The COP is naked part I- The Copenhagen People´s Revolution


The four mass activities in Copenhagen


Where and When?



The origins

Danish dynamics

Danish-International dynamics

The climate justice core in Copenhagen

The dynamics between dualistic and consensus political cultures.


Can the child show that the Emperor is naked?


At the coming climate summit in Copenhagen in December 2009 the present development model and its political system will come to an end. Faced with the core of its inner contradiction this system will break down when not only the heads of the political opposition will be present but also the more advanced bodies allied with a refusal of the separation of man and nature, bodies and heads. What will be left is an empty shell nobody more believes in unless they are paid to do so. The struggle will continue on all levels from our daily lives to world politics but there will be a system change or maybe we rather can talk about a cultural change that is also material. A turn that will change not only the power relations but also the way power is perceived and how we allow or reject it from dominating our lives and societies. How clear this break down will be is yet an open question, but the possibilities are there in front of us when we act together in our diversities strengthening each other.

The legitimation behind the system of power within the present development model will break down faced with the accumulation of both environmental and social crisis by now recognized also by the main stream cultural ideology. Science is on the tipping point were the scientists no longer can ignore the environmental risks inherent in the present development model. And the scientists are the main legitimators of the present world order. For everyone to see the Emperor is naked as predicted by the Danish writer H C Andersen.

The Emperor and his or her spin doctors and tailors of invisible legitimation is easy to identify. We know them when we see them whether he or she is the unassured right wing prime minister or equally empty handed competing environmental minister of Denmark or A P Møller, the owner of the shipping company and dominating Danish corporation Maersk who alone emits more green house gases than the whole of Denmark domestically.  Or if it is the Nobel prize winner US president Obama himself.

It might be harder to identify the child that tells us that the Emperor is naked. Once upon a time there was something called the press that were supposed to tell us these things. Now mass media are among the entourage of the Emperors spinning their story in common. According to them reality does not exist, only the competence of the unquestionably democratic politicians and their experts that together will manage to solve all the different crisis with the help of an ever-growing market. Under the banner of sustainable growth that will bring freedom and well-being as well as a better environment to our children these spin doctors claim that all violence is external to the present development model were all sooner or later are in a win-win situation. Violence is the result of ideological extremism opposing the invincible sustainable growth modernity. While the violence in this world thus are external to the system and if it anyway burst out are exceptions to the rule it is the opposite with any protests against the system. Here violence is inherent in any protests as it is designed by the media, parliamentary system, police and corporate public relations. Unless the opposition is not totally under control of the system and its separation of the bodies and the heads of the protesters.

So who then is this child telling us that the Emperor is naked? Well this child is of course many children, maybe even a community of communities that together have the maturity of not only stating that the Emperor is naked but with their simple existence and presence acting together have a liveliness that makes the media flood light on the Emperor showing that he or she is actually a robot.

In this article I will focus on the political opposition and how it is organized before, during and hopefully after the Copenhagen summit. I will address the situational context during the meeting in a first part as well as the historical background in a second part. It is my hope that this will contribute to both more understanding but also feeling of togetherness among all protesters in Copenhagen that are concerned about climate change.

The mass activities in Copenhagen

The main reason why there is a possibility for breaking down the legitimation of the present development model with its states and corporation in tight unity working together is the diversity of the mass activities that will take place in Copenhagen. Combined they will challenge the present holders of power on every level and every corner. To understand and get the feeling of why they can do it one can look at these activities from all angles, what they are, where and when they take place, why and how they are organised and who they involve. This will be addressed in both a more close and a wider context to make us feel and be aware of the change and possibilities that are there.


Decisive for stopping climate change and create solutions built on social and global justice is popular movements built on integration of bodies and heads. That is why mass activities are crucial in Copenhagen. Mass activities where everyone can contribute and be important in stating a political fact showing with their presence ways of doing politics different from being an individual political consumer or voter. The four main forms of mass activities are:

Mass demonstration, Mass meeting, Forum and Mass action

How many will participate at these mass activities are not easy to guess. The organisers have stated different figures at different times, up to 150 000 in June for the December 12 demonstration. At present the guess for the mass demonstration is at the most 50 000 by the organisers, at least one can hope for tens of thousands. The mass action is estimated to get somewhere between 3 000 and 15 000 participants at early estimations by the organisers. The mass meeting hopes for 5 000 participants. The estimate for the forum is 15 000 in total and already in late October 5 000 had assigned as participants. For the mass meeting and the forum the number is limited by the localities, the forum will in total have many participants as the only mass activity that goes on for almost two weeks but the biggest hall allows only for 1 200 participants.

Apart from the main mass activities there will be many other meetings, forums, actions, caravans arriving from afar and demonstrations, sometimes of considerable size and sometimes with a content that could make them more important than the main activities. Some of them will be mentioned under the different forms of activities below.

Where and When?

The forum, called Klimaforum09 will start on December 7 and continue until December 18, probably also one or two days more to be able to respond to the outcome of COP15. It will take place in DGI-byen very close to the main station in the middle of the city. The mass demonstration will take place on December 12 from the town hall square – Rådhuspladsen – on the other side of the main station in the middle of the city to Bella Center to the South of the city centre on Global Day of Action initiated by Global Campaign on Climate, GCC. The mass action initiated by Climate Justice Action, CJA, on December 16 will have a similar route. The mass meeting with the heads of states from the ALBA countries in Latin America and the Caribbean on December 17 in the Valbyhallen, a bit to the West of the city centre.


The four different mass activities use four different ways to involve the participants. Two are state-centric activities are both organised in a vertical way were the participants listen to a limited number of well-known speakers. In both cases they can contribute by responding to speeches creating an atmosphere of togetherness. But there is a big difference between the ways the public at the two mass activities are structured. At the mass meeting all are equally placed in the audience in a hall giving good possibilities for strengthening the feeling of unity. The selected speakers all have the same role in society as heads of states and have to a certain degree a like minded political ideology which further strengthens the emphasis on unity. In the demonstration the participants can be more active with their bodies but are structured in different blocs, each making their own statements based on a vague political platform. Thus the basic structure here is more like a market were each one can promote their message within a framework that is still basically vertical and to a large degree state-centric. But the market form gives larger room for competing messages from extreme admiration of world leaders and a way to participate that emphasis vertical forms and professionalism and little room for personal contribution to extreme anti-world-leader positions with an emphasis on horizontal forms and total room for personal contributions including confronting any authority that tries to stop this unfolding of personal expressions. So the two state centric mass activities both are built on vertical forms but in opposite ways, one promoting expression of unity with direct communication between leaders and the mass and one promoting expressions of branding different identities within a vertical market model. The funding of the two activities is basically different. The demonstration relies to a large extent on big NGOs which influences the way the messaging is designed. The mass meeting is basically funded by selling tickets to those participating and has thus a more horizontal way of funding the activity, actually the most horizontal of all mass activities.

The two main movement building mass activities are both organized in a more horizontal way were the participants have more possibilities to contribute to the content and form of the activity. In both cases they can contribute to the result of the activity by intervening with their bodies or thoughts in relationships that can become more horizontal. But there is a big difference between the ways participant contributions are structured.

At the forum and its preparations there is the possibility of contributing to both ideas and atmosphere by intervening in many details or the main message of the forum including the discussion of what to do afterwards. To a large degree the forum is also much structured as a market and many times the participants will be organized in the same way as in the demonstration within a vertical frame work. The mass meeting is even formally a part of the forum showing strong components of this mass activity that have tendencies towards these more vertical forms. But this is counteracted by the fact that the vertical market is balanced by a will to involve everyone in a declaration process both before and during the forum to make a common statement thus avoiding some of the worst market tendencies. It is also counterbalanced by the fact that there are many more practically oriented movements at the core of the organisation and thus one can hope that parts of the program put an emphasis on a wider range of questions were participants can contribute their own experiences on a more horizontal level than if more theoretical organisations were dominating. One can also hope that cultural expressions can influence some of the core of the forum to promote more horizontal relationships. The forum is by far the most costly of all mass activities and funded more or less entirely by the Danish government. Organisations in need of localities for their programme and participating individuals can do this for free. But the material realities poses some constrains on the forum strengthening hierarchic forms of power relations. The practical need of having a small professional staff might also create tensions between professional standards in today’s society and other values carried by more horizontal or democratic ways of organizing politically responsible work.

The mass action structures contributions of the participants with more focus on their bodies and a more united message. But the way to contribute is more limited. Were the forum gives many ways to contribute both in details and the general message, with a lot wider type of scope in terms of addressing not only immediate concerns but also how to build a movement of movements the coming years, the mass action have a more clear focus on immediate goals. Economically the mass action seems strongly horizontal and independent in the way it is funded from many small sources. But this is partly questionable. The main legitimation for the action is participants from the South and these participants in many if not most cases depend on funding from governmental or NGO funds to come to Copenhagen. Anyway horizontalism in the mass action becomes a strong component in the way the activity is organized. And yet there is also here as with the forum some contradictory tendencies. At first glance this mass action seems to be an ideal horizontal kind of activity. But the consensus is built in advance and the decision made on the spot will be more problematic to take in horizontal manners due to time constrains. More important, the goal of the action can be interpreted in two potentially contradictory directions, both with vertical forms embedded in the choice of direction.

One goal is to create a People’s Assembly with participants from both outside and inside that comes together inside or as close as possible of the Bella Center area, if possible crossing the police barriers, refusing to accept the division of outside and inside, and establishing an alliance for climate justice across borders. Here the disruption of COP is primarily the outcome of the political fact that official delegates walk out together with the presence of a mass of people giving room and relevance for such a Peoples assembly. But the official delegations are embedded in vertical relationships, especially governmental delegations. Thus the mass actions come in a similar position as the forum. The other potential main goal of the action is to physically disrupt the sessions by entering a far as possible from the outside as recently stated still as a possibility for the goal of the action if not for the masses but for smaller groups. Here another kind of vertical relationships becomes evident. The tendency that those activists that are willing to go further than others and take bigger risks are more valuable than the masses. If physical penetration becomes the main goal in practice there is the tendency that capabilities of use of the strongest or bravest physical means becomes the most important criteria and thus establishing a vertical difference between the participants. How far someone is willing and capable of physically disrupt the sessions becomes the main motivating factor rather than the combined goal of using both bodies for creating a space and bring a politically motivated assembly together. In the spring the tendency was making the people’s assembly the main goal, in the summer omnipotent ideas of disrupting COP for a whole day by entering from the outside became dominant and now there are more and more tendencies of putting a combination at the centre with the peoples assembly with participation from both outside and inside as most important. The tendencies to shift between two ways of looking at the mass activity that was evident also in the December 12 demonstration thus is also there in the December 16 action. Both movement building mass activities thus have uncertainties in the way the participants can become part of democratically strengthen the message and the force behind building a movement.


To describe the main meaning of the different mass activities is of course to pretend that there is such a main meaning and thus to reduce the actual diversity. Especially when such generalisation is put in a wider context together with other generalising framing of the meaning of the course of events this is problematic. And yet it may be useful for understanding some of the dynamics that may occur between the different initiatives that maybe only together will give the momentum for building a stronger movement of movements for climate justice.

With this limitation in mind I would say that the four mass activities have tendencies of being different not only in their form but also in the main focus of their content. The content can be partly understood by the names of the activities or the title of their main message, Klimaforum will launch a declaration with the preliminary title System Change – Not Climate Change, People’s First, Planet First is the title on the leaflet for the demonstration December 12, Push for Climate Justice the name of the action December 16 and ALBA a sustainable and solidarity alternative the title on the poster for the mass meeting.

While the forum and the mass action have the main focus on movement building, the main focus of the mass demonstration and the mass meeting is more state-centric. The forum and the mass action puts the main emphasis on two sides of movement building, the forum on finding ways for a sustainable transition with movements as the main actor, the mass action on resistance also with the movements as main direct actors. The mass demonstration is diverse with a messaging that calls for putting pressure on politicians and some general demands which gives a wide room for many messages including such that goes in opposite directions. Thus the chosen form for the demonstration is much of a market where those groups that have the loudest voices or biggest resources can make their message seen more than the common platform. A market that ends at the official conference centre asking the politicians to come to results rather than inviting them out and join forces with a movement of movement for climate justice. The purpose of the mass meeting with the ALBA leaders is more to celebrate what the popular movements can achieve once the have gained some influence on governments. These considerations is the reason to place the different activities along a state-centric – movement building scale.

There are of course some facts that points in another direction, e.g. has the Klimaforum to some degree activities that puts a strong emphasis on the expert role and it is unclear how much effort have been put into avoid promoting the role of political consumerism or strengthen movement building both in content and form. It is also so that political parties organise events at Klimaforum with speakers representing parties and not in their personal capacity. The mass meeting with the ALBA heads of states is also formally a part of the Klimaforum which only had to be placed elsewhere due to lack of sufficient big and cheap localities at DGI-byen. But the organisers of the mass meeting and political party activities have no central role in the Klimaforum and thus one can say that the main emphasis is in another direction.

The mass activities have also been placed here along another axis from more local, practical or single issue oriented to more general, identity or ideological orientation. This axis can be seen as even more problematic than the other axis from state-centric to movement building.  The forum can be seen by its nature as many single issue events put together but there is at the same time an effort to make a common declaration that goes way beyond single-issue politics. But the focus on practical and local concerns is there. The mass demonstration promotes much of single issue politics with its idea to let everyone have their own message within a broad framework which also gives some room for more system critical messages. The mass meeting brings by its nature the issues up to a more general and ideological level and can also be seen as a celebration of male national identity. The mass action has a clear general message for climate justice and as main initiators groups that puts an emphasis on anti-capitalism and thus the ideological message. The mass action is sometimes dualistically presented as a question of the needs of individual Western European activists to push as far as possible and the needs of the mass movements from the South for a peoples assembly, thus with a tendency of identity politics also here but in this case with both genders as prominent.

Thus an ideal type of looking at the mass activities can claim in one corner practical and local movement builders, in another corner general or even global ideological movement builders, in a third corner a diversity of state-centric pressure groups for single issues and in the fourth corner general ideological state leaders themselves.

The origins

The oldest initiative for any of the mass activiies in Copenhagen came from a meeting in Brazil held by Permaculture International in 2007. This was the origin of the Klimaforum09 which has few if any direct predecessors. In September 2008 some 50 activists mainly from Western Europe met in Copenhagen to start what became Climate Justice Action network. Non-violence civil disobedience actions as during the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm 2007 or the successful G13 action occupying the premises in the struggle for a new youth house on Copenhagen were inspirations leading to the Reclaim power action December 16. In December 2008 national climate campaign organisations in Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and the UK as well as Friends of the Earth Europe made the first call for a mass demonstration in Copenhagen December 12 on the global day of climate action 2009. The Iraq war mass demonstration have been promoted as a model for this activity. The mass meeting with ALBA leaders was initiated by the Danish Cuban Association in June 2009, the only of the mass activities with only Danish origin.

Danish dynamics

We can be lucky in some aspects that the Climate Summit will take place in Denmark. The extreme competitiveness and isolation between and even within different groups in Danish civil society have caused an unprecedented dynamics which when combined with coherence among international popular movements can create a very strong force.

The result of this competitiveness is that the four mass activities are organised by separate organisations. Over lapping is exception to the rule. Thus committed organisations are developing each mass activity according to its own internal dynamics. Organisations devoted to large scale broad demonstrations do their thing. Organisations interested in sharing experiences with others on both practical matters and more wider system critical cooperation get involved in organizing a forum. Organisations involved in supporting friendship between peoples and supporting progressive politics make the mass meeting and those committed to non-violence devote their energy into direct mass action.

At the coordinating level there are six Danish organisation in the board of Klimaforum09 and one international, Permaculture International. 20 more Danish organisations are behind the initiative. There are five in the coordinating body of the December 16 demonstration and 79 more Danish organisations supporting the demonstration, a number that still is growing. There are four Danish members of Climate Justice Action and 18 Danish organisations behind the ALBA meeting. In the coordinating bodies there are no overlapping except for Climate Movement Denmark who is a member of both the Klimaforum board and the December 12 demonstration coordination group. Also when looking at the lists of those Danish organisations endorsing different activities are the examples of overlapping also very few. The political party Red Green Alliance seems to be the only organisation apart from Danish Cuban Association and International Forum, a  radical solidarity organisation, that are involved in some way in three of the mass activities, the demo, forum and mass meeting. None is involved in all four. In total 111 Danish organisations are involved according to the official web sites of the four mass activities November 25. Out of these only 16 are involved in another mass activity by officially endorsing it.

