National Sections of the L5I:

Athens ESF: Declaration for the social forum

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We, the Assembly of Social Movements, meeting at the Fourth European Social Forum in Athens in May 2006, declare our total opposition to the global order of neoliberalism, imperialist wars, poverty and exploitation - in short, global capitalism. Without the overthrow and complete uprooting of this system, all ideas of another world based on human rights, equality, economic and social development for all, will remain an empty utopia.

We appeal to the workers, the socially, racially and nationally oppressed, the excluded and marginalized, to unite their resistance struggles on a Europe-wide scale. We declare our solidarity with all those in the world resisting imperialist occupation, exploitation and plunder.

We pledge ourselves to fight together for another world based on the social ownership of the world’s productive forces and natural wealth and their planned development to achieve an end to exploitation, poverty, war and all forms of political and social oppression.

We pledge ourselves to the destruction of the imperialist states and superstates which impose and defend this system and their tools and allies in the global south. In short we are fighting for a socialist world.

Down with the war on terror - troops out of Iraq!

We condemn the conquest and occupation of Iraq, the privatisation of its industries and services and the plunder of its natural resources. We condemn the torture and murderous bombing of Iraqi civilians by US-led coalition troops.

Just as this Assembly called millions onto the streets in February 2003 to demonstrate opposition to the impending invasion of Iraq, today we declare our solidarity with the resistance mounted by the Iraqi people and our opposition to any further imperialist attacks, such as that being threatened by the Bush administration against Iran.

We condemn the attempted destruction of the Palestinian people, the building of the wall, the economic siege of the areas left under the control of the PNA and the refusal to recognize its elected government.

We demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all coalition troops from Iraq so that the Iraqi people may determine their own future. We demand the total withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied territories and the dismantling of the wall as only the first and most elementary step towards justice for the whole Palestinian people, including those in long term exile.

We appeal to the working people and youth of Europe to build up an emergency campaign of mass actions to force the occupiers to withdraw their troops from the occupied territories, to blockade the blockaders by workers’, students’ and consumers’ boycotts of Israeli trade, communications and cultural exchanges.

We declare our solidarity with those fighting to drive all imperialist forces and bases out of the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and East Asia.

No to a militarised European superpower

We reject the project for a new militarised capitalist superpower in Europe. It would not be in any sense a progressive counter-weight to the USA. Neither would its world hegemony be preferable to that of the USA. The European Union is a cartel of huge financial, industrial and retailing corporations and agribusinesses, which exploits the working people of our continent and divides the spoils of the super-exploitation of the rest of the world with the USA. We have no more loyalty to this nascent superpower than to the US Empire.

We hold out the hand of solidarity to millions outside Europe, pledging ourselves to fight together for freedom from rigged trade rules, an end to the $2.5 trillion debt of the global South and East, an end to IMF-imposed austerity. We seek the end of a global system in which 1.2 billion survive on less than a dollar a day, in which the income gap between the richest fifth and the poorest fifth has grown from 30:1 fifty years ago to 74:1 today.

In 2005, by a mass campaign in France and Holland, our movements blocked the adoption of a neoliberal constitution which enshrined in law privatisation, précarité, environmental degradation, racist immigration controls, warmongering and above all private ownership of the means of production and exchange. We reject any attempt to renew this exploiters’ charter. Nor do we believe that any non-neoliberal, neo-Keynesian, constitution, even if it could be devised in today’s globalised world, would offer an alternative to the workers and oppressed.

However we do not advocate a return to ‘independent’ and isolated capitalist nation states either. These would be just as much subject to the dictates of global capital. They would oppress their workers and minorities with the same savagery. Already they oppress minority nationalities within their borders (the Basques, the Irish nationalist population of the Six Counties, the Roma, immigrants and asylum seekers from outside Europe, and many others).

Another Europe is possible only as an integral part of another world - one based on social ownership of production, exchange and services. The economy must be planned and managed by collectives of workers, consumers and service users. The huge corporations, banks, finance houses and monopolies must be expropriated to make this possible. In place of the chaos and inequity of the market and production for private profit, we struggle for a world centred on matching resources to human need. We fight for a Socialist United States of Europe as a step to a united socialist world.

