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(en) Britain, Organise* #64 - A look at the libertarian mobilisation against the g8 in Evian

Date Sun, 12 Jun 2005 15:52:42 +0300


France, June 2003. Evian, a small middle class town
in the foothills of the Alps, welcomes the G8, the
summit of the most powerful in the world. Scotland,
July 2005, the G8 meets again.
This article revisits the libertarian
mobilisation in France in Evian against
the G8 summit by examining the
actions of two collectives, the CLAAAC
(Collective of Anti-authoritarian and Anti-
capitalist struggles) and the VAAAG (Anti-
capitalist, anti-war, alternative village) that
took place between May 27th and June 3rd.

Why did the mobilisation take these
forms?
The motivations for the libertarian
mobilisation are numerous. First of all, we
were not satisfied by a confrontation with
the police and a unitary demonstration
where the political message is superfluous
and where it is difficult to see why (with
what political project) we are coming
together. In this case anarchists are found
united with leftists, `citizen' groups, NGOs
and reformists under the umbrella of `anti-
globalisation'. The aim was therefore to
make anarchist political ideas and practices
visible at the G8 events by using a new way
of presenting ourselves. We wanted to
created a clear pole of resistance that was
anti-capitalist yet at the same time involved
organising an experiment in self-
organisation that we would be open to
everyone and where everyone would find
his/her place. This project was realised
through the organisation of a village that
was not only a camp site but that was also a
social and political space, where self-
management was put into practice as much
in the preparations as in the few days of its
life.
The village also gave us the opportunity to
see a variety of alternative forms of struggle,
imagined or already existing, against the
capitalist system. This was possible thanks
to the discussions and presentations that
were organised around alternative
experiences of struggle around the world
and that offered the opportunity to have a
collective reflection on the state of society in
which capitalism and the State produce
nothing but perpetual war, inequality and
misery. We hoped that this initiative would
bring people together who are living and/or
thinking of how to create a real alternative
to capitalism.
We used the calendar of the summits of the
powerful to create a moment of anti-
capitalist political demonstrations and to
construct a project that showed the
possibility of an alternative society. For this,
it is necessary that libertarians and their
ideas are visible and distinctive from the
professionals of the `citizen' and Leftist
movements who simply find capitalism too
savage for their taste and do not question
the fundamental basis of the system. It is
for this reason that we chose to have these
two initiatives, the CLAAAC and the VAAAG,
as the focus of the anarchist movement.

What was the VAAAG?

The village was then constructed at
Annemasse, near Evian, and opened for the
week of mobilisations against the G8
summit.
The VAAAG consisted of thousands of people
participating in routines of a collective,
libertarian life based on solidarity and
equality that were self-organised through
daily assemblies where everyone could
participate in decisions and share out tasks.
All of this took place in the `barrios' or
neighbourhoods that were organised around
the canteens. At the centre of VAAAG was a
bakery, a radio, medical post etc as well as
a space for bars and concerts. The political
content of the village, apart from the
debates and discussions, consisted of
various stands and booths with newspapers,
pamphlets, books and magazines, where
people could learn more about the ideas
and practices of the anarchist movement.
These activities gave people from diverse
backgrounds to both clarify and reflect on
what they had in common. It is this that is
interesting- to meet, to exchange ideas, to
create and to live a constructive and positive
experience.
This was the occasion to actually realise our
political idea of self-organisation, which is
often evoked but unfortunately ignored. It
was not only political militants that were
involved but also those who only had a little
political experience. It also permitted us to
reach the `man and woman in the street' of
Annemasse who are watching the TV and
fearing the advance of the anti-globalisation
`hordes' arriving in their precious town. They
came and they saw, and began to
understand and appreciate our manner of
functioning and our values; another
possibility is finally being sketched out. We
were able to use this village experiment to
make the idea of a self-managed and anti-
capitalist alternative seem credible.
We can actually talk of a real experiment in
self-management and organisation and it
was a success. It succeeded thanks to the
preparatory work done by around a hundred
people, both practical and political, and
because of the way that the participants
took control of the village during the week of
mobilisation and made it work by accepting
the charter and making the village come to
life. These were the elements that permitted
this experiment to succeed: organisation,
both in the preparation and spontaneously,
on the basis of communality and solidarity
that had been clearly defined together.