Looking closer at the activities Klimaforum stands out as the mass activity were the supporting Danish organisations are the ones which are most interested in supporting also other events as slightly more than half of the supporters also support other mass activities, 14 out of 27. Second comes Climate Justice Action were 2 out of 4 also support other mass activities. Than comes the ALBA mass meeting were 4 out of 18 are involved in other events and finally the mass demonstration December 12 were 16 out of 84 Danish organisations are officially supporting some or two other events,

The Danish separatism has had interesting results. The movement building mass activities have a clear political system critical message, one with more focus on opposition against false solutions, the other promoting radical alternatives but both with platforms that complement each other when they do not overlap. The two more state-centric mass activities have a more politically vague message. The activities were political parties are more involved are thus less political than the activities dominated by movements activist. Movement orientation is more political, state centric less political. With a network that had organised most or all of the mass activities this political dynamism with movement builders in the role of politicizing political parties would not have occurred.

Danish-International dynamics

The prize for the Danish dynamism built on a degree of separatism was not only isolation and sometimes polarisation between each other. The price was also separation from international possible cooperation partners and their experiences with the exception of Climate Justice Action. The Danish organisations involved in the mass action were on the other hand very few making them even more isolated from other Danish organisations than the other initiatives. Thus the dynamics here between the international and Danish level have been very hard to distinguish while on the other hand the tensions between Danish organisations involved in CJA and other Danish organisation that are not involved in this mass action have been rather intense.

The mass meeting had the extreme opposite position. Behind the initiative were only Danish organisations. People’s Movement on Climate Change, an international network with similar positions as movements supporting the ALBA countries had until October not even any knowledge about the ALBA meeting as the contacts between the Danish organizations and like minded movements internationally was almost zero.

The dynamics surrounding the mass demo have had its ups and down based on the political platform that gives wide possibilities for different interpretations. One can follow some of these changes by reading the minutes from mobilisation meetings on the webpage. In one moment there is a stress on climate justice both as issues of social and global justice. Next time the main message on the front page of leaflets for the demonstration is trusting the world leaders who have a historic opportunity to save the world and the issue of social justice is completely forgotten not to talk about any change of the social system. What is left of global justice is put in such words that even some worlds leaders will agree and try to claim that this is what they are aiming at accomplishing. The shifts in the direction of the demonstration reflects the balance between groups with committed activists and groups with economic resources and few activists. Apart from the intentionally vague political platform the form of the demonstration is modelled according to the idea that each organisations or group of organisations have their own bloc. With this kind of market model in the bottom the two competing kind of groups, those with many committed activists and those with economic resources are struggling for branding their organisation or kind of identity as much as possible. Thus it has been reported that Oxfam could pay money for the demo and thus also influenced the content and the pink layout of a mobilizing leaflet and Greenpeace can pay the tribune in the end of the demonstration and maybe we all will be able to see if Greenpeace uses this for branding their logo.

While these three mass activities have developed according to established patterns to a large degree building on earlier experience from mass civil disobedience at Summits, mass demonstrations on important global issues or mass meetings with political leaders the forum have had a much more tuff journey on its way to become reality. The original proposal from Permaculture International gained early support from many ecological organisations but very small. They came to the conclusion that they never would be able to organise such a big alternative summit without the help of big NGOs. Thus they approached them and asked about their interest. They all stated that they were not interested. The NGOs saw no point in organising an alternative summit as they had full access to the politicians anyway inside the official conference as lobbyists. So the ecological organizations including some small social movement with direct producers as peasants and firsherfolks continued on their own and sent their proposal also to the government. The government had more problems with how to respond to the idea. In contrast to the NGOs they had not lost the contact with political reality and understood that by saying no to funding an alternative summit for the civil society they would be easily accused of being against a legitimate concern. Alternative summits is a regular practice since the first UN Conference on environment in 1972 which has been a model for alternative summits at almost any kind of important summit in any field since then. More important people in common would not understand the argument that it is sufficient for everyone interested to become an official NGO delegate inside the negotiations and not give some in proportion small resources also for a meeting outside open to anyone. On the other hand were the proposal from the ecological groups very radical opposing false solutions as well as calling for a radical transition towards sustainability and social and global justice.

So what to do? The answer was to avoid giving money to the radical alternative summit and instead give 20 million Danish crowns which is ca. 2,5 million euro to a selected group of NGOs and the ecological groups with the name People’s Climate Action letting the civil society decide for themselves what to do with the money. This would normally result in that radicals groups gets as usual a tiny proportion to maintain some democratic facade while most of the resources goes to supporting legitimation of the official process. Not so this time. What happened was that a fund was established an all could apply for money. The only serious proposal was still the radical alternative summit while NGOs chose to propose their own actions in the interest of branding their organisation. Thus the preliminary decision was to split the resources in two equal parts, one for diverse separate projects and one for the alternative summit while keeping quite some money also for an office for PCA. In this way the alternative summit received 1 million euro, NGO projects 1 million and the PCA administration 0,5 million euro.

Now the big conflict started when the NGOs realised that much resources would be given to a civil society forum. The NGOs entered the scene and demanded influence on the forum. The radical ecological groups refused to change the original concept with a clear platform in opposition to the official agenda and with much of the resources given to participation from the South. This conflict was utterly sharp and delayed the possibility to have the final decision for receiving money until so late as June 2009 according to the original proposal. The NGOs had placed themselves totally outside the control of any serious mass forum to discuss climate change were people in common could participate while all the international popular movements working for climate justice with a strong base in the South were most welcome. This is a historical advancement that never before have been seen at an important environmental summit. The NGOs had finally shown themselves to be new governmental organisations rather than non-governmental organisations.

Now in the last minutes preparations started. Interestingly the Danish initiators not only wanted to get rid of the NGO forum tradition ending in statements that rather than oppose the system legitimized it. They also opposed the left version of a more market oriented way of organising international gatherings, the social forum open space formula. Many of the organisations had been involved in organizing Denmark’s Social Forum and had the experience that this model was dominated by other political forces less interested in ecological issues, in the end resulted in passivity and lacked both political clear statements and linkage to mass action. Thus they chose to do the opposite by starting an ambitious declaration process with the intention to integrate all the discussions in different themes into a joint statement on 20 – 30 pages.

This ambitious idea begun and emails were sent out. But the response did not bring in many of the central climate justice movement actors apart from Peoples Movement on Climate Change that is the only broad international actor that early on were active in both Climate Justice Action, the mass demonstration December 12 and Klimaforum. The Danes isolated themselves not knowing what to do at the same time as indirect conflicts emerged between organizations involved i the mass action December 16 and in the Klimaforum and December 12 demonstration. These conflicts were bound to come after the CJA decision in June to physically enter the official conference building from the outside to disrupt the sessions.

Friends of the Earth Sweden tried to intervene in several ways by proposing that the People’s Assembly should be the main goal of the December 16 CJA action and to politically unite the main climate justice actors as Klimaforum, CJA, CJN and PMCC by proposing activities at Klimaforum building on the political platform of all these initiatives. The politically uniting initiative was well received and FoE Sweden asked to help with international contacts for the declaration process. At the same time FOEI and Via Campesina international approached Klimaforum and discussions started on how to widen the international role of Klimaforum. The result was that an international editing committee was established for the declaration process with half of the members from the South. The ambitions were already reduced to make a statement on 5 pages rather than five times as much. An advisory board was also set up for the Klimaforum with main climate justice movement cooperation partners.

The climate justice core in Copenhagen

Thus a climate justice core have emerged at the centre of the combined mass activities untied by the international popular movements and their most closely related governments and NGOs. The mass movements with a strong global democratic base giving the South a decisive role in the political direction of the way organizations act have united their strength within Climate Justice Now. The strength of this network have been its coordination of criticising the official agenda and being inside the process rather than promoting alternatives and organising mass activities outside. Bu the key organisations within CJN have now been able to untie the dynamic but rather separate mass activities in a way that the Danish organizations were not capable of. Thus PMCC, FOEI and Via Campesina are in the advisory board of Klimaforum. CJN and CJA organises jointly a climate justice block in the December 12 demonstration were FOEI, Via Campesina, PMCC, Jubilee South and climate justice activists from the whole world will walk side by side. And CJA and CJN will organise the mass action on December 16 jointly to make room for a People’s Assembly with possible participants from both governmental and NGO delegates from the inside and masses from the outside. Among them governments that might also speak at the mass meeting on December 17.

The mass activities that from the start became dynamic by being organised separately in a way that marginalised main stream NGOs as well as political parties is now integrated by global popular movements and some radical NGOs and progressive governmental allies in an unprecedented creative manner.

The dynamics between dualistic and consensus political cultures.

The secret strength of the mass activities in Copenhagen is one further dynamic which comes from a capacity that goes beyond the dualism between government and civil society. What is expressed in the different activities are not only different ways social movements separate from governments or so called non-governmental organisations, NGOs, act in a coherent or contradictory way at Danish or international level. There is also a wider political cleavage that express itself, that between different political cultures. The Anglo-American political thinking that sees social movements and NGOs as separate from the state have problems in understanding how some civil society actors including NGOs can have positions more far from the demands made by the climate justice movement than some states. Also alliances across this Anglo-American division of politics are outside the framing of politics that this dualism tries to establish. Yes it is even so that in this world-view politics cannot be in singular, only in plural as a contract between different collective actors or individuals and not as one collective actor. A collective able of establishing a political culture that unites both political, economical and cultural dimensions in opposition to other political cultures including the possibility of over throwing the system as a whole. The English word for politics is even in its construction different from most other political cultures were the word for politics is in singular, politik, politiek, politica, etc.

What is at play in Copenhagen is a dynamic between both dualistic and consensual political cultures expressed both through the mass activities and what is happening in the official process and among other established actors as corporations whether belonging to producers of goods or media and other services.

As the mass activities are the main force to change politics in the interest of people in common a closer look at them is the first step in assessing what political cultures are at work, their strengths and weaknesses.

When it comes to the outdoor activities the British political culture is dominant with some additional German influence when it comes to the mass action. More than any other political culture it is the British that sets the pace for climate activism and with vibrant energy have been a model for many other political cultures. This vibrant British political culture spreads its energy in all directions giving equal strength to both climate justice demands together with promotion of system change and on the other hand system friendly climate demands. This dualistic strength has especially influenced the mass demo stating People first, planet first. The German political culture has joined hands with the system critical part of British political culture behind the Reclaim power action December 16.

Both the British and German political cultures have strong dualistic tendencies but in different ways. In the UK politics is perceived as the result of how pressure groups within different policy areas are influencing governmental decisions. To break out of this pattern in a more substantive way is very hard. On the other hand it is quite easy to get successes ideologically or in practical niches with local or market boundaries. When acting according to this pattern the state can be fairly soft. This produces at times very vital movements in both practical and theoretical expressions, but often short-lived. The tendency is also that the pattern creates a vitality that is more used for export to other countries rather than concentrating at changing basic social relations in the UK. As the pattern offers two diverging avenues it is especially fit to be both dynamic and capable of weakening a more profound popular movement that can challenge the dominant forces in all aspects of society.

This was clearly expressed when the British political cultures hosted first European Social Forum in 2004 and then G8 protests in 2005. In the first case state centric forces among political parties to the left and trade unions focused on seperating antiwar issues from social change issues as UK parliamentary politics offered an at least rhetorical opportunistic moment for making opposition against the war the key political message. In the second case NGOs competing with each other on a market for fund-razing saw an opportunistic moment for separating the anti war issues from social issues and domestic social issues from international relationships creating poverty. In both cases a social movement strand able of integrating different conflicts and mobilising without getting trapped into state-centric of market forms was marginalised. The result in the first case was a full scale conflict within ESF including physical confrontation between what was labelled horizontals demanding that a wider range of issues should be addressed and so called verticals in control of the central organization selecting speakers for key events and making anti war issues the key demands. Two aspects that promoted top-down ways of working rather than activism. The result in the second case was promotion of rich celebrities as spokespersons for an anti poverty campaign who used their position to celebrate the G8 message by the British prime minister and other world leaders as historical successes contrary to the substance of the decisions made. The campaign organized according to the advice from professional expertise produced mass participation both in the UK and many other parts of the world but in the end rather passivity than activism.

This time the British social movement tradition have been more able to avoid the two traps with the help of the climate camp movement equally putting emphasis on direct action and popular education. At the same time both the state-centric political party and the more market oriented NGO branding culture are equally dynamic within their own realms and sometimes in collaboration. A basic dualism is still there between on the one hand a movement built on horizontal or local activism and often consensus processes and the more top-down state- or market centric ways of working. This basic dualism among civil society actors reflects a larger dualism in the political culture between the state and the civil society.

The British political culture which is partly open in both state-centric and market terms have been combined with another form of dualistic political culture, the German. Here the state is much harder to influence and the relationships between a movement and the state becomes easily polarised to the brink of complete confrontation. When nuclear waste is transported from France to Gorleben in central Germany up to 40 000 policemen can be needed to enable the transport to be carried out against mass civil disobedience in a scale far stronger than in any other European country. Some of this strength was shown at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm 2007 when 10 000 participated in a non-violent direct action to bloc the delegates from coming in and out by land. While the British dualistic political culture could bring impetus to both the mass demo and the mass action in Copenhagen the dualistic German political culture have almost no influence on the mass demo but have been important for the mass action.

The indoor mass activities are dominated to a large extent by quite the contrary kind of political cultures. The mass meeting is organised only by Danish organizations mainly belonging to leftist system-critical traditions the content is filled with Latin American progressive governmental politics. Of special importance are those presidents from states were an environmental concern and a climate justice politics is especially clearly stated such as Bolivia. In many ALBA countries popular movements have been strong and when progressive regimes are in place there is a tendency towards a consensus between the state and the movements. This is especially the case in Bolivia were the broadest popular movements are strongly related to the government.

The forum is organised primarily by system-critical ecological groups and their allies among peasant and fisherfolks. Also here consensus traditions of the Scandinavian kind are strong. Scandinavian political cultures have equal tendencies as Bolivian towards consensus not only between popular movements and the state but in general in daily life and most social affairs. This is especially strong in Sweden and Norway while in Denmark sudden shifts can take place. From allowing local largely autonomous space as Christiania to violently cracking down on them as in the case of Ungdomshuset – The Youth House. From seeing even touching a policemen without any aggressive means as inherently violent to excepting very autonomous action when it is perceived as very local or matters of decency rather than politics. Here the cultural consensus at the national level is stronger while consensus in social and economic affairs is less so. Consensus is many times so important that if there is no consensus than there is no communication what so ever and everyone do their own thing. This causes competitiveness with on the one hand NGOs well integrated in the established political system and small but many local autonomous spaces or movements. One aspects of this is shown in the list of trade union endorsers of the December 12 demonstrations and the December 17 mass meeting. In both cases almost equal numbers of trade unions support the mass activities but there is no overlapping at all. Either you are part of the established organisations or you belong to a radical sector of some sort and the different radical sectors have little contact with each other.

In general people in Denmark, Norway and Sweden have a big trust in the state and the law and strive toward consensus. This has been reflected sometimes in the way Danish organisations have been unable at times to have an open critical dialogue about different COP activities while at the same time they have been very critical without telling openly about their worries. They have been especially sensitive about any kind of action that can be perceived as being against the UN. In an open letter by the chair persons of Frie Bønder, which is a member of Via Campesina in Denmark, Levende hav, an organisation to protect the sea with fisherfolks in the leadership and the construction workers union addressed this issue as late as in late October. They stated ” [T]here is solid historical experience with the use of civil disobedience, when it should be used – and when it should not be used. In our view, this experience speaks clearly against using civil disobedience against legitimate political gatherings. Rather, it is a misunderstanding of the whole spirit of civil disobedience.” And continued: ”we also strongly warn against implementing such a measure directed against the UN Summit in Copenhagen in December, as some activist groups have announced it in the press. To disrupt a legal political meeting of this nature is in our opinion simply not appropriate.”

The international organisations sometimes intervened in a way not understanding the sensitiveness and possibilities of Scandinavian political culture. These problems became clear when mainly organizations in Sweden hosted the European Social Forum in Malmö close to Copenhagen. Organizations from the rest of Europe had a hard time to cope with the fact that Scandinavian organisations kept quite silent about their internal disputes in spite of that these conflicts were severe and put the whole organizing of the forum to the brink of practical collapse. This is due to the consensus culture of Scandinavia were people are supposed to stick together and do not speak up to much about problems but rather find common positions. This kind of political culture might be hard to understand for people from other traditions.