Down with the racist campaign against migrants - for freedom of movement and equal rights

We declare our opposition to a Europe that excludes those fleeing the economic disaster caused by neoliberalism and the wars which this system foments. The IMF’s austerity programmes, the WTO’s “free” trade deals, the interest paid to the sharks of Wall Street and the City of London have led to the destruction of agriculture, industries and the public services in the name of the free market.

We condemn the way these refugees are vilified and persecuted. The rulers of the expanding European Union propose prison camps for asylum seekers, and their deportation to the region from which they fled.

Protectionism and draconian border controls will do nothing to obstruct the European bosses’ plans to use Eastern Europe as a source of cheap labour, undercutting western workers’ wages and workplace rights and at the same time subjecting the immigrant workers to super-exploitation and few, if any, democratic rights or social protection. We demand the abolition of all restrictions on immigration and the opening of the borders.

Of course we recognize that the employers want to use “cheap labour” to undercut wages and social conditions but the answer to this weapon is the unionisation of immigrant workers, the raising of the legal minimum wage and the extension of equal citizenship rights for all. We must urge the unions, the social and political movements across Europe to join forces to raise living standards and social welfare provision in the new accession states to the highest standards in the EU.

Hands off our jobs, our pensions, our hospitals and schools

In Europe itself a wave of attacks on pension rights, healthcare, social insurance and free, high quality education has been launched on a continental scale since the adoption of the Lisbon agenda in 2000. These attacks have been extended to all the states wishing to accede to the EU. This involves attacks on rights at work - actively promoting insecure employment (“precarité”), reducing protective laws, slashing health and education provision, lowering wages and cutting jobs and introducing everywhere privatisation to ensure profits for the few and inequality and exploitation for the many.

Employers and their politicians want to introduce the United States system of privatised healthcare and education, minimum regulations, and instead of a welfare system meeting human need a minimal “safety net” which drives workers to accept the lowest wages, long hours and the weakest possible protection against their employers. To do that they have already pressurised all the major parties of the labour movement into becoming clones of the conservative and liberal parties, eager to carry out their masters’ neoliberal policies in government.

The last few years have seen a sharp rise in resistance by workers, youth and small farmers against this EU -coordinated offensive. There have been repeated one-day general strikes in Italy, mass strike waves in France and Austria, huge demonstrations and strikes in Greece and Spain. Most recently we have seen the magnificent mobilisations in France of school and university students, supported by trade unionists, which forced the ignominious abandonment of a measure to deepen “precarité” and exploitation of the young

But too many of these struggles have ended in rotten compromises with the attacking governments and unnecessary and damaging concessions by trade union leaders. The cause of these setbacks was not a lack of the will to fight on the part of union members, but the leaders’ fear of escalating struggle to the level needed to break the will of the governments, indeed to overthrow them. Every such movement, independent of the will of its leader, poses the question who is to be the master in society - the capitalist class or those who work. Such rotten compromises only ensure that the employers and their governments will soon return to the attack. They merely give them time to regroup their forces.

To overcome this, we declare that rank and file workers in the unions, together with the un-unionised who join in mass actions, must establish democratic control of their own mobilisations and make sabotage of the struggle “from above” impossible. This process can be aided during such movements of resistance by building coordination’s of delegates from all the unions, and the social movements in every city, every industry and every region, thus uniting every sector in struggle.

Down with the “war on terrorism”

