Draft Proposal for a Continental Anti-Authoritarian Anti-Capitalist Network
North America – January 1, 2004
On this tenth anniversary of the emergence of the Zapatistas from the Lacandon jungle, we call for the formation of a continental anti-authoritarian anti-capitalist network for North America. Our movements for liberation and freedom have met many challenges and our resistance continues to grow. It is now time to organize ourselves better through a de-centralized continental network of anti-capitalists.
We are everywhere, and yet we remain alienated from each other. Confined to the margins of our communities, we live our daily lives without evidence of daily resistance. We know that we are everywhere. In the margins of cyberspace, we constantly communicate. On the city's walls, we scrawl our slogans. At the barricades, we lock eyes, knowing exactly why we are there: social revolution. We want a world free from capitalism and institutional hierarchy.
We see that the class war being waged against the working class and the poor is growing ever more intense. The U.S. Empire is literally destroying the planet. The Empire has made it clear that they will use endless amounts of capital to finance war regardless of the costs to working people. Not only are these wars for Empire being waged with the lives of the working class, but the Empire is conducting blatant assaults on the working class via cuts in the social safety net, tax cuts, downsizing, outsourcing, and the corporate defrauding of workers' retirement, health care, and other benefits. The recent events in Miami showed us that the regime will pursue economic empire and neocolonialism by assaulting not just the working class and people of color in other countries, but very much also here in the U.S. using military might and violence to do so. The U.S. Empire speaks hollow words about terrorism, yet fails to act against white supremacy in our police departments, the continued use of the racist death penalty, the criminalization of drugs, institutional racism in distribution of wealth, terrorism against the homeless and people without papers, and violence against women and lesbian-gay-bi-transgendered folks. The U.S. Empire continues to build its police state complete with PATRIOT Acts, the militarization of the police in major cities, COINTELPRO programs against dissenters, constant surveillance, Orange Alert fear-mongering--all leading to greater public awareness of the true nature of the State and growing discontent with it.
We have no choice but to fight back, and by putting forward an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist analysis and making our resistance visible, more and more people will join the struggle.
Seattle, in 1999, marked the popular appearance of our movement. Yet, our struggle precedes Seattle and extends far beyond the United States. We oppose capitalist globalization while celebrating the globalization of resistance to capitalism. We belong to a protest movement. We choke on tear gas, curl from striking batons, dodge rubber bullets. When they march, we dance. When the ruling class announces the date and location of its next toast to capitalist domination, we converge to tear down their cowardly fences.
Since 1999, we in North America have consistently mobilized against capitalist summits, including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement, and the World Economic Forum. Our strategy has been to confront the administrators of global capitalism wherever they meet. For a while, this strategy appeared to be yielding positive results. Even if we were not altering the progress of global capitalism, we were certainly inspiring great interest in our movement- interest which was reflected in the attention we received and still receive from corporate media and law enforcement. The strategy of protesting summits also sustained the momentum of our movement. The impact of momentum arguably culminated in July 2001 with the widescale rioting in Genova and the death of Carlo Guliani. The following September, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund were scheduled to meet in Washington, DC. An unprecedented buzz, many will remember, surrounded these protests.
Then, September 11th, 2001.
While the fundamental organization of our society- based upon capitalism and hierarchy - has proceeded uninterrupted since September 11th, the levels of violence and suffering which result from this organization (mess) have only become more extreme, both domestically and worldwide. Yet, our movement has mostly failed to adapt to the changes in our world since September 11th. In January, 2002, we boldly confronted the World Economic Forum in midtown Manhattan, just months after the attacks, just miles from Ground Zero. We were greeted by a formidable police-state which even used an ancient statute to forbid our wearing of masks. In January 2002, on the cold streets of Manhattan, we should have realized that our strategy needed to adjust itself to the post-911 climate.
