The cycle of the World Social Forum draws to a close


Anti-imperialist Forum to emerge

When the Brazilian president Lula addressed the inaugural session of the World Social Forum (WSF) taking place in January in Porto Alegre, he was rocked by loud protest chants expressing the widespread disappointment with the unfulfilled promises for a significant social change. It was symbolic importance that Lula subsequently flew directly to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, against which the anti-globalisation movement had been emerging. Later in the week, when the Venezuelan president joint the gathering, signs read "Chavez yes, Lula no". The development of the Brazilian Worker´s Party (PT) and Lula´s personal career emblematically show the turn the WSF – of which the PT is an integral and leading part – took towards integration into the global capitalist system.

Lula continues liberalist agenda

The election of the PT into office resulted in high hopes of the popular masses of Brazil – the country with the strongest social inequalities worldwide. However, already in the course of the electoral campaign Lula had cut a deal with the ruling elite guaranteeing them not to touch the cornerstones of liberalist capitalism. Thus also the international financial institutions such as the IMF and the WB had nothing to object to Lula´s presidency. On the contrary, they intuitively gasped that the PT could even serve to save Brazil from a severe political crisis which had been looming as a result of years and years of unchained liberalist policy. As a consequence the Brazilian bourgeoisie and its powerful media outlets did not engage with tooth and nail in a campaign to block the PT´s access to governmental office as it had been doing already twice before.

The key element for the poplar support for Lula was the hope in a radical agrarian reform, which would be the central measure to mitigate the paramount social contradictions. But Lula kept his promises to the land-owning bourgeoisie not to touch their basic interests. The land reform he conceived includes heavy indemnifications which the austerity state budgets cannot allocate enough funds for. Eventually the absurd situation emerged that the big landowners are pushing for the implementation of the reform as they hope to get good money for poor soils.

In no sector substantial measures has been taken to re-distribute the social wealth. Even, things keep turning the other way around as the liberalist recipes are being implemented without relent. One example among countless others is the ongoing privatisation of the universities against which a movement emerged. Neither the interests of imperialism have been touched. On the contrary, the government continues to pay the enormous foreign dept and cooperates closely with the international financial institutions.

Also on a political level this can be seen. Although the government tries to display independence from the US and to take steps to create a space of manoeuvre for South America´s by far biggest nation, they do not leave the restricted boundaries set by the US. It was a cheap but popular measure to reciprocate the US immigration laws demanding finger prints from all those nations not meeting the requirements set to make personal documents machine readable. The popular masses were rejoicing when they saw US citizens queuing to leave their finger prints, a humiliation normally inflicted by the US to poorer nations. However, when the US deposed president Aristide in Haiti installing a puppet regime it was Brazil to provide about 3.000 soldiers to secure it and to relieve the US to focus on the occupation of Iraq in the same way as Germany does in Afghanistan. Even more important was the political backing for the intervention in Haiti to clear the United States´ backyard which passed uncontested in the international public.

Widespread popular disappointment

The protests against Lula during the WSF were a sign, all the more as they took place in an environment loyal to the government. In general the WSF was attended by "civil society" middle classes longing for a European-style centre left.

But it was enough to leave the premises of the WSF and talk to the people from the streets. From the taxi driver to the internet shop owner passing by the waiter people from the lower classes generally expressed their disappointment that no social change has come about. This is especially significant in Porto Alegre which used to be a stronghold of the PT. There they claimed to have implemented what they call "participative democracy" which was depicted and propagated as a model to emulate. Nevertheless they eventually lost the last elections in the southern metropolis which indicates a clear trend on the national level only two years into the legislative term.

This quick change of sentiment is related to the fact that the promises were made in a very "populist way". That is to say that the PT did not make it clear to its supporters that for a real social change it is by far not enough to win elections. Social reforms must be forced upon the elites by means of struggle as the latter have their methods to defend their interests as well as the backing of imperialism. This kind of cheap promises is a typical feature of bourgeois politicking. There is no more organic link to the social base. The support built on promises out of the blue evaporates as soon as these promises turn out to be impossible to fulfil.

