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From the Newswire by Seedot: A report and pics from a weekend in London - covers the Camden Centre, Beyond the ESF and the Official ESF.
The ideals of the social forum process speak of the creation of a space for dialog and debate between the many social movements that present an opposition to capitalism. The Porto Allegre principles are designed to ensure as inclusive and broad a forum as possible, to encourage the cross-fertilization of all these strands that make up what is referred to as the 'movement'. While the London organising process has been heavily criticised for its departures from the charter of principles many people traveled to London because of the sheer scale of the event, the opportunity to see the differences between the groups and test the pulse of the European movements. The diversity was supposed to be the strength of the social forum, the size was supposed to overcome the problems in the organising with space for everyone in the various events.
Before I left Dublin I had read of the range of groups and spaces and thought that the weekend would be an opportunity to witness this marvelous coming together that many had spoken of in the social forum process. The weekend before I had sat in a circle at the Irish Social Forum and heard academics, trade unionists, social democrats and anarchists discussing their opposing and complimentary views of neo-liberalism and their strategies for dealing with it. The meeting had been positive, not least for the links that were made and the comparisons drawn with the mass movement that developed in Ireland a century before as Nationalism, Socialism and what came to be Irish Republicanism coalesced to defeat the imperialism of that time. London was supposed to be this on a much larger stage.
Flying home my feelings were more of frustration and opportunities missed than any real satisfaction or excitement. I attended events at the Indymedia Centre in Camden, at the Beyond the ESF in Tottenham and the 'Official' ESF at Alexander Palace. Each event was well organised and attended yet it felt like I had been to three conferences in the one weekend. The frustration was that the linkages and cross fertilizations seem to have been ruled out even before the event began as each of the movements retreated into its own space, establishing multiple fora which talked amongst themselves. While what happened was thoughtful, sincere and at times exciting it was what didn't happen that left the lasting impression.
A debate on how best to oppose the forces of neoliberalism and global capitalism – and indeed what to replace it with - is set to be the highlight of this year's Irish Social Forum, which will take place in Dublin next weekend, October 8th to 10th. Another central theme will be racism in Ireland and its role in neoliberalism. Author and academic Peadar Kirby will argue for less market and more state... "What we call the Celtic Tiger is simply an Irish version of the tilt towards the market that is evident in countries throughout the world, as the state restructures itself so as to put the needs of global capital above the needs of its citizens."
However, Aileen O'Carroll of the anarchist Workers Solidarity Movement is calling for a "social revolution" to bring about "a world based on the principles of economic equality and direct democracy rather than the principle of profit. For me, the only solution is to replace this political system with one which is completely different," O'Carroll said. "I don't believe parliament will bring us the change we want. It cannot challenge the fundamental inequalities of neoliberalism. Parliament's role is to manage inequality not to remove it." The plenary, which will also be addressed by Mick O'Reilly of the ATGWU and Labour Councillor Mary Murphy, will feature conflicting views on social partnership and whether to participate in it.
Meanwhile, the role of racism in the neoliberal globalisation project will be highlighted at the other main plenary, titled Racism in Ireland. Author and Trinity College academic Dr Ronit Lentin will focus on the consequences, for Ireland, of the global migration regime. In the wake of the 2004 Citizenship referendum, Lentin will argue that "while, like all modern nation-states, Ireland is a 'racial state', at the present time of unparalleled prosperity (which, however, is accompanied by growing poverty and rich-poor gaps), Ireland is also a racist state. Ireland is creating armies of invisible migrant labourers. Looking at the stories of migrants is one alternative way to think about globalisation in today's Ireland." Also due to speak at the plenary on racism are Aisling Reidy of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Rosanna Flynn of Residents Against Racism and Jason Brannigan of Belfast-based Fascists Out Campaign.
The ISF will feature workshops hosted by more than 40 different groups from around Ireland on such topics as racism, trade unions, inner-city regeneration, trade justice, the global arms trade, Public Private Partnerships, the US military's use of Shannon Airport, female genital mutilation, left unity, incinerators, the EU constitution and the Criminal Justice Bill.
The Social Forum movement will be in the news this Autumn: The second Irish Social Forum is planned for Dublin and Ken Livingstone and the GLC are about to invest at least ST£400,000 and a lot of time and effort supporting the European Social Forum the week after in London. Predictably neither event has avoided a generous helping of controversy on the side
On 15th - 17th October this year the European Social Forum will take place in London and between the Alexandar Palace and spaces booked in Camden and Bloomsbury up to 50,000 attendees can be catered for. There are plans underway to organise an Irish Social Forum the weekend before that, with a social evening, a thematic conference and a closing plenary switching between city centre locations and UCD. This will be the second ISF while the event in London, involving the Lord Mayor , the trade unions and the people behind the Stop the War campaign will be the third European Social Forum..
UK Indymedia ESF Page
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