This problem have this year repeated itself in maybe an even more problematic way in the relationships between Danish and organizations from other countries. Now not only in terms of conflicts between organisations but also within them and between national and international level and on issues that might have more serious political consequences. The problem is that the dualistic patterns in the British political culture as well as NGO diplomacy culture does not work in a Scandinavian consensual political culture reality. The strength of the dualistic British culture is that it creates two creative team building blocs each one developing its own inner dynamics but not as the Danish embedded in an overarching consensual culture also among most of the system critical groups. The British dualism ends up with seeing a need of not criticising each other. This makes it impossible to confront the identity politics that both more NGO oriented and more civil disobedience oriented groups tends to put a strong emphasis on. In one end branding the organisation becomes central and in the other end building the identity on being more physically and ideologically brave than others. Two foster principles that unites a whole movement of movements including also more consensus oriented political cultures is outside the scope of this British dualistic political culture. While being creative and producing much strength the weakness of the British political culture also in its fruitful stage is a dualism which stops the dynamics at this certain level.

Especially controversial have the Reclaim power action at Bella Center December 16 been. Here the relationships between a fairly isolated group of Danish CJA organizations and other system-critical organizations in Denmark as well as other groups have been tense and dominated by the constrains of a consensus culture. International organisations have had problems in understanding the situation as there has been little outspoken criticism. There is also a NGO diplomacy culture that sees criticism of other organisations way of acting as inappropriate. Rather then openly criticise other tactics the focus is upon formally distancing oneself by seeing to that the name of the own organisation is not officially used to endorse any activity that is questionable. Furthermore international organisations know well that they have to be very cautious about intervening at the national level and have strong respect for the opinion of their members in the country were an activity takes place. The independence of national and many times also local level in international organisations is often strongly respected.

But this was hard to show when the Danish organizations with the exception of the outspoken and provocative WWF kept quite. The fact that not one of the 18 Danish organisations behind the system-critical leftist mass meeting and only two or one of the 27 organizations behind system-critical ecological forum was part of the CJA seems to not have worried the international organisations. As CJA also informed incorrectly on their webpage about which organisations were behind the initiative and which ones were not and the representatives of Friends of the Earth Denmark shifted positions 180 degrees there was confusion.

Thus there has been some drastic shifts in the way the December 16 action is presented. A strong focused on disrupting the sessions by entering from the outside remained for a long while a dominant message thus putting more emphasis on physical disruption than a peoples assembly. It remained at least at public meetings in Denmark in early November also after Climate Justice Now became a co-organiser of the action. But the criticism from some system-critical Danish organisation remained. The latest version of the call out for December 16 is drastically different and puts the people’s assembly as the main goal of the action while still promoting civil disobedience to overcome any barriers for making room for such an assembly bridging the gap between inside and outside. To many Danish organizations this might still be questionable but it will certainly also give much better arguments for the supporting it or at least good reasons for avoiding open criticism.


What gives the popular movements strength at the climate summit in Copenhagen is the dynamics between mass activities that complement each other and the possibility for a dynamic relationship between Danish political culture and international intervention.

With a consensus culture dominating the indoor mass activities and a dualistic culture dominating the outdoor mass activities there is a chance for a lasting convergence of forces that breaks out of the limitations of both political cultures. This possibility is helped by the expressions of the two opposite political cultures both in state-centric and movement building dimensions and more local, practical and single issue as well as in the more general, ideological and identity building dimension. Further strengthening the force is that both the domestic Danish culture has been able to express its greatest dynamic strength at the level of separate mass activities while the international or transnational political movement culture can contribute by establishing a strong climate justice block by the help of all forms of mass activities.

Furthermore this bloc includes key actors also within the official process. On the one hand there is a well-articulated and coherently organized broad group of climate justice popular movements and NGOs inside the COP15 negotiations united by Climate Justice Now. There will be almost no detail in the negotiations that will not be scrutinized and immediately addressed in public from different angles. There is also sufficient coherence to bring forward a strong general assessment of the negotiation process all through the COP. The weakness from the mass protests at the G8 meeting in Heiligendamm in Germany 2007 with climate as the main official agenda and the protesters mainly addressing other issues will not be repeated.

On the other hand there is also a stronger more confrontational group of oppressed countries from every third world continent and even maybe a whole united African continent at the negotiation table. A broad group more confrontational than there has been for a very long time in the UN. On top of that there is also a strong concern among many scientist that decisions will be far to weak. The normal way of portraying system critical protests as something going on outside and irrelevant to the agenda and scientific arguments is thus this time of less strength.

Can the child show that Emperor is naked?

What will make it possible for the moment when the public gets the Aha feeling seeing that the Emperor is naked. There are four roles in this scene.

One is the public. Here we have two contradictory facts to take into consideration. Firstly that the public is already prepared for understanding that the Emperor is naked. In Denmark 90 percent of the population believes there will be no agreement in Copenhagen. In the rest of the world there is probably quite wide-spread understanding that the present politicians will not come to any effective action in spite of that there is a great problem. On the other hand the Danish public have little hope for any alternatives either and seems to see any attempts to state political facts by using the body in non-violent and disobedience ways is automatically violent. At the same time the present fossil fuel and corporate development model where Denmark is among the privileged is seen as inherently non-violent. In fact this model is very violent, causing oil wars and the forced dislocation of local communities all over the world. When those oppressed by this development model come to Copenhagen and bridge the separation between inside and outside the repressive force will have problems as the challenge comes from both sides, thus making it more of a political than police problem. A political problem that the public will have a lot harder to see in the light of police protecting those inside against illegitimate pressure from the outside.

The other role is the tailor or with modern terms spin doctors and NGOs whose main goal is to be lobbyists. But to be able to create an image of the politicians producing effective political action, that Emperor really have clothes on, there has to be a lot admirers of this political action beautifully dressed. But if the admirers all have left the public and went inside the official negotiation to participate as accredited lobbyists there is no trustworthy audience outside that can tell people outside that the spin doctors and tailors all do a good job. What we see is really a nice piece of beautiful dress and effective action.

The third role is the Emperor who has some problems with his politics and image. The climate crisis is not the only global crisis that has somewhat varnished his glancing image.

The fourth role is the child. Why do we believe the child? It is present with its body in this world in dialogue with the surrounding environment, acting spontaneously rather than according to professional plans. The four mass activities have enabled a connection of bodies and heads of a movement of movements. A combination also capable of taking parts of the Emperor’s entourage away from him making visible to all that there are alternatives built on global and social justice and were a movement of movements together with like minded governments starts to build another world here and now.

The COP is naked part II– how our ability to see it emerged

Tord Björk | Uncategorized | Monday, November 30th, 2009

The popular movements with their roots all over the planet and mass activities in Copenhagen have the strength to convince the world that the political outcome of COP15 is predictably, showing that the governments have no solution to climate change. The outcome will lack the commitment, being to late but foremost not built on the social forces that are the only forces that can bring about a trustworthy sustainable transition.

It is the environmental movement that once created the ability to develop an understanding of the wider and combined effects of different kinds of environmental degradation as climate change. This ability of popular movements have been described by Andrew Jamison and Ron Eyerman in their cognitive social movement theory. The combined challenge on cosmological, organizational and technological aspects of the established development model gives birth both to a social movement and new cognition. The eco-system theory could establish itself with the help of the environmental movement at the same time as the established political system answered on the growing environmental awareness by organizing the first UN Conference on environment in 1972. By now we can see that in details the efforts of the established system have been effective but that the eco-systems collapse or are at the brink of collapsing in a wider and wider scale. The way that the negotiations are organized are not trustworthy anymore.

The strength of popular movements in Copenhagen comes from the dynamics between mass activities that complement each other and the possibility for a dynamic relationship between Danish political culture and international intervention. The decisive strength of popular movements comes from their ability in people’s daily life to be relevant for both their bodies and their heads, both our social and ecological relationships. While the international intervention primarily brings heads, the host country is the only one that can bring larger number of people who with their bodies and minds are decisive for challenging the formal inter-state political system.

The reason why the Danish political culture can contribute its qualities to the dynamics is its ability to develop mass activities that express in full different aspects that are necessary for making a breakthrough. This strength is at the same time a weakness. It has in the case of Denmark been built on separating the mass activities formally from each other. But this weakness has also been the decisive factor for a fruitful international intervention. It has enabled international or in other words transnational, planetary, or global, popular movements to contribute by a formally united coalition bringing the separate mass activities together.

This creates a moment were the best of different strands can fully express themselves with bodies and heads integrated in a combination of four mass activities. These four mass activities as well as the main popular movements actors have reached such a maturity that they together will bring about a decisive change towards global democracy integrating participatory and representative qualities, a change the is a democratic revolution in world politics.

The situational context has been described in part I one of this study.  The historical context is equally important. The combined strength of the mass activities in Copenhagen comes from expressing in full different aspects that bridge barriers between local and global, practical and ideological, state-centric and movement building. Thus each one of the mass actions comes close to four complementary ideal types. These ideal types is described in the first  part of this study as ”in one corner practical and local movement builders, in another corner general or even global ideological movement builders, in a third corner a diversity of state-centric pressure groups for single issues and in the fourth corner general ideological state leaders themselves.”

These ideal type mass activity qualities has been expressed before but never at a Summit as balanced as in Copenhagen. They each have their history, sometimes long and mature as in the case of general ideological state-centric mass meetings, sometimes really seldom if ever before strongly expressed as a mass forum on all relevant issues with a core of system-critical practical and local movement builders. Combined mass activities at a Summit also have their history.

All the aspects of mass participation have roots far back in history on all continents. Monks in China intervened against wars by contributing their skills in the art of self-defence on the weak side in conflicts 2 500 years ago. In Europe a council in Constance at the Boden lake was called in a time of severe system crisis for in the beginning of the 15th century by inviting both the head and the body of Christianity. The leaders of the third estate mass movements of peasants and workmen opposed the widely criticised practice of the Pope. They were invited to the council with the guarantee to not be punished given by the Emperor. The princes decided to separate physically the body an the head of the leader of the mass movements, Jan Hus and his companion, as the princes shared the criticism of the pope but opposed that mass movements were allowed to express the same views and declared that they had not issued any guarantee, only the Emperor. The road was paved for separating religion from politics and establishing the modern state system of sovereign national countries built on the separation of the head, central power, and the body, people in common as a collective and organizers of commons.

In modern times the ideal types of mass activities came to strong expression in the antifascist sentiments after the World War II by organizing World Students and Youth Festivals starting in Prague 1947. These festivals soon became strongly dominated at the formal level by states with communist party leadership and closely related mass movements. At the informal level they became the starting point for the dissident movement in the 1950s in countries as Poland and Soviet union as well as the anti colonial, anti-racist and anti-imperialist movements world wide as ANC from South Africa. The participation equals the biggest global meetings of today with a peak in Moscow 1957 with 32 000 international guests and 8 million Soviet citizens visiting political meetings, sport events, film festivals and other cultural activities. These festivals even survived the fall of the Berlin wall, the last one was held in Caracas 2006. But the kind of mass meetings with progressive state leaders and thousands in the audience is also a part of events as World Social Forum as in Belem 2009 when five presidents were speaking to thousands and thousands of participants jointly singing the Latin American movement song Comandante Che Guevara. The mass meeting with president Evo Morales from Bolivia, Hugo Chavez from Venezuela and other invited heads of states from the ALBA countries

A second ideal type of mass activity is the mass civil disobedience action. This tradition was in modern times invented by the Muslim Sheth haji Habib, on the 11th of September 1906 in Johannesburg who declared that he refused to follow the new pass laws introduced to control coloured people. Under the leadership of Gandhi this movement developed civil disobedience as a collective method for political struggle against racism and imperialism which later also inspired the peace and environmental movements. In recent times the Zapatistas from Mexico, peasant movements from India, indigenous people from met in Geneva in 1998 to establish People’s Global Action against ”Free Trade” and WTO, PGA. This network launched global action days and were able to break through the consensus among NGOs to be mass civil disobedience..

A third ideal type is the market place within a broad ideological framework where each organisation can promote their message in a bloc in a demonstration or a seminar at a forum. In modern times this kind of meeting have been organized at a number of UN conferences often labelled NGO-forum. In response to World Economic Forum Brazilian NGOs and social movements launched World Social Forum in 2001. Since then this formula spread at local, national and continental level maintaining its vitality especially at the global level. To emphasize the openness and diversity no decisions are made in the name of all participants. Thus there is strength in maintaining diversity and a weakness in the relationship between discussion and collective action promoting a model of many single-issue actions which puts pressure on one opposing actor rather than promotion of one united actor or in other words a movement of movements able of challenging the actor maintaining the world order. In the case of World Social Forum organizations that are armed as the Zapatistas in Chiapas are excluded as well as political parties except politicians in their personal capacity thus delinked from their collective. This puts even more emphasis on the role of social forums to put pressure on someone else rather than being a democratic expression of collective actors capable of establishing independent political facts. This someone else tends to be the state. Another expression of the same model is demonstrations with a broad platform where each organization of groups of organization can form their own bloc promoting their own message. Such demonstrations have been held during social forums. The demonstrations against the Iraq war in 2003 have also been used as a model for this kind of broad manifestations.

A fourth ideal type of model is the collective meeting that puts both system-critical and practically oriented movements at the centre in the interest of the global majority. This ideal type has had the greatest problem in emerging. Already at the UN Conference on Environment in 1972 the Oi Committee was formed basically with environmental activists from the South. They were first able to overthrow the agenda at the Youth preparatory meeting for the UN Conference. A top-down programme with speakers selected primarily with North American experts was replaced and continental working groups was set up instead formulating a joint agenda for action put together in a global statement. During the UN Summit the Oi Committee was able to meet again with the help of Swedish popular movements putting pressure on the government to fund the travels from the whole world. But the result of this meeting was completely forgotten. This attempt at building a global system-critical and practically oriented environmental movement became squeezed between a more resourceful Western dominated NGO system and mainly ideologically oriented anti-capitalist forces that used the environmental issue to illustrate the truthfulness of their ideology rather than contribute to an independent movement able of struggling and winning conflicts. But new attempts were made mainly by building global action networks on issues as baby food, pesticide and rain forests from 1977 and onwards. A broad system-critical expression of these efforts was the creation of the world-wide Third World Network with the help of the Consumer association and Friends of the Earth Malaysia. But the expansion of a global system of NGOs promoting cooperation with governments and other main actors in civil society including business for sustainable development made it hard to develop this model further. But now independent popular movements have developed an international leadership built on global democracy, giving the third world a decisive voice in the life of these collective actors. Gradually since Friends of the Earth Malaysia and other sister organisations started in the South, Friends of the Earth became more and more of a global system-critical and practically oriented popular movement. The same tendencies has since a long time been there in the radical pacifist organisation War Resister’s International. With the emergence of the peasant movement Via Campesina, World March of Women and international indigenous movement we now have world-wide practically oriented and system-critical movements who interact directly with each other more and more and thus for maybe the first time there is space for a gathering in Copenhagen which is initiated by practically, locally based system critical movements emphasising that the whole meeting makes a joint declaration together with all cooperation partners.

The combined mass activities at a Summit also have a history that actually begun in Copenhagen 1970. Here at the World Bank meeting there was a counter conference and popular education material was produced for maybe the first time about the bank. There was a demonstration and afterwards three days of confrontations between the police and activists with some 10 000 people on the streets mainly watching but some also actively participating in what was going on. The police run with their motorbikes straight into the masses and activists through Molotov cocktails and the police motorbikes burning them into pieces. The diversity of tactics of the movement was complete and afterwards the split of the separate parts of the movement became permanent in Denmark. It would take until 1988 in Berlin for a combination of system-critical and more single-issue oriented protests could challenge a World Bank Summit again.