Actually the PT originates from social struggles which were launched against the military dictatorship. Advancing into the political sphere, the party passed through a social-democratisation eventually ending up at a European type left liberal party. But while it took its European homologues more than one century to undergo this transformation, the very same process was run through by the PT within 25 years that means within the lifetime of the charismatic leader Lula. What is about to emerge is the American bi-polar system where both poles represent one and the same socio-political regime. But this trend towards an American-type bi-partitism can be observed not only in Europe or Brazil but also in other parts of the world like in India. There the left liberalist congress coalition taking over from right liberalist BJP simply carries on their predecessor´s socio-economic programme.

The Brazilian case has been examined not only because the WSF took place there but for the PT is one of the leading forces of the WSF paradigmatically highlighting its overall development which is to be tackled in the following.

The cycle of the anti-globalisation movement

The anti-globalisation movement sprang up by the end of the 90ies. It was a reaction against tens years of savage and unchained capitalist liberalism imposed after the implosion of the USSR in 1989/91.

Sociologically speaking the main force of the movement were not the poor strata falling victim to the liberalist attacks dismantling the welfare state. It were the intellectual middle classes taking to the streets. They called themselves "civil society" which is in certain sense even accurate.

The Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci developed the notion of "civil society" to describe a specific function within the imperialist societies. He understood that bourgeois rule did not only rest on brute force exerted by the coercive state apparatus but also on the mediation of bourgeois ideology to the popular masses. This cannot be done by force alone but first of all is based on conviction, by creating consensus, which according to Gramsci is the role of civil society.

This civil society led the protest against the direction the capitalist system was taking, namely opposing the ultra-liberalist turn. They understood as the first that if the system would proceed on the track taken it sooner or later risked a catastrophic crash caused not only by the rapidly growing social tensions. Furthermore they re-iterated and integrated the criticism of the ecological and peace movement of the 80ies. But in the last instance their concern was to protect the capitalist system or at least the projection they had of it. Actually they were hanging on to the Clintonian promises of the end of history having reached the final stage of the best of all worlds. According to this spirit the catastrophes of the 20th century exhaustingly proved that it is ultimately only the capitalist system which is able to provide prosperity, democracy and peace.

An offspring of liberalism

In fact after 1989/91 large sections of the European left embraced this form of Clintonian liberalism. But after ten years of liberalist attacks the capitalist reality appeared to be too different to the Clintonian imaginations. So the civil society mobilised itself, not to overcome capitalism but to request its human face.

The corner stones of its dominant thinking within the movement are transformed elements of the mainstream liberalist current. This can be shown taking the wide-spread refusal of the nation state as an example.

Although labelled as the movement against globalisation its opinion leaders insisted to counterpoise to the capitalist globalisation the globalisation from below, the internationalisation of the protest movements. Apparently this was taken from the Marxist fund: "The working class has no nation." For an entire century it used to be common sense for the historic left to oppose bourgeois nationalism as a means to mobilise the popular masses against the imperialist concurrent as had been experienced in two World Wars.

However, they movement´s mainstream neglected that it was the US under Clinton´s leadership to embrace a form of bourgeois imperialist internationalism. It were the US ruling ideologues who declared the nation states as out-dated and reactionary while hailing globalisation. Nobody wanted to take notice of the fact that behind this apparent internationalism there was the unchallenged global predominance of the United States. Nevertheless, for the US it was neither necessary nor useful to recur to US patriotism. In order to create consensus for their rule it was much better to hide behind globalisation. This very fact became clear only one decade later when Bush took over. Contrary to the assumptions of the movement he was only radicalising an intrinsic tendency. He was just uncovering, unmasking that behind globalisation there is Americanism containing also a decisive portion of US chauvinism.

