INTRODUCTION FOR THE PGA PROCESS DISCUSSIONS
I)PROPOSALS FOR PGA PROCESS DISCUSSIONS
II)REMINDER ABOUT SOME OF THE EXISTING STRUCTURES
III)ANALYSIS AND INPUTS
You'll find a lot of informations about the pga process/structures on the plaisantation. The way these discussions will be organized and their content as well as some central questions is described on the last part of the practical guide. Here are a few more proposals and informations about it.
I)PROPOSALS FOR PGA PROCESS DISCUSSIONS
=== A) TOOLS OF NETWORKING: IMPROVING, GETTING INVOLVED, CREATING NETWORK STUCTURES ===
Creating an infopoint kit available by paper and on the website (plaisantation, reports of conferences, readers, pga newsletter, list of other Infopoints, movies about pga) and a list of infopoints during the conference, creating a webpage on how to become a pga infopoint
translation and spreading of the brochure about the global network
==== spreading the existing documents about pga, translating and updating the plaisantation...====
Pga announce list
What could be the use and administration of a pga announce list for people who are not on the pga discussion lists sending reports, pga list monthly digest, call for conferences...
Pga list monthly digest
Regular digest of infos about what goes on the lists for people who don't have the time to read them all. There is one done in french for the sans-titre bulletin but it would have to be translated maybe through the wiki
Creating a list of pga contacts during this conference... (autonomous servers, autonomous spaces, communication tools,...)
Listing and organizing usefull tools and structures of the network
Pushing tools of local solidarity : at least listing and regrouping the existing ones : squats net, autonomous servers, autonomous spaces datalist...
Working about the outcomes of the conference, reports, newspaper and information spreading. Movie projects about this conference...
==== Regular pga newsletter =====
It was discussed many times to recreate a pganewsletter that could give informations about pga related groups and actions. These could be printed and given to people by groups involved and especially the infopoints.
==== Continuancy of the various thematic groups started during this conference work =====
How to have more people taking part into the preparation of the issues for next pga events and keeping issues working groups in between conference ?
Discussions about keeping or creating pga thematic lists that were created to organize this conference in between conference.
Websites what's next... Global agp website / pga conference website
==== Lists administration ====
Administrating the pga lists and subscribing new people...
Pga irc channel : possibility for keeping using the print one
Pga translation group
How can translation for pga related projects and texts be made in the future ?
B) TOWARDS A NEW CONFERENCE
Finding a new convenor group for the next conference
What would be the accurate process to find a new convenor during this conference or after.
Continuity and Skill Sharing
It was proposed in belgrade to organize some PGA-process skill-sharing and to write a "PGA organization practical guide".
Stamp people have been starting to work on a tool-text/book about the way this conference was organized to pass knowledges
Need to try to keep usefull logistic contacts for the organization of next conferences and to ask already before the end of this one...
Organization of a pga winter meeting
The idea would be to have a new winter/spring meeting after this conference for people involved with the various projects and structures and hopefully with a new convenor group.
C) THE QUESTION OF POSSIBLE CAMPAIGNS AND ACTIONS THAT COULD BE MADE AND SUPPORTED BY THE PGA NETWORK
Supporting the german anti G8 campaign
The moving europe caravan
=== D) GLOBAL PROCESS AND THE RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE OTHER CONTINENTS / GLOBAL SOLIDARITY / EXCHANGE CAMPAIGNS / NEXT GLOBAL CONFERENCE / THE LINK WITH THE 6TH DECLARATION AND PROPOSAL OF NEW ENCUENTRO.. ===
II) REMINDER ABOUT THE EXISTING STRUCTURES (MOST OF IT AND MORE DETAILS ARE ON THE PLAISANTATION)
A) THE INFO POINTS...
To move PGA forward on a large scale and to promote it on a local basis, the Leiden conference decided to set up several info points, a series of local groups that are involved in PGA. Eachinfo point group is responsible for spreading information about the conferences, history and projects of the PGA network to people who are interested. These info points are not members of PGA, because PGA has no membership, but they do work to make this network more visible, an important task, considering that the network does not speak as a whole or as an organization. You can find a contact list for these info points on the net. (6)
B) EUROPEAN CONVENORS AND PROCESS GROUP
The role of European convenors was defined at Leiden as organizers of the European conference, responsible for making the network visible and dynamic, as well as maintaining its infrastructures (web site, newsgroups, contact lists) and contacts with the rest of the planet. At Dijon, it was decided that these tasks could be shared amongst different collectives interested in committing to PGA and its structures (with particular reference to infopoints). These collectives constitute the process group.