But already at the UN Conference on Human Environment in Stockholm 1972, a model for Summit protests was established that since then have influenced not only UN Summits but also almost any summit of importance. Here independent popular movements organized demonstrations, a daily newspaper about the summit was produced for the first time by Friends of the Earth and the ecologists read by everyone, there were different alternative meetings and official governmental and NGO delegates participated in alternative activities and protesters had contacts with politicians at the conference. All the four ideal types were expressed also this time but in different form compared to Copenhagen 2009. Thus there was a People’s Forum that made a joint statement where local environmental groups had a strong influence, but due to polarisation after US movement initiatives the statement became more of a general ideological criticism of capitalism than a broader system-critical perspective combined with more practical, ecological, social and cultural examples from different parts of the world as in the Oi Committee declaration. There was a mass demonstration with 7 000 participants but with a joint common political message against the ecocide in Vietnam and no separate blocs with different massages. There was also the Environmental forum initiated by the government but with popular movements responsible as an alternative to the independent People’s Forum, without ambitions to come to any conclusions on behalf of the participants on a broad range of issues. Finally there was a mass action initiated by Life Forum, a group of American activists with the hippie style collective Hog Farm as central actor. They were given a piece of land far away from the city centre to organize a youth camp where the police were ordered to tolerate the use of drugs as well. The Life Forum action managed to mobilise a hundred participants among the official delegates from the governmental US delegation and a lot of media attention. The political demand was to protect the whales, an industry were the US had no interest. It included to undress naked in the central square of Stockholm and a speech by the North American businessman Maurice Strong that also was chair of the UN conference. The two movement building activities, People’s Forum and the mass demonstration had quite a lot of overlap among the organizers. There were also some overlap between demonstration organisers and Environmental Forum. Life Forum was given some tolerance at the Environmental Forum and could occupy the final session without any resistance. The relationship between Life Forum and People’s Forum as well as the mass demonstration was antagonistic. Life Forum violently silenced any speeches critical against the Vietnam war at the action while a number of people out of their ranks disturbed the press conferences of the People’s Forum trying to divert the interest away from any criticism of the US and rich countries.

In Rio de Janeiro 20 years later the four ideal types was also present, this time again in another form. The secretary of the official conference was once more the businessman Maurice Strong, this time with a stronger openly organized business network to support the idea of solving the environmental crisis by more free trade and cooperation between governments, business and NGOs for sustainable growth called sustainable development. The alternative summit was called Global Forum. It was organised by a friend of Maurice Strong who also was a North American energy industry businessman. 20 000 participated at this Global Forum, which was a market place were everyone could have their voice heard one by one. Thus the Global Forum was very single-issue and state-centric oriented with intentions rather to split the movement than strengthen of as a collective actor. There was also an NGO and social movement forum with some 2000 participants initially with support in Rio de Janeiro from 80 local ecological groups in the regional network APEDEMA-RJ while the progressive NGOs as IBASE and FASE had decided to join hands with progressive business in a Pro Rio initiative. As the progressive NGOs understood that the local environmental groups were the only ones that could receive support from the national Brazilian organizations with headquarters in São Paulo and their international counterparts, the NGOs in Rio shifted their tactics, became organisers as well of the NGO and social movement forum and marginalised the local environmental groups. The end result was no common strong system-critical statement, rather long lists of fragmented details. The local groups in Rio felt abused by the 20 000 participants from NGOs from the whole world that came there but had no interest in the local situation. The end result was also a lack of clear confrontation of the official agenda, a legitimation of a neoliberal world order if such an order included NGO participation in global governance. There were small isolated actions, primarily initiated by the youth and perceived as harmless while military tanks were ordered out on the streets pointing their cannon roars in the direction of the favela slums. The strongest coherent mass action was a united demonstration with organisations from the favela slums and left wing groups joining hands with a few international speakers behind a system-critical platform in a mass demonstration with some 5000 participants. There was also a broad mass demonstration with some 10 000 participants which each group used to promote their domestic message and none asked international speakers to join, a demonstration that went out of hand when the participants did not follow order and tried to storm the Global Form premises in protest against the excessive resources given to the different activities during the UN conference by the local government.

While many NGOs became part of the neoliberal global governance world order, the mass movements in the South and especially the new international peasant movement Via Campesina built up a more independent platform. With Karnataka farmers mass demonstration in India against WTO in 1993 with half a million participants and the burning of corporate offices, and the Zapatista uprisings in Mexico against North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, the independent platform gained momentum and in 1998 PGA was formed. This stronger global popular movement alliance focusing on mass civil disobedience as the main way to bring about change and progressive NGOs from the South as Third World Network could together challenge the participation in global governance of neoliberalism that had been so dominant during the 1990s. Now both popular movements and NGOs said no to a proposed multilateral agreement on investments instead of demanding to become part of managing the agreement. Soon 1 500 popular movements and NGOs in the same vein also said no to any further expansion of WTO, ending with the protests at the WTO meeting in Seattle and the breakdown of the negotiations 1999.

In 2001 the progressive NGOs in Rio de Janeiro as IBASE and FASE together the trade unions and the landless movement MST of Brazil initiated the World Social Forum, built on excluding the Zapatistas and all who felt more loyal to the Chiapas uprisings than with the mixture of NGOs and popular movements at WSF. While PGA had become more ideological and lacked resources for a more ambitious exchange of experience on more practical matters of social and ecological change, WSF received generous support from many sources. It soon became a success in many countries by organising local and national and sometimes also continental social forums along the same model while also continuing with the Global Social Forum. While the other levels have lost some of their momentum and popular movements criticize the formula, the global level is still vital which was expressed this year in Belem at the mouth of the Amazon river with over 100 000 participants. Here the popular movements had come to grips with what they perceive as passivity aspects of social forums and partly organised their own mass activity outside the forum. Thus there were the traditional mass meeting listening to important politicians as Lula, the open space with a huge number of seminars and the Assembly of Social movements with short statements on action plans. But there was also a mass meeting with presidents from Bolivia, Venezuela and other ALBA countries were the speakers were challenged by the popular movements in a dialogue and not as at the similar meeting inside WSF were allowed to make a monologue.

With this history the mass activities in Copenhagen have a mature back ground which especially have been developed to strengthen system-critical practically oriented groups. This maturity gives the possibility to build a stronger combination of forces built on democratic participation integrating different dimensions from the local and practical to the general and global. A combination of the strength in a country were a summit takes places and representatives of international movements. A dynamic of unprecedented possibilities to change world politics to start democratic transition of both economy and politics towards sustainability and social justice.

Avoiding the post COP doldrums part I: Another tactic than Anglo-American is possible

A first part of a response to the article: De-mobilisation: Avoiding the post COP doldrums

Tord Björk

Make Copenhagen a starting point for social change

originally written on 4th of July and sent to the Climaet Justice Action emaillist.

How can the popular movements involved in climate change become a social movement for building a sustainable society? The political situation becomes more and more clear. There will be no agreement in Copenhagen with substantial content that will bring about changes necessary for stopping global warming. Hopefully some of the outcome might be useful. But as been analysed by Anthony Kelly also results that can be presented as successful poses a problem for the movement. A climate treaty that is presented as a great success may serve to undermine and co-opt a social movement while in the long run when the movement is de-mobilized the treaty do not result in any substantial action.

Kelly makes one of the most interesting contributions to the discussion on climate movement future. Together with Walden Bellos analysis of a new green deal as a way to develop capitalism in response to the failure of neoliberalism these two texts, on the one hand focusing on tactics, on the one hand on politics, poses a challenge to the global climate movement.

Kelly begins his article in a defensive mood, ”avoiding the post COP doldrums”. It is primarily addressed to all different climate movements in Australia from civil disobedience groups to main stream NGOs with some preference for the first groups. But it uses global experiences of other movements as the peace movement and claims to use insights in movement tactics of relevancxe to the whole developed world.

I will in this critical assessment overemphasize negative aspects of Kelly’s article. This should not overshadow the positive aspects which are a well-funded argument for everybody to put the Copenhagen summit in a longer perspective and start to plan for how to continue the struggle after Copenhagen. Arguments that are addressed effectively to all parts of the movement. An emphasis on the need for civil disobedience including the dangers of relating to much on lobbying and the dangers of desperate actions that isolates the movement. The attempt at bringing in long term analysis on tactics with examples of more universal interest.

This response to Kelly’s article is trying to further develop discussion in four areas. Firstly the question of tactics, both in relation to how the climate movement in the whole world can further the struggle and in relation to the Climate Summit. Secondly what lessons can be learned from historical and situational circumstances. Thirdly the issue of strategy and social change. And finally the issue of politics bringing in a critique of Bello’s analysis of a shift from neoliberal capitalism to ”global social democratic green deal”. (The two last areas were never written, the historical you find below on this blog.)

I. Another tactic than Anglo-American is possible

Australian and other Anglo-American climate movements are of global importance. The impressive climate walks in Australia outnumbering all other activities in the world on global climate action days and the climate camp movements are showing us the strength of Anglo-American political culture. Thus how the movements in countries dominated by this political culture are acting is of importance to popular movements involved in climate issues in other countries. It is in London global climate action days are coordinated and many globally important meetings for climate interested movement have been held, climate activists from civil disobedience or main stream NGOs have sometimes a dominating role at international meetings but primarily the Anglo-America movement produces a wide range of political activities which sets an example for other countries and gives energy to many of us.

Thus Kelly’s partly critical assessment of the movement and his tactical visions are of interest. He builds his analysis on universalistic claims, at least for the developed world. Furthermore he claims to say something substantial of general concern about the UN Climate Summit, a summit that is seen as important to many others than those from Anglo-American political cultures. Even indigenous peoples far from not only Anglo-American but also other Western political cultures have regularly taken an active interest in using UN processes for their purposes and is so doing this time as well.

The tactical insights built on analysis of ”contemporary social movements” that Kelly uses are according to him widely used by movements ”throughout the developed world”. These tactical advices mainly builds on the typical Anglo-American dichotomy between grassroots and leaders, civil disobedience and lobbying, violence and non-violence. This tactical dichotomy has proven to result in fascinating outbursts of political energy in the countries concerned. But it is not used or necessary relevant for all the developed world, neither it is for the majority of the movements involved in the global climate movement. And as the climate issue is a global issue were emission of green house gases and deforestation has global impact  we have to take into consideration tactics that are fruitful in all political cultures. Both our own political culture and at the same time be aware of the necessity of understanding the tactics of other political cultures and when it comes to international or global actions in common campaigns or at Summits build a tactic useful for a dynamic contribution to all political cultures creating a simultaneous transnational change in power relations. Especially important are those political cultures used by people who are more severely victims of the climate crisis and the present world order than those belonging to Anglo-American or other political cultures of the rich. It is of great importance that we try to search for the truth about tactics and do not limit ourselves to what is widely distributed as universalistic knowledge by the Western university system and similar institutions while it in the end is tactics linked to a very specific kind of political culture imposed on many others but of less importance if we want to change the world.

Both have a tactic for life after Copenhagen but also during the Summit

Kelly’s advice are three-fold. Firstly ”Don’t put all eggs in one basket”. Here he specially criticises NGO campaigners claiming Copenhagen to be the ”last, best hope” possibility. Kelly claims that ”Movement leadership and spokespeople need to encourage and assist people to locate themselves along a movement trajectory that is longer than 2009 and goes far beyond Copenhagen in December.” This sounds trivial and is anyway useful to say. The problem is that when it is addressed to some parts of the most professionalised NGO industry as if it will be taken seriously this causes illusions about the role of this NGO industry. It is part of the way NGO industry work that they constantly have to come up with ”campaigns” claiming that now we have the only unique chance to change the world if we only follow the line as advocated by NGOs with professionals spokespeople in the center of attention. If they don’t they cannot sell their organisation via commercial mass media or to public funders in a system based on political consumerism. It is not so hard to shift to a new unique message according to the rules of commercial or state funded relationships and so these professionalised NGOs do. Although this time maybe a bit harder than normal as the main stream science and media regularly address the consequences of climate change and may well continue to do so after Copenhagen at least to such a degree that the issue cannot be silenced drastically.

With the easiness for NGO organisations to shift focus in mind Kelly’s point is anyway important especially as it goes beyond only addressing the most radical activist groups and include also NGOs or hopefully also other kind of organisations. As the NGO concept is a typical Anglo-American as well as UN concept constructed to destroy political understanding by labelling many different kind of organisations into a concept without any positive character. Only negatively defined as non-governmental. It is of course so that many NGOs can have another character than that of being absorbed by a professional NGO industry. Thus the main purpose of Kelly’s advice is unquestionably important, we need plans going beyond Copenhagen.

Yet Kelly avoids the important issue of tactics in relationship to the Climate Summit before and in Copenhagen. This makes his argument weaker. As it is now his point could be useful in countries similar to Australia, but the climate movement or whatever we want to call those popular movements involved in the Copenhagen process and beyond also needs to address the tactical issues of more immediate concern. Here a main proposal has been ”Diversity of tactics”, an idea that helps fragmenting the movement and gives everybody the feeling they are doing the right thing. Both Kelly’s silence on the matter and diversity of tactics ideology shows the intellectual poverty of the movement but also represents an interesting tactical challenge.

Highlight both successes and failures

Kelly’s second advice is to highlight successes. He qualifies it rightly by stating genuine successes. To him it is vital that we celebrates what we have achieved, not what political elite have told us to celebrate. Thus not unfulfilled promises of political statements or policy positions. Instead for Australia he points at that the coal industry admit that coal now is a malign product, that a broad movement and many direct actions have emerged and climate science is spread widely. Now this again is a useful advice. One may include positive actual outcomes of political decision when there has been an effect on climate change for the better.

But equally important may be the point at failures and unfulfilled promises in what has been stated or decided by governments, corporations or for that matter NGOs. Especially to avoid the NGO industry trap constantly claiming new possibilities for unique changes. As one Indian observer claimed when NGOs came to India, ”I never heard so much about successes before”. To only focus upon success stories without at the same time showing how the actual outcome of different decisions and strategies have been is not enough.

Non-violence tactical ideology might trigger violence

Thirdly Kelly advices us to locate the movement in a trajectory highlighting the years of struggles  behind and in the years ahead. Again he states the need to see it as equally important to mobilise towards Copenhagen as to have people plan activities in 2010 and beyond to inspire and maintain momentum in the post COP period. But mainly Kelly focus on theories of  stages theories from Bill Moyers on how movements can relate to changing situations. Here strong emphasis is put on having tactics in  relation to what stage the movement is in. Although there is an emphasis on activities that engages people in common and the need for civil disobedience the theory never makes a final conclusion on what is most important. Sometimes criticism of lobbyism seems most important, and in the next minute most emphasis is put on the role of the so called ”negative rebel”. When the movement is perceived as having a failure which might be a possibility after Copenhagen the risk for a negative trend emerge through ”activists willing to take high risk actions without movement support” who ”garner negative public attention, which further alienates concerned people.”

One can say that in this way Kelly anyway addresses the issue of tactics in Copenhagen in an indirect way. With the emphasis on the negative rebel a problem is addressed that can be felt by many as important. His solution to make it understandable by pointing at the different stages a movement is in is also useful. Especially that the criteria for seeing certain actions as problematic for the movement is not if they are legal or not but how they are perceived by people in common. Many times radical activists are as problematic as professional NGO spokespersons, both being part of a system to make people in common passive and seeing their own role as the only important while blaiming the other opposing elitist movement group for the problems that the movement might face.

But there is anyway a problem with the arguments by Kelly and more so those of Moyers. When it comes to tactics it is necessary to include what is happening in all different political cultures. Recently 60 Indians were massacred in Peru while defending their land against oil exploitation. Sometimes the indigenous people include violence in their actions. The very first victory against economic globalisation in 1977 was carried out with arrow and bows against a World bank funded dam building. Demonizing violence and even worse as Moyers thus include material damage in the definition of violence and not only personal injury is no help for the movement.

In our present fragmented capitalist society violence becomes more common in protests or as expressions of social discontent. Moral arguments against violence are important but not sufficient. History tells us that many popular movement has failed when, even if it had nothing to do with a decision made by the movement, violence was used in a way that people in common could not understand the need for. And people are many times more critical towards violence seemed as emanating from a popular movement than they are against violence in the name of governments or even corporations. The reason is simple. People in common have an understanding of the risk inherent in challenging the whole system. Thus they see a need for solidarity and to stay together when times get tuff as well as that when change really is needed the cost may be very high and thus that there is needed a strong cultural discipline and solidarity, a fragmented movement were many do as they please without interest in how people in common react is seen as weak and not trusted to support.

The problem is when the issue of violence or non-violence becomes the dominating discussion in a movement leaving the long term goals at the side. The negative rebel metaphor is a common kind of arguments among movements and have been used before with predictable outcome. Contrary to the history claiming the mass protests against summits started in Seattle 1999 at the WTO Summit or Berlin 1988 at the World Bank Summit they started a lot earlier. The first historically documented mass protest took place in Copenhagen 1970 against a World Bank meeting. There were conferences and seminars organised by popular movements, educational material produced about the World bank and many of the kind of Summit activities we see today. 10 000 people demonstrated day after day and heavy clashes with police took place. Policemen provoced the masses by driving their motorcycles directly into demonstrators risking their lives. The response was to burn the motorcycles. Molotov cocktails were prepared and used and the conference center doors was attacked by a Danish terrorist groups with bombs. Luckily so technically badly prepared that no significant damage was made.

