The SIL brings together a wide variety of anarchist groups internationally from the largest (the Spanish CGT with 45,000 members) to some of the smallest (including ourselves). The purpose of the SIL is not "a new international workers association with its statues and agreements and organic structures" but biannual co-ordination meetings intended to reply to capitalist globalisation and aimed at "fostering international solidarity and mutual aid".
In practical terms this means those organisations based in the countries of Europe where workers have won higher wages and a higher standard of living helping the organisations in the 'global south' where workers are poorer in real terms. Over the last year the organisations in the SIL have sent financial aid to Brazil to help the Federacocao Anarquista Gaucha acquire offset printing equipment. A second FAG project that was aided was in the city of Alegrete where 483 families have been squatting land since 1999. Aid was needed to build "a hall with space for debates, self-managed meetings of the inhabitants, tasks and social jobs and popular fights that create collective benefits for community". More details of these projects on the SIL web page.
WSM members taking parts in the EU protest in Seville in June were able to attend a meeting of the SIL which took place in the CGT offices. There it was decided to complete the existing projects in the next months and to draw up proposals to aid groups in Argentina, Siberia and Mexico. We also appointed a European co-ordination group for the next SIL meeting to take place in Porte Alegro, Brazil at the same time as the next World Social Forum meeting there. Each of the European organisations will delegate one member to this group to help organise the meeting.
An article in Workers Solidarity 64 last year discussed the founding document of the SIL in more detail (http://struggle.ws/ws/2001/64/madrid.html). It is notable for being a very open and honest evaluation of the problems facing the anarchist movement and how we can offer an alternative to capitalism today. This is reflected in the organisations currently involved in the SIL which tend to be from those sections of the movement that prioritise direct involvement in the real struggles of workers where they are located. Some like the CGT and the SAC are unions with mass memberships; others are more like the WSM and are anarchist groups that involve themselves in mainstream unions and social struggles.
With capital being more and more organised internationally and the growth of international bodies designed to quell protest (like EuroPol the new European police force) it is vital that anarchists improve international communication and solidarity. With the increasing poverty that capitalist globalisation is imposing on workers in the global south those of us in the west need to develop systems of mutual aid. In Argentina at the moment the rapid increase in inflation is making it increasingly difficult for anarchists there to continue publishing their papers. This in the very period when it is most essential that such publication not only continues but also actually increases in quantity.
We would like to encourage other anarchist and libertarian groups in Ireland and internationally to consider joining up in the SIL. It's loose nature allows for involvement in other international initiatives and for the involvement of more then one group from each country, in France three separate organisations are now involved. We would also appeal to individual readers to consider making a donation towards these projects by sending cheques or cash to us which we will add to our international solidarity fund.
More info. SIL web page http://www.ils-sil.org
This edition is No71 published in July 2002