One of the most powerful tools of the network is the PGA web-site (6), which compiles a large number of historic texts, announcements, action reports and reports from PGA conferences. Another tool being developed is the web site www.all4all.org, a thematically-structured global archive project, a forum in which to publish articles on themes and actions.
Three mailing lists have been created as communication tools for PGA...
pga_europe_process list is a forum that all of the collectives involved in the PGA structures and decision-making processes (conferences, lists, web-sites, info points, etc.) should subscribe to.
pga_europe_resistance list is for announcements of and reports from events and actions.
The pga_europe_discussion list is for basic texts and debates. To subscribe to these lists, go to the webform. (7)
C) CONFERENCES (RESULTING FROM BELGRADE SOPKES COUNCIL)
Proposal to have a two week meeting focused on skill sharing and on theory.
Proposal On the first day of the conference there should be an assembly to arrange issues to be discussed.
For Information Two days ago we had a meeting of people from Balkan countries (to which about 100 people came) we propose to have a follow up meeting to this in the winter/spring. There was no conclusion on where and when to have this. Further details are to be decided over email. Contact: epag*AT*panafonet*DOT*org
Concern: Shouldn't encourage actions to coincide with PGA conferences as it might endanger children, refugees etc. at the conference. Good if there are actions after the PGA conferences and that it builds on people being empowered to create their own actions. It is important that the PGA doesn't reinforce national boundaries. Could be subregional rather than strictly divided into countries. We should be providing resources and allowing locals and participants to organize their own actions.
There is a need for more people to engage in the whole preparation meeting cycle so old ground is not constantly recovered. People attending meetings should concretely take on implementing decisions. There are too many meetings and not enough actions.
Suggestion: The conference programme should be decided on before the conference starts.
Suggestion: In the interest of transparency anyone can take part in the organizational process of the conference but the conclusions of meetings also need to be accessible. The minutes of all the meetings should be published centrally and on the web.
Conference should include theory etc. and should include more about the self organization of the conference.
Concern: There are very few groups participating from Eastern Europe even though the conference is in Eastern Europe. There needs to be more outreach e.g. speakers tours and connecting different struggles together.
Suggestion: There needs to be a more structured approach to language as it is very English centric. Maybe a language working group should be set up.
D) FINALLY, WHAT IS PGA? A NETWORK? A COORDINATION? AN EXCHANGE?
These discussions posed the question of the possibilities and limits to a network that claims to be based on decentralization and autonomy, which has no official membership, offices, or bank accounts, a network without spokespersons, where nobody speaks in the name of the network or makes decisions on its behalf. The debate on the role of PGA has continued since Leiden and Dijon, and is still far from being resolved. For some, the crucial point is that, in contrast to political parties and other coordination structures, PGA should not aim to launch action campaigns in its own name, even though the encounters between groups, communication structures, and contact networks that it offers have been able to greatly facilitate the establishment of concrete common initiatives, even recently such as the global day of action in December 2002 in solidarity with Argentinas popular uprising or some of the anti-G8 blockades and events in 2003.
This doesnt mean that PGA conferences, convenors, or simply groups in the network cant take the initiative of launching propositions or campaigns to the whole network. On the contrary, the originality and dynamism of PGA is that - thanks to a minimal agreement on goals and means of action and coordinated autonomy - it is a network capable of inspiring action. (In practice, the origin of propositions have been quite decentralised. The calls for action during Seattle or Prague for example where first made by local groups there, and picked up after by the convenors.) In contrast to traditional organisations, not only propositions can come from anywhere, but there is also no effort to make the actions appear as an international action of PGA. The action is that of the organisations that take it up, acting locally in their own name. For this reason the network as such goes relatively unnoticed, which does not make it necessarily less efficient than a traditional kind of organisation.
It is certainly not PGAs goal to make consensual decisions on global strategy for world revolution. Apart from the hallmarks and manifesto, PGA groups can disagree on all kinds of things (particular forms of action or going to Social Forums, for instance) without having to split or argue endlessly. Thus some groups can try a political hypothesis and come back to discuss it after.