We condemn acts of mass terror against innocent workers and civilians, whoever and however they are carried out. They do nothing to aid the liberation of the world from imperialism and play into the hands of the latter. The “war on terrorism” however is no defence of the innocent: it is a cynical assault on democratic rights, a racist campaign on minority populations, a justification for more wars and occupations. The wholesale terrorism of the imperialist occupation forces and their local agents in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, dwarf the actions of al-Qa’eda. The turn to terrorist methods is fuelled by anger at the occupation of Iraq and by the terrible suffering of the Iraqi and Palestinian peoples. Thus, the root causes for terrorism can only be removed by ending these injustices. We appeal to those driven to terrorism by despair to take another and far more effective road: that of mass struggle.
In Gothenburg and Genoa in 2001, we took to the streets and met with brutal and even bloody repression. In the age of ‘shock and awe’, we know that our rulers will use the utmost violence against the people when we obstruct their plans. This assembly declares that the answer to this is neither pacifism nor blind and indiscriminate terrorism, but organised mass action and self-defence. We oppose all restrictions on democratic rights and liberties; we assert our democratic right to protect our marches, our protests, our communities through the formation of popular defence associations under the control of the workers and social movements.

No more capitalist governments, left or right

Attempts to influence and persuade the capitalist governments of Europe and America to change their destructive course have fallen on deaf ears. Surely any one must now conclude that they are not to be persuaded. They represent not a set of mistaken policies that can be disproved in discussion, but the vital interests of a reactionary social class that must be dispossessed and driven from power.
Only mass struggle that sets itself the goal of seizing power from them can do this. Joining governments with Social Democrats or Christian Democrats on the pretext that they are “anti-neoliberal”, as in Berlin-Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, or the Prodi coalition in Italy, can only result in compromise and collaboration in carrying out neoliberalism at home and imperialist wars and occupations abroad.
The Assembly of Social Movements appeals to the members of those parties, which at their foundation were pledged to anticapitalism, the Socialist, Communist, Left and Labour parties, to force their parties to cease governing for the capitalists, alone or in coalition with openly capitalist parties. We call on the trade unions of every country to insist that the parties they support with funds and votes should break with the capitalists or they themselves should break from, and stop funding, them!
The only government we can support must be consistently anticapitalist in its actions, and therefore will not be based on the armies, police forces, civil service and judiciary of the rich, but on co-ordinations and councils of delegates chosen directly by the working and oppressed masses. It can only be installed by a social revolution, not by parliamentary or presidential elections.

A new party for a new politics

Many activists in recent years have become deeply disillusioned with political parties and an electoral process which seems incapable of yielding anything except neoliberal and pro-war governments whatever parties come to power, left or right. The evident corruption, lying and emptiness of official politics have led many to think they must dispense with politics altogether.
But for the mass of working and oppressed people, the alternative is not the ‘end of politics’ but a new, and radically different, politics. The events in Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela show the capitalist state and economy cannot just be dissolved or disempowered from below. Popular assemblies, neighbourhood commissions, organisations of the unemployed, however much they empower the masses, still face the state and its armed forces, even if they are discredited and paralysed for a whole period.
If the centralised repressive power of the rich is not smashed and replaced with a radically different power - the power of working people - it will eventually re-establish its domination over society, disempowering the social and political organisations, often with extreme brutality. The same is true with the control of the billionaires and the bankers over the economy in times of economic meltdown such as Argentina witnessed in 2001-3.
To really empower working people, power must be taken from the hands of the elite who now hold it in their vice-like grip. To do this requires the creation of a party of our own, not reliance on existing national and capitalist parties. To this end, this Assembly appeals to social movements, unions, initiatives, groups, campaigns and left wing parties to break with the capitalists and unite in a new political organisation, one that is anticapitalist and international - in other words, a new global party, a new International.

A programme of action

Our movement needs a programme of action to counter the Lisbon Agenda and the plans to build a European imperialist super-state. This cannot be a Charter of democratic and social aspirations, which fears to name capitalism or imperialism as the enemy and the working class as the leading force for another world and the socialist goal we must set ourselves.

