[Pga_europe_process] pga in London

Zapata zapata at sezampro.yu
Thu Oct 7 16:29:14 CEST 2004

Life 'despite' capitalism!

Program is below.


Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 October.
London School of Economics.

Old Building (first plenary) and Clement House (workshops and final 
plenary). Aldwych.
(Holborn tube, central line)

For more detailed information, see http://www.lifedespitecapitalism.org

Life Despite Capitalism is a project/forum to approach the question of 
alternatives to capitalism in the here and now not "after capitalism" has 
been abolished. This means a capacity to do and relate to each other, in 
ways rooted in dignity, respect and common access to resources.

Speakers from groups and networks such as Leeds May Day group, Globalisation 
from Below, Alabama 3, Mute magazine, Greenpepper magazine, Proceso de 
Communidades Negras (Colombia), Transform-Italy, Tavolo-migranti, The 
Commoner, Global Roots, Peoples's Global Action, Consejo Indio de Sud 
America (CISA),  Indymedia, Action populaire contre la mondialisation, 
COBAS, Centre for the Study of Global Ethics  . . .and many other . .  .


SATURDAY 16 October 2004

9:30 - 12:30 Initial PLENARY: Talks on power, commons, excesses, 
participatory democracy and networks and presentation of workshops (Old 
Building/Old theatre,  Houghton street).

12:30-14:00 Lunch

14:00-16:00 "Roots" (Clement House): in these six workshops we will discuss 
the various experiences of commons, of reclaiming powers and constituting 

·         Virtual Commons (Room D106): gift and free software, 
communication, enclosure of freeware.

·         "Public Services" as commons (Room D109): experiences and visions 
in transport, education, health.

·         Food as commons (Room D111): reclaiming the food we eat, 
agriculture, and fishery.

·         Workplace commons (Room D206): struggles of precarious workers, 
creative work, labour internationalism and solidarity.

·         Free movement as commons (Room D209): migrants as political 
subjects, patterns of solidarity within and across communities.

·         Commons "outside" capitalism (Room D211): indigenous experiences 
and visions, autonomous zones.

16:30-18: 30 "Swarm" (Clement House): Five workshops recombining 
participants, cross pollinating along themes of "powers" (Room D109), 
"commons" (Room D111), "networks, (Room D206), "democracies" (Room D209) and 
"creative excesses" (Room D211).

SUNDAY 17 October 2004

9:30 -12:30 Final PLENARY (Hong Kong theatre) Reports back from workshops by 
both invited speakers and participants and proposals for future initiatives.

The opening plenary will allow a series of speakers to rapidly evoke half a 
dozen very diverse kinds of commons which will be discussed in the first 
series of workshops. Other speakers will present reflections on the powers 
we exercise in our doing, the democratic forms of grassroots participation 
we employ that we will discuss and problematise in the workshops and final 

After the first plenary, we have two rounds of simultaneous workshops 
followed by a final plenary. The first round of workshops, called "ROOTS", 
will develop the various experiences of commons and therefore of reclaiming 
our powers and communities, as they apply to particular themes: virtual 
communication commons, "public services" as commons, food as commons, 
workplace commons, and free of movement as commons. Speakers introduce the 
issue trying to address what these commons are, and how and to what extent 
these commons represent a challenge to capital, how and to what extent it is 
capital that rides these commons, and what are the possible challenges 
ahead. Life history experiences are shared, questions and insights 

The second round of workshops, called "SWARM", will allow the participants 
in the first round to recombine along broad conceptual themes such as 
"powers", "commons" and "democracies" and reflection on "moments of creative 
excesses" with which our struggles change the culture and context of our 
lives. In this set of workshops, the people and themes of the previous 
workshop will cross-pollinate. Each workshop would be also given the task to 
come up with proposals for further work, action and initiatives.

In the final plenary we will have both space for report back from the 
workshops and collective reflection. There will be a report back from both 
series of workshops. Then both invited speakers and participants will 
comment, problematise issues, and critically engage with the discussion of 
the. Speakers in particular will be asked (to paraphrase Foucault) not to 
impose their ideas, but to use their skills to note and give volume to the 
ideas emerging from the collective. Hopefully proposals for future 
initiatives and practices will take form, common ideas thus integrating 
themselves in the discourses of our concrete struggles.

Having no simultaneous translation equipment and limited time, the plenary 
will be primarily in English. Speakers in other languages will be translated 
into English. Informal translation groups will be organised for non-english 

Weaving discourses of empowerment

In our effort to weave together new political discourses that approaches the 
question of alternatives to capitalism, we are aware the importance that 
discourses and the values they embed have in guiding social action, outreach 
and help "mobilise" and constitute new social relations across the social 
body. Discourses select things, decide what is important to pursue, and what 
is not important, what comes first and what comes last. In the discourse we 
want to develop, we believe that the values of our final ends are not 
distinct from the organisational means we employ. It is on this basis that 
we problematise the world around us and the practices we ourselves pursue.

In the last two decades, neoliberal globalisation has carried out massive 
attacks on public goods and services of various kinds. Going beyond 
privatisation, this agenda has commodified and individualised more spheres 
of life -- e.g. public spaces, collective skills, education, etc. By analogy 
to the original Enclosures of common land, these attacks can be understood 
as new enclosures of present-day commons, where the state acts as a prime 
agent. At the same time, the neoliberal agenda has eliminated or 
marginalised social-democratic forms which previously mediated between the 
state and civil society. Despite the semblance of choice and diversity, we 
are also witnessing a flattening of difference, a homogenisation of every 
commodity from food to software.

On the other hand, in recent years the anti-capitalist forces have grown in 
strength and coordination. They have developed new social forms and 
international networks of resistance and struggle, which go beyond demands 
upon the state. In all their diversity, these struggles are posing the 
question of commons, empowerment and grassroots democracy.

We understand all forms of struggle as rooted on some types of community, 
whether newly created forms brought about by struggles, or existing 
communities who defend themselves from enclosures and attacks. Often 
struggle develops communities for articulating alternatives and for 
appropriating resources as a collective good, in ways independent of state 
authority or antagonistic to it. Other times, existing communities develop 
struggles that in turn changes the nature of communities and their mutual 

Communities and commons are therefore the basis for the exercise of social 
powers at whatever scale of social action. Commons suggest alternative, 
non-commodified means to fulfill social needs, e.g. to obtain social wealth 
and to organise social production of whatever type. Commons are necessarily 
created and sustained by communities, i.e. by social networks of mutual aid 
and solidarity. As our movements have shown, commons and the process of 
people's empowerment that creates them cannot be separated from the learning 
practices of direct democracy, horizontality, participation, and 
inclusiveness to decide what are the goals and modalities of social 

Rather than falsely counterpoise the state to the market, our strategies of 
struggle can identify the state-market nexus as the problem and develop 
strategic alternatives around extending new types of commons, strengthening 
and creating corresponding communities and problematising the forms of 
relations within them. Such activities can make "alternatives" relevant and 
real to many people not yet drawn into the anti-capitalist movement, yet 
engaged in processes of production of commons. Indeed, the commons as a 
contemporary project has the problem of being either invisible (the 
electromagnetic spectrum), criminalized (file swapping, freedom of 
movement), co-opted in the competitive race (workplace commons), 
sentimentalized (as in the real estate mania for "commons" in housing 
estates and shopping malls) or the immediate product of crisis (and hence 
taken as transitory - until capitalism takes hold - and marginal as in the 
urban gardens of the planet which feed in part about 20% of the world's 
populations). It needs a common voice. It is time we go for it!

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