For some, PGA shouldnt officially decide anything but its own structure and the manner in which to set up gatherings, lists, web sites, and other means of communication. To people of this opinion, PGA is basically a means of exchange between various groups who share a commitment to its principles. There is considerable potential here, since it enables regional and global moments of coordination; it provides a means of getting to know each other, of contrasting our various approaches to political theories and struggles, of sharing ideas for action, contacts and resources, of providing ourselves with quality time to judge the success of our actions and to engage in thematic analysis. Despite this emphasis on decentralized and autonomous action, others also feel that, PGA ought also to be able to regularly find ways to put forward campaigns and coordinated days of action, in its own name. The issue remains under discussion.
III) ANALYSIS AND INPUTS
=== A) CRITICAL ANALYSIS FROM LINZ WINTER MEETING ===
HEY ! PGA EUROPE IS IN TROUBLE : FORMULATING PROBLEMS AND LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS...
FEELING OF RESPONSIBILITY AND INVOLVMENT SHARING
everybody taking part to the events of a network should feel concerned and at least give a little bit of its time to support the structures of the network and not only to consume the events organized by the network.
pga , as an anti-authoritarian networking tool, has only quite simple and minimal specific structures (lists; newsletter, website, infopoints) that shouldn't need too much work to be run. But ist sometimes look as if the anti-autoritarian principle that no one represent pga turns into noone feeling responsible for it.
PGA seemed like an attempt to build an alternative anti-authoritarian network that would be different than the more lobby orientated / institutions / mass consumerism big networks such as social forums. It can look paradoxical that part of the people supposedly involved in this network sometimes seem to spend more time and energy into building things around events as social forum (using PGA as a kind radical credibility public relation card) than to give involvment in their own autonomous structures. Are we more interested to go to the things that already exist or to build our own stuffs. Is it because it's easier, more visible on the « big » political/media scene or eally because it's seen as the better way to break the activist ghetto. On the other side of it it's quite obvious that if we don't devote time and energy to autonomous structures, more and more people new to activism will rather go to more institutionnal events.
There is a general problem of continuicy in the network in-between big events were a lot of people show up
There is a big problem with just a few people coming to the wintermeeting whereas it's one of the few opportunities to give continuity to the network outside big conferences.
There are problems of communication inside such big networks, a problem of shared responsibility as it is spread around the netwok and tends to get lost somewhere. There's a need to find some kind compromise between efficiency and decentralisation.
There is a problem of distribution of power between people inside the network, some who know history, who have time to go to meetings
There is a problem with instutionnalization of network. As it becomes quite old we have to take great care to keep the network structure not becoming too rigid and keeping flexibility
At the beginning PGA really seemed too hidden and not transparent enough and asked to much effort to get the information it has apparently changed since the last year. It looks more transparent but still dense and difficult to relate with
Maybe we pay too much attention to the structures and not enough to initiatives that bring contents to the network outside conferences. We should look more for practices, actions and campaigns clearly linked to pga that can be done in between conferences and that can keep it alive (such as the refl-action or sambaclimatico caravan if they come to happen or other kind of ideas...).
Since Leiden, there were a lot of discussions about transforming informal hierarchies and making the structures more clear and open. It looks like a lot of improvment has been done structrully speaking but that, just a few people (and definitely not enough) want to fill these structures once it has been changed. . The infopoint idea is quite simple : having local groups that can provide informations about pga and give help in the pga process. A lot of groups and people coming to conferences seem to feel part of the network or close to pga principles , so why are their presently only two or three groups around europe that officialy said they wanted to take the responsability for being a pga infopoint . is the concept not clear ? Does it seems like to much work ?
As we've seen during the belgrade prepration and conference, we have a lack of experience and therefore a big weakness about how to react to some clear sabotage initiatives and attitudes in open, horizontal networks such as pga. We dont have members, stricts rules and wont to reproduce punishment system which is good, but we should also be able to react to such threats.
+ the communication in the network seems too virtual (hp, mailing list...) + a lot of individuals involved in the process, do not have local dynamics and people with whom they can exchange and feel isolated. + when is there is no local existence of pga , no international actions and campaigns linked to it...) - People only feel to be part of pga during the pga-conferences and not when they're at home. There's a part of specialization (people who organize, peoplel who do kitchen work.....) in the way we do things inside pga , that can also produce passivity It looks like some pople dont question too much the inner organisation, because they work a lot (in it)
HOW TO DEAL WITH GEORAPHICAL AND CULTURAL DIFFERENCES INSIDE THE NETWORK ?
