Monday, December 22, 2003

Comradely Solidarity

Fascinating stuff in Weekly Worker on the proposed 2004 European Social Forum. It appears the comrades of the UK Left would have trouble arranging a drinks party in a Majestic warehouse.

"During the lunch break, comrades from the autonomist tradition (the tradition formerly known as 'anarchist' - LT) unilaterally decided to turn all 200 chairs to face the middle - apparently in order to “facilitate consensus decision-making”, and because it is “anti-hierarchical”. That might well be true for meetings where participants have some common ground. In our case, it helped to turn an already tense situation into a snake pit. Emotions ran high, with people generally communicating by shouting and jumping to the front to snatch the mike from the chair."

There are problems with money, timetabling and the structure of the proposed Forum.

"Not a few left on Sunday afternoon still unsure if the ESF in Britain will actually become a reality. Besides the absence of hard cash there is certainly not enough trust between the different groups and viewpoints to ensure smooth and effective planning. And a deadline of March 1, by which we have to find a “substantial amount of money”, is looming large.

It all started so well ... "

Democracy was an issue. "Speaker after speaker expressed the desire for our ESF in Britain to be more democratic ..." The trouble is, how does a left-wing faction implement democracy ? Whose democracy ? If enough people join, you may find they democratically disagree with you. At which point you expel their leaders or leave yourself and found another splinter group. If everyone who voted in the last General Election joined the SWP tomorrow, and the SWP was democratic (which of these two is the most unlikely ?) the leadership might find they were being outvoted by 10 million people who wanted a conservative SWP, 12 million who wanted a Labour SWP and 7 million who preferred a Lib-Dem flavour. Which is why the SWP (which controls among other things the Stop The War Campaign) isn't democratic. They would like your money and support - but you don't really want that 'bourgeois' democracy, do you ?

No comments: