Fighting Global Capitalism..

What sort of movement do we need?

Ireland has been on the fringes of the growing movement against neo-liberalism/capitalist globalisation. But even here there has been quite considerable growth since the time of the Seattle demonstrations. And the defeat of the Nice referendum strongly suggests that a section of the population is now suspicious of the neoliberal project.

Since Seattle four organisations have attempted to function as umbrella groups for this growing movement. The first didn't even bother with a name. The press release for the demonstration in solidarity with Seattle referred to "a rally of people and organisations opposed to WTO". The second for the Prague demonstrations called itself the S26 Collective and was the most successful to date in mobilising a broad number of organisations.

At the time of the Nice summit (December 2000) many of the same people re-mobilised this time under the name Global Justice Network. Most recently the Socialist Workers Party set up Globalise Resistance with the pre-formed objective of concentrating on the G8 meeting in Genoa. This has had limited success at mobilising a layer of new activists but suspicion that this is just another SWP front has limited the number of organisations willing to work in it.

All of these four organisations have been learning experiences. In the aftermath of Genoa the question has to be 'where next'?

Any coalitions that emerge have to not only be independent of any single political organisation but also have to be seen to be independent. If a coalition is seen as no more than a party front then there are large numbers of experienced activists who will not get involved. This has clearly been a problem with Globalise Resistance as it was to a lesser extent with the Global Justice Network and the S26 Collective.

Secondly the coalition needs to find a way to allow space for new activists and delegates from NGO's, political, community and union organisations. Finding a space means creating a structure which all can be involved in without feeling that they have to liquidate their individual identity into.

Central to this the coalition needs to focus on allowing space for diversity rather then seeking to impose a majority-determined unity. The forces opposing neo-liberalism have deep differences on many questions, from what sort of strategy we should use against the global capitalist institutions, to what we advocate as an alternative. Holding such a coalition together means respecting the fact that these differences exist and will continue to exist for some time into the future.

Thirdly we must not get too hung up on organisational structures or names. Permanence can be a weakness as well as a strength in this respect. We are still learning what many of the questions we need to address are - it is premature to set anything in stone. So it may well be that the best way forwards in terms of the broad movement is a shifting alliance of names and organisations that changes with each new wave of protest.

The above is in the interests of the general movement, a movement whose growth we consider essential to the defeat of neo liberal capitalism. The strength of the movement in many countries is that it is already using organisational methods favoured by anarchists. In particular through the use of mass assemblies and delegate democracy (spokes as they are often called by the movement) rather than back room committees of leading figures from political parties .

Beyond this though we see the need for those of us who have a common anti-authoritarian vision of a future society to work together to promote this view. There are many within the general movement whom we are close to, who we feel in a greater or lesser way are fighting for the sort of society we are fighting for. Often we use quite different language to describe it but in the most general terms we are talking of a society where workplaces and communities are run by those who live and work there.

We are talking of a rejection of the division into leaders and led favoured by the parties of the left and right alike. We are talking about the construction of a sustainable global society where economic decisions are made by all the people who live in that world. What makes this vision different is expressed by the Zapatistas when they say "in this world there is space for many worlds".

There are many activists in Ireland who broadly agree with this vision, from radical environmentalists to those inspired by the Zapatistas. From anti-partnership trade union and community activists to anarchists and other libertarian socialists.

We are anarchists and we want neo-liberalism replaced with a libertarian communist society. Not everyone we want to work with uses these same terms to express their aims of course. But we believe there is a logical dividing line which separates those of us who believe in direct democracy from both the groups that want state power for themselves (like the SWP or other Leninists) or who see the state as part of the solution rather then part of the problem (like ATTAC).

There is a need for those of us with this vision to work together in opposing neo liberalism. With others we want to build a network that will promote these ideas and the methods of struggle that arise from them within the broader movement. We suspect that the movement against global capitalism over the next few years may be the soil on which the possibility for a bigger revolutionary movement exists. If this is the case it is essential that the new society that grows out of it is about real freedom and not a return to the failed state 'socialism' of the past.

Andrew Flood

This page is from the print version of the Irish Anarchist paper '
Workers Solidarity'. We also provide a PDF file of the latest edition (with pictures) for you to print out and distribute locally

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This edition is No65 published in July 2001