There is a problem with the inequality of initiatives and contributions coming from the various part of the world or from the various part of europe and the fact that it can easilly turn into reproducing geo-political inequalities and dominations.
There's a general problem with the process being still mainly based in western europe. problem with the rules and/or guidelines:
We definitely need more reflection on cultural relativism and its limits and about how to work with different, cultures, environment and contetxs. How to put the hallmarks into practices into these various environments even if these hallmarks obviously dont perfectly fit to all the context and political background of collectives or movements involved with pga..
People new to the network feel a problem of gap between the network and the outside environnment seen as limited to action days or to professional actvists.
A lot of people outside of the network seem to have a really inaccurate view of what pga is. People have general difficulties to access to clear and easy informations and seem not to get involved as it looks too difficult to understand.
Some people still feel outside of Pga even if they've been spending time and sharing projects with people that are involved since the beginning.
Identity problem (there are ppl, who identifies itself over history and some does not)
It seems that there is not enough communication between various working groups. They dont make it coherent with other parts of the project (website people, people who organize conferences, people maintaining the list...).
Some people dont have the time to read all the email but want to stay in touch and would feel the need for some kind of regular digest.
As it happened during belgrade preparation process, or linz winter meeting preparation, there's a problem with people sending agressive or insulting emails and generally with relating too much on email list communication.
-more translation is needed to break language barriers en english speaking elite.
VISIBILITY AND INFORMATION
There's a problem of visibility as it doesn't have any central office or representatives. There would be at least the need for regular newsletter
OTHER POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS:
+ virtuality : we need more moments together; eg. local structures who can spread informations (show films or doing some actions). smaller meetings to get used to each other (more meetings than once every two years) the label pga? - where can be infopoints (eg. when there are happenings there could be provided infos about pga)
+ skill exchange (how do i organize a conference, how are the single meetings structured, how can specialisation be avoided); establish working groups to learn how these things work – notes, which contain experience of organisations eg. the winter meeting. also that convenors for example feel not abandoned, but to spread responsibility through several groups
+ to represent the network on big (european) meetings
+ journals/newsletters – periodical appearance (with a summary of the mailinglists-discussions) more actions and campaigns in-between meetings We should look more for practices, actions and campaigns crealy linked to pga that can be done in between conferences and that can keep it alive (such as the refl-action or sambaclimatico caravan if they come to happen or other kind of ideas...).
to plan collective moments – international days where each day could be arranged by another infopoint. or/and to use the newsletters/journals for other publication forms (abolishing the borders from below) also with a practical side (how can be something organized) – gap between theorie and concret? knowledge – it is also coexistant with the history of the network – experiance essays, which could add some identification; also experiences which hand on some knowledge....
Decentralised weeks in various infopoints of europe before conferences in order to do actions, or have both practical activities and discussion together in smaller groups outside big conferences.
B) ABOUT THE GLOBAL PROCESS / REPORT OF THE HARIDWAR MEETING
Around 50 people from different countries (India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Germany, Greece, Spain, UK, Ukraine/USA) met in Haridwar for a preparatory consultation meeting prior to the 4th Global Conference of PGA. Unfortunately, friends from Latin America and Africa could not attend the meeting due to visa problems and other technical issues. However, those present felt that it was a very useful and productive meeting, both for the local process of PGA in India and for the global process. All international participants were deeply impressed and inspired by the hospitality, strength, dignity, political seriousness and degree of activity of the Indian movements.
We started with a round of analysis of the situation of grassroots struggle and of PGA in different parts of the world, as well as a brainstorm of ideas and suggestions to strengthen the PGA process. We also noted the reasons for the lack of global coordination since 2001, and for the unequal development of the PGA process in different regions during recent years. In Asia the process is very strong and lively, in Europe it is maintained though quite inward-looking and is not totally functional or visible, in the Pacific it is being strengthened, and in other regions the situation is unclear.
Amongst the reasons for the current situation that were mentioned were the lack of visibility of PGA even in actions that are done primarily by organisations that are part of PGA, and the decision to concentrate on regional processes taken at the Cochabamba conference in 2001, which led to the neglect of the global circulation of ideas and struggles (which had previously driven the development of the network).
