UK Social Forum Network

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captainmission
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Jun 6 2004 16:16
UK Social Forum Network

Following a meeting from people from social forums across the country this weekend, it was proposed the setting up of a national network of social forums. This network aims to facilitate better communications between social forums across the country, so as to share experiences, resources and allow for joint campainging and actions. Anyone involved in social forums here interested?

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Jacques Roux
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Jun 24 2004 10:23

Dont really know much about it.... Is there somewhere you can go to find out about UK SFs at the moment? Or is this what the net's all about?

Oi!
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Jun 24 2004 18:26

I am involved in the Manc Social Forum and am currently helping to build a National website as was agreed at a recent meeting of UK social forums in M/C (really just a portal to local SF's), there is an email group for UK Social Forums and one has just been set up to link European local SF's.

Can post address for either if anyone is interested?

circle ASpeaking the Truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.circle A George Orwell

lucy82
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Jun 25 2004 18:20

between the proposed network and the one that already exists ad hoc between social forums which is developing in its own time, into something working pretty well?

and portals already exist also - if you use the internet you can find the info on social forums pretty easily anyway...

just seems we are in danger of too many lists, (now here comes another one, with associated email address, to connect local sfs with european sfs - don't we already have this!!)

confuses the f**k out of me anyway

too much admin type stuff.. i'm in favour of letting things develop a little more organically..

captain mission and oi

i know you will know who i am so tongue

ah well..

captainmission
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Jun 27 2004 22:12
rkn wrote:
Dont really know much about it.... Is there somewhere you can go to find out about UK SFs at the moment? Or is this what the net's all about?

try http://www.sheffieldsocialforum.org/links.htm for links to SF arround the country, the UK networks still in the process of being set up.

Quote:
i'm in favour of letting things develop a little more organically..

if by organic you mean piling lots of shit on stuff, then your doing a fine job lucy tongue

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Jacques Roux
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Jun 27 2004 22:49

The SSF site is pretty slick 8) Cheers for the links!

lucy82
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Jun 29 2004 16:46

Heres some more shit then... long but worth the read..... got it today from one of my spys and it wasn't meant for publication which seems a good reason to do it!! just because.

also it contains info on the make-up of the magic october meeting rather than just the endless process of the process of the process ....

"these are the throughts of the Italian comrades on the SWP/Socialist Action grouping so far leading the ESF. It was n't meant to be publisc but it's played a useful role.

ciao"

English translation of Italian document of 10 June reporting on programme group meeting, Paris 29-30 May.

The meeting was more tiring than the previous ones and was often tense, conflictual and disagreeable. This was due mainly to the more powerful groups in the British delegation (the SWP or Socialist Workers’ Party, Socialist Action which is the political grouping around the Mayor Livingstone and the RMT and other small trade unions which are involved), which attempted to impose their own themes, ‘axes’ and ‘titles’, were constantly unwilling to enter into real dialogue, tried to impose their own way, were often arrogant or used blackmail, repeatedly refusing to accept decisions and titles which had already been decided hours before. The result was that many of the other delegations were exasperated and were frequently compelled to raise their voices or in turn threaten to leave. In general terms the work is still affected by the provincialism of the British contingent and their distance from the rest of Europe: they believe the matters they are dealing with in their ‘province’ are of universal importance and the whole thing is aggravated by their incapacity or unwillingness to discuss things. This does not concern the entire British delegation: the other half are not used to shouting and it would have been far more constructive if they had been able to play a central role. However, they were happy that we are starting to struggle against a more authoritarian and non-communicative way of doing things and that we shall be circulating in the UK a report which is very severely critical of these types of behaviour and those who are responsible for them. [The term British is used throughout this document to refer only to the disruptive ‘vertical’ element of the British delegation, unless otherwise specified]

We are telling you this not to put you off but to ask you to make the maximum effort for the next meeting in Berlin: it would be dangerous to allow the whole process to drift aimlessly, so this is a matter of damage limitation in order not to put at risk the entire process of the ESF, including what happens after London.

In Paris we managed to redefine the six axes and the titles of some plenaries which will number around 24 (and not 12 as the British were initially asking) and could even reach a maximum of 30. Also the plenaries will probably last about 3 hours, even though the British asked for some of two hours and some of three. At the end no final decision was taken.

In Berlin, first in the Programme Group meetings and afterwards in the European Assembly it should be possible to reach a conclusion about the plenaries and decide the criteria for the seminars.

As the Italian delegation we asked that each plenary should include time for general information about and analysis of the overall issue then give the specific cases and the alternative proposals. We confirmed support for parity, with a 50%-50% female/male ratio of contributions and at least one by a “non-white” person.

The general title of the London Forum: For Another Europe or Another Europe is Possible.

There were many problems involved in translating the titles from one language to another and the decision was taken to define them, maybe in a rather different way, collectively in the four languages of the main delegations which were present and we in particular insisted that the titles appear in Italian in the report as well. And now we come to the titles of the axes and the plenaries which have been more or less defined.