Thus the anti-globalisation movement affirmed one of the main paradigms of globalisation, namely the end of the nation state. In order to implement the liberalist agenda the US bourgeoisie wanted to get rid of the other nation states as they were associated with social and political gains of the popular masses. From there stems their hate against national sovereignty as the leading principle of international law established after WWII.

Also many Marxists predicted a conflict with the other imperialist bourgeoisies along the pattern of the two preceding wars, e.g. implying the re-emergence of nationalism. Meanwhile those bourgeoisies were in fact rallying behind the US as they followed the same liberalist agenda of the roll-back. The double victory of the US over its imperialist concurrent as well as over the communist world movement completely changed the de facto global constitution. The imperialist bourgeoisies today defend their interests by a global state architecture built around the total and unchallenged predominance of the US. This does not mean that any inter-imperialist conflict is to be ruled out, but they do no more assume antagonist forms as they historically used to do.

The anti-globalisation movement turned not only against the nations but also against the state as an instrument of politics and representation of interests. In a certain sense the European reception of the Mexican Zapatist movement was focusing on this aspect. The Zapatists became known and famous for explicitly renouncing the struggle for state power while proposing politics beyond the state.

This thinking originates in a tendency of the historic left, which, while criticising the affirmative line of the old reformist pro-Soviet parties towards the state (including the capitalist and imperialist ones), refused to engage in the political sphere altogether associated with the state. This was represented by early socialism and anarchism already criticised by Marx, later by anarcho-syndicalism and ouvrierism fading out in the autonomous movement. From time to time these currents took radical, insurrectionist and militarist forms. Their other side is, however, a strong economicism often getting out of hand into an outright determinism. In times of reflux it can even turn into a form of esotericism. Toni Negri, the outspoken guru of the movement, went through all theses phases.

Against the state considered as always and ever reactionary in the same way as the nations they set the local initiative of self-organisation. To make it more digestible it was impregnated with indigenism. The NGO´s, which represent the moderate wing of the anti-globalisation movement, developed the slogan "local-global". Both this conception as well as the NGO´s as organisations build the bridge to the imperialist globalisation sailing under the slogan of the "global village". The common idea is to exclude the intervention by the nation state into the economic sphere. Regardless of esoteric imaginations of "another possible worlds" within the one controlled by imperialism, this actually means nothing less than that the intercourse between the (local) subjects is exclusively mediated by the (global) market.

Therefore all these currents can be subsumed under the common denominator of comunitarism which, on his part, is a left version of liberalism. Comunitarism wants to mitigate the extreme consequences of liberalism which is the total isolation of the individual. Groups of several individuals are to conglomerate, but the overall medium of social intercourse remains the market – independent of whether this is explicitly stated like by Toni Blair or only the final consequence like with Toni Negri.

The "backlash" of the pre-emptive US war

Toni Negri spoke of an Empire without power centre and territory. Within this globalised capitalist Empire the new emancipated Empire would emerge transcending one into the other. Whether this new Empire would arise as a social society or as Gnostic inner experience was not quite clear. (By the way there are certain similarities with some brands of fundamentalist Protestantism – of which also George W. Bush is a follower. Also there the Realm of God is something which arises already within the awakened individual who is simultaneously charged with the eschatological mission to fight for the final establishment of this Realm.)

While the esoteric aspect was a minority position within the movement, the political consequences of this thinking were widely shared. It implies not only that a revolution destroying the imperialist state machine is no more necessary, but that state power as it is fading out by itself must be neglected, ignored thus ruling out not only the seizure of state power but also the struggle for serious social reforms. Thus the return of the state as the central factor of politics in the form of the pre-emptive war waged by the US came as a kind of shock destroying the phantasms of globalisation which supposedly should have ended the role of the state. Consequently Toni Negri, who did not want to accept the reality which put his nice theories into the rubbish bin, called the US war a "backlash", a temporary return to the already overcome traditional capitalist-imperialist society.

