IF YOU are against globalisation and war, and for freedom and justice, you should be planning to come to the European Social Forum (ESF). The forum will be held in Florence from 7 to 10 November. The ESF looks set to be one of the biggest and most exciting anti-capitalist events of the year. It is going to be a huge assembly for everyone who is against neo-liberalism and war.
The idea behind the forum came from the marvellous World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in February. After some 70,000 people turned up similar events on every continent were planned. The Italians have already booked conference space for nearly 30,000 people.
Last weekend I joined over 300 European activists meeting in Vienna to continue planning the ESF. Most strands of the movement were well represented. For example, the British delegation included activists from War on Want, Globalise Resistance, Attac, the Stop the War Coalition, trade unions, the Socialist Alliance and the Green Party.
The meeting was a model of the unity that the movement is developing. Environmentalists were planning forums with socialists. Young anti-capitalists made sure that the ESF puts defending asylum seekers centre stage. Trade unionists applauded the energy and radicalism of the movement. Activists worked on practicalities, the programme and logistics of the event, and ways to mobilise for it.
The many huge conferences planned will address issues from corporate power to the struggle for workers' rights and women's liberation. Many activists argued that the key questions of the moment-the fight against Euro-fascism, the struggle for freedom in Palestine and the fight against Bush's war-need to have special prominence in the programme. There were some contentious issues.
Some people argued that political parties should not be allowed to participate in the forum. Many others, including the British delegates, argued that lots of political parties are central to the movement, so it would be arbitrary and dishonest to exclude them.
To keep out politicians who support the neo-liberal agenda, all parties and groups should have to sign up to the World Social Forum Charter. Delegates left Vienna ready to set about spreading the word, and involving more new groups and individuals.
Greek activists have already shown what is possible by getting the support of their main trade union federation for the ESF. It will be a fantastic rallying point for the anti-capitalist movement at a crucial moment in European politics.
Every activist needs to get their organisation affiliated to the ESF.
Organise ESF public meetings in your town or city, and start raising money to get people to Florence in November.
For more information and resources go to http://uk.geocities.com/mobilisationesf or phone Globalise Resistance on 020 8980 3005.
Open meeting of the English mobilisation for the ESF: Monday 20 May, 6.30pm, London School of Economics, Great Houghton Street, London.