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(en) Call for Autonomous Spaces at the ESF in Greece

Date Mon, 06 Feb 2006 17:05:58 +0200

Invitation for the creation of an autonomous space during the 4th European
Social Forum (Spring, 2006, Athens) This spring, the 4th European Social Forum
will take place in Athens. Thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of people from
all around Europe, from an entire galaxy of social and political movements,
organizations and collectives, will meet in our city to get to know each other,
to exchange views and practices, to strengthen and extend the networks of
resistance and creation, or even build new ones.
These meetings were born by the explosion of the so-called “anti-globalization
movement”: that is the source of their massive, rich and diverse character. Our
collective has been a “child” of this movement and we participated with great
interest in the three previous meetings: in Florence, Paris and in London, but
also during other European activists gatherings (like the People's Global
Action in Belgrade - summer of 2004). We discovered that – despite the distance
– there are many things that unite us with collectives and people from other
countries. We got ideas and inspiration, new viewpoints and practices, and we
also tried to spread our own experience. We made fruitful contacts, that may
become more fruitful in the future. We went down to the streets, we acted,
played and enjoyed ourselves like a multitude without borders.

We think that the next meeting in Athens can be a very good opportunity to
broaden and enrich these relations. Since the event will take place in our
city, we have to (and we'll be glad to) take on practical responsibilities
around it, in return to the hospitality and hard work of previous meetings. And
we want to do this with other collectives and people from all over Greece who
want to participate in a productive and cheerful gathering, osmosis, networking
procedure... in a big activist playground!

Sounds good, but how are we going to do it? And what does “autonomous space”

Our experience from the previous meetings, tells us that European Forums are
giant organizations, with many different levels and “agendas”. Lots of people
will participate, act and interact during these days. People who traveled from
the other side of Europe, even on their own or representing local collectives
and small experimental networks. But also representatives from trade unions,
political parties and organizations with tens of thousands members. All of them
at the same time but with different viewpoints, aims and ranges, and therefore
different organizational needs.

We want to be a part of this activist galaxy but we want to choose the ways to
organize and correlate. We want our bodies to shape the matter and atmosphere
of the space that will host the multitude we are very interested to meet:
Collectives and people who act directly, both in their political practice
(direct action, activism) as well as in their views of social change (the world
won't change [by itself I.S.] with the revolution, we change the world around us now and every
day). Those who struggle to build horizontal collective processes, based on
consensus and solidarity, that recognize and try to pull down the existing
discriminations of race, gender, age, class or sexual orientation. Those who
don't come with settled political agendas and out-of-the-box solutions, but are
willing to experiment with their eyes wide open to reality, who see the entire
society as a possible participant and co-organizator of their practices - not
as the “other” that has to be convinced.

These people exist in the movement and need their space. Not in order to get
into their shells, neither to denounce anybody. But to discuss, create
relations, build networks on their terms and communicate with the rest of the
movement on equal ground. Many collectives from all over Europe and Greece
cannot and do not want to get involved with centralized – and often
bureaucratic – procedures. The most radical and innovative views are often
marginalized by these structures. It would be senseless to ask from the forum's
central stucture to take organizational decisions by consensus of 40000 people.
Just as senseless as expecting that the forum's centralized procedures can
organize the space described above. This need has been expressed in the three
previous forums with the creation of various autonomous spaces. We were in
EuroHub in Florence, in Glad -Paris- and in London's autonomous spaces, we were
also in some big seminars and central manifestations in the official Forums
there. And we took something from all these.

We propose an autonomous space like this: self-organized and tailored to our
needs. Small scale and open to all directions for direct participation. In
order to talk freely about our action experiences, about what excites us and
what troubles us. And we invite you to form it with us, away of “inside or
outside” divisive viewpoints. We are not interested in this “dilemma”, it's the
possibility of a lively and creative meeting that motivates us.

And what's on the menu?

Whatever we fancy for! The Virus collective mostly focuses on practices of civil
disobedience and direct action, on culture jamming, urban intervention. So we
will organize workshops, discussions and actions of this kind and we will
invite European collectives with similar interests.

Likewise, every collective or individual that would like to participate, can
propose and organize events in the space, related to their actions. They could
also motivate other groups and individuals from all over Europe (and of course
Greece) to participate.

Alright, since this is an invitation, let's give some ideas of other topics that
we find very interesting (the order is random and the list is not limiting):

• Alternative (grassroots) information and communication
• Precarity
• Gender and sexuality
• Economics of social solidarity
• The technology in our hands! Free software, digital struggle against copyright
control and patents, do-it-your self constructions
• Alternative education: spreading knowledge freely
• Urban space rights (free spaces, self-organized spaces, bicycle etc)
• No borders, the right to a global citizenship
• Participant, anti-commercial art

At the same time, we could organize discussions on issues that run through all
topics, such as the problems that we face with direct-democracy procedures or
even more general “theoretical” issues.

Apart from workshops and discussions, it would be great if we had permanent
exhibitions, projections, bar and collective cuisine. We could also organize
some actions altogether in the city. And of course a party for every night!

As at this first step we are addressing this message to those collectives that
had organized or contributed to the organization of autonomous spaces in the
past, it would be very helpful if you could provide as the links of those
groups that you know that will be interested for this kind of effort.
Virus Collective
contact: theodorakotsaka@yahoo.com
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