Transposed into practical politics this meant on one hand the hope in the United Nations and the European powers opposing the war on Iraq and on the other hand a deep believe in the "other America" represented by Clinton. But both were frustrated. The ensuing years showed that the European powers are keen to bridge the gap with Washington they did not want to create but which was more the consequence of the unprecedented intransigence of the US also in regard to its allies. The fact that the UN is either an instrument of the US or paralysed needs not to be further elaborated. The re-election of Bush as US president proved that his and the Neo-cons´ ascendancy to power was no accident of history but express a profound change in the relationship of forces within the US and its ruling class. Protestant fundamentalism became the dominant political force while historic US liberalism nearly vanished. The resultant is that the pre-emptive war and the establishment of the US Empire are nearly uncontested common goals not only of the elite engulfing both parties but also of a strong social block based on the middle classes including sections of the working class and the poor layers.

From Seattle to Baghdad, in a period of less than five years, the entire coordinate system of the anti-globalisation movement was revealed to no more fit the reality on the ground. Sooner or later it had to run into a substantial political crisis which constitutes one of the factors of its reflux.

Resistance against the resistance

The anti-globalisation movement was born as something new, attempting to draw a line of demarcation to the historic communist and national liberation movements. Hence, when Yugoslavia was attacked by the NATO in 1999 (actually the imperialist aggression started as early as 1991) the civil society did – at best – not care. In their imagination the Yugoslav and Serb resistance were remnants of the overcome past period ("Serbo-Bolshevism") which only deserved to be wiped away. The war was led under the aegis of the Clintonian values shared by the civil society.

One year later, when the new Palestinian Intifada erupted in 2000, the reactions were similar. However, some doubts began to arise. The Oslo accords could be regarded as Clinton´s personal masterpiece providing a solution to the world´s most embroiled conflict and thus crowning the promised New World Order. His complete and total failure heralded to the world that a peaceful capitalist global US order is nothing but an empty dream. The ensuing events made it even clearer that the forthcoming period would be rocked by conflicts and wars not experienced since WWII.

The Intifada and the War on Terror were to become the new dichotomic paradigm replacing neo-liberal globalisation versus globalisation from below. Every war the US and its allies waged produced new resistance movements – starting with Palestine, passing by Afghanistan and climaxing today in Iraq. Bush even declared it to be a new crusade against Islam further inflaming the conflict.

From the very beginning the leadership of the anti-globalisation movement in form of the Social Forums refused to take side in the impending escalation. They claimed to keep equal distance to both sides expressed in the notorious formula "neither war nor terror". They argued that the spiral of violence must be stopped. This juxtaposition affirms not only that the war is launched against terror but also that the resistance – which is the real target of the war – is actually terror. But whoever claims to be neutral sides with the stronger. So the Social Forum not only failed to support the resistance and, first of all, the Iraqi one, but even explicitly excluded all forces employing armed means. They embraced a reactionary pacifism.

This outright resistance against the newly arising popular resistance against the US wars of aggression is not only mounted by the top leadership which could thus be accused of betrayal. It is widely spread in the ranks of the civil society which maintains to defend the values of enlightenment against any form of what they regard as reactionary or even totalitarian. On one hand they are faced with the undeniable fact that globalisation, which they set their hopes on right after 1989/91 trying to interpret it "from below", turned into the American Empire and became itself a new form of totalitarianism. But on the other hand they continue to refuse the resistance on the ground that it does not represent the values of enlightenment but – on the contrary – is negating it.

