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(en) Report of European Peoples' Global Action Conference from UK participant

From "Ned Ludd" <ludred@hotmail.com>
Date Fri, 18 Oct 2002 14:25:18 -0400 (EDT)

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

?There is a hippy living in the parking lot.  She made a
worshipping place where she organises strange
ceremonies.  She was also present at the demonstration
in Amsterdam where she tried to put little dots of mud
on people?s foreheads.?  (From the daily PGA
conference newspaper, 2nd Sep 2002)

Oh yes - in late summer 2002 over four hundred
European activists - from Ireland to Israel and Moscow
to Milan - had gathered in the historic city of Leiden for
the second European conference of the mighty, mighty
network known as Peoples? Global Action (PGA).

During the middle ages the fanatical preacher John of
Leiden had turned the city into an extreme Christian
commune, burning private property and proclaiming
God?s Law.  That episode ended with an invasion by
Dutch troops and wholesale massacre of the
inhabitants.  The PGA conference made a different kind
of history, despite the best efforts of some of the UK
contingent (you know who you are).

Leiden is a cathedral city of around 140,000.  Home to
the elite University of Leiden and it?s ultra right-wing
student society ?Minerva? and also to the EuroDusnie
squatting collective, whose two social centres provided
the venues for the conference.  EuroDusnie are famous
for their pieing actions - a flan in the face to ridicule the
people in power.  After one of their past targets
(anti-immigration politician Pim Fortyun) was
assassinated by a gay-hating Christian animal rights
activist, their squats were attacked by gangs of fascists.

But from the 30th of August to the 5th of September the
city was ours, as groups of
eco/anarcho/peacenik/hippies wandered around the
cobbled streets, eating ice cream and talking to each
other about their projects back home.

 And an inspiring set of projects they were!  A run-down
of the participants shows the diversity and breadth of
activities; this is what PGA is all about - not an
organisation that tries to build itself up, but rather a
common space for people who are taking action to talk,
share info and co-ordinate their struggles as much or as
little as they like.

Background, from the PGA website (www.agp.org)

?From the 23rd to the 26th of February of 1998,
grassroots movements of all continents met in Geneva
to launch a worldwide coordination network of
resistance to the global market, a new alliance of
struggle and solidarity called ?Peoples' Global Action
against 'free' trade and the World Trade Organisation?
(?PGA?). That was the birth of this global tool for
communication and coordination for all those who fight
the destruction of humanity and the planet by capitalism
and build local alternatives to globalisation.
The defining documents of the PGA are its five
hallmarks, its organisational principles and its

The PGA hallmarks are a guide to what kind of
activities fall inside PGA and what kind of groups can
participate in PGA.  For example, many right-wing
groups are against ?globalisation?, yet PGA is not for
them!  The hallmarks are:

1.      A very clear rejection of capitalism, imperialism
and feudalism; all trade agreements, institutions and
governments that promote destructive globalisation;

2.      We reject all forms and systems of domination and
discrimination including, but not limited to, patriarchy,
racism and religious fundamentalism of all creeds. We
embrace the full dignity of all human beings.

3.      A confrontational attitude, since we do not think
that lobbying can have a major impact in such biased
and undemocratic organisations, in which transnational
capital is the only real policy-maker;

4.      A call to direct action and civil disobedience,
support for social movements' struggles, advocating
forms of resistance which maximize respect for life and
oppressed peoples' rights, as well as the construction of
local alternatives to global capitalism;

5.      An organisational philosophy based on
decentralisation and autonomy.

 There have been three Global PGA conferences - in
Geneva, Switzerland (1998), in Bangalore, India (1999)
and in Cochabamba, Bolivia (2001).  One thing that tells
us something about the impact of PGA are the Global
Days of Action, from 1998 to 2001, that have been
called by PGA.

This was the second European conference, the first
being held in Milan in March 2000.  The conference
packs that EuroDusnie produced included a list of those
groups that had signed up to be participants in the
Leiden conference.  There were?

Environmental groups - like ?The ecologists of Chios
Island?, Earth First! (UK) and Groen Friont! (EF! in

Anti-military groups - like Campaign Against the Arms
Trade (UK) and ?12th Grade Army Refusers? (Israel).

Free Space/autonomous zone groups - like German,
Dutch and French info-shops, co-ops from the UK and
Croatia and squatting groups from all over.

Workers? group - like Barcelona CGT (Spain/Catalonia)
and Sindikalisterna (Swedish anarcho-syndicalist

International Solidarity groups - connecting us with
Bangladesh, Colombia, West Papua, Turkey and many

Anarchist groups - like A-infos Israel, Croatian
Anarchist Federation, Federation Anarchiste (Belgium),
?Nihilist Assault Group? (Norway, and with a cool

Alternative Media and Culture jamming groups - like
Indymedia Centres from across Europe, the European
Newsreel, Art in Action (Norway), Adbusters groups
and the Tactical Media Crew (Italy).