Fast forward. Two years later, we meet in the streets of Miami. We recall the spirit of Seattle and Quebec City and Cancun. At the front lines, our understanding of the world crystallizes in a familiar spectacle: a sensationalist media hungry for a riot, an overbearing show of force by authorities, union members unwilling to embrace confrontation, liberals encouraging peace and calm, and angry young white kids dressed in black. After everybody returns home, we write and read furious critiques of the protests. We even find ourselves shocked by the extremity of police brutality. We convince ourselves that we won a small battle, that we are winning, that we will win.
We may be winning.
If we are indeed winning, we must consider the blunders of the ruling class- some might prefer to call it the 'crisis of global capitalism' - as a significant reason. Before September 11th, we often had to convince others that something was not entirely correct within America, that we lived in a decadent, violent society. Now, few Americans would disagree with this assertion. The system is rotten; now, we witness the process of rotting. It's in the headlines: interminable warfare, the layoffs, the corporate scandal, the erosion of civil liberties, the failure of the press, the corruption.
The most pressing challenge, then, for our movement, is how we should proceed in these volatile times. The strategy of summit-hopping, alone, cannot sustain a true movement for social revolution. If we must rely upon the ruling class to set the dates and locations of our manifestation, then we will remain an inherently reactive movement. If we rely upon moderate protest organizations to set the dates and obtain the permits to the protests that we attend, then we will remain marginalized as 'a fringe element' conducting 'break-away marches'.
Until now, anarchists and anti-authoritarian anti-capitalists in North America have lived as alienated fragments, relying upon mass mobilizations to make our greater existence evident to ourselves. Until now, reaching beyond the ghettos of our radicalism has proven extremely difficult. In the streets, we hide our faces. In cyberspace, we hide our names. How might we, as anti-authoritarian anti-capitalists and anarchists, establish trust and solidarity--with organized labor, for example--when our collective identity is plagued by the popular portrayal of corporate media and the anonymity that we require of ourselves?
It is in the belief that we can best extend and escalate our resistance if we maintain constant communication, coordination, and support throughout North America, that a continental network is hereby proposed, with the ultimate goal of creating social revolution in North America promoted by the following means:
- organizing protests and actions on our own terms
- agitating, utilizing various forms of media and distribution, street-level propaganda
- building relationships with local communities and groups
- supporting comrades in need of legal/fundraising
- sharing skills, such as medical training, self-defense, communication (i.e. low power radio), and technology
- intervening in ongoing struggles, such as strikes and labor unrest
The organizing principles for such a network would presumably mirror those used by People's Global Action. These organizing principles can be read at the following URL:
Some of you may ask the question: who is behind this call? We are several anti-capitalists who have collaborated to write this call. The next steps are now up to you and your friends. The creation of this network—if it happens—will be up to the people who read this call, agree to it’s spirit and direction, and organize with other anti-capitalists to make its vision a reality.
The proposal of a continental network surfaces now because echoes within the movement and critiques of the movement, indicate that we live in urgent times which are ripe for revolutionary thought and social change within North America, and that we are not doing enough to promote revolutionary thought and social change. The proposal of a continental network assumes that individuals and groups, from coast to coast, are willing to participate in the creation, formation, and sustenance of a continental network.
We are everywhere.
Now let's prove it.
Please copy and distribute widely for suggestions, objections, and discussion.
If you can translate this call into additional languages for us, please contact us at email@example.com.
This document is being discussed at the following web page:
NOTES ON THE PROPOSED NETWORK
Meetings to Set Up Network
This network can only work if we meet face-to-face. We propose that a series of regional meetings happen in early 2004 that would set the groundwork for the first continental meeting in late 2004. For example, regional meetings could be called for Western Canada, Southern Mexico, Northern Mexico, American Southwest, the Great Plains, and so on. It’s up to those of you who agree to this call to arrange these meetings—there is no current coordinating committee to organize these meetings for you.