Now one could see this as a perfect example of how negative rebels pose a problem. One can also see it in the total other way around. What happened in Copenhagen 1970 was not coming from nowhere or mainly from evil extremists and their ideologies as the main stream arguments go. Not of lack of criticism against violent radicals but rather the opposite. In April 1968 there was a mass demonstration with some 25 000 participants in front if the US Embassy in Copenhagen. It was organised by the anti Vietnam war groups in Denmark with in total some 200 members. The success of the demonstration can be seen as the result of the failure of main stream organisations to formulate a mobilising political demand strong enough to get people to demonstrate while the small radical groups achieved this with some alliances with other organisations.

Now some tomatoes and the like were thrown at the embassy causing no severe harm and a speaker from Berlin stated on the way to the embassy the need to make actions against the embassy which the organisers immediately opposed. At the embassy the organisers told the demonstrators to dissolve when the program was over but before this could happen the police attacked the demonstration hitting each and everyone they could reach including two people with baby carriers and a long range of other people. Instead of standing up jointly against this massive state repression the main stream organisations made the choice to criticise without qualified arguments the small but effective anti Vietnam war groups. This betrayal caused a total split in the movement. What the main stream organisations wanted was to keep their own hands completely clean and stick to the false official version of what had happened with the result that they produced exactly the kind of negative rebel which they claimed that they did not want. The trials that followed showed clearly that the main stream organisations had been wrong but they did not change their opinion anyway. The accused demonstrators were sentenced but mildly and the facts revealed during the trial showed that it was the police that had been escalating violence, not the demonstrators. Thus the main stream organisations interest in licking the asses of police brutality and sit in the lap of governments or corporations is a lot bigger problem in many cases causing violence. They base their position on the view that the only problem is those using violence which in the case of Denmark did not exist or seem to be close to those that might use violence. The truth is totally unimportant to those organisations in some such situations, the only thing that matters is to be perceived as trustworthy in media and by the established institutions in society.

Personally I believe in Gandhian ways of changing society and sees a need in constantly questioning the tactics we use as a movement. But I belive in Gandhian thouhts in a more Indian sense than the diluted Western ways. Truth is most important as well as resistance combined with constructive program, not anti violence as a tactic separate from the task of struggling against imperialism and oppression.

Of course everyone is responsible for their actions. The group that made the attempt at bombing the doors to the Summit conference later in the 1980s turned into bank robbery to give money to the struggle in the third world finally shooting a policeman. That is the more or less only terrorist group in modern Nordic history with the exception of groups in the Finnish national liberation movement that used terrorist tactics in the early 1900s. Everyone using such tactics are responsible for their acts but at the same time so are those using other tactics which may be seen as letting the present violent world order go on without protesting clearly.

Coercive non-violent direct action necessary

Finally Kelly stresses ”tactics and strategies that don’t rely on elites.” Here he strongly criticises that actions in Australia mainly have been tools for lobbying. Also direct actions against coal infra structure attempting at influencing governmental policy he sees in he same light. He ends by stating ”The development of tactics and strategic framework that does not rely upon elite endorsement of the movements’ policy objectives is a vita process, particularly in the context of a widespread perception of failure in a post COP period.”

One can question the conflation of direct action to change governmental politics with lobbying. There is if definitions should be useful best to see that lobbying is a tactic were  direct influencing decision-makers in a dialogue is the key content while involving people in common or not is a question of tactical concerns for the elite involved in lobbying. Direct action to influence politics might be something different. It is at times necessary to win struggles and not constantly struggle and mobilise people. Thus to produce political facts by direct action or mass mobilisation of a broad majority of people making it necessary for decision makers to change politics whether they like it or not is a tactic that should not be equalised with lobbying. Kelly also makes this more clear stating that non-violent tactics is a coercion strongly needed in the coming years. Together with Peoples Global Action that have stated the same since 1998 one can only agree.

Elitist Anglo-American contradictions

In spite of its many positive aspects there are some problematic contradictions in Kelly’s tactical advices and the theories he built upon. At the face of it his arguments look much oriented to people in common and critical towards elites. But when it comes to the key agents he address it is ”movement leadership, communicators and activist educators” or ”spokespeople”. Somehow it is an elite in the movement that needs to understand the arguments put forward by Kelly and that have to ”provide views”. There are two problems with this. Firstly the question whether it is realistic to believe that many spokespersons will do. Among those Kelly count belonging to the climate movement even maybe the majority are constrained to put forward Kelly’s questioning of the way political change needs to take place to save the climate. Many would probably stick to the agenda of professional NGOs. One example is the international call organised via the so called Climate Action Network with Oxfam in the lead. Here the Swedish EU-presidency is asked to take action in its central role during the autumn towards Copenhagen as Sweden has shown that it is possible to delink growth from growth of carbon oxide emmissions. This kind of political content shows clearly how some main stream NGOs think. In spite of that there are no whatsoever theoretically based  argument that economic growth will contribute to a better environment or climate and in spite of that Sweden is a country totally integrated in the present world order as part of an imperialistic system gaining its resources from oppressed countries one chooses anyway to put forward a message that maintains a role for NGOs as legitimizing the present system. The question of what official spokespersons of NGOs say is not necessarily a question of what the person in question think for himself. The policy of an NGO is often decided by other factors than the insights of what a campaigner responsible for being spokesperson on a specific subject thinks. She or he may well have different opinions but may anyway be ordered to not speak up against e.g. agrofuels as this would jeopardize the so called realistic image that an NGO want to have in the eyes of mass media and government.

The second contradiction is that Kelly addresses leaders and not all participating in the movement. He interestingly adds communicators and activist educators to more common roles as leaders and spokespersons. Such roles are at least in many rich countries and within many NGOs professional roles. The way Kelly positions himself as an advisor to such leaders and professionals in the movement while claiming at the same time to advocate strategies that don’t rely on elites becomes somewhat schizofrenic. This is furthermore highlighted by stressing the importance of making non-violent action a key to strategic success of the movement.

This dualistic contradiction can be seen as a main weakness not only in Kelly’s argument but generally in the Anglo-American culture. The movements here tend to oscillitate between hectic years of mass civil disobedience within one sector of politics paving the way for professionalised NGOs and careers within the established political and economic system and then again go back to a new civil disobedience period within a new limited sector of society. This has been in many cases very important for the global struggle as it has produced such extraordinary movements as the civil rights movement from 1955 and onwards, the Anti Atomic bomb marches from 1957 and onwards, modern feminism, gay and environmental movements or to look at earlier times the workers movement for 8 hour work day movement starting in Australia in the 1860s becoming international 1st of May 1890, abolitionist movement against alcohol of suffragets, all of international importance.

Kelly build much of his arguments on Bill Moyers. In his last lecture Moyers claim that there is a split between local groups and the main offices of NGOs in big US cities. Instead of addressing this question concerning democracy in a movement many Anglo-American contributions whether radical or not sees this as an impossible task to solve or maintain their silence. Thus we get Kelly’s advice to the elite in the movement, and the radical interventions in the Climate Justice Alliance email list claiming that local groups in Friends of the Earth are OK but the leadership at the main office is not. In this way false dualism is created. Maybe that the observations made by Moyers are correct in many cases, but in the case of Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland it is not according to my own observations. Of course there are severe problems of the kind that is criticised but there are also problems with elitism in direct action groups and most importantly, the issue of democracy in the movement have to be addressed in such a way that the Anglo-American dichotomy is by-passed.

There is in the English language many obstacles for doing so. One is the commonly used concept of grass root-. This fits well into the interest of the elite on the movement or the established society that sees a point in a metaphor that puts people in common constantly in an subaltern role: In many political cultures it is impossible to translate the word grass root. And yet English speaking movement activist whether radical or not tends to use it as if was a universalistically understood term. Together with other English concepts as NGOs, pressure groups etc these concepts is an obstacle for developing more useful political tactical concepts in a multicultural world. The Anglo-American political culture between heroic moments of civil disobedience and back again to professionalised politics with grassroots as a decoration in different campaigns is not a model for a tactics towards Copenhagen and beyond, not in the rest of the world and maybe not even in Anglo-American countries if the climate crisis with its both ecological and social aspects will be taken seriously.

Global democratic movements integrating a movement

Are there at all other options? Well one has been emerging that crosses the dichotomy and that is growing democracy within movement. Thus both War Resister’s International, Friends of the Earth International, World Warch of Women and Via Campesina all have a global leadership elected in such a way that the global majority gets a strong influence. In spite of that at least WRI and FOEI have the membership mainly in the rich world the leadership is more and more influenced by the third world. This in direct contrast to the trade union movement were ITUC is heavily influenced by the interest of Western labour.

To WRI, FOEI and Via Campesina both civil disobedience and a range of other forms of tactics is sued, sometimes supported sometimes organised by parts of the organisations. All see local groups as important. In practice it may well be problematic but when it comes to the international development there is no question about it. FOEI have decided to see oneself as a social movement and discussions are now taken place in the whole world for what consequences this will have for the future. One change is already clear. FOEI sees other popular movements as key partners in social change, especially Via Campesina but also indigenous movements. This means that FOEI brakes out of the environmental policy sector and claims to be part of a broader social movemnt alliance for social change.

It goes without saying that this change of tactics will not be easy. Many FoE groups are strongly professionalised main stream NGOs. But professionals are not per se anti radical. If they are put in a political culture turning them into an elite addressing people in common as they, the grass roots they will of course be part of the established professional system for managing discontent in modern capitalistic society. But if  they are part of a globally democratic organisation were politics is decided in a popular movement framework beyond the environmental policy sector set up by the established society, than things can change.

This brakes with the Anglo-American disinterest in creating democratic relationships in a movement on national or global level and brakes also with the limitations of a dualistic movement were radicals are set up against system approving groups within a policy sector decided by the established system. Thus instead of claiming a better climate treaty in Copenhagen FoE groups claim Climate jutsice together with mass movements especially from the South.

The interesting aspect of this tactics is that it can also involve movements in countries with other immediate concerns than climate change like Eastern Europe. A tactic primarily built on the short periods when people can sustain the costs of civil disobedience have weaknesses. It is of importance to also include opening up avenues which can relate to the interest of peoples daily life in different countries. A tactic that focus on the social justice aspect of climate change solutions may open up for new alliances and be part of a general attack on the whople way the present financial world order is run. As Saskia Sassens states about the financial crisis, ”it could help us refocus on the work that is needed to be done to house all people, clean our water, green our buildings and cities, develop sustainable agriculture, including urban agriculture, provide health care to al an so on. It would employ all those interested in working.” There are other tactical options than single issue heroism. But is is of course hard to or actually historically have been impossible without direct actions to enable such constructive programs to be part of popular movements way of changing society.

Popular movement culture in Sweden

One can also look at other political cultures different from the Anglo-American but in countries in a similar position in the present world order. To be of universalistic interest tactical arguments for how the global climate movement can act can be enriched by such a study. The movement in Sweden uses some of the same methods as in other countries including civil disobedience. Among those who have been sentenced on charges for attempts at sabotaging air traffic is one of the co-chairs of Friends of the Earth Sweden which might show some difference between the movement in Sweden and other countries were a chair of a half radical main stream NGO would not be willing to take such risks. But in general there are less willingness at this stage to get strongly involved by a mass number of people in civil disobedience. In general the Swedish political culture works in a different way. It is still the most extremist country of all civil societies in the Western world with a higher percentage of people in the population belonging to a democratic association of some  sort, often popular movements organised all over the country. 73 percent of the workforce is unionised. This democratic structure sometimes makes it easier to influence the system causing desperation among the elite when as few as 5 000 people demonstrate for asylum for all refugee families can cause some positive actual changes in the politics towards refugees. The same goes for environmental and some other issues. The problem is that the system is very well fit to co-opt any opposition. But also that it provides results. Thus Sweden is according to some estimations the must successful among rich developed countries in creating politics against climate change. We as a movement sees the limitations in this claim based on exporting the problems to other countries by not including the ecological cost of imported goods, how Sweden in its general development is increasing its use of environmental space far beyond what is globally fair and that the general trend in the present politics in fields as finance, trade, transport, housing, privatisation, energy, agriculture and forestry that have negative climate consequences goes in the wrong direction. Yet there are some substance to the claims if one looks at the result of Swedish policies in relation to other similar countries. Thus tactics as used by the Turkish and Australian movements to demand that their government signs the Kyoto protocol or has to double its standards or more in all climate related policies have some problems in being politically effective.

The Swedish political culture have shown some weakness in being to reliant on belief on a close relationship with established political institutions and shows today great problems in mobilising against the present social and ecological crisis. And yet is there some results still produced by focusing on creating strong alliances among different movements as in the case of the refugee asylum campaign between anarchist, the Swedish Church which most Swedes belong to, NGOs and immigrant organisations. This rather than on being as radical as possible. Some of this popular movement cooperation tactics is now also developing in the global level between organisations as Via Campesina and Friends of the Earth so some aspects of the Swedish political culture may pose an alternative to the Anglo-American model of some importance.

Theoretical alternatives

There are of course problems in making statements about tactics that is of relevance to the global climate movement. But still it may be seen as necessary although almost impossible task. Most theories on such tactics state as Moyers the need for including different kind of aspects into a dynamic whole. Myers speaks about the role of a social movement both as rebels, reformators, change makers and citizens. All of these roles can be exaggerated and thus become negative he claims. The strength and limitations of this theory of tactics has been outlined above.

There are also other theories on tactics that can be derived out of theories on how social movement can contribute to social change. In a mainly oral Swedish tradition popular movement are characterised by the capacity of combining simultanously to change the whole society and live as one preaches. The well established academic theory och social movements as cognitive practice set the criteria that a social movement have to simultaneously challenging the ruling order both at cosmological, technological and organisational levels.

Both these theories can be claimed to be far more hard to live up to compared to the theories advocated by Kelly and Moyers. There are similarities with Moyers and Kelly’s theory. But at the core both the popular movement and the cognitive praxis theories have less of the unsolved problems of how a movement can avoid dualism in terms of split between ”grass roots” and movement elite. A movement that both aim at changing society and live as one preach cannot accept this split nor a movement simultaneously challenging both present cosmological, technological and organizational patterns of the ruling order.

The popular movement theory also challenge more the pragmatic side of the Anglo-American tactical theories that focus upon resource mobilisation and have a tendency to promote single issue campaigning. Although it is Swedish it has some character of being easily understood at least outside the Anglo-American political culture also in other countries where the understanding of society as a whole and politics as a singular concepts and not as in Anglo-American culture plural as if society and politics only can be perceived as contracts between individuals or roles individuals use. The cognitive praxis has the advantage of being well established in the international academic discussion on social movements as one of the more elaborated theoretical models which helps us avoiding to simplistic theories.

Brazilians show it is possible

But can the two demanding theories at all be applied to the pragmatic realities the climate movement is facing. One can look upon how a movement strongly involved in climate related issues deal with the present situation outside both the Anglo-American and other rich countries as Sweden. In Brazil the landless movement MST have responded to the present social and ecological crisis by confronting the corporations. Thousands of female activists have been occupying corporations most damaging monoculture plantations, a harbour were their products are exported while paper mill industry workers went on strike for higher salaries and better working conditions. Both movements confronted the present development model questioning how the financial system including state subsidies goes to corporations with the claim the it creates jobs while in fact less and less jobs are coming from these corporations. The landless movement is directly confronting the present unsustainable development model that also causes so much negative effects on the climate. They actively stops the deforestation in the Amazon and challenge the unsustainable monoculture praxis including agrofuel plantations with the agrarian reform built on ecological agriculture and family farms. They put their actions into the contexts of a peoples project against the capitalist project. They look upon Che Guevara as a hero in the struggle for Latin American alternatives to US imperialism and capitalism and are thus far from Moyers visions. They have combined a democratic structure of direct democracy in affinity groups of ten people or families that together organise camps, settlements, schools and other movement activities while at the same time have a representative structure for some limited tasks on state, federal and international relations level. Thus they at least in principle tries to avoid the kind of elitism that Kelly have fallen into. In some way one can see how MST integrates much of both so called old and new social movements, building on liberation theology and earlier peasant movements tradition in Brazil as well as leftist traditions combined with female activists in the forefront, ecological awareness and a sense for international solidarity. This movement with its 2 million members can be claimed live well up to both the popular movement and cognitive praxis criteria for how a movement tactically and strategically can find ways for changing society.

