THERE’S ONLY three weeks to go before the European Social Forum (ESF) hits London. Tens of thousands will come to Alexandra Palace to discuss alternatives to capitalism and debate the way forward for the movement.
Activists attending the ESF will have a packed diary over four days, with hundreds of seminars and workshops covering almost every political topic under the sun.
The meetings are organised around six main themes: war and peace; democracy and fundamental rights; social justice and solidarity; corporate globalisation and global justice; against racism and the far right; and environmental crisis.
Here’s just a taste of some of the events on offer that readers of Socialist Worker might want to attend:
Thursday 14 October - The opening ceremony
The ESF officially opens in the evening with a welcoming ceremony for delegates from across Europe. That evening, at the Prince Charles cinema in Leicester Square, socialist film-maker Ken Loach will unveil a new director’s cut of his inspiring movie Bread and Roses.
The film is about low paid US cleaners and their fight for justice. Ken Loach will introduce the film alongside cleaners from London’s Canary Wharf business complex, who have recently mounted a high profile campaign for improved pay and conditions.
Friday 15 October - Bosses get a scrubbing
The ESF proper kicks off at 9am in Alexandra Palace, with a huge variety of plenaries and seminars covering topics including war, democracy, privatisation, racism and the environment.
At 4pm the Canary Wharf cleaners will head up a demonstration against their treatment by multinational companies based in London’s Docklands. The evening sees what promises to be an electrifying rally featuring Asher D and others speaking on rap, racism and resistance.
Saturday 16 October - Love Music Hate Racism
Three of the new left wing parties that have been active in the global movement against neo-liberalism will be coming together to host a rally at the ESF fringe—Britain’s Respect, Brazil’s P-Sol and Italy’s Rifondazione Comunista.
That evening sees a pan-European anti-fascist concert at the Astoria in central London, promoted by Love Music Hate Racism and Ethical Threads. The line-up includes Billy Bragg, Lady Sovereign, Skitz & Rodney P, plus Carbon/Silicon—ex-Clash guitarist Mick Jones’s new band.
Sunday 17 October - Action after the debates
The Assembly of the Social Movements meets all morning at Alexandra Palace. This is the umbrella body for all the anti-capitalist and anti-war organisations involved in the ESF. It will launch pan-European protests against next year’s G8 summit in Scotland.
The ESF comes to a climax with a huge demonstration against George Bush, the occupation of Iraq and and neo-liberal privatisation.
The closing concert in Trafalgar Square will include Dot Allison of Massive Attack performing with ex-Libertines frontman Pete Doherty. Asian Dub Foundation will also perform their new soundtrack to the classic anti-imperialist film The Battle of Algiers.
War and peace
George Galloway, Aleida Guevara (daughter of Che) and Ahmed Ben Bella, hero of the Algerian independence struggle, will be among the speakers at a meeting on “Challenging US imperialism”.
Tony Benn and Eamonn McCann, the veteran Northern Irish socialist, will take part in a session on “Overcoming wars in Europe”.
Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, will join Iraqi trade union leader Subhi al-Mashadani at a meeting on “Ending the occupation of Iraq”.
Alex Callinicos, author of The New Mandarins of American Power, will be speaking at a session debating “Is Europe an alternative to US Empire?”
Democracy and fundamental rights
Angela Davis, the inspirational American civil rights activist, will join women’s rights campaigners and feminists from across the world to debate “Women struggling against oppression”.
Social justice and solidarity
Meena Menon, leading activist with India’s mill workers’ unions, will join RMT general secretary Bob Crow to discuss “Labour rights against casualisation, exploitation and deregulation”.
Michael Albert, editor of the ZNet radical website, joins Jonathan Neale of Globalise Resistance and Susan George, author and campaigner, to debate “What kind of a world do we want?”
Campaigning journalist John Pilger will be speaking at a meeting to discuss “Culture, education, intellectual property and the media”.
Corporate globalisation and global justice
Evo Morales, the Bolivian radical activist, joins Mark Curtis of the World Development movement at a session entitled “Our world is not for sale”.
Tariq Ramadan, the renowned Muslim theorist recently barred from a teaching post in the US, is among the speakers at a meeting on “Voices of resistance from the global South”.
Walden Bello, the head of Focus on the Global South, will join speakers from G8 Alternatives, the mobilising group for next year’s demonstrations in Scotland, at a meeting entitled “G8: global poverty and protest”.
Against racism and the far right
Anas Altikriti, Respect candidate at the June elections and former president of the Muslim Association of Britain, will join other speakers to discuss “Muslims in Europe: perspectives and challenges”.
Ken Livingstone, who chairs Unite Against Fascism, joins speakers from France, Greece, Poland and Hungary at a session on “Stopping fascism and the far right in Europe”.
José Bové, the French author, farmer and anti-McDonald’s activist, joins campaigning journalist George Monbiot and others to debate “Environmental crisis and European responsibility”.
Samir Amin, the Egyptian radical economist, and Ann Pettifor of the New Economics Foundation discuss “Ending the myth of development and growth”.