Axis 1

War and Peace

Plenaries

Iraq and the anti-war movement

What future for Palestine?

Strategies for peace and global disarmament: against the (new) nuclear weapons and military bases

Overcoming war in Europe

Challenging US imperialism

Axis 2

Democracy and fundamental rights

Plenaries

The process of building a democratic Europe

A common basis of fundamental rights (this will also involve the question of gender and difference, which the British wanted to reduce merely to equality at work and in the provision of public services)

For a Europe of peoples and citizens (this will also involve the right to be a citizen where you are resident, which may also be dealt with in plenary 2, and the right to self-determination to guarantee the ‘nations without a state’, the linguistic and ethnic minorities)

Beyond Maastricht and the stability pact, new anti-neoliberal economic policies

The enlargement of the European union (to the east, but also towards other countries such as Turkey)

Where this axis is concerned Pierre Barge and Franco Russo will collect further proposals for amendments to be submitted to the Berlin meetings.

Axis 3

Corporate globalisation and global justice (English version) Neoliberal globalisation, privatisation and commodification, global justice (Italian version)

On this subject there was a really bitter political conflict which did not reach a conclusion and will reopen in Berlin, around the division of the axis ‘against neoliberal globalisation’ into two axes, a division accepted by all but with very different criteria. The Italian delegation strongly supported including the theme of commodification of both ‘social resources’ and natural resources, to show that this is the specific and general problem of the current phase of neoliberalism which pervades both the South and the North of the world. On this matter the conditioning of the ‘stronger’ [orthodox left/SWP] part of the British group was very evident in that they decided to reserve themselves the right to consult the British NGOs over proposals of titles and plenaries in Berlin, after battling for hours to try and ensure that this axis would relate exclusively to North-South relations and relations between rich and poor countries, but not discuss global commodification and privatisation of public infrastructure) schools, health service, energy, transport etc.), maintaining that this would only be an interesting subject for the rich part of the planet (sic!). From their point of view the other axis might bracket together work, privatizations and deregulation of public services, giving Trade Unions sole responsibility for this whole ‘packet’ of issues, as if privatisation and commodification were central issues only for workers – and trade union workers at that!

We, on the other hand, insisted on having one axis wholly devoted to work/not work/casual work/migrant workers and another axis to bring together North-South,WTO, privatisations and global commodification in the North as in the South.

The Italian delegation said that they would therefore have rendered the English-language title as ‘Neoliberal globalisation, commodification/privatisation and global justice’.

This is a long-winded title which could be simplified once the general format has been clarified, but in Berlin this will reopen the argument because in Paris part of the British delegation repeatedly returned to the same old title they had proposed before (made to fit the NGOs). Only after an ‘insurrection’ by the majority of those present did they finally take on board the fact that the title given above had been agreed upon three or four times. As the format had not been fully clarified we did not reach an agreement on the titles of the pleanries. Everyone will make their proposals before Berlin and when we get there things will be discussed again.

Axis 4

More pain!

After a great deal of discussion to avoid reducing this axis, which should have dealt with work/not work, to the title proposed by the British – ‘Solidarity and social justice’, which would have meant the disappearance of specific forms of day to day working conditions from the axis, the group eventually arrived, after repeated British attempts to insist on their own proposal, at the title:

Against deregulation: social rights, rights at work and women’s rights

The Italian delegation argued about the way women’s rights were included because it was limited merely to the politics of equal opportunity. However, we accepted a compromise in order to avoid something worse.

A British trade unionist proposed plenaries which were either too specific or had titles which, for example dealt with all the public services together and seen only from the ‘work’, poverty, pensions angle which would have distorted the meaning of this axis. As the situation remained confused it was decided to nominate three people, one of whom was Benzi, to suggest titles which could be submitted to the Berlin meetings.

Axis 5

Against racism and discrimination, against the extreme right: for equality and diversity

Here again we had fundamental disagreements with the British contingent, but they also disagreed among themselves. Some of them wanted the plenaries to cover only their point of view – with racism as the only form of discrimination – and, in addition to that, that the plenaries should focus on the communities which were prevalent in the UK, give an exaggerated centrality to the struggle against fascism and again give the greatest possible importance to Islamophobia, even with one plenary devoted to ‘the veil’ [hejab] as a key problem. Almost all the other delegations insisted till they were blue in the face that we should remember that there are also other ‘phobias’ in Europe and that it is not only the Black and Asian communities which experience racism, that even if fascism is a danger it is not the main peril facing Europe today and that discrimination is not just about race because there are other forms (such as discrimination against people who make different sexual choices). There was a very tiring struggle involving various blackmail attempts from [part of] the UK delegation (the Socialist Action representative even said that Livingstone who, he claimed, was extremely busy in the anti-fascist front, would remove sponsorship if the plenary on fascism did not take place). In the end the titles for the plenaries were decided as follows:

The alliances required to unite against racism

Stopping fascism in Eastern Europe

Against fortress Europe: for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants

The Muslim presence in Europe: challenges and perspectives or Islamophobia and civil rights

Axis 6

Environmental crises and the sustainable society

The title works, but the plenaries are yet to be decided as there was not enough time to discuss them so everyone can send in proposals before Berlin. This allows us to discuss them in Italy and present them in the programme work group on the 17th in Berlin.