So another movement and tactic is possible that live up to more strict criterias. But is it also possible for far less impressive movement as in Brazil? If one scales down both the popular movement and cognitive praxis theories and maintain that the combination they both include must remain it is still possible to see these theories as tools also were the conditions are less favourable to mass collective action as in Brazil. One could see it as simple that the demand of having your own cosmological view mean that one avoids being a part of the established climate policy sector, demanding climate justice and confronting the actual current politics that have climate consequences rather  than demanding a more radical climate treaty. It could be that a movement although small address simultaneously both the world view behind the present climate policies, goes against the trend that the main organizational method is to promote the idea that it is mainly experts on climate science, communicators and official spokespersons of organisations that formulate tactics which political consumers than adopt and instead built upon people in common and what they can do and finally questioning the technological model for climate change solutions presented by society. One can claim that the cognitive praxis model is part of Anglo-American culture as it has been developed by two Americans in Sweden. But there are some important differences from both main stream resource mobilisation theory and the way many activist educators within the Anglo-American political culture express theories on how movements can change society. It is more close to oral Swedish popular movement traditions. Also this poses a problem as they belong to political cultures in the rich world. But at least they might be a bit more able to include what movements in a country like Brazil is doing. As a step towards challenging the dominant Anglo-American models they might be useful opening up also for much more different theories and models from movements outside the rich countries, something that is now on the way through such initiatives as Minga by indigenous people focusing on collective work and not as individualised as many Western ideas.

The single issue oscillation between hectic civil disobedience and main stream professional management, a constant shift between individual rebels and reformators, between radical positions and system approving within in a policy field is not the only tactic possible. There are alternatives to Anglo-American theories.

Tord Björk

member of the Climate working group of Friends of the Earth Sweden

Avoiding the post COP doldrums part II: Historical experience

II. What lessons can be learned from historical experience

A text originally sent 13th of July on the Climate Justcie Action email list.

This is the second part of my response to Anthony Kelly’s article: De-mobilisation: Avoiding the post COP doldrums. I mainly add to the historic arguments put forward by Kelly. But once again it is challenging the assumptions among many Anglo-American NGO campaigners. There is both another history and thus another future possible for the climate justice movement than that spread by the dominating Anglo-American media and NGO campaign professionals, and some insight to win from listening to them as well.

The Climate Summit and Global Warming are issues of such a magnitude that there is a need for reflections on what we have learned from earlier occasions on similar situational contexts as a Summit or from the history of earlier movements.

Kelly in his article on avoiding the post COP doldrums is effectively doing this by using the experiences from the mass nuclear disarmament movement that twice was confronted by treaties signed by the most powerful nations seemingly agreeing with some of the demands of the movement. The result was a massive decline of the movement while nuclear weapons were still maintained as a key instrument in the arsenals and continued to be spread and still poses an extreme threat to the future of mankind.

One could add though that there is a strong difference between the two occasions. While the test ban treaty in 1963 made the nuclear weapon movement passive in short time the movement inspired a long range of other so called new social movements including the anti Vietnam war movement, the environmental movement and many others. This in spite of or thanks to being often very single-issue oriented it did open many new doors as the first movement together with the non-alignment movement able to strongly question the cold war political culture stopping any system critical demands however single-issue framed they were. Thus the effect of the movement was very strong. When the same thing was repeated 20 years later by the nuclear disarmament movement the opposite happened. Once more single-issue tactics was used, complemented with a double issue of liberation within the European context meaning liberation of Communist states in Eastern Europe but not liberation in the Third World from Western domination. Especially the Women’s peace movement tried to confront this double issue limitations but were marginalized. Single issue civil disobedience was hailed also by leaders of main stream organizations in the movement. Millions turned up at demonstrations, far more than the environmental movement ever have been mobilizing. At the nuclear disarmament summit at UN headquarters in New York 1982 up to 1 million people demonstrated far more than at summits on any issue before and almost all after after. But in spite of this the movement failed and gave contrary results to what happened in the 1960s. Then the nuclear mass movement inspired and nurtured mass movement with lay people involved in a broad range of issue, in the 1980s it ended with professionalizations of the so called new social movements and the integration of the former social movements into a global sustainable development NGO industry with the linking of the disarmament movement with the development organizhations as the first step in 1987. The delinking of the issue of freedom in Europe from the rest of the world resulted in a good thing in terms of change in Eastern Europe. But at the cost of legitimating this liberation with the help of making Western domination of the third world invisible. When it comes to the issue of climate change this is not possible. The issue as such is intertwined on a global level and the effects in other parts of the world cannot be excluded.

The experience of the nuclear disarmament movement are important. But it may be of even more interest to look at the experience of the environmental movement and global negotiations on environmental issues. Both peace and environmental movements are built on class alliances as their issues are such that it effects all classes. Sometimes they are very close to governmental positions and sometimes totally in opposition not only to governments but also to the development or defense models promoted by other popular movements and governments. As such the environmental movement have strong similarities with peace movements. The environmental movement is the result of the understanding that nature and health are part of the same issue. This was an understanding that emerged in the 1960s creating a movement that united two earlier different strands. On the one hand the working class movements interest in public health, on the other hand upper class and some middle class interest in conservation. The understanding of the interconnectness enabled a movement to emerged that in local conflicts was carried by a broad alliance of classes with many working class participants on the countryside or in urban areas, often women. But the national organisations became dominated by middle class.

The first UN Conference on Environment

When the environmental movement were rising the response by the established political system was to organise a UN Summit which was held in Stockholm 1972. The outcome of this Summit called United Nations Conference on Human Environment was the establishment of UNEP, United Nations Environmental Programme based in Nairobi and that ministries of environment and similar environmental governmental bodies was established in a few years time in over hundred countries.  Due to third world questioning there had also been an environment and development preparatory meeting in Founex that resulted both in a continued discussion on alternative development as well as more established aid and growth centred theories later becoming central to international environmental negotiations.

The environmental movement reaction to the response was diverse and yet effective. The main stream conservationist organisations were mainly ignorant as their politics was to depoliticise environmental issue and thus they saw a parallel scientific UN process as more interesting than the official political UN Conference in Stockholm. The stage was left for others to fill. Here the Anglo-American environmental movement leadership with some hippie activists hoping for a mass youth event with 10 000 participants formed a strong group. They were challenged by the Stockholm local direct democracy and environmental group Alternativ Stad in an alliance with the Swedish popular movement culture who also linked up with radical activists from the third world. Then there were also the Marxists and the strong Anti Vietnam war movement.

The Anglo-Americans had a biologically and morally centred cosmology with some extreme views that were considered as main stream. Thus Friends of the Earth distributed 2.5 million copies world wide of the book Population bomb which explicitly propagated coerced mass sterilization in the third world to save the environment. This eco-fascism as well as other aspects of a depoliticizing Anglo-American cosmology as expressed in e.g. Limits to Growth was effectively confronted by the alliance of Swedish popular movement culture and 60 third world activists invited by the Swedes. The kind of arguments that was put forward in the FoE book Population bomb and in milder form in the official FoE book Only One Earth was totally marginalised and today Friends of the Earth has completely changed its cosmology on this point putting social justice and changes in the political system as central and biological ways of looking upon social conflicts nor framing environmental issues mainly in an individualistic moral perspective.

Thus with the main stream conservationist organisations marginalizing themselves, the main environmentalist ideology promoted by Western media marginalised by popular movements and third world activists the situation was somewhat volatile. The Marxists were mainly interested in everybody using as radical ideological language as possible and then only of their own kind. The did not even want to link to the third world activists present and were uninterested in contributing to the building of an independent environmental movement. Instead they focused on the ecocide in Vietnam successfully together with main stream Swedish popular movements that were equally upset about this mass destruction of forest killing also the future of the people. The hippies allied with the official US delegation and organised a demonstration against whaling, an useful target as no US whaling industry existed with economic interests. They were able to attract some hundred participants while the demonstration against the Ecocide in Vietnam attracted some 7 000 demonstrators. The third world activists were able to make a lot of influence on the different meetings that took place but propaganda from the Marxists made their organizational weak and almost no follow-up took place. It would take until the start by Friends of the Earth Malaysia, consumer organisations and other movements in the South of the Third World Network in 1984 until a strong third world voice on environmental and related issues again could be heard.

The final outcome was anyway strong. The official negotiations had very little interest, The follow-up process for NGOs gained less and less interest for each year that followed. The setting up of governmental and UN official bodies did not impress very much. It was of course a step forward that authorities were created for environmental protection, but at this time environmental issues was regarded as important by the movement that this did not impress much.

The most influential group became the anti nuclear disarmament movement and especially Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom WILPF. They confronted the technological single issue approach of many environmental organisations by questioning that so many promoted nuclear power as an environmental alternative to construction of dams. It was also these female peace activists that had strong enough position in the established political system and broad enough social interest to be able to pressure the government to fund the third world activists to be able to participate at the Stockholm conference.

Thus what happened is that before the Stockholm conference nuclear power was seen as a solution by many environmental organisations and after almost everyone turned against nuclear power and an independent anti nuclear power movement emerged in Europe, North America and Latin America that was crucial in questioning the dominant Western development model whether it was administrated by capitalism or planned economy states.

Together with movements as the three huggers in India starting in 1973 this created a lot of environmental protests as well as construction of collective alternatives all over the world. From 1977 an onwards single-issue campaign networks also began to emerge at the global level starting with IBFAN, International Baby Food Action Network, PAN, Pesticides Action Network and WRM, World Rain Forest Movement. In Sweden the anti-nuclear power movement also initiated international struggle in Europe against acid rain and together with environmental organisations set up the International acid rain secretariat. Together with other efforts this resulted in negotiations helped by UN Economic Commission for Europe to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions which was fairly successful.

The environmental movement was quite successful in addressing some of the most pressing concerns at least in rich countries. Also a system-critical work was promoted. Especially in the South were the environmental problems were put into a social context of global justice and questioning of the present world order. But also to a less degree in the North. In Eastern Europe environmental issues became important in the struggle against communist party regimes and in Northern Europe the development model promoted by European roundtable of Industrialists (ERT) were challenged. Inspired by the three huggers movement in India a Swedish three hugger movement emerged to stop the motorway plan promoted by ERT along the Northern West coast of Sweden. Mass civil disobedience resulted in 400 activists sentenced for attempting to block the construction of one of the proposed ERT motorways in the biggest political trial in modern Swedish history. The action failed and so did the attempts to build a coalition with other popular movements against all the plans of ERT which included not only building motorways but also reduction of social welfare and deregulation of transfer of capital and trade. The trade unions nor the left in Sweden or elsewhere in Europe were at this time in the late 1980s not interested in common struggle for social and ecological justice. They were focused on their concerns for questions concerning redistribution of wealth and not in the issue of challenging the power of business and questioning the present development model.

But some years earlier the Swedish environmental movement had initiated the European Youth Forest Action which was able to make actions in both Eastern and Western Europe in 1986 and build a lasting youth action movement. In the other Nordic countries mass movements were influential. In Denmark by stopping nuclear power and mobilizing thousands of local alternatives saving energy and building wind mills, in Finland by protecting the forests and lakes and in Norway y organizing massive civil disobedience against the building of the Alta dam in the middle of the Samic land, a protest that had to be repressed by sending every 7th Norwegian policemen to the remote area in Northern Norway to brake the resistance. In Germany the environmental issue continued to cause severe conflicts with almost 700 people in prison for political protests in 1987 in the many struggles against different stages of the nuclear power cycle. The radical protests also resulted in a growing concern in the parliamentary system with new green parties establishing themselves and new environmental management professions getting wider support.

The second UN Conference on Environment and the global sustainable development NGO industry

Once more the politicians in the established system of governments and parliaments saw the need to respond to this rising concern for the environment from a radical movement and their sympatizers. Once more a UN Conference was called upon but this time more prepared by both governments, the industry and NGOs.

For the task it was necessary with both governmental and civil society leadership. As in many cases during the cold war social democrats in Nordic countries were suitable for the task. Perceived as having a standpoint sometimes between the blocs and having long time social demo0cratic rule the Nordic countries had a far larger share of leadership in international institutions in these days than what can be understood only from the very little number of inhabitants or there rich but rather small economies.

The Woman for doing the job was Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norwegian prime minister, who learned the political skills in here struggle as environmental minister against the mass civil disobedience movement to stop the Alta dam building. Brundtland became chair of the World Commission on sustainable development that in 1987 published the book Our Common Future, also named the Brundtland report. This report became in practice a UN report and the ideological frame for the UN Conference on Environment and Development which was planned to take place 20 years in Rio de Janeiro after the first environmental summit in Stockholm.

The core idea of the Brundtland report was sustainable growth. The theoretical argument for this concept was that one could replace one technology with another more environmentally friendly technology thus using less resources and still get the same or even a lot more out of them than before. Such an argument can easily be supported by examples from human history but are false on two grounds. Firstly because if one can point at some examples it does not say anything about the possibility of changing most of technology or a whole technological system. Secondly and more important it is false to believe that a technological change even in more limited examples have taken place without a simultaneous social, economical and political change. The whole idea that technological change is something separate from the rest of society have no theoretical basis.

Thus the core concept of the proposed environmental strategy was devoid of intellectual content. This was glossed over by using the concept of development. Equally socially neutral as sustainable growth sustainable development was the key tool for framing the sustainable growth strategy. All conflicts here and now could be postponed into the future when development and growth could take care of the problems.

This became a winning concept. The third world elite was by this means taken on board by a concept which had been used by both themselves and those politicians in rich countries who claimed interest in developing countries and different kind of development according to what at the moment was seen as important. But far better. The concept was also useful on the most local level in any society for the elite. It embraced environmental concern while at the same time taking all teeth out of the issue by a sustainable development concept were environmental issues should be balanced with other concerns in such a way that growth was promoted. The concept sustainable development was so successful that it became the over-arching ideology for all development issues and organisations as EU.

The success of this empty concept was than filled with the full recognition of business as a key partner to achieve sustainable growth and thus sustainable development. Who could be better suited for this than the industry well-known for their interest in growth? Last time in 1972 the strong influence from business circles was kept secret and no official process including industry took place. Mikael Nyberg wrote the book Green Capitalism twenty years later showing how influential business anyway had been in establishing the conceptual frame work of the first conference with the conference secretary Maurice Strong from a Canadian energy corporation in the leadership. This time business were allowed in the open inside of it all and officially in the process. Maurice Strong was chosen once more as secretary for the governmental conference. For the parallel civil society conference one of his Oil corporation directors colleagues was chosen as coordinator.

With concepts as stake holder and NGO other concept as social movement was to be replaced in an orderly world were everyone was presented as winners if they participated in the sustainable development process. Problems should be avoided simply by – avoiding them. Why think when one could act? All focus should be directed towards win-win solutions.

This was magical. To many that had used years of struggle in a long battle in the environmental movement here came the time to make something out of your private cultural capital at the same time as a mushrooming of environmental departments and programmes at both public and especially private sector showed progress.  This type of change are partly necessary. It is not possible for a social movement to mobilise all people on all issues all the time. That certain problems raised by a movement is taken care of by professional routines in government or corporations are not necessarily bad, quite often it can be good. But that the core of the environmental movement was lost when it could not stand up against the sustainable development ideology was a true problem. Even Noah, the radical Friends of the Earth group in Denmark now in a key position for global climate justice initiatives at the Climate Summit in Copenhagen that time lost its perspectives. Noah labelled its work group on global environmental issues preparing for the coming UN conference the Brundtland group. The Brundtland ideology was successfully marginalised only in Finland among Western countries by popular movements, a country where new social movements emerged late but in a more integrated way with each other than in most other countries thus still having capacity for jointly challenge the new integrated ideology coming from the established system.

The ideological success was combined with an equally successful organizational model. As indicated already the new point was to take everybody on board. The choice seemed simple. Either be part of the process and influential or marginalised. Instead of opposing the environmental movement make them part of a common project. At the same time invite business to do the same and all other actors one could think of.

This model got its strength from a shift in the neoliberal ideology. In the beginning of the 1980s the formula had been that market relationships should solve everything. Now one understood that there was a more effective way to marginalise the power of the state. That was to include so called non-governmental organisations in the process. With this organizational model in mind and the strategy to solve problems by sustainable development through sustainable growth the established political system was prepared to make a new attempt at taking control of the environmental issues.

