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(en) earth first meeting in UK

From "kolya abramsky" <kolyaab@hotmail.com>
Date Wed, 2 Feb 2000 13:57:48 -0500

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Dear all,

here is a report from Earth First Winter Moot,

This is just an informal and personal report, based on personal experiences 
, observations and discussions at the meeting. It is not intended in any way 
to represent the meeting or  any group etc, and will not, of course, cover 
everything that happened at the meeting-there were far too many separate 
discussion groups to cover it all, or to present a viewpoint of the meeting.

There were about 200 people from all over the country at this meeting in 
Oxford. The idea of the meeting was for discussion and strategising, as 
opposed to practical things and skill and information  sharing,

Most of the time was spent in small discussion groups (all groups discussing 
the same broad theme), with no reports back to  a whole plenary, and no 
attempts to form consensus, but simply to discuss. . The only plenary 
session was  at the beginning where  someone from every group introduced 
themselves and said what issues they had been working on recently etc.  The 
format of small groups seemed to work very well, and allow a very large 
diversity of discussion to take place.

In discussions on short term strategy there seemed to be 3 main focusses in  
the group I was in, and I think from what I heard, many other groups too had 
similar discussions.. The first was the issue of sudden countrywide 
involvement from trotskyist groups in the preparations for may day, and in 
"anticapitalist" agendas, and in whether or not to collaborate with them, 
and if so how . In general there was a fair amount of sceptism about such 
groups (predominantly the SWP, Socialist Workers Party) , and a perception 
of danger. Briefly the issue of more reformist ngos  also came up. In both 
cases there was a strong feeling of the importance of differentiating 
between individuals and organisations.
[See bellow - Editor note]

The second topic was the new 
antiterrorism laws which the government is bringing in-essentially they 
really threaten to criminalise dissent through labelling it as terrorism in 
the face of growing resistance. There was a feeling law is unlikely to be 
stopped, but will have a very strong unifying effect on diverse sectors. A 
national action is being planned about this on April 30th, as run up for May 
Day.  May Day was also discussed, but more on this after.

Long term strategy discussions brought up several issues-the need for local 
community basis of resistance, sustainability, alternative forms of 
control/ownership (eg how to oppose privatisation with out renationalising 
etc-more later on this), the need for more self educational work, reclaiming 
history of resistance, the need for developing discussion processes about 
what is capitalism, how to challenge social relationships and go beyond 
actionism, food procuction, autonomous media, longe term processes of 
socialising children (and adults) with new values,  how to broaden the base 
of movements and develop more inclusive processes, the possibility of 
developing city assemblies including key sectors such as health, education, 
energy, transport, housing etc activists  to collectively manage resources 
of cities……no concrete plans on anything (this was not the idea of the 
session), but some very very interesting and optimistic ideas. It felt like 
a very empowering session.

There was a large slot for campaign workshops. I was at 3 different ones: 1) 
there is a new (since last year) campaign called CAGE-Campaign Against Gaol 
Expansion. It has had one big national action against an immigration 
detention centrre in november, and is planning another one for Bastille Day, 
perhaps at a construction site of a new prison. The aim of the campaign is 
to focus on the politics of repression, in the wider context of society (not 
just "political" repression in the face of resistance), and capitalism, and 
will take action against companies involved in prison building, as well as 
just prisons themselves. 2)Reclaim the Railways: very exciting proposal 
coming from some train drivers in the RMT union. Certain local branches of 
this union have been working with RTS for a while. They are now keen to 
develop strong links all across the country with Earth First groups. This 
alliance will form the basis of a new campaign to build a socially 
controled, or publically owned railway system-ie one that is not under 
private ownership, but also not under national ownership by the state, but 
controlled by workers and travellers. As part of this campaign, they are 
proposing a series of  free train actions. There will be a large conference 
of train drivers in I think april, not sure, and they will further develop 
the idea. Before that, local Earth First groups and RMT groups in different 
parts of the country will work on building links with each other. This seems 
a particularly important initiative, since the issue of  looking for new 
forms of collective ownership of large scale industry and infrastructure are 
essential if we are not to reenforce nation state based resistance to 
globalisation3) And finally…..another very exciting one: someone who was not 
involved in the caravan at all, and had not heard about the meeting we had 
in lugano, proposed a consulta! Her idea was more or less identical to what 
we had-starting a longterm process of dialogue between different sectors of 
society, with a view to a large European wide meeting in about a year or so 
(ie after a consulta has got underway) . She had been very inspired by the 
effects of consultas in brazil and mexico. People who were at the meeting 
will discuss the idea at local level, and then will meet again in a few 
weeks, to hammer out a more concrete proposal for getting the process off 
the ground in Britain. The idea was not to attempt to start anything off at 
the european wide level, since this would be too ambitious, (and possibly 
centralising)  but build up first here, but sending news of what is 
happening here to people in other countries, and seeing what the response is 
in other places.

Other campaings sessions I didn’t go to were: antinuclear, biotechnology, 
activist exchanges ( there has been someone here from west papua  for about 
6 months, and this has apparently led to a lot of very useful excahnge), and 
maybe more topics, but I forget.

There was a huge very inspiring Seattle video showing (thanks olivier!)  and 
fantastic 2hour  report form a group from brighton who went. They are 
planning to do some kind of speaker tour around the country  about it. There 
was also a very big, difficult discussion about May Day, involving more or 
less everyone at the gathering. It is hard to really say about this, I feel 
better waiting for things to emerge, since there far too many opinions there 
to attempt to decipher it without treading on peoples’ toes. There is likely 
to be a lot of stuff going on locally in different places.

One other nice point…on Saturday night there was an open mike session, and 
someone had just got news in from the protests in  Davos (from only a few 
hours before) and dedicated the song to them…..that felt really good, to see 
how quickly news of resistance is working its way around this fragile web. 
Things are moving……

Anyhow, one thing that seemed very exciting, and important to me was that so 
many of the discussions which happened were so similar to some that have 
come out of the caravan, and discussions there have been at the european 
wide level. Up until september , I have not been living really in england 
for about 2 years, and was not sure what to expect from a large gathering 
like this. What is overwhelmingly apparent is that there is a very strong 
process of convergence occurring. The fact that someone came up with the 
idea of a consulta process, totally independently of the caravan really 
confirmed this.

One thing that also struck me…..this meeting was so much more relaxed, 
coherent,  well planned and participatory than many we have had at the 
european level….

[Editor note: 
Trotskists all over the world started
entrism activities within the libertarian/anti-authoritarian
left. They exploit the naivety of inexperienced activists
who resist the cooperation with Trots. organizations but
consent to cooperate with individual Trotskists. They just
cannot imagine that Trotskists and other leninists 
NEVER act in a personal capacity. As long as they are leninists/
Trotskists they ALWAYS act as representatives of their organizations.
Ilan worker a-infos]

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