They have no understanding whatsoever that the resistance cannot follow the tracks paved by the historic left which has been claiming to have introduced and defended the heritage of enlightenment in the societies oppressed by imperialism. This left was defeated and passed over to the side of imperialism opposing the resistance. The most prominent case is the Communist Party of Iraq (ICP) which virtually applauded the US bombs in the very name of enlightenment and against dictatorships. Today the values of enlightenment cannot other than appear to the oppressed people as a justification for imperialist intervention. Before it had been still the left which represented the "better" side of the West, but today the West including its culture appears to be entirely imperialist. So the oppressed people are searching within their own cultural heritage thus affirming their identity against the excessive American cultural homogenisation. Only in this lecture of history one can understand and explain the appeal of Political Islam and similar phenomena to the oppressed masses.

Actually there is analogy: Both the resistance movements in the oppressed world as well as the Western intellectual middle classes turned away from the left. But the direction they took pushed them on the other opposite side of the decisive global conflict line.

The Western left transformed itself into civil society. It separated the values of enlightenment from the struggle against capitalism which made its fulfilment impossible. The lessons of two hundred years of struggle for these goals, which had to be directed against the bourgeoisie, were negated. Again, like in the period of the French revolution during which, however, completely different class relation were dominant, the capitalist elites were tacitly or even overtly ascribed the task to implement these values – pressurized and controlled by civil society. (Who does not believe this should study Toni Negri´s appraisal of the role of the multinationals bringing us closer to the realm of emancipation.) This is the real meaning of the Clintonian turn of the European left in the beginning of the 90ies.

Faced with the American war and Empire civil society has to cope with the collapse of its ideological paradigm. The capitalist world system cannot be pressurized to assume a human face. (Only the communist "threat" could force it to do so at least for a certain period.) Deprived of any credible political means to implement their "Western values", they are repelled to impotent Kantian moralism precipitating back into political passivity and eventually accepting the status quo. Some even draw the conclusion of this dilemma to join the crusade for the "Western values".

Thus the "second super power", as the anti-globalisation movement was called by Bertinotti, leader of the Italian Party of Communist Refoundation (PRC), reflecting a widespread sentiment of protagonism, deflated like a pricked balloon. Today the main factor counterpoised to the Empire is the resistance of the oppressed people or, in the jargon of the Empire, terrorism.

Meanwhile the intellectuals of the oppressed world made the same break with the left. But they remained being confronted with imperialist exploitation, penetration and oppression. And, they were faced with a continued popular resistance against imperialism of which the Palestinian struggle is the outstanding example. These circumstances gave birth to new combination of mass movements and leaderships being directed against imperialism based on the domestic national, cultural and religious heritage. So formerly predominately reactionary currents allied to imperialism, like Political Islam, changed side fighting together with the popular masses against imperialism – without necessary changing all reactionary aspects.

This is what the civil society does not – or more accurately does not want to – understand. In order to implement ethic values one needs political means. The main obstacle for a social and hence also an ethic change are the imperialist ruling classes which a historic defeat must be inflicted on. While it is certainly not enough in order to build a new society to fight against the imperialist oligarchy, it remains the pre-condition. Those refusing to fight taking lacking morale values as a pretext remain on the side of the capitalist elites. They are forced to reproduce the Kantian gap between the abstract eternal values and the concrete political means.

Dire fate of neo-reformism within the US Empire

While the agitated middle class activists might fall back into passive contemplation, the professional political leaders of the anti-globalisation movement definitely do not. They represent the other side of the medal of Kantian moralism, namely that politics cannot be other than to be dirty.

They have swiftly understood that there is a role to play for them in the unavoidable political crisis accompanying the establishment of the US Empire. The traditional left and mainly social-democrat forces are worn-out having lost any organic link to the poorer classes. The most outstanding example might be the Labour party of Toni Blair representing one wing of imperialist liberalism.

On the other hand the liberalist attacks are not passing uncontested. The war waged by the US and its plans to build an Empire are pre-emptive reactions to the smash the growing resistance. While the centre of these struggles is doubtlessly the oppressed world, also the imperialist countries – and mainly Europe – are experiencing the re-emergence of protests. The very anti-globalisation movement is an anticipative expression of this tendency.

