the System!’ And I bring that on board for us. Let’s not change the climate. Let’s change the system! And as a consequence, we will begin to save the planet. Capitalism is a destructive development model that is putting an end to life, that threatens to put a definitive end to the human species.”

The complete speech you find here: http://links.org.au/node/1413

Evo Morales equally addressed the voices of protests outside in the general assembly at COP15. Yoiu can read an interview by Democracy Now with him here about his position, “policies of unlimited industrialization are what destroys the environment.”: http://links.org.au/node/1416

Miguel Palacin, chairman of the Andean coordination of indigenous people protesting at the Reclaim power action just before leaving for the airport. He is standing in front police vans and actvists at the Bella center were Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales were speaking on behalf of the Andean and Carribean people in the ALBA alliance.

After a while the police also cleansed the island where I had been standing for a while. I managed to get out. Here I met people being arrested.

Once more I could see the spontaneous disciplined organization at work. Or rather the verb organize rather than organization working. Immediately when the arrested boy came towards the police van someone approached him and asked about his name and the causes for his arrest.

Afterwards I saw the women talking to someone in the legal team. I asked her if she was a member of the legal team herself. She was not. But it was easy she said. Anyone could do it. It was just to ask for basic information if someone got arrested so none would be taken unnoticed and all should feel that their voice is getting heard. Horizontal, spontaneous and specialized functions in action. Needless to say food for the actvists all over Copenhagen was organized the same way by volunteers. In the streets and at the alternative media centers people worked hard to sustain correct information serving the movement in Copenhagen and the rest of the world. Hundreds and hundreds of unpaid volunteers each doing their task to help the collective effort.

I continued towards my borrowed bike hoping it still was placed were I left it. So it was. Now it was easy to make a long tour around the the police cordon and advancing towards the remaining blue bloc through the Amager commons marsh.

The People’s Assembly

And there it was after making ones feet a bit wet! Finally I were in the midst of the People’s Assembly. All the friends from the unified rural and urban struggle for food sovereignty, against economic globalization and for social justice everywhere also on the countryside and not only for urban and industrial people seemed to be there. There were Friends of the Earth Uruguay who together with Friends of the Earth Finland and Sweden were present already when People’s Global Action against “Free Trade” and WTO was established in Geneva in February 1998. Now we met again only missing our absent Finnish friends. The confrontational left were nowhere to be seen, at least their banners were gone. This was a gathering of the global South and their allies, with Jubilee South still proudly wavering their banner demanding: Change trade – not our climate and the people from Via Campesina wearing their green scarfs.

The People’s Assembly had been going on for quite a while. Documentation is easy to find via Indymedia: “The Peoples Assembly was streamed live thanks to the IMC-Radio crew, which was a great thing. Due to cop violence we missed the initial opening of the assembly (there was much chaos and running about)” You find three long webcast radio files at: https://publish.indymedia.dk/articles/1956

Photo by Climate Justice Action

Above all were there at the People’s Assembly many green Via Campesina flags and foremost Josie Riffaud, my favourite flower farmer from Bordeaux in France. Someone helped us and I could get the photograph made below with the Climate Justice Now! banner in the background.

Josie Riffaud to the left from Via Campesina International and Tord Björk, member of Friends of the Earth Sweden Climate Group and the author of this report in the hat with a Reclaim Gandhi sticker on the coat.

The Assembly was going to move after a while. The good mood from the whole march from Tårnby to the Bella center was still there. At the police line stopping us from going to the west were young people playing limbo with the plastic band stopping us from leaving.

The march to the city center

Now we were ready for marching again, a long march to the city center. The helicopter above us was ready borrowed for the occasion from the Swedish police to be able to carry heavy video machinery. All the police vans following us were ready, all the policeman walking at both sides of us were ready and so were we. Once more I tried the man in the hat trick. It did not work inside the kettle in front of the Bella center but here I hoped it could work as many times before. And so it did. I was able to get out to find my bike again and recatch the march later cycling through the Amager Commons.