Some of the strategies suggested to revive the global process were: making PGA more visible at the global level through reviving the PGA bulletin, preparing a "PGA package" with information about the history of the network, organising extended political exchanges between movements from different regions, and the collection of artistic and cultural materials (songs, poems, paintings, videos, etc) to circulate between movements from all regions. All these ideas were developed later in the meeting, while discussing the preparation for the next global conference.
After the action plans, we discussed different aspects of the global PGA process, including the next global conference. All that follows are just ideas and proposals to start a discussion in which we hope that many more organisations and movements will participate. We propose to start this collective discussion one month after the circulation of these minutes (i.e. on the 19 of November) through a chat session in Indymedia; the details of this chat session will be circulated later.
One of the proposals was to create working groups on different aspects of the global PGA process and the preparation of the next global conference. As a result, 2 working groups were created, but hopefully more will be created in the future.
One working group will focus on communication, which will be working on 3 major projects: the PGA bulletin, the "PGA package" and a cultural project.
Regarding the PGA bulletin, the objective of the working group is to set a process in motion by which multitudes of movements and organisations from all continents will contribute reports of their struggles periodically, as well as participate in the rotation of responsibility for the bulletin compilation and lay-out. In addition to reports of struggles around the world, bulletins might include educational resources, briefings on global policies and institutions, and samples of grassroots artwork (according to the desires of the collectives editing them). A part of each bulletin could also explore a specific theme of special interest for the organisation putting it together.
The PGA Package could be a multi-media kit sketching what PGA has helped to inspire, where it is now, and what it could help create in the future. It will include a video about the history of PGA which is being made in Germany, and for which people are most welcome to send footage of actions and short interviews on what PGA means for them and how they think it should develop -- contact email address: email@example.com
The 'cultural project' (working title) will invite grassroots groups worldwide to join together in gathering and stimulating original, non-corporate culture by sending poetry, music or pieces of artwork for a compilation of creative resistance. This could circulate around the world, evolve over time, and carry with it the spirit and stories of our many worlds. Another idea was to invite groups to draw a map of their regions with the faces and spirit of their struggle. Such a "struggle map" has been drawn in Latin America and is now being sketched in Mexico. Groups could draw such maps on patches of cloth that would be sewn together, perhaps at the next global conference, weaving a kind of new world map.
A second working group will facilitate the organisation of extended exchange visits of movement representatives from region to region, and within each region. These visits would enable people from the grassroots of different movements to spend sufficient time with other movements as to be able to develop a good understanding of their struggles and have an in-depth political exchange.
The objectives of these visits would include:* sharing action tactics, political analysis and training methods;* witnessing and learning about the alternatives to capitalism that are being put in place in different regions;* discussing the topics of the next global conference;
* building trust and friendships across movements;* making new contacts for the PGA network;* inspiring and motivating not only the participating movements but also all organisations and activists of the network. To ensure that the last objective is fulfilled, regular reports of all aspects of these exchanges would be sent to the network, at least english and spanish. These reports could be a great contribution to revitalising the global circulation of ideas and struggles, as well as to preparing (and building energy for) the next global PGA conference.
It was suggested to give priority to women and youth grassroots activists when selecting the movement representatives who will travel during the extended visits, in order to also contribute to the further development of their movement in terms of generational continuity and gender balance. It was also proposed to organise training workshops for these participants before the visits start, as a way to develop their skills in areas such as languages, computer skills, organisational skills, understanding between different political cultures, and so on. These trainings could be given by resource persons from different movements. Where and when the visits will take place is still to be discussed with movements from different regions. One idea that was suggested was to take the upcoming regional conferences as a chance to invite grassroots representatives from other regions and organise extended exchange visits in that region. Other possibility that was pointed out was organising visits around events for which movements are planning to invite guests from other continents, such as the International Seed Carnival in Karnataka on April 17th 2006, or the alternative space that our greek friends are preparing in parallel to next European Social Forum in spring 2006.
The (emerging) working group on extended exchange visits would like to encourage movements from all continents to consider the possibility of hosting a visit, and also of sending a grassroots representative to participate in them, giving priority to women and youth (as noted above). We also encourage movements to also take all opportunities to develop this sort of exchanges outside of planned visits, by contacting PGA groups wherever and whenever they travel.