So there is space for something which could be named "neo-reformism", even if a limited one.

Let us first remember that the notion "reformism" has a precise meaning and a clear collocation in history. In brief it means the granting of significant social and political concessions to the poor and labouring classes in exchange of accepting the capitalist system. European reformism saw it´s high time in the aftermath of the Second World War when imperialism was faced with the growing strength of the Soviet Union, the communist movement and well as the national liberation movements. To confront that threat unprecedented social reforms have been conceded providing in return unknown social and political stability to European capitalism.

After the historic and global defeat in 1989/91 of the communist challenge to the capitalist system, there seemed to be no more need for the imperialist bourgeoisies for reformism. On the contrary they were on the offensive attempting to remove all the concessions given before. But wherever resistance is mounted there is not only the response of direct confrontation but also mediation and integration.

This is exactly the role the Social Forums offered to play. Actually they were partially accepted. This is not only expressed by the dialogue with certain imperialist institutions like the IMF and the WB and even more the funding of a myriad of NGOs by the imperialist states. Maybe even more significant are the attempts to canalise the social and political discontent in neo-reformist projects reconciling it to the bi-polar regimes. Already quoted examples are Brazil and India where the WSF was used to bolster the centre left. In Europe the most outstanding example is the attempt of the Party of Communist Refoundation (PRC) to assume the very lead of the centre left coalition. Also in Germany, where the post war system entered a decisive crisis, there is a challenge to Social Democracy from the left with the credit of the anti-globalisation movement – with the eventual perspective for a sell-out to the centre left coalition.

But one should not let oneself deceive. Neo-reformism has no possibility whatsoever to grow to a phenomenon comparable to its precedent. It is obvious that the main tendency of the capitalist system is the frontal attack as represented by the neo-cons in Washington. Neo-reformism can at best be a collateral element as the elites want to concede at maximum crumbs. The impositions of Washington are unmistakable. Those who do not want to obey have to face punishment: "Whoever it not with us, is against us." So, different to historic reformism, the cycle of neo-reformism will not last half a century but is doomed to end after half a decade or even less. As we see it in Brazil none of the promises can be fulfilled. On the contrary neo-reformist governments have to carry on and even accelerate the liberalist agenda transforming themselves into pure and simple liberalism. Otherwise they would risk becoming target of the US crusade against the rogue states.

Growing gap

The pro-imperialist development of the WSF´s leadership and its supportive forces is clear and irreversible. We have seen the Brazilian example. We have mentioned the Italian example where the Social Forum is embarking on a ticket of the centre left pole of the regime. We have to note the French example – the birthplace and stronghold of Attack, the most moderate and right wing part of the anti-globalisation movement – where the forces composing the Social Forum are supporting the secularist crusade of French imperialism thus seconding the US crusade against Islam. To be taken notice of also the last European Social Forum where the organisers, supported by the Labour party´s mayor of London, invited a representative of the ICP, speaking under the guise of trade unions, legitimised the Iraqi quisling regime.

The latest expression of this tendency was the mobilisation on the occasion of the second anniversary of the aggression on Iraq on March 19. The Social Forum called for a European-wide demonstration in Brussels trying to diminish the question of the occupation of Iraq. It was of emblematic significance that in several European metropolises demonstrations were organised often without the Social Forums overcoming the reactionary slogan "neither war nor terror" and explicitly affirming the legitimacy of the Iraqi resistance.

Also in Porto Alegre this increasing gap between the neo-reformist forces and a growing current approaching the resistance was to be observed. A demonstration for the Palestinian struggle on the premises of the WSF gathered about 1.000 people. All positions were represented ranging from the re-iteration of the Oslo two state solution to a democratic state in entire historic Palestine. But what was significant is the fact that the support to the Palestinian case could not be contested, it has become something like common sense withing the left wing of the movement.

Together with a coalition of Brazilian anti-imperialist forces the Anti-imperialist Camp and the European Free Iraq Committees organised a demonstration in open and explicit support to the Iraqi resistance drawing about 500 people. Given the fact that the demand of the withdrawal of the US troops from Iraq was accompanied with the demand for the withdrawal of the Brazilian troops from Haiti and thus constituted an outright attack on the PT and the WSF, it was a considerable success expressing a general current. One must be aware that in Brazil nearly all forces of the left support the Iraqi resistance and have no prejudices against its Islamic or Baathist components, even those supporting the Lula government. An anti-Yankee sentiment is widespread though-out the society going hand in hand with strongly pro-Arab positions which includes the support to the resistance. This could already be experienced one year earlier in Mumbai, India, and can be regarded as a general tendency in the oppressed world.

Another sign from the heart of the anti-globalisation movement are the positions put forward by the current "Focus on the Global South" led by Walden Bello. They are not only supporting the Iraqi resistance, but explicitly recognise the Islamic and Islamist currents fighting against imperialism as integral part of the anti-globalisation movement. And they joined the conclusion of the Anti-imperialist Camp or the Indian anti-imperialist coalition having emerged from Mumbai Resistance 2004, namely the urgent necessity of a new "Anti-imperialist Movement". The main difference – this is, however, decisive – remain that as in the last instance governmentally funded NGOs they what to stay under the umbrella of the WSF taking a hostile position to independent revolutionary and communist forces associated with the "old left". Hence the escalating conflict with the Communist Party of the Philippines, the country of origin of Walden Bello.

Decades of imperialist oppression make not only the popular masses but also the middle classes of the "Third World" intuitively grasp the mortal threat emanating from the emerging American Empire. So the anti-US current is undeniable the political expression of the interests of the popular masses. The resistance to anti-Americanism and to the popular resistance movements like in Iraq thus is a phenomenon limited to the Western middle class civil society which in the last instance defends the capitalist world system.

Iraqi resistance as icebreaker for Anti-imperialism

The examples quoted indicate that already by now there is an organic drive to take anti-imperialist action beyond the WSF which is revealed to not serve as an instrument for such. But it is not enough. Many still want to remain under the umbrella of the WSF as supposedly the "masses are there". It is necessary to take a decisive further step ahead and organise independently of the WSF which has passed over to the other side of the line. The experience and success of Mumbai Resistance 2004 teaches that this is possible. With the crisis of the WSF and its impending decay this task becomes urgent.

One of the countless expressions of the ending of the WSF´s cycle is the decision of Porto Alegre to not hold a central next WSF in the coming year but to embark on meetings on continental level. This can be read as the awareness that the imprints of the host country, in the case of Brazil the governmental machine of the PT, are much too strong. However, the consequence of this decision is the weakening of the grip of the central leadership composed of the French-Brazilian axis. Whether they can re-take the initiative in two years, as scheduled, remains to be seen.

Meanwhile the Iraqi resistance can and must serve as the icebreaker for the formation and unification of the anti-imperialist forces and tendencies. Everybody understands that the Iraqi resistance is today the main challenge to the US war and Empire. If it succeeds it would mean a severe set-back for the US hegemony pushing ahead other focuses of resistance.

In Europe a network of the very different forces in support of the Iraqi resistance is emerging. The political ground for such initiatives and a similar co-operation in the oppressed world is even better while the means for co-ordination lag behind. As the next step an international conference in support of the Iraqi resistance is scheduled for the anniversary of the Palestinian Intifada on the weekend of 1/2 October in Italy. While hosted by the European network it calls upon the international movement to participate. Its aim is clearly to create an international co-ordination in support of the Iraqi resistance. The fact that it is organised on this smallest common denominator is helping us to overcome the separation originating in historic denominations and demarcations no more appropriate today drawing forces together which might have been deadly enemies once.