And the action of CLAAAC?

The CLAAAC federated organisations such
as the French Anarchist Federation, the
Organisation of Libertarian Communists, No
Pasaran amongst others, associations,
unions such as the CNT and anarchist
organisations from abroad, around a
common political platform against the G8.
The whole libertarian movement, united in a
`red and black' block of around 5-7000
people for the demonstration on June 1st,
showed that the anarchist movement is a
significant force in the current political and
social landscape. This block allowed for an

This village, the idea of which was launched
by No Pasaran (an anti-fascist group), was
organised by a number of local collectives
around most everywhere in France and also
in Germany by people who are active in the
French Anarchist Federation, No Pasaran,
syndicalists and trade unionists, people
attached to the autonomous movement and
individuals without a label. These collectives
worked for five months to think about and
put into practice the VAAAG, from the
logistics (material for marquees and tents,
mobilisation of other necessary resources
and skills, food, getting the land) to the
elaboration of the Charter of the village (that
would guide the self-managed functioning).
All of this was down collectively, though
regular meetings. The collectives also set up
canteens that were to be the central points
of every neighbourhood in the future village.
The VAAAG was self-financed through fund-
raising, forbidding any commercial activities
in the village. Participants could stay and
eat for free with only modest drink prices.
independent political and syndicalist pole,
which was anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian,
anti-patriarchal and revolutionary, within the
reformist anti-globalisation movement of
NGOs and others who just want to make
capitalism more humane. The
demonstration is likely to have remained in
the heads of many of those who participated
in this important event.
In terms of political action, there were of
course blockades and joint actions with the
Swiss demonstrators. The link between the
VAAAG and the CLAAAC facilitated the
organisation of direct action, blockades of
the routes into Evian and political actions
such as the impromptu protest against the
Socialist Party. These actions were
undertaken by those who wanted to,
respecting those who did not participate in
the context of excessive security put into
place by the French State, which meant that
the level of violence and repression became
more of a focus than we would have liked.
This event, this mobilisation against the G8,
was a moment of direct communication and
of creativity that reinforced the anarchist
movement. We were able to develop federal
structures on a common political platform
with common objectives. Through our
actions, both in VAAAG and in CLAAAC, we
were able to show that not only are we a
force to be reckoned with but we also offer a
social alternative based on self-
management. We have made progress in
envisaging and putting into practice our
ideals of self-organisation and autonomy in
our struggles, functioning and practices. The
power of the libertarian movement lies in
our capacity to go from resistance to the
creation of social alternatives. This is what
was brought into being during those days in
May -June 2003. Struggle, resist, create!
*This article was written for Organise! by
Sophie, a comrade from the French
Anarchist Federation in Chambery. It has
been translated from the French as literally
as possible in order to retain the meaning.
As a result, it may read a little awkwardly
----------------------------------------------
Organise! comment

In other articles in this issue of Organise!,
we have taken more of a critical look at anti-
G8 mobilisations. This contribution shows
how these events can be extremely positive.
However, the mobilisation should not so
much be judged in terms of how effective it
is in actually stopping the G8 summit or in
how many battles with the police took place.
Rather, it should be judged in terms of how
ef fective we have been in spreading
anarchist ideas and practices. In addition, as
Sophie argues, a key aspect of the
mobilisations should be showing both
ourselves and others that it is possible to
organise and live differently, without relying
on hierarchal structures and leaders,
whether formal or informal.
===========================================
Organise is the magazine of the Anarchist Federation.
It is published twice times a year to promote discussion
and the development of anarchist communist theory.
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