We hope that many people from different continents will join these working groups, and that other groups will be formed. The contact details of the working groups will soon be available in the webpage. If the projects of the already existing groups (the political exchange visits, the PGA bulletins, "PGA package" and cultural project) take place with the success that we hope, they could generate a lot of energy and interest for the next global conference.
We discussed a number of issues regarding communication and the circulation of information. It was noted that email communication is not enough, since many movements do not have access to internet, and there are also language issues. It was therefore suggested to distribute by post at least the PGA bulletins, the PGA package, and other materials of this kind, at least in Spanish and English. However, email (and other electronic means which we could use more, such as chat or internet-based phone conferences) are likely to continue being the main means for collective discussion, since this is the only affordable way to do it (and internet is more inclusive than meetings, since less people and organisations are able to attend international meetings than to follow email discussions). The regional meetings and the political exchange visits are a way to broaden the discussions and take them to grassroots movements and activists who do not follow the email lists. Regional meetings should continue having a prominent role in decision-making (as is currently thecase).
We went through the different PGA email lists that exist at global and regional level, and agreed to ask the web team to make them visible in the webpage, with descriptions of their roles and instructions on how to subscribe and unsubscribe. Regarding the global lists, the meeting supported the idea that firstname.lastname@example.org is defined as a "good for all" global list (where people can send information about their struggles and issues), and to focus the internal discussion on the global process on the list email@example.com. We also suggested to kill firstname.lastname@example.org and create separate lists for the different working groups that are formed. Another request to the (respected and appreciated) web team was to include in the web an explanation of the process of how to become a PGA info-point.
* From now till November 30th: the 2 working groups that have been set-up will take pro-active steps to involve more participants from different regions, and to define in a more collective way their role and working methods. * It was suggested to hold meetings about the global conference at all the regional conferences that will take place in 2006 (dates still unknown). Different people took over the task of contacting the organisers of these regional meetings in order to consult this idea with them.
C) CHAIN REFL-ACTION : A PROPOSAL OF A NEW WAY OF COORDINATED ACTIONS THAT WAS PROPOSED IN BELGRADE
Chain Refl-Action? Why propose a new form of common action-reflection?
Global Days of Action was the form of action that created this movement. In 1998 or 2000, knowing that people around the world were mobilising the same day on the same subject impowered millions. But today we can take that form of action a little for granted. Now PGA isn’t the only source of calls and people will be in the streets anyhow, although this may still be an important form of action for many.
But what’s the next step forward? What else can an international network do for you (and vice-versa), especially at a time when for many of us the priority seems to be to engage more with our local realities, break out of our “ghettos”, etc.? Is there much to share about local struggles? Yes! And that might be exactly what we need to get this movement into second gear. Just sharing the fact that there were so many thousand people in so many cities is no longer enough, but we can learn and be inspired if we can share deeper and more concretely:
- Are people in other places facing the same problems? - What tactics, what new ideas have they tried? - How did these work out?
In fact, we know that groups everywhere are facing the same sort of problems: the need to make the link with local, concrete organising against the effects of globalisation (but without getting limited to a reformist horizon); how to relate to more mainstream organisations in a firm but non-sectarian way; how to organise ourselves in an alternative or "horizontal" way; how to deal with "anti-terrorist" repression, etc.
Of course the "circulation of struggles" has already spread many new ideas informally: street parties, affinity groups, hand signs, blockade tactics or no border villages, for example.
Our new idea for the movement is that we have to concentrate on sharing them! So we propose a :
Chain Refl-Action The aim: to stimulate the exchange of ideas, experiences, analysis and reports of local actions and campaigns between local groups, thus improving everyone’s understanding of our situation. Doing the actions one after the other will allow us to all to really pay attention to the group that is “playing” at a particular moment, to learn from their experience (and if necessary show solidarity!)
Passing on "a torch of rebellion". Local groups will pass on their plans, reports, analysis and evaluations of their local actions. Other groups will perhaps relate to the analysis of a local group’s general situation. Or perhaps they may be preparing an action on the same particular theme. The important thing is that they can profit from experiences elsewhere. Some people could actually travel to bring their story or a video. Maybe a symbolic sort of gadget that could go from place to place would be fun.
A Global "Estafette" (or relay): this was our first name for this idea, because this is the opposite of the simultaneous Global Days of Action. Each place can pick up the ideas, change or add to them, try them and pass them on.