But models needs carriers, preferably actors perceived as being independent from the state and preferably also from business. Here the key actor became what is labelled as development organisations. This kind of organisations have their strong base in the North and are centred around a concept of development of other countries, not the society were they are based which is considered not to be included in the work area of development organisations. This kind of globally dualistic kind of organisation became the prime tool to integrate social movements behind the new organizational model for global governance. It started with the peace movement lumped together with development NGOs in 1987 with a meeting on disarmament and development the same year the Brundtland report was issued.

The grand test became the UN Conference on Environment and Development also called the Rio conference in 1992. Here 118 heads of state, numerous business people and 20 000 NGO people met to find a model for cooperating to support sustainable development. An what a success. In 1972 women and youth were it he leadership of joint popular movement initiatives that made independent activities were the dominant Western discourse was challenged or organised demonstrations. This time the popular participation was orderly sectorized with women separate in their part of the process and youth allowed to make actions delinked from other groups efforts in their sector. There was a lot more talk about  women and youth, and a lot less influential. Especially there was a lot talk about local action which meant that there was a total interest of the local environmental groups in the Rio de Janeiro state. 80 local environmental groups were organised in APEDEMA-RJ who had a central role in initiating activities for NGOs and social movements during the summit. They had longed for the moment when 20 000 activists from other parts of the world would come to Rio to discuss and cooperate with them. But this did not take place. The NGOs were interested in sustainable development programmes and stake holder processes. This meant on the local level to cooperate in win-win cooperation with all sectors of society. For the local environmental groups there were no interest.

With the sustainable development formula everyone had their piece of the cake in the documents coming out of the Summit, the Rio declaration and Agenda 21. The magical bullet that should be the motor behind sustainable development was free trade. In the Rio declaration  it was even stated that environmental concerns should not be a trade barrier. The established political system built on postponing conflictual issues by glossing them over with concepts of sustainable development and sustainable growth had their winning tactical policy for promoting their strategy and business loved it while the environmental movement and the development NGOs mainly went along. The non-binding Agenda 21 was supposed to solve both environmental and social concerns with the help of 150 billion US dollar in additional development aid. The youth environmental movement protested but in their corner and the radical environmental groups were to badly focused and organised to challenge the dominant new cosmology.

In spite of that for the first time since development aid was counted in the 1950s there was a decrease the year after the Rio conference and very little was achieved the model became a success anyway. A range of conferences on different subjects as human rights, social development, women etc. was organised under the sustainable development conceptual frame work with a big participation of NGOs and business whenever they liked. The trick to get everyone along was simple. In spite of lower development aid levels in general more and more according to the neoliberal paradigm was channelled through NGOs. Thus the piece of cake for NGOs were growing while the aid in general became less. With new seemingly ambitious goals new models were constantly presented. The lower levels of development aid was glossed over by th fact that private investments were growing in the South as if private investments and aid were similar kind of money and especially as if private investments to a few countries as China was the same as promoting sustainable societies in most of the third world. At the Social Summit in Copenhagen 1995 the goal was not any longer raising the level of development aid but to guarantee that at least 20 percent of the development aid went to social expenditure. The NGOs had learned quickly to become realistic and played along with the new tones to state relative goals instead of general goals in absolute figures. Five years after the Rio conference the development aid instead of being raised with 50 percent to achieve the goal set by UN already 1970 and fund Agenda 21 the development aid was reduced by a third. Main stream NGOs were busier than ever to participate in diverse process and stake holder conferences on one issue after another avoiding to analyse why the whole sustainable strategy was failing.

Thus one can see the results of how the environmental movement related to international negotiations as more problematic the experiences of the peace movement with nuclear disarmament treaties.

The class struggle in the South challenge the sustainable development global governance model

There was one problem for the NGOs and especially for the development NGOs.  That was the class struggle in the South. In this class struggle emerged new strong organization as Via Campesina for family farmer, indigenous  movement often as expressions of the same rural classes and anti debt movements. This in spite of that peasants represent a smaller and smaller part of the world population and that class struggle according to both NGOs, mass media and governments to not talk about business was something totally outdated.

With the Zapatista uprising in 1994 against the North American Free Trade Agreement a completely opposite strategy from the Rio conference was clearly expressed. In 1998 Peoples Global Action against ”free trade” and WTO started in Geneva. It was anti WTO, anti NGO and anti EU and other institutions built on the idea to promote market economics according to corporate interests. It was dominated by the mass movements from the South but there was also Friends of the Earth from Finland and Sweden and squatters from all over Europe as well as farmers. The illusion that the organizational model of stake holder processes would save the environment and create social justice was broken.

What happened now shows that the NGO system is not working in the same way as government. It has a intermediary function and as such can easily become coopted by resourceful governments and business including media. But it is also possible to influence this system by popular movements. In short time the NGO shifted positions. From being part of any process and legitimating it as long as they were invited and given resources to be part of a dialogue they had accepted it. Now they shifted opinion with the help of the Southern mass movements and some NGOs in the South as Third World Network. The multilateral agreement on investments that was a new aggressive tool by governments support Northern transnational corporations to establish new open markets in the south was rejected by all, NGOs and popular movements. When also the French government said no in October 1998 MAI was a failure. Now popular movements and NGOs also started to be against becoming part of a new process, the expansion of WTO. Once more some 1500 popular movements and NGOs said no while Peoples Global Action started international action days getting more and more support for street action against economic interests. With the Battle of Seattle 1999 the old organizational model from the Rio conference seemed to have lost.

It made new attempts. The ten year follow-up conference on sustainable development in Johannesburg 2002 was no success and soon forgotten in spite of large number of participants. The mass movements in the Johannesburg suburbs aligned with Via Campesina groups and other popular movements from the rest of the world in organizing protests. The consensus that seemed to be the result out of the Rio conference could not be established again.

But one more great attempt was made. When environment was not the issue anymore to create a successful carrier of hope behind governmental messages poverty became the new formula. UN set up the millenium goals with the goal to reduce poverty by half until the year 2015. Once more sustainable development was part of the ideology behind the goals out of which many was important to peoples daily life as access to clean water. But the underlying concept was once more geared toward the way the global economic system was modelled by the World Bank and other institutions controlled by Western countries

Now once more in its most brilliant and charming way the NGO system rallied behind the latest governmental concept. With the help of generous governmental funding the so called non-governmental organisations started the Making Poverty History campaign. The numbers of participants in different activities were as high and impressive as ever. Nothing seemed to possibly go wrong. Media and governments liked the campaign that in the fore front used media attuned celebrities.

There was only two little problems. The new concept to reduce poverty by half with British prime minister Blair and US president in the leadership for a programme that at its basis had the global economic institutions controlled by Western countries was a model from the very beginning to fail. Out of this could come some details of importance but no real step forward in really crating a more just economic world order which is necessary to stop poverty or even reducing it with half.  Secondly the price for having celebrities in the forefront was that the spokespersons for the campaign in the public eye became these celebrities.

It all ended in a disgrace for the NGOs and more so for the people in the third world that very much needed true debt cancellation and other measures so they are not made poor. The outcome of the G8 meeting at Gleneagles in Scotland became a great media success for Blair and Bush. They presented some plans for reducing debt that never really materialised in any strong way and for the third world nothing really changed. The celebrities and spokespersons for Making Poverty History talked about historic success of Blair. End of story.

Tord Björk

active in Friends of the Earth Sweden

July 12th 2009, Kristianstad

Link to Anthony Kelly’s article: De-mobilisation: Avoiding the post COP doldrums

The two climate campaigning stories

Tord Björk | Action,Climate,Environmental movements | Friday, November 27th, 2009

It was in the middle of this context climate negotiations begun in 1990. British neoliberal prime minister Margaret Thatcher took the leadership. Coal miners were already a headache for Thatcher. She wanted also not to be cought passive in relation to a new environmental issue that had been the case with sulphur dioxide emissions and the ozone hole.

Apart from governments and business addressing the issue there was also the NGOs and the radical environmental movement. Chris Rose, a British professional NGO campaigner, makes an interesting analysis on his webbpage on how the climate negotiations emerged and why campaigning on climate is difficult. He makes in 2005 a not exhaustive list of reasons why it is difficult: Scientists defined the issue, Governments ran off with the issue, NGOs adopted secondary roles, The issue had no public, The media were left to define the issue in visual terms, Governments soft pedalled on the issue, Scientists led calls for education of the public, Many NGOs tried to make the Framework Convention ‘work’, Other NGOs tried to connect it with “bigger issues” and There is no common proposition.

Rose states that NGOs can claim some specific successes. ”But overall it is true that action remains disastrously inadequate, the engaged are too few, strategies are largely uncoordinated and many efforts could probably be better placed elsewhere.”

The climate issue had been discussed already prior to the UN Conference in Stockholm 1972 but received wider attention only in the late 1980s. As Rose states the dominant answer was to be focused on international environmental negotiations that started officially in 1990 and got a first step forward at the Rio conference 1992. But the way that the NGOs framed the issue made them caught in the process started by governments rather than able to develop an independent position. Rose claims that from the start ’climate change’ have been conceived through scientific models and framed and interpreted by scientist’s ideas of how progress can be achieved. Causes were described as ”emissions” and thus actors critically responsible as fossil fuel, car and chemical industries stayed outside the picture. NGOs were busy finding out what was actually going on in the negotiations according to Rose and were not able to do anything else than trying to catch up with the governments that had run off with the issue. No action which ordinary individuals could participate in was organised by the NGOs who were stucked in someone else game. Thus the issue became something of internal interest for something the British call policy community including governmental and NGO actor active within a specific political field. Rose states:  ”By the time NGOs (and now governments) started to try and create one (with climate witnesses etc), the problem and solution had been defined in elite, inaccessible terms.” The result was described by Rose as: ”Having become the controlling ‘owners’ of the issue, by the mid 1990s governments began to lose the will to do what was needed to fast-track industrial change. The progressive ‘like minded’ turned to NGOs to take on leadership and ‘put on the pressure’ but NGOs lacked the army, authority and even the visual iconography to do so.”

In this situation once again scientists became active: ”Faced with inadequate political responses and significant intransigence from many powerful industries, concerned scientists led calls to ‘educate’ the public, so ‘awareness’ would lead to ‘action’. Unfortunately education (especially about the functioning of the global climate) is not a good way to achieve action. This fallacy was reinforced by many pundits who had pronounced climate change as huge, complex and hard to deal with. Not exactly conducive to engaging anyone in trying.”

Most of the NGOs focused on ”Kyoto” and the framework set up by the climate Convention, more eager to save the climate treaty than to save the climate. Rose is no less critical towards this way of campaigning: ”a literal approach of trying to mobilize public pressure by overt calls for technical policy measures is a bloodless stratagem, lacking drama, agency and short term rewards.” He also states that other NGOs that tried to link to other ”bigger” issues as sustainable development or globalisation failed to add any additional influence to promote climate action. He concludes by stating that many NGOs in this situation are committed to special niches within ‘the climate issue’ as defined by the administrative architecture of ‘the problem’. He states that ”This ‘niche specialisation’ works against a common focus of public pressure. An effective campaign proposition usually requires an identification of the responsible party, the overall problem and solution, the specific action needed and the consequent public benefit”

It is with other words not only sustainable development that have failed as a strategy but also single issue NGO campaigning when it comes to climate change. Still scientists arguments is framing much of what campaigns focus upon, to educate rather than to win political struggles is still much of what is happening both from NGO side and by the left. The left seems often more interested in educating people that it is capitalism which is the problem rather than find struggles to win. The NGO lobbyists wants to educate people on all the constantly new new abbreviations they are working with in their important job to influence politicians. The eagerness to be part of the process is still there, much expressed by Climate Action Network and their way to try to frame what NGOs state within the framework of what governments find acceptable and thus focus on that growth can be achieved together with reduction of CO2 emissions, perfectly in line with the attempts by G8 to restore the focus in the failed investments agreement from 1998 by introducing private investments as the main tool for saving our climate.

But there is one false part of the history that Rose makes. It is not true that the way British and other NGOs reacted was the only possible way to start climate campaigning.

Another way was shown by the same movement that alone in Western Europe stood up against the Brundtland ideology. In 1990 the Finnish anti motorway movement protested against a new project between the two biggest cities Helsinki and Turku by a March along the planned route with people from the third world at the front of the march. Finland became a key country in mobilizing globally for stopping climate change by an independent popular movements  strategy- Together with Environmental federation in Sweden. later in 1995 merged with friends of the Earth Sweden, and together with international youth activists networks European Youth Action and the global Action for Solidarity Equality, Environmental and Development climate action days were organised 1991-92 in 70 countries on 500 places. No main stream NGO wanted to support the international climate action days in spite of that they were proven to be a success. They were built on the contrary concept from how the main stream NGOs worked. The idea was to focus on local conflicts all over the world stating that it was in this conflicts on deforestation or car traffic and similar issues that the future of the possibility for saving our climate rested. And by the side there was also information on how to pressure governments.

The result can be compared with the international climate action day 2008 with wide support from all big NGOs and a lot more media attention. Last year action took place in 64 countries, six less than in 2007 and in 1991-92  The international climate action days nowadays have been more geared toward being grassroot support for NGO lobbying rather than placing the main climate conflict in the local communities were people live.

There has been and still is possible with another strategy than that of the main stream Northern NGOs. What happened with the Finnish-Swedish-Youth climate campaign was that lack of resources to continue, that the mass movements in the South not yet were interested in the issue and disinterest among so called climate action NGOs caused this first attempt at global climate campaigning to disappear. But the main character of the campaign have still been in environmental issues, to link up with conflicts felt by people all over the world. With the mergence of Via Campesina and other movements in The South throughout the 1990s. Now with the Climate justice movement it is possible again to build a movement on another strategy than that based on educating the public on the importance of science and NGO participation in international negotiations and instead focus on questioning the politicians and going in conflict with corporate interests.

July 2009, Tord Björk

Danish political culture and coming activities in Copenhagen

Tord Björk | Climate,Environmental movements,NGO,political culture | Friday, November 27th, 2009

– a text originally written in 12th of July 2009 and distributed on the Climate Justice Action email list, here with some slight changes including update comments and cutting out personal details.

By Tord Björk

An attempt at analysing the Danish political culture and the possible situations during the Climate Summit protests in December provoced by the discussion concerning People’s Climate Action and the need to understand politically what is going on in the preparations for the actions in December.

Shortly I believe the Danish political culture have achieved an astonishing result so far in terms of separate autonomous initiatives, some with little possibilities for political parties or big NGOs to control directly. At the same time at the informal political level concerning the main messages that will be given from all the activities it is so far more vague. There is a risk that a strong third world and climate justice message will be fragmented and marginalized due to lack of political knowledge and assessment of different actors making it possible also for non-Danish organizations to intervene to strengthen a common message. The points made are necessarily generalized and should not be regarded as that of any organization. The harsh criticism against some Danish big NGOs is severe but in my eyes deserved. One shall also keep in mind that big NGOs are not the only problem and earlier experience may not repeat itself.

I have been trying to understand Danish political culture and especially the NGOs and the environmental movements for decades and still do not find my way around although I live with direct trains to Copenhagen  every hour and get there in two hours.

But we all have to better learn quickly. As we all know there is no such thing as global civil society, there are a lot of local civil societies that may cooperate with each other. The most important for the Climate meeting in December are the local societies were the Summit takes places. This if we are up to something different than lobbying and being pressure groups wanting somebody else to act. I will try to summarise what I have thought I learned about the situation in Denmark so far. I write it knowing that it is built on too little information. The reason why I anyway write it down is that I have for almost half a year been trying to find out what is going on and received very little answers. Activists in Denmark are understandably fully occupied by the necessity of getting things practically in order. There has been several statements about severe internal problems between and within organisations but almost nothing said about the political content of those conflicts nor the result, else than what can be understood from practical facts. As I leave for vacation know I find it better to start saying something and hope everyone is open for that changes may have to be made in the facts and thus in the evaluation done in this text.

Denmark have the most imperialist population in the Western world according to some opinion polls. Nowhere was the support of bombing Serbia 1999 and Iraq 2003 as strong as here. Many support the xenofobian Danish People’s party that strongly influence the right-wing government. Economically Denmark have been extreme with a very high amount of small enterprises of different sorts. This has also produced a political culture with many competative organisations, whether environmental or political parties or radical groups in isolated fick pockets. But economically this is on its way to change as one big transnational corporation dominates the economy more and more, the Maersk company who in practice also controls the dominating bank. It seems as if the earlier freedom for everyone mentality for good or bad on basically a market is somewhat changing. This mentality that made it so hard for the government to dismantle Christiania and gave little support for governmental attacks on Ungdomshuset have now changed and there is less space for local creativity as the country is geared to give service to corporate interests globally.