So I did. The march was still in the very good mood it had been for the whole day.

Surrounded by the police we marched on and on.

Here I used the opportunity to finally escape and get a final view from a house far above the demonstrators coming from the Peoples Assembly. A long action day was over. The Bella Wall between people and power will never be the same.

Tord Björk

New call to action – Reclaim Power!

On the 16th of December, at the start of the high-level “ministerial” phase of the two-week summit, we, the movements for global justice, will take over the conference for one day and transform it into a Peoples Assembly.

Our goal is to disrupt the sessions and open a space inside the UN area to hold the Assembly. The assembly will give a voice to those who are not being heard, it will be an opportunity to change the agenda, to discuss the real solutions, to send a clear message to the world calling for climate justice.

There will be a legalized starting point, which will be announced to the media and the police. From there, the climate justice bloc will move on towards the Bella Center. Affinity groups will make their way to the border of the conference area from various directions. The aim is for all groups coming from the outside to start entering the UN Area at 10am. At the same time, groups inside the Summit will start to disrupt the sessions and mobilize people to leave the  negotiations and participate in the Peoples Assembly. The assembly will start at 12pm at the main entrance to the Bella Center inside the UN Area.

Reclaim Power! is a confrontational mass action of non-violent civil disobedience. We will overcome any physical barriers that stand in our way – but we will not respond with violence if the police try to escalate the situation, nor create unsafe situations; we will be there to make our voices heard!

The Peoples Assembly, in opposition to the false solutions being negotiated at the Climate Summits, will highlight alternatives that provide real and just solutions: leaving fossil fuels in the ground; reasserting peoples’ and community control over resources; relocalising food production; massively reducing overconsumption, particularly in the North; recognising the ecological and climate debt owed to the peoples of the South and making reparations; and respecting  indigenous and forest peoples’ rights.

After 15 years of negotiations and no real solutions to the climate crisis, we say enough! No more markets based solutions, no to corporate greed and short term politics deciding our future! No to colonialism and the land-grabs taking place in local and indigenous communities!

In December, we, from our many different backgrounds and movements, experiences and struggles, will come together. We are indigenous peoples and farmers, workers and environmentalists, feminists and anticapitalists.
Now, our diverse struggles for social and ecological justice are finding common ground in the struggle for climate justice, and in our desire to reclaim power over our own future.

See you on the streets!

G20 Pittsburgh demonstration and climate justice camp

Protesting against G20 failure in addressing climate change

Some 4000 to 10000 protesters gathered at the G20 Summit and 4900 policemen. The G20 failed in addressing the issue of how to solve the crisis for those most severly hit in the South and focused mostly on moralistic superficial goals as actions against bonuses for bosses, an issue that looks good in the mass media in rich countries.

The main demonstration People’s March was initiated by the peace organization Thomas Merton Center. The issues raised by protesters had a wide range from supporting workers hit by the crisis to peace and climate change. Camps were organized as Three Rivers Climate Convergence (3RCC), pink code for women’s peace activism and others.

3RCC reports as many other groups harassments by the police from refusal to allow demonstrations to walk according to the permit given to the use of new anti-demonstration weapons. The Police unleashed tear gas and sound cannon. Alternative media reports almost 200 arrested, the police 83. 19 businessmen had their windows smashed.

It seems as the G20 protests were more a testing ground for technology than a place were politics was developed. The new police weapon against demonstrators  was in use as well as pepper spray, extra long sticks etc. The demonstrators used Twitter to communicate. The puppets that once was a favourite in antiglobalization demonstrations is no gone according to one report. Instead masks with politicians are as popular as ever.

