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On the crisis of the Anti-globalisation Movement

6. December 2004

Since its appearance in Seattle in December 1999 the “movement against globalisation” contained two different currents. The first, dominant one contested only the most devastating effects of globalisation and neo-liberalism relating to the unequal distribution of the resources and of the riches advocating a positive “globalisation from below”, a “democratic” one. Thus they accepted the main pattern of the globalizers according to which the moment has come to eventually liberate ourselves from the nation states. These are considered either to be on the scrap heap or a brake on the way to “progress”. The second, though minor component denounced not only the effects but the very nature of globalization or rather capitalism as the reason of the intensifying social contradictions between rich and poor.

Within the US this division was never expressed in it profundity. As soon as the movement reached Europe this contradiction often acquired virulent forms. With the mobilisation of Genoa in July 2001 Europe actually became the focus of the movement bringing a youth to the streets which was politicized only recently while leaving the traditional workers´ movement on the margins. Because of the political traditions of Europe the differentiation between moderates and radicals could not other than acquire the form of the old dichotomy consisting of reformists or social democrats on one hand and revolutionary traditions on the other hand. Nevertheless the radical approach did not express itself not so much on the political and programmatic level, but first of all on that of the methods and means of struggle. The most radical sectors of the movement focused actually on bringing about clashes with the police forces turning every demonstration into a media spectacle. As this radicalism was only formal it was easy for the social democrat apparatuses to keep the control over the biggest part of the movement. To exert this hegemony these apparatuses did not directly expose themselves but used a series of leaderships and groups produced by the movement itself or originating from the post-68 new left.

The Social Forums, posing as organisms which miraculously could protect unity, representativity and their own strength, were in reality co-ordinations or small parliaments within which the different organized political currents fought each other in a bid to exert hegemony and subsequently to negotiate the necessary tactical compromises to maintain the momentum of the mobilisation. The World Social Forum (WSF) with its general stuff was from the very beginning not only hostage of the big social democrat apparatuses, but also a hierarchical and anti-democratic structure. It never represented the diversity and the radicalism of the movement.

The anti-imperialist forces and organisation both of the oppressed and semi-colonial countries as well as of Europe never had a due voice within the World Social Forum. The main reason for that is that against them a de facto exclusion was put in place being supported by all the forces in control. From the very beginning the WSF in Porto Alegre under the control of the Brazilian PT excluded all the movements fighting with armed means against oligarchic and pro-imperialist regimes. This was even more grave and emblematic as in this very period the Palestinian Intifada erupted and served as a point of crystallisation for the anti-imperialist struggles worldwide. After September 11 the equidistant position of “against war and terrorism” became hegemonic as the social democrat apparatuses intended it to be while the US aggressed Afghanistan (October 2001) and compiled the notorious black list of “terrorists” which includes not only Islamic but also almost all revolutionary liberation movements.

Because of the constitutive pacifist and non violent clause we refused to be part of the WSF although we participated in all the anti-globalisation mobilisations. This choice was necessary and has been revealed correct. That clause not only excluded the fighting anti-imperialists and the European revolutionaries but served as an indicator for the fact that the social democrat apparatuses had the helm in hand within the WSF. They refused to characterise globalization as being imperialist and they did not want to hear about the necessary link between the social and civic struggles in the heart of the empire and the more decided anti-imperialist ones on the periphery.

It was the Iraqi resistance which pushed the anti-globalisation movement with the back to the wall and evoked its irreversible crisis. The anti-globalisation movement was in fact protagonist of the demonstrations for peace and against the Anglo-American aggression. But as soon as the occupants had conquered Baghdad the mobilisations ceased though they would have been even more necessary as the armed popular resistance started to attack the imperialist troops. Only very small components affirmed the legitimacy of the resistance and even fewer supported it – all with an unacceptable delay. The biggest part of the movement kept away from the question, maintained an infamously silence and refused systematically to mobilise for the victory of the resistance. Finally all the latent contradictions within the WSF exploded. The radical fractions were obliged to come to the fore and – though not supporting the resistance – had at least to recognise its legitimacy.

With our clear and systematic campaign for the Iraqi resistance we had not only to face the opposition of the anti-globalisation movement but an all out ostracism. It is also thanks to this campaign that the resistance gained ground within the movement, however, still being confronted with the reluctance of even the most radical forces to form a real co-ordination of the pro-resistance forces.

The complex decline of the movement might cause the definite split and fragmentation of the WSF. This outcome is even desirable and every attempt to keep it artificially together like it is today is doomed to fail. While unity is desirable and necessary it is definitely not under the asphyxiating commando of the social democrats. This will become even clearer with the next WSF scheduled for Porto Alegre. It will be carried out under the aegis of a PT government which completely succumbs to imperialist globalisation which the movement claims to fight. Having set as our aim the formation of an anti-imperialist front, the Anti-imperialist Camp must intensify its initiatives towards the components which will abandon the WSF breaking with the social democrat apparatuses. This is a very difficult task as it amounts to nothing less than to link and unify the antagonist forces within the imperialist countries and the combatant forces of the aggressed and oppressed countries first of all Palestine and Iraq. Without this bridge there will neither be a sustainable victory in the countries on the first line of struggle, nor will the antagonist forces of the Western countries have any future.

Political Committee of the Anti-imperialist Camp
December 5, 2004