(Eng) A Proposal tabled at the Turin Encounter

Steve Wright (sjwright@vaxc.cc.monash.edu.au)
Fri, 31 May 1996 22:21:13 +1000


A PROPOSAL REGARDING CIVIL SOCIETY
(Document presented to the Turin Encounter against neo-liberalism and for
humanity, 28 April 1996)

"NEO-LIBERALISM"?

What is it?

It is "international crime", the multinationals of money, exploitation and
the destruction of resources, people and the environment.

But also

the whole superstructure of control and organisation of power in its
various functions and forms, from the most evident and therefore most
recognisable, to the less evident and thus more dangerous

and therefore

all the political and social institutions through which this system is
governed, administered, controlled and maintained:

- the parties, whose organisational form and function have proved
inadequate to the struggle for democracy, but functional to the political
spectacle of the parliamentary and governmental sideshow, pillars of the
management of power;

- the so-called "official" unions, which have shown themselves to be,
throughout the world, the instruments of a capillary social control aimed
at impeding the formation of grassroots organisations and autonomous
struggles;

- the mechanism of delegation, hierarchies, bureaucracy and
institutionalisation, which have allowed power to neutralise attempts at
organisation from below, through the corruption, infiltration or
elimination of leaders;

- control over information, so that the dreams and struggles of peoples are
denied space and a voice;

- the useless divisions, the arrogance of the self-promoters [le voglie di
protagonismo], the intellectualism of elites, and all other expressions of
a "neo-liberal" culture that we must surpass and that still too often
dominates our actions, leaving us incapable of uniting and growing in the
struggle against the common enemy.

"CIVIL SOCIETY"

What is it?

It is all of us, those who are always exploited, the oppressed, the
dissatisfied, the migrants, the marginalised, those without a future, those
who can't go on anymore, those that want justice, democracy, freedom and
see their own condition worsen, day after day.

We are:

the overwhelming majority of the population, a force capable of changing
the existing state of things, if only we realise that it can be changed,
through uniting from below, and that we must change things, if we want a
future. It's useless to kid ourselves and wait for others to do it for us .
. .

WE HAVE NO QUICK FIXES

We are not "repentant", we don't renounce our past and the struggles we've
been through (we want to conserve those experiences, but avoid the errors);
we believe that a historic epoch is over, and that the project of a
conscious vanguard, organised as a party that drags along the masses, takes
power and then administers it on their behalf, has failed.

We continue in our efforts for unity but we do not know, today, what
organisational form is required, nor do we think a ready made solution can
be drawn up before the event: only the collectivity can supply the answers,
which themselves depend upon the place, the moment, the subjects that want
to unite, as a result of the creative efforts of all involved, day by day,
in pursuit of the immediate and future objectives and struggles in which we
are committed.

Other experiences, in Italy and the world, are also developing: we need to
watch them, and not only for the sake of learning.

WE HAVE A PROPOSAL

- a physical SPACE for that CIVIL SOCIETY that decides to say 'Enough' and
wants to meet together in order to understand, together, how to do so. A
possible point of reference, in a new international network of solidarity
and hope, where we can become acquainted, meet, leave and receive messages,
work and grow together;

- an organised SPACE for COMMUNICATION, where we can seek out, receive and
distribute news, information, documents, denunciations: space that seeks to
give voice to the voiceless, through the slow but steady accumulation of
instruments and forces (bulletins, a journal, a radio station, a system for
the creation of information videos and popular education, a computer
system, an Internet server, a printing room), but also through
collaboration with other realities already able to communicate (a work
group could make an inventory and establish links);

- a SPACE in which MANY WORK GROUPS, attentive to a range of social
problems, could strive to involve all interested subjects, with the aim of
creating links, producing information, organising denunciations;

- a SPACE which is not a salon for leftist chitchat, but wherein can be
sought, in solidarity, organisation and cooperation from below, immediate
possibilities of INTERVENTION, RESISTANCE and MUTUAL AID;

