AROUND 200 European activists gathered in Barcelona two weekends ago to make final preparations for the European Social Forum (ESF) in Florence from 6 to 9 November. The ESF will be a festival of resistance. Every aspect of the new movements will be debated out at huge meetings, self organised seminars and workshops. The assembly in Barcelona agreed that the main demonstration in Florence on Saturday 9 November should focus against an attack on Iraq.
This will be the first Europe-wide mobilisation against war. Activists who can't make the conference are encouraged to come just for this protest. The meeting also agreed to call a Europe-wide day of mass demonstrations, probably in December.
There were arguments over the war. Members of the British anti-capitalist group Globalise Resistance proposed that the meeting should issue an anti-war statement. Some activists from the ATTAC anti-globalisation group in France opposed this and argued against the war dominating proceedings in Florence. They were worried that an anti-war stance that was too strong might alienate other sections of the movement in France.
These kind of arguments have led to weak anti-war movements in some parts of Europe. It is vital that we have a massive turnout from Britain in Florence so that the experience of the movement here has maximum impact. The ESF will start on the evening of Wednesday 6 November.
The three days of official conferences and debates will take place in the mornings and evenings starting on Thursday. Thursday and Friday afternoons will be given over to forums organised by different groups. The main demonstration will start on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday morning there will be an assembly of the social movements to plan upcoming mobilisations.
Florence will be a chance to pursue the debates about the kind of movements we need to build, and to strengthen resistance here. Already over 700 people from Britain are booked to come to Florence, but more are signing up. Make sure you spread the word.
Register now on www.fse-esf.org Cheap flights to Pisa, Bologna and Verona all get you within hours of Florence. The English mobilisation is running coaches to Florence for the whole event for £95/£80. The chartered train has been called off. For information phone 020 7053 2072 or go to www.mobilise.org.uk