There is a proposal from Franco Russo which, even if it is not particularly original, suggests: Climate, Water, Energy, Infrastructure (i cd corridoi[?]) and Agriculture.

It should be added that there is clearly a need for a plenary on Culture, even though in our opinion it would be a lot better to have an entire culture-space which would be properly organised in itself. Part of the British delegation has proposed, without any special connections with other themes, that there be one or two plenaries on a [new] movements-parties-trade unions axis.

ATTENTION! Before leaving Paris Benzi, Bernocchi, Mecozzi and Sophie Safari agreed on the proposal to send a letter from Italy and a letter from France (or a joint letter) to the UK Organising Committee outlining our criticisms of the way the ESF process has gone, explaining calmly but firmly that there is a need for them to find a much better way of working together and relating to others than they have at present, otherwise we shall pull out of the process (maybe we will not say it in such a brutal way, but this is what we mean!).

Finally, ATTENTION: for our essential pre-Berlin meeting the proposals are for the 15th and 16th of June so express your preferences quickly,

That’s all. A hug!

lucy82
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Jun 29 2004 16:53

and you just like being kept in the dark

esf whore.... tongue

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Jacques Roux
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Jun 29 2004 16:58

Interesting text :S

lucy82
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Jun 29 2004 17:11

edited because i decided i'd take names off the beginning and the end. not that it matters that much.

i was being good.

twisted

captainmission
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Jun 29 2004 19:12
lucy82 wrote:
and you just like being kept in the dark

ya what?

Quote:
got it today from one of my spys and it wasn't meant for publication which seems a good reason to do it!!

So that's why we discussed it in an MSF meeting? Or why its been on the UKSF elist? (complete with a typically pathetic reply from that bougeois prizefighter of the SWP alex calinicos)

lucy82
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Jun 29 2004 20:34

Ok you won. I stand down my spies. Incompetent bastards. BUT not everyone goes to Manchester SF meetings (thankfully for them….) and it doesn’t hurt to be able to read the document especially if you weren’t there or don’t like e-lists (who does?).

UKSF elist. (returning to my original point)…. Too many lists and most people avoid them sensibly. Why do we need so many lists/email addresses every time Manc SF breathes out?

Yes, I do spread the shit. But its not for the sake of doing it. As Mariangela says of herself “I am one of the people of the M'er SF who is spending time in order to democratise the ESF process and I do think that this has to be done at all levels. It is important that people who are going to be involved see the differences in the process and make their own mind up.

Yeah, me too. From a different perspective. Sorry if you don't like it.

Btw, did anyone reply to alex callinicos?

captainmission
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Jun 29 2004 22:34

there's a manc SF list and a UK SF list. Since that's two different networks is 2 really to many for people to cope with?

I mean you've often expressed the feeling that local social forums will be taken over by the process 'building' for the ESF (a concern that i also have), then why have you come on a thread about building a national network and talked about the ESF, when this isn't the networks soul, or even primary purpose?

reply to the grand wizard callinicos at http://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/uksocialforum/2004-06/msg00030.html

lucy82
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Jun 30 2004 07:21

there are more than two. i'd list them but i have to go to work now. i think theres about five lists etc (including the esf process lists etc etc) but i can't be arsed so whatever.

which wasn't really the point but never mind.

also i posted the esf info on this thread because i couldn't think where else i was supposed to put it. and it might not be the sole or even primary purpose (although, unsurprisingly, i would dispute the latter to some extent), but it is part of it. Or are you saying that building national networks of social forums is unrelated to the mobilising for the esf? urgh, its that horrible mobilising word again...

that'd explain why suddenly theres a rash of social forum mobilising committees springing up around the country three months ish before the esf then, would it?

anyway, heres to building a national network. we've been doing it for ages anyway - which was my original point. it'll be interesting to see what develops as this process accelerates and what happens after October..... lets hope its worth more than how many coaches to the esf were booked and that some "ordinary" people might actually be able to afford to go. also have you seen the document about General Interest Services/the World Bank/WTO at the ESF?

and then theres esf 2005. best start preparing for that now.

i will continue to swim agaisnt the current. i apologise for posting esf stuff in the wrong place.

bye

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Jul 1 2004 11:56
lucy82 wrote:
i will continue to swim agaisnt the current. i apologise for posting esf stuff in the wrong place.

Nobody likes you, you don't care. tongue Mr. T

lucy82
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Jul 1 2004 16:34

as long as some organisations hate me, i'll be fine (i like SOME individuals though - especially if they make me cakes..........) smile

if the organisations stop hating me, i'll know i'm doing something wrong...

swimming not drowning

tongue