Many Currents in the Anti-Capitalist Struggle
This continental network is not being organized to be THE organizer of anti-capitalism in North America. It must be recognized that there are going to be groups and individuals who desire to continue their work without participating in a continental network. The real threat of government repression also stipulates that a continental network not be the only voice in the growing clamor against international capitalism. Just as we fight against the capitalist monoculture on our farms, so must we be wary of any continental organization that puts too many eggs in one anti-capitalist basket.
The Many Faces of Our Struggle
It is all too easy for those of us who are in anti-capitalists in the United States to think that our activism and dissent is the center of the universe. As dissenters in the heart of American Empire, it is our duty to model another world that is possible by fighting the hegemony of American political dissent on other anti-capitalist struggles around the continent. This network will conduct its business in the many languages of the continent as much as possible. We will prioritize the everyday struggles of people of color around the continent and remind ourselves that North America includes Mexico and the areas of North America that look more like the Global South than our rich, comfortable U.S. suburbs.
We propose that this network closely follow the excellent model used by People’s Global Action that prioritizes communication and facilitation over organization building. Like PGA this network will serve as “an instrument for co-ordination, not an organization.” This continental anti-authoritarian anti-capitalist network will only work if it serves to empower grassroots anti-capitalists and not the movement politicians and cliques that seek to use our networks and organizations to manipulate us. It’s also important that the internal work of maintaining and forming the network not take time or work from the external work of fighting capitalism.
Comments about this proposal can be posted to Infoshop News and/or the firstname.lastname@example.org mailing list. A working list for this network will be set up soon.
This text has been released into the public domain, as long as all of the text up to the point of this anti-copyright notice is included. Abolish intellectual property and all capitalist and statist fetters on the human imagination!
PEOPLES' GLOBAL ACTION (PGA)
(for the changes made at the conference in Cochabamba):
· That we would emphasize on autonomy and decentralization in each region. Therefore, each region will decide how they want to organize between the participating movements and organisations (one main convenor, different co-convenors, collective participants, etc.). Nevertheless, we agreed that it is necessary to have one point of contact and coordination for every region, known to all the participating movements and organisations;
· All proposals for actions, themes and issues discussed at the international conference will come from the regional conferences. We will have international conferences when necessary;
· There will be an equal participation of men and women in the international and regional conferences. The gender issue will be discussed at all of the PGA conferences, both at the international and regional levels;
· We will reinforce exchanges and debates at the regional level through caravans, exchange of people, products and experiences to initiate discussions at the local level and share the result of these debates on the global network;
· Reinforce technical support at the regional level by augmenting the number of people involved and giving them clear mandates and functions;
· Add an appendix to the organisational principles to clarify the first steps of each international conference;
· Add the struggles of the indigenous people to principle 1.3 (wording accepted by the plenary);
· Change principle 7 on information (wording accepted by the plenary).
1. The PGA is an instrument for co-ordination, not an organisation. Its main objectives are:
i. Inspiring the greatest possible number of persons and organisations to act against corporate domination through civil disobedience and people-oriented constructive actions.
ii. Offering an instrument for co-ordination and mutual support at global level for those resisting corporate rule and the capitalist development paradigm.
iii. Giving more international projection to the struggles against economic liberalisation and global capitalism, as well as to the struggles of indigenous people and original cultures.
2. The organisational philosophy of the PGA is based on decentralisation and autonomy. Hence, central structures are minimal. Following the same idea, each region's participating organisations and movements will decide how to organize locally. Nevertheless, there needs to be a point of contact and coordination for each of these regions, decided at regional level and known to all the participating organisations and movements of the network.
3. The PGA has no membership.
4. The PGA does not have and will not have a juridical personality. It will not be legalised or registered in any country. No organisation or person represents the PGA, nor does the PGA represent any organisation or person.
5. There will be conferences of the PGA when judged necessary by the participating organisations and movements. The functions of these conferences will be:
i. Updating the manifesto (if necessary)
ii. Advancing in the process of co-ordination at global level of the resistance against "free" trade
iii. Co-ordinating decentralised actions according to the global days of action and the sustained campaigns of the PGA.