People is a very popular word in Denmark. Thus the most professionalised NGOs that mobilize people mainly via postal accounts or reading of political consumerist material call themselves Peoples organisations, not NGOs as in many other  countries.

The experience of these organisations as WWF, MS (Mellomfolkelig Samvirke – Between people cooperation literally, international cooperation organisation started by the peace movement in the end of the war to reconstruct Europe, today big development NGO ), and some others are remarkable. More strong than in most other Western European political cultures they dominate the scene and are very close to the government. On the other hand you have the very strong autonomous experiments, whether they are like Ungdomshuset och Christiania or of more social or technical character like different collective forms of living together or constructing ecological alternatives. Between the two strands there is very little relationships and few actors. Also between different groups within movements questioning the present society is there often very little contacts. I found myself often having more contacts with different activists in Denmark that do not know of each other in spite of long term commitment, something uncommon to a country as small as Denmark, at least compared to Finland, Norway and Sweden.

People’s Climate Action is an expression of the way Danish big NGOs work. At their website it is clearly stated. More power to professionals that decides the political content. There is no official statement of the political content of the campaign or “action”, even less so what is so “people” about it. The information about the content of the political action is simple: the board decides. Representative democracy at its most anti democratic stage. It is interesting to see how these organizations are not even able to produced the facade of being democratic any more, that political action network has a democratically decided platform as a basis.

There are also other signs that the big Danish NGOs are collapsing politically. They have not been able to establish any international network for their “people’s” “action”. (It should be noted that people in Nordic languages do not necessarily have the individualistic notion as in English, rather it has had a content of people in common in contrast to the elite). One can guess that when times come there will be more but what is there already says quite a lot of the political anorexia and elitism of quite a few professional NGOs and especially the Danish.

I have been trying to find out how this collapse came about but have not been able to find out so far. The result of the collapse is quite impressive. Contrary to what many says that the NGOs have received a lot of money the news are that they have not compared to what others have received and compared to the normal situation. Normally the big NGOs control almost everything and what I would call people’s organisations (built on lay persons democratic cooperation to change society) receive very marginal resources. This time Climate Forum with the ambition to take third world and climate justice seriously received 1 million euro and the big NGOs as far as I understand not much more.

This totally changes the power balance. Suddenly in the core of cooperation comes organisations as Noah, the small Friends of the Erath in Denmark or Permaculture association, both with a commitment to environment and not to become part of the established system. Permaculture may be especially interesting to see as a key organisation, practical work on alternatives may still have an importance in Denmark while big NGOs mainly working with tactically realistic information in the main stream might be less interesting at an occasion when much political interest is at stake and genuine work is at least partly asked for. As Friends of the Earth internationally is gradually shifting position from being one of the big NGOs to becoming a social movement in alliance with Via Campesina and others and as third world mass movements are strongly involved in the climate justice movement the small Danish organisations have important cooperation partners internationally.

UN Social Summit in Copenhagen 1995

Normally the things goes in Denmark is like during the UN Social Summit in Copenhagen 1995. The big NGOs call themselves Peoples organizations, get all the funds for doing a big joint alternative summit were groups with a political different interest than governments are marginalzsed. At this alternative summit the Danish organizers told the participants that a independent political statement could not be made, the only thing the alternative summit could do was to implement what the politicians would decide. This anti-democratic statement by the Danish organizers was of course incompetent and they had to shift their opinion very quick trying to take the leadership of writing an alternative summit declaration. This was watered down although not totally as it had to respect the alternative summit declaration from Madrid. The Spanish popular movements as Ecologistas en Accion and other radical organizations had organized an Alternative Summit at Bretton Woods 50 years anniversary with the support of a broad international 50 years is enough! coalition while the Spanish NGOs did exactly the same thing as the Danish did now towards COP15. They were not able to mobilize any broad international network, or were uninterested until a day before the World Bank and IMF meeting when they went to media telling about the “terrorist related” organization (Herri Batasuna)  that were part of the Alternative Summit cooperation as a reason for their refusal to cooperate with the Alternative Summit. This would probably have effected some of the international organizations if they would have known it in advance and if there was any alternatives, but there was none so every serious popular movement or NGO in the world involved in BWI politics came to the radical alternative summit and the big NGOs were totally side lined.

At the Social Summit they were back in business again and did everything to avoid a serious alternative declaration. Even progressive income tax was a too radical demand for them, a basis for welfare and back bone in many movements political strategy since more than a hundred year. Finally it was noted in the official declaration but not mentioned in the alternative. Radical organisations organised a demo, with many very old communist flags and many Christiania flags, and very little effect. The social and development NGOs could continue with their work undisturbed and closely related to the governments.

1999 the big Danish NGOs once more showed their lack of character and interest in democracy. They signed a Nordic statement together with other popular movements and NGOs in the same line as the international statement to stop any further expansion of WTO. At the same time the Danish NGOs sent a letter to their government with the contradictory content, they do wanted to continue with the same strategy as always, be part of the expansion process as a voice for civil society thus legitimating it.

Copenhagen EU Summit 2002

Seattle and the global justice movement came in between. This time a new Summit came to Copenhagen in 2002, the EU Summit. Now the big NGOs had their visions come through as many were upset after the riots at the EU Summit in Gothenburg the year before which Danish media reported extensively and even more biased than the Swedish media (which was more or less impossible but the media in Denmark is completly in the hands of the right and no daily exists for the three left parliamentary parties, social democrats, socialists and red Green Alliance, but a very small for a marxist leninist party). Anti-violence became the main message from the well funded alternative network at the EU Summit and some 1 million euro in governmental funding was much spent on anti-violence witnesses and other kind of “action” with this purpose.

Rigth-wing attack on “intellectual elitism”

At the same time the Danish right wing government attacked the Danish environmental infrastructure and policies. It was part of a right-wing ideological attack on what was presented as intellectual elitism. The state under social democracy and the influence of 1968 had been used by people that were given high salaries to tell people what to do, something that had to be stopped. A drastic cut of 10 million euro was overnight done of very much of the funds for local energy saving centers and almost any kind of environmental NGO projects. Development NGOs were confronted with similar ideas, especially concerning funds for information which they are strongly dependent on. This did not to my information materialise really but the cuts in the funds for both NGO environmental projects and subsidies for ecological technology was made as planned.

The result was that the environmental NGOs became even more close to the government and uninterested in challenging the present world order. Hit was not only ecological interests, but also Danish economy. Denmark as the leading producer of wind power had great export profits coming from results of the strong anti nuclear power movement in the 1970s and small black smiths starting the production than. A strong domestic market is very useful for an exporting industry but this was now taken away. In 2007 the right wing government managed to decrease the number of wind power plants in Denmark with their by many criticized change of social democratic policies.

When the government took away the money from often decentralised information service system and similar NGO efforts they instead put in a lot of money into an expert institute on environmental issues led by Lomborg, internationally well-known Danish intellectual that questions much of what both environmental organisations and other environmental voices say. The basic line is that we have to postpone any action because the environmental alarms are false, unsure or if there are serious problems it is always possible to do something at a cheaper cost later, to generalise his standpoint. Ideologically this was a success in both Denmark and internationally for a while but it is not any longer and Lomborg is no longer directing the expert institute.

The same political parties and government that attacked the serious and useful Danish environmental policies replacing it with dogmatic anti-environmental neoliberal state funded expert think tank reports is still there. But the situation is different, questioning precautionary principles, at least when it comes to climate issues is no longer trendy and there are no more cuts to be made on environmental projects while the construction business and not only environmentalists criticises the government for its bad policies to stop supporting environmental friendly energy saving and similar efforts. In place is a new prime minister after the well-known Fogh. The new is known for not knowing about climate issues and unexperienced in international affairs.

So it is a weak government that is the key in the process towards the climate summit, weak NGOs and a weak but interesting movement in Denmark on our way towards December. The governments still lives on earlier victories won by the Danish envrionmental movement, innovative small scale industry and policies made by social democrats. Its own policies have proven to be both bad for the environment and a joke in terms of the proclaimed goal of getting rid of state funded experts telling people what to think, a better example than their own Lomborg of such a person is hard to find. What the Danish government now tries to do is to hope for a neoliberal conclusion of the Summit that is in the same line as their own Danish policy failures, no support for local change and all to opening of new markets through subsidized private investments in the their world to promote monoculture and land grabbing.

The situational context

So much about the historical context. The situational context is also interesting.

Often Summit protests for good and bad are dominated by one bigger, often fairly radical network organizing both demonstrations and an alternative summit. In Denmark it will be organised differently. Here each and everyone does their own thing with very little cooperation between the activities. On the one hand direct actions all through the Summit days with different actors but losely linked up to each other via Climate Justice Action. On the other hand NGO lobbyists inside the conference of different kinds, even some delegations that are potential allies for the climate justice movement.

Than there is the big demonstration on Saturday afternoon 12th of December organised by god knows who (reports differ at times), and the Nörrebro climate justice flood action initiated by Friends of the Earth earlier the same day.

There is also the big Climate Forum with some different special activities within the forum and finally Peoples Climate Action whose action and politics is surprise, surprise but well financed. Added to this is of course a large number of other activities of different kinds but those are the ones that are most strongly related to movement actors.

Now the good thing about this model is that it gets hard for e.g. political parties (and for that matter also influential environmental organisations) to dominate the formal cooperation of many activities. As some of these established organisations willingly or without intent may block creativity and new ways of doing politics this is a good thing. If these organisations are strong enough to have activists to take part in different activities they should hopefully do so, but not as more “representative” or important than others or they can stay in the People’s Climate Action ghetto they have built for this purpose.

The problem is that the political outcome is not the result of the formal organising of the different activities but the sum of what is both planned and how different actors respond to the situations that occur. If there is no formal cooperation there will anyway be an informal cooperation on political basis between actors with similar interests. The formal separation of power in e.g. US thus not mean that this society is necessarily pluralistic as officially is stated. It can also mean that the majority of the people cannot influence the system but the elite that knows how to influence simultaneously all formally separated institutions may well be able to do it. Thus media or other influential actors outside the climate Justice movement may be successful in making a connection between different activities in such a way that it benefits others than the climate justice movement.

The best way to avoid that is probably political clarity, something that so far is missing in the Danish model for organising the Copenhagen activities, a model built much with international interventions.

Political clarity is built both by political decisions possible to influence for all that commit themselves somehow, but equally on a political culture able to make judgements during the way. Such judgements that is the basis for interpreting the formally decided platforms or goals and bring them out in real life may be of as much importance as the formal platforms.

Such capacity to make judgements must be based on qualified political assessment of the situation and different actors. For us that base our political power on democratic mobilisation and cannot trust the media market, state power or any other routines of established society this is important. Saul Alinsky, the US American activist stated in his Rules for radicals that one should never go outside the experience of those that one struggle with together while always try to go outside the experience of the opponent. To be able to do this it is of importance to know the terrain.

By know we know fairly well what the politicians, the media and the big NGOs will say. The G8 meeting was a test. Go and look at Climatico or some other web news sites to see how very meagre results can be presented as positive outcomes and how a political analysis is almost lacking and replaced by a comparative analysis that proclaims success if one compares with what US has been said before, at least on some aspect, compare with Oscar Reyes analysis of the G8 climate politics.

What the politicians need is a voice that can be presented as independent supporting them like Bob Geldof in the name of hundreds of thousands in Make poverty history could do in Scotland 2005 at the G8 Summit. It does not at all need to be a celebrity, it can be anyone or a group of people presented as legitimate voices somehow. Voices that seem to represent something independent with integrity. Both governments and the movement put much emphasis on academic science and scientists may be useful for stating things politically about the outcome in spite of that it may not be within in their area of competence, se e.g. Climatico again.

Now to understand the political landscape it would be good to know more. But so far we have little to go for more than the official political platform for both Climate forum and climate justice action. Both are fairly good as they produce a wide acceptance of goodbye to the old fashion climate NGO campaigning that wants to save the climate treaty, not the climate. Instead of trying to be as scientific as possible or stating some higher figures than the government this has been a made method for years. Now we have another kind of solution focusing on justice thus paving the way of a political critique of the way the climate treaty supports more corporate power and state support for private investments.

But when we are asked to motivate people to come to Copenhagen or stay at home doing actions we have to adjust to the circumstances. That is why we need an on-going assessment of different actors and their interventions.

One factor are  the new Danish climate organisations. The seem to develop according to the old division in Denmark. On the one hand very radical and at the same time practically oriented groups like Climate Collective which present itself as anti-capitalist and hard to find out what more. More detailed is the Climate movements, Klimabevægelsen, a new organisations to prevent climate change and often mentioned in relation different activities, both the demonstration on Dec 12 and Climate forum.

The board of this organisation have produced a fairly long proposal for climate policy to be taken at the Annual general Assembly to take place in a month or two. In this proposal goals for 2050 are set at 50 percent for the world and 80 for industrial countries, the same as G8 but in this case clearly stated that all products consumed in country have to be accounted for. But as their figures looks the same the political statement will cause confusion and be seen primarily as supportive of the general line taken by rich countries. There are quite a few interesting points on town planning and the like. Lots of scientific and technological language. And finally strong support of nuclear power, a so called 4th generation. Also on this point but more so in strong favour of what governments want. *

Normally a new organisation established in a controversial issue is of great interest and often combine both competence and a challenging perspective. But ere Denmark have produced an organisation that if not the proposal is withdrawn or dismissed by the members will be an obstacle to Danish influence of what will happen in Copenhagen. If an organisation with such a policy is influential in the demonstration or the Climate Forum (they are supposedly active in both) there will be quite a few organisation internationally that will be careful, also big environmental organisations do tale care when an organisation makes technological speculation of something that may come a core of their demands, especially if this speculation is directly useful for the opponents of the environmental movement. The same goes for some odd notions on population control (not among overpopulated countries in the overconsumption world but in the South!). In general the proposal lacks strategic thinking in politics an is hopefully a mistake, if not the Danish Climate movement will get problems. It is a pity in that case, we need as many competent.

In general it seems that the Danish political culture repeats itself with on the one hand the truly radicals doing their direct action and the realistic NGOs. In between the Climate Forum that tend to present itself unpolitically those times I have heard presentations.

But it certainly have not when it comes to practical and international preparations. The capacity is there for a really interesting combination of actions with at least global justice in focus and so far unfortunately social justice less so.

There are some asymmetric problems though that might be solved. While the Danish activists are mainly organised seperated from each other the only international network is Climate Justice Alliance. CJA activists seems mainly interested in direct action while a lot of organisations are interested in a wide range of activities, probably to demonstrate Dec 12, in Climate forum and some maybe in direct actions. For international popular movements as Via Campesina I guess it is of interest to participate in different kind of activities wherever the political possibilities emerge.

As it is now there is little political information from the different Danish organisations. Especially the big demo on 12th of December might be a so far little discussed possibility for expressing the concerns of the mass movements in the South and make radical climate justice demands the main message at all activities. But this seems uncertain. The risk is also the opposite. The radical groups stick in activities controlled by themselves and the main message may be more easily stated by the media as diverse and in the final end rather positive in the voice of a selected group of NGOs and individuals from the South. (E.g. finally scientific knowledge have been recognized by governments – in the goals for the far future but anyway positive, some additional funding for weak groups have been important etc.) The big demo might be used for this and the Climate forum presented as a diverse market for opposing views showing how democratic the Danish state is and the whole process welcoming all voices. What we instead need is a main message from most of the key activities with radical climate justice messages, that the rich countries pressure for using the climate negotiations for serving the interests of corporations (e.g. promoting more state funded private investments controlled by Western corporations promoting monoculture and thus mass unemployment and ecological instability and not saving the climate) and that mass movements in the South and the whole climate justice movement calls for opposing solutions.

Tord Björk

* The situation changed. The Climate Movement of Denmark of Denamrk has become one of the central organisations in the mass activities in Copenhagen as it is the only Danish organisation which is part of the elected coordinators of two mass actions, Klimaforum and the mass demonstration December 12. Nuclear power as a solution is not discussed any more as a solution as far as I know. At the same time as the Climate Movement have become central Friends of the Earth Denmark have run into problems as their representatives have been changed and political course drastically different.