Seattle, Prague, Watford - what does the anti-globalisation movement do when it gets home?

A proposal for a workshop at the anti-globalisation-congress in Duesseldorf by people around the Kolinko group, in the winter of 2001/2.

Submitted by Steven. on January 24, 2010

It would be dull to chew over the event-hopping critique another 23 times. In this working group we will try to go a step ahead of that. We will look at:
Firstly a short critique of what is often touted as an alternative to event hopping: the 'localising' of the anti-globalisation movement.
Secondly we will look at the question of what our everyday lives back at home have to do with the global exploitation relations.
Thirdly we will concentrate on concrete suggestions of how we can attack these exploitative relations in the here and now.

Here are a few ideas on those three points:

1. Up to now the critics of the event hopping have had little success in 'localising' the movement, because they often just suggest doing locally what is now done at big events. The political perspective maintains that the world consists of; globalisation critics, state institutions (WTO / IWF), the NGOs / interest groups and the 'normal people'. From this perspective 'localising the movement' means two main things:
a. The classic 'teach the people': what do the critics of globalisation, what do the state institutions want and what the summits are for. Along with this come the information meetings after events like Genoa (in Duisburg alone there were 6 to 9 presentations or meetings).
b. The classic 'local politics', like what we know from, for example, the small Marxist(-Leninist) groups of various sorts and from the environment movement: taking part in existing local politics organisations such as tenants associations, youth groups, save the bunny rabbits and other interest groups.
This limited perspective on the world (critics of globalisation, state, citizens) doesn't really come home to roost during the big events: there are lots of us from all over, we can kick out, or kick back and the world public is interested in us. If the movement has not 'localised' itself up to now, then it is for the following reason: the same political perspectives, applied 'locally' are in the best case boring (info stalls in the town centre), or self reflective ("Oh - how awful, how wonderful Genoa was...") or in the worst case end up as some kind of local political committee.

2. Although it might seem paradoxical: In order to have the discussion of how we can take the kick we get from the big meetings, demos etc and set them against the 'local' capitalist relations in our everyday life, no mere 'localisation' will help us. Quite the opposite - we must 'globalise' our perspective of exploitation relations, right there where we scrape out our daily livings.
Globalising in the sense that we look at all aspects of the exploitation in our surroundings and also look for the seeds of subversion that has not already been institutionalised into some 'interest group' (unions, students unions, ethnic minorities councils etc).
The 'globality' of exploitation also shows itself in different forms in our own region. We need to keep our eyes and ears open for this 'globality'. Do we have some ideas about:
How does the changing state control in the region (through and in school, universities, NVQ programmes etc.), react to the changing demands of exploitation? What is the current situation in the prisons, mental homes and detention centres in our region, where those who don't (or don't want to) cope with every day exploitation get put.
What is going on at the moment in different places of exploitation- from the Nokia factory in Bochum, through the steel industry in Duisburg to the Call Centres in Düsseldorf?
How the "globality" of exploitation can become clear just by looking at the material connections: Through the factories in our region that are producing stuff for the world market, through transport chains that run through our region and supply the world with goods, through those drivers and through the exploited that come here from all over the world.
How do specific 'global' phenomena such as crisis, migration and changes to the 'social' state (that both have their foundations in, and also shape the "local" conditions of class struggle) operate right here?
A 'global revolutionary movement' has to develop out of this 'globality' of exploitation. We have to therefore go out from our own positions / situations much more, not just as 'political activists', but as people who themselves want to liberate themselves from everyday drudgery, school-brainwashing, and the stress of looking for, (or not looking for!) work.
It is not enough that up to now we just smash up McDonald's as a symbol of 'the global power of capital', which itself is symbolic, although fun! At the same time we need to also ask who is behind those panes of glass every day, sweating in the chip fat and thereby producing that 'symbol of power'.
We have to go on a search for the subversion in everyday life and for already existing connections to other experiences of struggle all over the world.

3. For this search, there is (fortunately) no search engine. We have to organise this ourselves, which is where we finally come to the matter of this workshop. In the next bit are a few examples of the Ruhrgebiet, firstly because we know this area best and secondly, because then the matter becomes more concrete. It should be clear that there are similar situations in every region. We need meetings to bring together the arguments we need against capitalism in daily life. In this way information about squatted schools in Italy or strikes in France could find its way into the conflicts of the capitalist treadmill that exist here. The experiences from different spheres of exploitation and the longing for common action could come together.
Here is a scenario for a 'proletarian Duisburg Circle'. All the information is real, the practical application unfortunately only partly:

* A has finally translated the Paris McDonalds strike report, that B needs, for a leaflet about her position as an immigrant worker in an Irish Pub.
* C has found out that there will be something like a Economic Development Zone in Gelsenkirchen: a state supported temporary agency in a planned industrial area will employ all the workers on lower wage agreements, and thereby attract investors to the area. He would like to organise a public event on EDZs worldwide and a collective "job-interview" with the temp agency.
* D has been caught for the forth time by controllers in S1 (the local train from Dortmund to Duesseldorf) and has been injured by them. She demands to finally achieve the creation of the S1 as 'proletarian line' and has already drafted a free-travel plan. She also has hopes for the smouldering conflict of the Essen Busdrivers who have just been ripped off the bosses and the unions.
* E is pissed off with the amount of cops who are now always hanging around Essen Main Station and banning the junkies from the area. She wants to organise a Junkie-revival-sit-in with shaggy-dogs, baseball caps and kit-kats ...
* After the third annoying BILD (German Sun) newspaper article about the intolerable social conditions in his part of town in Essen, F want to start a poster campaign against the increase of empty places which goes along with an increase in repossessions and evictions.
* G has questions from the last discussions by older skilled workers, that are regularly held in the steam room of his local sauna in Frohnhausen, about the consequences of privatised health insurance, the different pension systems, etc.. He intends to provide more exact demographic statistics about the job market in this region in the context of the developing crisis and threatens a presentation for the next meeting.
* In H's call centre in Muelheim compulsory extra shifts are being enforced again, he wants to translate an article about strikes in Italian call centres and needs a few people to picket the Saturday shift.
* I's polish boyfriend has worked nightshift for the last two months for 6 Euros an hour in a car parts foundry and his work mates are also pretty pissed off by now: this might just be the right time for a joint visit to the slave handler...

There would surely be lots more exciting ideas and more exact information etc, if a meeting like this took place, if we systematically collected our contacts in different schools and businesses and regularly exchanged our 'proletarian experience' or international strike news. That could still be relatively isolated, so of course we also need an international network of such groups, to discuss with each other and support each other with information and more practically. But we should simply start here and now in this workshop group. After a general discussion, we could perhaps prepare for such a meeting with a few concrete ideas, support D or G's intentions...

Stay rude
prols round the dock, winter 2001/02