A "Chain Refl-Action" is obviously a chain of reflections and actions. But is also a kind of chain reaction, the molecular process of runaway mutual activation that produces explosions… Unlike, Global Days of Action (GDA) this doesn’t have to start big. It probably won’t get media attention . (Actually even GDAs haven’t generally got much as such. They’ve been more an inspiration to the movement itself.) But if half a dozen places play the game well people all over the world will be fascinated. We need this kind of exchange ! And it could lead to very big things...
On a wiki-website (managed by a network that came into existence in the PGA process meeting), each local group will announce its action. This doesn’t (in fact shouldn’t really) be an action invented specially for the Chain. It would be one of the actions of re-appropriation, of reclaiming that you are involved in anyway. The special effort would be to think more about how and why you are doing it. And telling the network about it before (unless of course it’s a secret!).
After the action each local group will post its reports, analysis and evaluations of the action on the website and send it to the next local group. This is to stimulate the exchange of ideas and to increase possibilities for closer cooperation and communication between local groups. People can maybe travel to meet, send a video, etc. The aim is to have such an estafette-action in some local community, say every month.
Through the website, these actions will be coordinated globally. To stimulate some common analysis, a list of possibly pertinent (or impertinent) questions has been made. Propose others!
Possibly Pertinent Questions (PPQ) - What’s the general political scene in your area? How does your group relate to it? - What limits your effectiveness? Does this action test some new way forward? - What is, in your opinion, the 'global' aspect of your local action? - Which striking things you've learned from this action you think are important for other activists to know? Did your action attract some media-attention and if so, what were they focussing on? - Did this action help you reach out beyond the usual circle of activists and or not ? If so why? Was it the theme? the form of action or communication? the kind of preparation, contacts, etc., made before? Or what? - After this action do you feel that you will have more or less political space, freedom of action, with respect to repression? Why?
(These aren’t necessarily the best questions, but...).
*Global conference and a new start for PGA?*
[A little while ago one of us sent some reflexions about the crisis of the PGA process. Since, there has been some discussion and a new call for the conference has been issued. Here are some ideas of how the PGA phoenix could rise once again from its ashes! ]
Despite the disorganisation and the dispersion of the PGA network, it is the only radical, anticapitalist network proposing action on a global level. As such, it is a precious tool, that we cannot let fall apart (especially now, when many organisations have realised the limitations of the Social Forum process).
YES, WTO AGAIN !
In Asia, PGA is stronger than ever. They have taken the initiative of organising a conference to once again organise global action against WTO. Because, for the peasants of the world (that is most of humanity) this is literally a question of life or death. And, although it isn't so visible, the movement has scored significant victories. WTO and other free trade agreements, such as ALCA, are stalled or moving much, much slower than planned. In fact, WTO is so afraid of summit mobilisations that it is trying to take as many decisions as possible before, in Geneva. Opposition (including more institutional actors) has gradually radicalised. From talking about market access for southern farmers, they have moved to taking agriculture out of WTO, food sovereignty and often questionning WTO and free trade as such. We are gradually winning the argument. This war is not yet over, nor lost. And it must not be! So that is the first good reason for the conference. There are many (justified) calls for global actions, but hitting WTO again, now, as hard as possible, would be really strategic.
But maybe its also time to look further ahead. When PGA first proposed global actions or declared itself anticapitalist, it was way out in front, and that galvanised a huge energy. Now maybe its time to take a new step: to start discussing the forms and strategies for a radical transformation of society. There is a very large part of the movement <96> and of the population in general <96> that realises, more or less clearly, that this is the only hope, the only real solution. But (apart from some old fashioned political parties, which haven't understood anything), the disasters of the 20^th century and the apparent omnipotence of State (anti?)terrorism still make it difficult to use the word «revolution» again. The term needs to be reclaimed and redefined: not as a predefined process or point of arrival, but more as a set of values - a compass that indicates a direction. And as a variety of parallel, decentralised, grassroots processes constantly redefining themselves and nurturing each other through international networks. If we could collectively flesh out a vision of this kind, it could be a powerful means for mobilisation and social change.
POWER FROM BELOW
This isn't an idle, theoretical, question. In South America, our friends in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Venezuela have all taken down (or put back in place!) their governments, often several times, in the last few years. They have extraordinarily interesting experiences to share concerning forms of popular power from below, of its relation to state power. And of course, the subject is just as important in places where the movements are less powerful, since we always need to know how to relate to state power, parties, reform, defense of what has been gained in the past, etc.