Workshops were puppets were built before demonstrations was popular for the police in implementing a new police strategy after Seattle built on lies and knowledge of psychology. In April 2000 and later the police claimed that molotov cocktail or similar weapons were inside the buildings were the puppets were made. Then they stormed the workshop with predictable result. Protesters came to the place in solidarity, there were clashes with the police and the proactive strategy had been successful. The police could both arrest those that had strong solidariet feelings and present an image to the media of violent demonstrators. Of course the molotov cocktails never existed. This proactive US police tactic to escalate violence at Summits were in June 2001 brought to Europe by Håkan Jaldung, head of the police operation during the EU Summit in Gothenburg and partcipant in education for police offciers 40 times in the US. The difference was that while the US police had used the tactic against puppet workshops with some 75 people inside the Swedish police used against the mina convergence center, counter summit and sleeping quarters of 700 people. Jaldung made the action in close connection with US intelligence against the advice from Swedish national security police who had many infiltrators inside and saw no reason to storm the convergence center. The result was chaos during three days initiatied by the police, shooting against demonstrators with live ammunition and 90 per cent of the population supporting the police. 50 demonstrators were sentenced in total 50 years to prison and the left split blaiming each other for the riots instead of defending those on trial. So watch out for US police tactics.

The article below that have received very many responses and started a debate is: Are We Addicted to Rioting?

Tord Björk

From Gipfelsoli Newsletter – Globalized Solidarity:

G20 Protests Rock Pittsburgh

News, updates and analysis on the G20 summit in Pittsburgh and associated
protests.

See http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=2009092501263020#comments

———————————————————————-
Protests at Group of 20 Conference [Photos]

More: http://www.gipfelsoli.org/Home/G20_2009_Pittsburgh_Pictures

———————————————————————-
G20 riots in Pittsburgh – How I organized them via Twitter

During the recent G20 protests in Pittsburgh a group of on-the-ground
participants, residents from Pittsburgh, mainstream and alternative media
writers, left-wing activists and regular folks came together to form a virtual
community on Twitter. We shared info, were collectively shocked at police
violence and plugged important gaps in mainstream coverage of the protests.
Here, Mike Gogulski responds to the charge that he was responsible for rioting
protesters.

by Mike Gogulski
from NoState.com

More:
http://socialistwebzine.blogspot.com/2009/10/g20-riots-in-pittsburgh-how-i-organized.html

———————————————————————-
Are We Addicted to Rioting?

The G20 is upon us, and though BBC world news featured some of “the troubles” in
Pittsburgh, on the ground reports hardly match up with the media-inflation,
police-inflation, and activist-inflation of the actual thing. As one who was
not present in Pittsburgh, I cannot give a first-hand account. Phone calls with
friends on the ground and various independent and corporate-media accounts are
my window to the events. But as one who has participated in countless similar
events, who didn’t attend the G20 due to feelings of disconnection/confusion
with my own people, I felt strongly enough to write this.

More: http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=2009092714272755#comments

———————————————————————-
Robocops Come to Pittsburgh…and Bring the Latest Weaponry with Them

By mike ferner

No longer the stuff of disturbing futuristic fantasies, an arsenal of “crowd
control munitions,” including one that reportedly made its debut in the U.S.,
was deployed with a massive, overpowering police presence in Pittsburgh during
last week’s G-20 protests.

Nearly 200 arrests were made and civil liberties groups charged the many
thousands of police (most transported on Port Authority buses displaying
“PITTSBURGH WELCOMES THE WORLD”), from as far away as Arizona and Florida with
overreacting”and they had plenty of weaponry with which to do it.

Bean bags fired from shotguns, CS (tear) gas, OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) spray,
flash-bang grenades, batons and, according to local news reports, for the first
time on the streets of America, the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).

Mounted in the turret of an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), I saw the LRAD in
action twice in the area of 25th, Penn and Liberty Streets of Lawrenceville, an
old Pittsburgh neighborhood. Blasting a shrill, piercing noise like a
high-pitched police siren on steroids, it quickly swept streets and sidewalks
of pedestrians, merchants and journalists and drove residents into their homes,
but in neither case were any demonstrators present. The APC, oversized and
sinister for a city street, together with lines of police in full riot gear
looking like darkly threatening Michelin Men, made for a scene out of a movie
you didn’t want to be in.

More:
http://www.opednews.com/articles/2/Robocops-Come-to-Pittsburg-by-mike-ferner-090928-713.html

———————————————————————-
Groggy but not subdued, anarchists hail protest success with little damage

They weren’t stockpiling human waste to throw at police.

They didn’t set cars ablaze or chain themselves together in “sleeping dragons”
with PVC pipe.

The anarchists who police and media had warned for months could wreak havoc on
the city during the G-20 summit didn’t exactly fulfill that expectation.
Instead, they smashed some windows and turned over a few Dumpsters, flooded the
streets of Lawrenceville and staged sporadic uprisings for hours elsewhere, met
by a large contingent of riot police at almost every turn.

Some were sprayed with OC gas, others pelted with rubber bullets. Still others
were arrested in the demonstrations, which they had spent their summers
planning.

More: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09269/1000990-482.stm

————————————————-

Pittsburgh police use sub-lethal weapons against protestors

Mega-events are often the time for some surveillance / control / security innovation and experimentation by states. In what seems to be a rather unwelcome first, the Pittsburgh police have used a military sonic canon to clear protestors off the streets at the G20 summit. These devices are among many so-called ’sub-lethal weapons’ (see the article by Steve Wright here) that have been gradually migrating from military to civilian use for a number of years – see for example the ongoing debate over the use in the UK of the ultrasonic ‘Mosquito’ device, which is supposed to target young people; its makers rather cynically advertise it as ’so effective that they tried to ban it’.

The particular weapon used by the Pittsburgh police is the Long Range Accoustic Device (LRAD) made by the American Technology Corporation, which generates a piercing noise that is not only extremely unpleasant, it can damage eardrums and cause heart problems. It was rather eeriely appropriate to see them being used (as you can on The Guardian’s website) on the same day that TNI / Statewatch released their report on the security-industrial complex and a reminder that this is a global phenomenon.

More: http://ubisurv.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/pittsburgh-police-use-sub-lethal-weapons-against-protestors/

———————————————————————-
G-20 opponents, police clash on Pittsburgh streets

PITTSBURGH — Police threw canisters of pepper spray and smoke at marchers protesting the Group of 20 summit Thursday after anarchists responded to calls to disperse by rolling trash bins and throwing rocks.

The march turned chaotic at just about the same time that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived for a meeting with leaders of the world’s major economies.

The clashes began after hundreds of protesters, many advocating against capitalism, tried to march from an outlying neighborhood toward the convention center where the summit is being held.

Police in riot gear stood guard near the protesters, who banged on drums and chanted “Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ’cause the power of the people don’t stop.”

The hundreds of marchers included small groups of self-described anarchists, some wearing dark clothes and bandanas and carrying black flags. Others wore helmets and safety goggles.

More: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5izJGY1GNeNYgNG6q1N0bsXCVfBeAD9ATUDIG1

———————————————————————-
66 arrested in Pittsburgh G20 protests

POLICE in Pittsburgh have arrested 66 people after a night of battles with protesters who tried to march on a summit of the world’s top leaders, the FBI says.
Twenty-four people were arrested yesterday when groups of diehard youths refused to disperse when police used pepper spray and fired bean bag rounds to break up an unauthorised demonstration of around 1000 protesters.

Anarchists had attempted to march on the conference centre hosting the Group of 20 summit of the world’s leading economies, which anti-capitalist activists regard as an unaccountable group that ignores the world’s poor.

A further 42 people were arrested when protests erupted in Schenley Plaza near the University of Pittsburgh in the evening, the FBI said in a statement today.

More: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,26126665-12377,00.html

You find more similar material at www.gipfelsoli.org

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