- a SPACE attentive to the TERRITORY, that strives to familiarise itself
(an inventory is needed: on work, needs, services, the environment,
schools) and is interested in people, in how they live, suffer, struggle
and organise themselves (a questionnaire enquiry that was not aimed at
generating cold statistics might be useful here);

- a SPACE that is POPULAR, the initiative not of leaders or sets of
organisational initials, but rather the free association of women and men
sincerely interested in change; not characterised politically by adhesion
to ideologies that exclude, to one political line over than another, but
attentive to people's concrete problems; secular, but respectful of those
who profess a religion;

- a SPACE that is not "Italian" (much less "Northern Italian"), because
there are some members of civil society within the territory who suffer and
are migrants (great attention must be paid to the necessity of involving
and communicating with them, including from the point of view of language)
and because the international of hope and solidarity will be either truly
international, or not at all;

- a SPACE that is not a bureaucratic structure, with officials, elections
or presidencies, but rather a LEARNING ENVIRONMENT OF DEMOCRACY (something
we always need to remember is that "neoliberal" culture is not democratic),
a conscious collectivity that regulates its own growth: no to decisions
taken by someone on everyone's behalf, no to the imposition of ideas, no to
the "filtering" of information, no to manipulation (including in "leftist"
guise), because everyone must be guaranteed the knowledge needed for
evaluating, understanding and deciding in their own right;

- a SPACE that is not a backdrop for old forms of self-promotion, for
longwinded interventions, for exhibitionism and frenzied proclamations of
"I know this, I know them, I'm doing it, I have the connections", but
rather a MEETING PLACE OF EQUALS for women and men who, as equals, want to
search out the ways and forms of constructing a future in which there is
space for everyone and who already today topple pedestals, annihilate
distances, seek out encounters, share what they have and know;

- a SPACE that has some RULES, but rules which are the expression of those
involved, that are constantly defined, reviewed and redefined, and which
all will respect;

- a SPACE which is not an enterntainment venue, but nonetheless seeks to be
a pleasurable point of reference, for young and for old, a small example of
how we envision a new society: free, serene, clean;

- a SPACE that is accessible to all, including the disabled;

- a SPACE that absolutely PRECLUDES instances that are fascist, racist or
in any other way opposed in content and/or method to growth of a democracy
from below, but wherein those who are honestly opposed to neoliberalism can
concentrate their efforts;

- a SPACE jealous of its independence from institutions, parties, and that
refuses to be made homologous with them;

- a SPACE where every activity is directed towards the INVOLVEMENT and
PARTICIPATION of all, as responsible protagonists, so that all can feel
that they have, and have in actuality, an important role (no to the
centralisation of functions, roles, knowledges . . .);

- a SPACE that seeks to surpass the monotonous and uncritical repetition of
old ways of intervening, of useless spontaneisms, of "doing for the sake of
it", but that aspires to be a SCIENTIFIC LABORATORY OF IDEAS OF ACTION,
that is not the refuge for a group of the "better fewer but better", but
that instead tends to ACCUMULATE AND MULTIPLY FORCES; where the principal
task, for all who participate, is not doing a thousand things, but that of
involving other comrades;

- a SPACE where individuals can GROW AND IMPROVE (work groups could be
defined on the basis of needs, for the self-organisation of educational
spaces), so that the quality of our intervention and organisation can grow
and improve;

- a SPACE that is not proposed as "THE ORGANISATION" that seeks to
substitute itself for something or someone, but a place where those who
want to organise themselves can get to know each other, to meet and discuss
how to do so;

- a SPACE in which CIVIL SOCIETY can find and contribute ideas,
stimulation, unity, the strength necessary in the workplaces, the schools,
the service sector and the streets to shout as one:

YA BASTA! AGAINST NEOLIBERALISM! DEMOCRACY! JUSTICE! FREEDOM! UNITED WE
WILL WIN!;

- a SPACE which will have a name (The space of civil society; Support base
for the International of Hope and Solidarity). It's not so important what
that name is; it's enough that it be a name that can make us understand, a
free space from which to begin.

Two comrades of Torino.