[Pga_europe_process] pga in London
zapata at sezampro.yu
Thu Oct 7 16:29:14 CEST 2004
Life 'despite' capitalism!
Program is below.
LIFE DESPITE CAPITALISM.
Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 October.
London School of Economics.
Old Building (first plenary) and Clement House (workshops and final
(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).
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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