There will be an equal participation of women and men in the international and regional conferences. The gender issue will be discussed at all of the PGA conferences, both at the international and regional levels.
6. The conferences of the PGA will be convened by a committee conformed by representative organisations and movements of each region, including the points of contact named for each of these regions. The composition of this committee must show a regional balance, and a balance regarding the areas of work of the organisations and movements that conform it. The local organisers will be part of the committee.
This committee will fulfil the following tasks:
i. Coordinating the programme of the conference according to the proposals for themes, actions and issues emerging from the regional conferences
ii. Coordinating the selection of the delegates, in respect with the principle of decentralization and autonomy of each region as well as in accordance with the decisions taken on this matter at the regional conferences
iii. Deciding about the use of resources; especially, deciding which organisations will receive help to pay the travel expenses to attend the conference
iv. Advising the local organisers in technical and organisational questions
v. Interpreting the manifesto if this would be necessary (the whole part on publications and info to be taken out)
The committee, just like any other participating organisation or movement, cannot speak in the name of the PGA.
Each conference of the PGA will be coordinated by a committee conformed of different organisations and movements. Also, the points of contact named for each region will change in each regional conference (used to be in each international conference but it is now a problem to leave it like that if we're going to have international conferences only when judged necessary...). The old committee will choose a small group that will act as advisers of the new committee. It will also provide technical support at the regional level. This advisory group will not have decision- making power.
In keeping with PGA's philosophy, all communication processes will be diverse, decentralised and coordinated. There will be at least one point of contact in each region to be decided at regional level.
Whilst recognising there are limits to the internet, the PGA website will comprise of PGA documents including conference notes and contact lists. All documents will be translated into as many diverse languages as possible. For all this communication to work effectively, responsibility must be taken at the regional level by as many groups as possible.
En acuerdo con la filosofia del AGP, todos procesos de comunicaciones seran diversos, descentralizados y coordinados. Habra por lo menos un punto de contacto en cada region, que se decidra al nivel regional.
Mientras reconozcamos los limites del internet, la pagina web del AGP tendra todas las documentaciones del AGP, incluyendo relatorios de conferencias y listas de contactos. Todos los documentos seran traducidos en las mas diversas idiomas posibles. Para que toda esa comunicacion sea efectiva, debe ser responsabilidad del mas grande numero de grupos posible al nivel regional.
En accord avec la philosophie de l'AMP, tous les processus de communications seront divers, décentralisés et coordonnés. Il y aura au moins un point de contact pour chaque région, choisi régionalement.
Bien que reconnaissant les limites du système internet, le site web de l'AMP comprendra tous les documents du réseau, incluant les notes de conférences et les listes de contact. Tous les documents seront traduits dans le plus de langues possibles. Afin de rendre cette communication effective, la responsabilité sera assumée par le plus grand nombre de groupes possible au niveau régional.
8. The PGA will not have any resources. The funds needed to pay the conferences and the information tools will have to be raised in a decentralised way. All the funds raised for the conference will be administered by the committee. The publications will have to be self-financed.
9. The PGA has a rotative secretariat, which changes every year. Each committee, during it's term, will decide where the secretariats will be.
10. The conferences of the PGA will not include the discussion of these organisational principles in the programme. If there is a concrete request, a discussion group on organisational questions will be formed. This discussion group will meet parallel to the programme of the conference, to elaborate concrete modification proposals which shall be voted upon in the plenary.
11. The PGA hopes that it will inspire the creation of different platforms (both regional and issue-based) against "free" trade and the different institutions that promote it. There will not be, however, a relationship of pertenence between these platforms and the PGA. The platforms will hence be completely autonomous.
The PGA also aims to initiate discussions at the regional level through various means, emphasizing on the organisation of caravans, as well as the exchange of people, products and experiences between regions. The results of these debates will then be shared at the global level with the whole network.