Socialist Worker

Start planning for these great events

by Chris Bambery, national secretary of the SWP, writes
Issue No. 1860

THE demonstrations against the G8 summit in Evian, France, a month ago showed that the anti-capitalist movement is alive and well. Around 100,000 people took part in the biggest protest, shattering the predictions of some critics. They had said just a few tens of thousands would turn up.

Now there are three major anti-capitalist events coming up. They are the European Social Forum in Paris (12-16 November), the second conference in Cairo of the International Committee Against US Aggression (26 October) and the World Social Forum in Bombay (16-21 January 2004).

PARIS There is a chance to repeat the success of the last European Social Forum (ESF), held in Florence.

It was inspirational to anyone who went. People are still talking about the size and enthusiasm, the anti-war demonstration, and how the social forum was a vastly enjoyable experience. It created a space where a whole range of different views could come together and discuss.

The spirit generated at Florence resulted in the historically important decision to set 15 February as a date for global demonstrations against the war on Iraq. The added spice to this year's Paris conference is that it comes after the biggest strikes in France since 1968. French workers threw up new forms of rank and file organisation, and the far left played an important role in that.

There's a great chance for trade unionists and campaigners from Britain to discuss what happened with French trade unionists, and the lessons for us all. Italy is at the centre of the anti-capitalist and anti-war demonstrations. France is at the centre of working class resistance. In Paris it is possible to bring the two strands together. It would be a major step forward for the movement.

CAIRO The Cairo conference is important because of the effect the anti-war and anti-capitalist movement has had on the revival of the left in the Arab world. It is about movements in the West and the Middle East standing together. It undercuts those who try to portray conflicts as being between Christians and Muslims, or the North against the South. The anti-war demonstrations in London have had an impact in Egypt and other Arab countries.

The conference in Cairo means that for the first time in generations the left in the Arab world and Egypt have the opportunity to meet to exchange ideas, discuss and plan.

BOMBAY The next World Social Forum (WSF) will be held in Bombay in India. One of the accusations made against the anti-capitalist movement is that we're all white middle class kids living in the West. The revolts against IMF and World Bank policies across the globe give the lie to that. So does the fact that the WSF is held in countries such as India. Internationalism is at the heart of the anti-capitalist, anti-war movement. It is really important to take every opportunity to develop links with activists in the Third World.

The Asian Social Forum in January this year in India was a huge success. There is a massive left in the Indian subcontinent and across Asia. We should mobilise for Bombay to develop links and help coordinate a common fight. Obviously the three events cannot be equal in scale and mobilisation from Britain.

Most stop the war groups and trade union branches might, with major effort, fund one person to represent them in Bombay or Cairo. It is really important to raise money to get those delegations there. When it comes to Paris it is obviously much easier to get there.

There's an opportunity for everyone to mobilise on an even greater scale than we did for Florence - there could be several thousand people there from Britain. It would be wonderful to see all the component elements of the movement there in large numbers - trade unionists, students, community activists, etc.

The British mobilising committee for the ESF has booked a train with 800 places. Many people will want to book up as quickly as possible. The left in Britain is used to thinking that we are a bit of a backwater compared to what is happening globally.

But people from other countries are excited about what is happening in Britain. Most obviously there is the size of the anti-war movement here. But they are also excited by the sense that New Labour is on its way out. People from Britain can contribute our experience of the great anti-war movement. We can learn from those involved in the recent French strikes.

ESF Train to Paris leaves Wednesday 12 November, returning Sunday 16 November. To book phone 020 7053 2072 or go to
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Sat 19 Jul 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1860
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