This is just a tantalising taster, of course, and the
workshops that these groups put on were of an equally
broad and interesting quality.

??What is a boy, what is a girl?? said a sign found on
the doors of both the men and women?s showers at the
campsite.  ?It?s definitions are made up by society and it
discriminates against people somewhere in
between?Queer Up!?A special commission has now
ordered to open a third lavatory, accessible for
?in-betweens? only?According to another source, the
use of toilet paper has taken on unsustainably high
levels?? (PGA conference newspaper, 3rd Sep)

Workshops covered areas such as:

Actions - like the anti-NATO actions in Prague, Nov
2002; anti-WEF actions in Salzburg; anti-DSEi in
London, 2003.

Alternatives - like Radical Routes (co-ops in the UK);
Recycled Estate, a land co-op in Croatia; Free Zones

Past actions - like Strasbourg No Border Camp,
anti-summit actions of the last two years.

Info-sharing and awareness raising - like the talks on
?Repression in the EU?, against activists and refugees;
?Support for undocumented women?; ?The war against
Iraq and the US economy?; ?Sustainability and the
disappearing computer?; ?A radical history of food?;
?Using cryptography??

Look, I didn?t have time to go to everything, ok? This is
just a list that I hope looks cool!  And then, of course
there were the strategy discussions, about sharing
general ideas on things like ?democratic decision
making?, and the feared ?PGA process? meetings,
about how to structure this monster network of ours?
?Naomi Klein has returned from alien abduction!
Apparently her return is connected with some witchcraft
happening outside in the parking lot.  Unfortunately for
her lover, the Dutch Crown Prince, Klein has decided to
spend the rest of her life in the transgender bathroom
with an inhabitant of the planet Wrossjk.?  (PGA
conference newspaper, 4th Sep)

Another interesting initiative discussed in Leiden was
the ?European Social Consulta?; a massive outreach
project.  Based on events like the Zapatista community
consultations and the Barcelona Consulta it will spread
out through different ?promoter? groups that will recruit
new groups and reach out into their local area.  See
www.consultaeuropa.org or e-mail uri@riseup.net for
more info.

The upcoming European Social Forum (ESF) in
Florence was also discussed at the PGA conference.
This huge anti-globalisation meeting follows on from
the World Social Forum (WSF) of last year, in Brazil
and inspires both hope and a large chunk of suspicion.
The main groups involved in organising it are ATTAC,
a liberal economic campaigning group, plus big NGOs,
trade unions and even political parties!  The main
mobilisers for the ESF in the UK are the Socialist
Workers? Party.  All in all, a mixed bunch of people will
turn up to the ESF, most of them sincere believers in a
better world.  Therefore in Leiden an ?autonomous
space at the ESF? was planned.

This PGA gathering produced some suggestions for
how PGA should be organised.  There is already a
North American PGA network, which has ?hubs? in
various regions that act as contact points.  The ?PGA
process? workshops eventually reached consensus on
encouraging the setting up of similar contact points
across Europe.  These will distribute PGA publicity and
help groups to co-ordinate their activities by holding
regional PGA meetings.

What now?

 PGA is an important network, globally, but also at a
regional level.  Through going to Leiden I met people
from the UK and Ireland and heard about communities
and struggles that I had never known existed, including
many that are not part of the EF! network.  There may
be a PGA gathering for the UK happening near the start
of next year.  To find out more, join the UK Peoples?
Global Action e-mail discussion list by e-mailing
ludred@hotmail.com and saying that you want me to
put you on the PGA-UK mailing list.  Alternatively, join
the European-wide discussion list by e-mailing

You can also find loads of info at www.agp.org.

So far the only local PGA info points I know about are
the Radical Dairy (radicaldairy@hotmail.com) in Stoke
Newington and LARC (info@londonarc.org) in
Whitechapel, both in London.  Look out for PGA
meetings and events in your area.  Hopefully PGA
info-points will start sprouting across these islands

?Do you sometimes, after a meeting, feel you have no
idea of what was actually said?  Are you looking forward
to the final plenary with dread?  The solution may be the
PGA bingo!?Well in time before the meeting fill in the
grid of squares from the attached list?Whenever a word
in the grid is mentioned during the meeting but NOT
BY YOU, you are allowed to cross out that word in your
grid.  Whenever you have a complete line either
horizontally, vertically or diagonally, YOU ARE THE
WINNER!?Suggested keywords:







(Conference Newspaper, 4th Sep 2002).

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