But this is only the first immediate step. At the same time, in parallel, we have to prepare the creation of a co-ordination, a coalition of the various re-emerging anti-imperialist forces and popular resistance movements which is not limited to the Iraqi question but heading towards a stable Anti-imperialist Front challenging the imperialist system on a global level.

The unifying momentum is the aggressive war drive of the US Empire in creation. This Empire is the concrete form the imperialist system assumes today, drawing the minor imperialist powers behind the US in order to commonly confront the resistance forces.

In fact the US Empire is a preventive means to smash any attempts of unification of the resistance forces of which the revolutionary Anti-imperialist Front is on the long run the most realistic and dangerous one. As Nazism emerged to destroy communism, the US Empire emerges to preventively put down anti-imperialism.

Actually the situation is similar to the period of the advent of the Nazis with their aggression designed to establish their global dominance – maybe with the decisive difference that that at that time imperialism was split in two antagonist camps while today it is essentially unified behind Washington. As at that time it was necessary to establish an Anti-fascist Front today it is all the more necessary to build a front against the American Empire which might be called anti-Yankee, anti-Americanist (referring to the system driving the US Empire as Americanism) or simply anti-American.

While in the period climaxing and terminating in WWII it was indeed a danger that the Anti-fascist efforts ended up in supporting the rival Entente imperialist block (which actually happened and led to the Yalta partition of the world eventually paving to the US Empire), the anti-American position substantially depends on the mobilisation of the oppressed people and especially the popular classes including in the West as the bourgeoisie´s rallies behind the US. So anti-Americanism is the concrete form of anti-imperialism having also the necessary appeal for mass mobilisations.

Anti-imperialist Forum

The growing anti-imperialist forces must be aware of the fact that they remain highly fragmented and heterogeneous. This is a result of the historic defeat they suffered. There is no single force able to claim the leadership as the leadership is not something to be imposed but an authority acquired by successful struggles creating consensus, conquering hegemony.

So a co-operation of anti-imperialist forces must take into account of the differences which will not be overcome in a short period of time. They must find ways to co-operate despite unresolved divergences. Therefore the form of a forum as chosen also by the WSF might be adopted and adapted at least for the first stage. However, by assuming this form one must not take over also its structural weaknesses and illnesses which is the unwillingness and incapacity to take collective decisions leaving de facto exclusive executive powers to an unelected elite connected to the imperialist media apparatus.

Mumbai Resistance 2004 (MR) was the first gathering laying the fundament for such a track. As the next step we adopt a proposal of the revolutionary wing of the Bolivarian movement calling for an international Anti-imperialist gathering in parallel to then Latin American Social Forum scheduled for January 2006 in Venezuela. Considering the venue this Social Forum will decisively shift to the left assuming at least partially anti-imperialist positions without, however, being ready to break with the WSF. The Anti-imperialist gathering will have to try to relate to currents leaning towards anti-imperialist positions convincing them to stand on their own feet. This proposal for an independent Anti-imperialist Forum will certainly receive much more resonance than back in January 2004 in India.

For the following year 2007 we propose the foundation of an international Anti-imperialist Forum to take place once again in India continuing the positive experience of MR being able to tackle and overcome traditional sectarianisms. The follow-up committee of MR has already signalled its readiness due to be confirmed.

Socialist world order

As Darshan Pal, one of the leaders of MR, put it correctly, anti-imperialism is our smallest common denominator, but our proposal must be clear, a socialist world order as the only viable alternative to capitalist imperialism. However, the way to a second revolutionary and communist onslaught on imperialism is long and tortuous. For the time being the creation of Anti-imperialist Front able to inflict defeats on imperialism by using its main contradiction – that between the imperialist oligarchy and the popular masses of the oppressed countries – as a leverage is the main contribution to the necessary reconstruction of a new leadership and organisation as well as the re-elaboration of a new programme of communist revolution.

Willi Langthaler
April 2005

Article written for the Austrian magazine "Bruchlinien" and the Italian review "Eretica" and reproduced with their permission.