Lancaster IMC | 20.10.2004 15:00
It is one thing to condemn an action with a clear and important message for political reasons, but when done in ignorance it is an act that requires reflection if we're to develop an intellectually honest approach to creating that other world, which is indeed possible. The disruption of the ESF was, of course, not a racist attack and Mr. Jasper's statements has accordingly been denounced by anti-racist grass-roots groups already (Footnote 2).
If Mr. Jasper and friends, who organise hierarchically from within the state power and who condone such organising, honestly want to denounce grass-roots, federated architectures of organisation , then so be it – but to do so under a banner reading “Another World is Possible” is in no way any different, in terms of honesty, then when George Bush II speaks of freedom and democracy. It is utterly non-sensical. There is nothing new or other-worldliness to a big event in a Victorian palace --where notabilities speak on podiums overlooking the masses who are subjected, thereby, to realise the emancipating lessons, where it cost more than most socially marginalised people can afford to enter-- if those circumstances are indicative of novelty then please help me out, because I see none. What I saw was accommodation in the dome where people were offered a cold concrete floor and the free marketeers, like vultures, were hanging out selling crap overpriced blankets to the people – I saw corporate food outlets in front of the palace selling all the usual products that are causing environmental destruction and produced with bonded labour -and so on and so on. It never ends. By contrast I saw free food and good mood at the autonomous space called Beyond ESF at Middlesex University, Tottenham campus, kindly provided by the Anarchist Teapot. Can you spot the difference?
What is novel, however, is that after 3 years of social fora--- (the first one of which took place in Porto Alegre and already was heavily criticised before it happened, the recent North Western Social Forum in the U.S., which collapsed due to similar appropriation of decision making structures and framing of the event by the authoritarian, self-righteous organisations that call themselves socialist or 'the left' or progressive NGOs (Footnote 3)) -----people finally took self-organised direct action against the scam. It was of course merely a symbolic action bringing to the attention of those present that the ESF is an Anti-Social Forum organised along the lines of the very system of oppression and repression known as representative liberal democracy (and funded, thus effectively controlled by the state itself in the guise of the Greater London Authority and Mr. War Party Livingstone). These lines, these forms of 'organisation' are but poor excuses and hardly much of a reform either: it is merely a generational changeover or a passing of authoritarian power from one group to another. Everybody knows, as Leonard Cohen sang, that the fight was fixed.
That is where they came from, those people. They came to present a very valid critique of the ways in which the ESF has been organised, controlled and policed – which is the primary reflection of ethical, moral, cultural and political sentiments behind the ESF. It is those that people have publicly denounced.
When the people were rejected a speaking position on the ESF stage in Trafalgar Square, they were acting in order to bring to the awareness of the passively listening crowd that in fact huge groups, who had been Sectioned 60 and otherwise harassed all the way from Tottenham, were being man-handled behind the stage, as the rap outfit following the speeches so nicely put it.
When the ESF combines it own voluntary security with phone calls to the Police in order to deny perfectly legitimate political activist groups a voice –-a voice that is needed in a world of war and unjust policing-- then we are no longer playing on the same team. We all want to march in the name of peace together – but we can't if some groups are not allowed their constitutional rights. “Excuse me Ms., we are going to take your mobile phone's SIM card and return it to you whenever we have copied it!” is a fairly light-handed violation, but we all know that push always come to shove (Footnote 4). The recent seizure of servers is another aspect of the systematic repression that grass-roots groups face from an ever more aggressively policing state of war: http://docs.indymedia.org/view/Global/AhimsaOverview. We don't need, on top of that, to listen to random unfair accusations.
So, to Mr. Jasper and all the other groups involved with the ESF: wake up and understand that you are like dinosaurs when you denounce grass-roots and that it is incredibly opportunistic to claim, in the peoples' name, that another world is possible when all that you are doing is to replicate the organising of the very structures of suppression that self-organised peoples' groups, collectives and networks have been struggling against since time immemorial. And if you want to flash yourself in corporate media, then at least do your homework. Ignorance is no bliss in this case. Shame on you!