Our programme must include calls to action which:

l declare war on imperialist invasions and occupations in the name of a so-called War on Terror, on the genocidal Israeli attacks on the Palestinian people, and demands the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq and the Middle East and encourages and stands in solidarity with the resistance to the occupiers.

l condemn the campaign currently being waged by the Anglo-American alliance, supported by the main EU states, to prepare the way for an attack on Iran. Lift the blockade on Cuba and halt the threats against Venezuela.

l mobilize a massive movement against any more economic sanctions and military attacks: this time we must beyond demonstrations to direct action, mass strikes, to halt the warmongers and drive them from power.

l defend our democratic rights against the so-called anti-terrorist measures, in the imperialist countries, end “extraordinary rendition” and release all those held without trial at Guantanamo Bay or in Iraq and bring their torturers to justice.

l mobilise a continent wide resistance to privatisation and the coordinated attack on our social and public services, pensions and jobs - mobilising international solidarity action with all those directly under attack from plans like Agenda 2010 or the new Italian pension laws.

l aim at common action across Europe to enforce the renationalisation without compensation of what has already been privatised, and demands that the corporate exploiters and the rich be taxed to pay for the restoration and maintenance and of social services.

l make the corporations and the rich pay for putting all the unemployed back to work and for affording all the poorly paid and insecurely employed a raise in their wages to levels decided by the unions, along with decent working and living conditions. tear down the prison walls of fortress Europe and gives asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants seeking work the right to enter and enjoy full civil rights within the EU.

l give people of all faiths the right to practice their religion in peace, which does not scapegoat Muslims or demand they abandon symbols of their faith (such as the headscarf) but equally which removes all compulsory religious observance from the schools and the courts, that grants a women’s right to choose: in short which establishes a secular system of justice, education and healthcare.

l give all the stateless peoples of Europe the right to self-determination, including the right to secede and form their own states should they so wish and the right to use their own languages. We do not necessarily advocate the splintering of the existing states but we do insist that oppressed nationalities be absolutely free to determine their future. Only thus, and by social and economic development based on equality, can national antagonisms be laid to rest and the genocidal horrors of the twentieth century be abolished forever.

l liberate women from the burden of childcare and housework, unequal wages and domestic violence and recognizes their right to abortion and contraception. It must be a programme liberates lesbian and gay people from all legal and job discrimination, abuse or harassment. (move from clause below)

l give full political and social rights to young people and assure them a free universal, publicly owned education system and the right to work for equal wages. Abolish measures like the British anti-social behaviour and dispersal orders which allow police to inflict summary punishment on young people unconvicted of any crime. Repeal all laws, like the attempted CPE in France and the Biagi law in Italy, which allow employers to hire and fire young workers at will.

l as long as capitalism exists - it must demand the fullest and freest democratic rights and calls for the election of a sovereign European constituent assembly and fights within it for a Socialist United States of Europe.

l transfer ownership and control of the factories, the offices, the shops, the mass media, the banks and finance houses from the millionaires and the corporations into the hands of those who work in them and who use their goods and services.

l fight to break for good the power of the warmongers, to dissolve their police and security forces and replace them with the power of the working people, organised in assemblies of their delegates and their own mass defence associations.

l treat the struggle in Europe as but an integral part of a worldwide revolution to dispossess the capitalists and create a socialist world free of poverty, inequality and war.

Leading the Struggle

This Assembly - which issued the call for the biggest mass mobilisation against war in human history on February 15 2003 - can be, and must be, more than a talking shop, more than a ‘space’, more than the sum of its parts. As an organised movement we can call millions to a bold programme of action which will transform Europe and the world. We need the organisations which make up our movement, the social forums, the international assembly, to develop a programme of action now:

As a step in this direction, this Assembly must set out to build a democratic structure for our movement, one which rejects a self-limiting and paralysing consensus but does not fall under the domination of parliamentarians, municipal councillors or trade union bureaucrats. One that makes it an effective organising centre for struggle at local, national and continental levels.

We will do this by building assemblies, coordinations or councils of action at local, regional and national levels. Such assemblies should be made up of delegates of the trade unions, the unemployed, women, youth and the other social movements. They should not exclude the anticapitalist parties and individual activists. Such bodies can give a whole new impetus to the mass struggle for “another world”. They in turn should send delegates to a European assembly

The ASM/ESF and the ASM in the WSF must address the question of the need for new parties to fight for a new world - revolutionary socialist parties for a socialist revolution. But such parties cannot be disconnected national bodies each with their own national programmes.

On the contrary we need a new world party of social revolution of which they will be national sections. In a short we need a new International - a Fifth International.

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