There are no simple answers, but what is common to all power from below is that it is based on autonomy. For indigenous, peasants, squatters and others this means the control and organisation of spaces and territories. For non-territorial struggles and collectivities, such as migrants, feminists, precarious workers, etc., it can be a (re)construction or defense of communities through mutual support and solidarity. The challenge is to create meaningful forms of exchange and solidarity between such diverse forms of struggle. One thing they certainly have in common is to be constantly attacked by market relations and capitalist forms of domination. And again nothing is simple, since we simultaneously reproduce and question capitalist social relations every day. Which brings us to the question of alternatives.
ALTERNATIVES FOR TODAY
Experiences of this kind are being tested in really every part of the world. Here again, it would be urgent to share, both at the level of political reflection (potential and pitfalls of alternatives) and of very concrete skill-sharing.
Unlike the (related) question of «horizontal» organisation, all these are questions and perspectives that are common to PGA worldover. The PGA hallmarks specify decentralisation and autonomy, but as caracteristics of the network, not of the organisations that compose it. Some of the most important of these (such as KRRS, which was the driving force to create PGA) have always been organisations with hierarchies and leaderships. This is certainly not only a cultural, historical or subjective option, but also conditioned by some objective constraints (like not all being on internet, for ex.). That said, there is room for respectful dialogue on these issues, since we DO all share a desire to move in that direction. Probably because we all share having had bad experiences with the State, parties, NGOs and other organisations that pretend to speak in the people's name and bring them solutions from above, whatever the problems and internal contradictions we (all) fall into. The organisations that happily assume the topdown rule of central committees dropped out of PGA very quickly.
A MODEST AND AMBITIOUS PROPOSAL
This proposal is modest, seeing PGA simply as a unique political space that has from time to time galvanised energies worldwide, and which should therefor be kept open, as a potential for the future.
It is ambitious obviously because of its goals... but also because PGA's structures (convenors, support group, communication tools) have actually never functioned as they were supposed to. Can a network without a permanent secretariat or finances still play a significant role, with respect to well funded forums, NGO networks, etc. (not to mention the USA, WTO, etc.)? Perhaps. We have no proposals to make the convenors committee work better. We can all see the danger that people in networks tend to use them («consume» them, in a sense), without contributing to sustain their minimal structures (700 people at the European conference, 20 next winter to organise things...). Well, if we really want
self-organisation from below to reach out beyond local initiatives, if we are really convinced that we won't change our local realities all alone, then more of us must step forward NOW to help.
A couple of open questions:
NEW ACTIONS AND FORMS OF ACTIONS?
First, these may be vital subjects to discuss, but how can they lead to action? Can one imagine a global day of action for revolutionary change, for example? (hi Mr. Bush!) Or raising that kind of question during an anti-WTO action? Can we invent other forms of common action apart from Global Days?
TIME TO COMMIT TO COMMUNICATION
Second, it makes no sense opening such a huge discussion if it does't continue after the conference, and PGA has been as bad about ongoing discussion as it has been good for action. To take this seriously, we would need real commitments from organisations and concrete persons, to feed a regular PGA webjournal, as a minimum. There are also certainly many websites of political reflexion, ressources for skill-sharing, etc., that exist already. Just making these links available to the whole network would already be a valuable contribution.
We must also explore other - more in depth - ways of sharing. In particular, longer «caravans», visits and exchanges. Actually, given the fact that the convenors committee has very rarely done its job, this kind of exchange has always been vital to the network. However, it should be organised. Otherwise, spontaneously, it remains mostly a privilege of northerners.
- Many people and groups must say *right away* if the call to India interests them, so we see how big a conference we are talking about.
- We must start the discussion on the issues to discuss at the conference. There will be a first paper on «revolution» posted soon. Hopefully there will be other contributions coming from all over the world. Communication must start BEFORE for this all to be credible and to make the conference really dynamic.
- We need some people and organisations to form at least a temporary «support group», especially since many people of the old one are not available.
- The indian movements have already put together all the food and lodging. They are inviting us to share a huge demo and an inspiring encounter with the largest most active popular organisations of Asia. We only have to make appropriate contacts in the west and find money for tickets for southern delegates (who will all pay at least 20% of their fares). Difficult to imagine that we could refuse such an invitation, but its *your* decision. It won't happen by itself.
So... who is up for it?