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(en) Poland, Report on the alternative economic forum,

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 2 May 2004 14:05:51 +0200 (CEST)

and 29.04 demonstration
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In terms of the Forum, it is hard to say how many people came because,
typically nobody stayed for everything but people came for one or two things
they were interested in. The space usually had from a low of 200 people to
up to 400 people, so we estimate (although we weren't really counting) that
between 800-1000 different people showed up in total. What we were really
happy about was that at any time, a good portion of people (it was different
but in some cases even a majority) were not from our political scene at all
but just people that either we had seen at some events we'd organized before
or even never before. The web pages, including articles and discussion
forum, had thousands - even tens of thousands of hits. So we felt it was
really a unique opportunity to get our ideas out into the public.

The weak point though was also in this area because many activists, mostly
still want to focus on internal punk scene. So there were lots of sales of
cassettes, T-shirts etc. at the infopoint but when people came to the Forum,
there was very little to buy. From anarchist organizations, only FA Szczecin
and people from FA Praga put out literature, and newspapers we had printed
went missing because some people took it for themselves to the infopoint and
they got put under a pile and returned to us last night. So for me, it
reflects a certain problem in practice because, even though maybe even
everybody thinks they are trying to talk to people from the general public,
the practice achieves something else. Everybody afterwards thought this was
a shame.

Back to the positive points, there were some interesting talks. I didn't get
a chance to hear half, so maybe it would not be fair to comment on the
contents of them if I can't give equal time. In addition to the scheduled
talks, Marion Zagorny from Solidarity of Individual Farmers showed up and
was invited to speak. For me, his talk was particularly important and
interesting; he spoke not only of the situation of individual and family
farms, but also talked about the radical direct actions he was involved
with. This deserves a whole separate report in my opinion.

Besides people from the general public, a lot of communists of different
shades showed up and in particular they were very active at the talks that
had a more specifically anarchist slant. (Not all talks were prepared by
anarchists, but the majority were and on Friday, all were except one.) So
there were some interesting chances to debate.

One of the things which was a shame was that the chances to debate were
limited because of time. Because we were kicked out of our original hall, we
had to settle for 2 rooms instead of 3 which meant that both lectures had to
be shortened (basically shortening time for discussion) and some things had
to be cancelled. Since we didn't want to cancel the lectures of anybody who
had specially prepared something, this means that the first things we
cancelled were our own lectures and things that involved open discussion,
workshops and the round table. So it was really a shame since it gave the
whole thing a 'talking head' feeling and created a division between people
giving lectures and people passively listening since there weren't any
activities to balance this type of participation.


There were different opinions about the demonstration, but we also felt it
was a success. There are wildly different estimates of how many people took
place, usually from 5-10 thousand. The demo went peacefully, without any
incidents. The largest blocs were anarchists, but also unemployed people,
unionists (farmers, the famous independent miners, people from Ozarow)
different types of communists, ecologists, pot smokers and feminists showed
up. Lots of photos are on Polish Indymedia.

What is most interesting for me about the demonstration is that millions
were spent on deploying tens of thousands of police, army, snipers,
helicopters, etc. to Warsaw and it turned out to be totally unnecessary.
People were totally terrorized by the media and police, hundreds of business
were shut down, school children were all sent out of town, and there was
just a peaceful demonstration. So now, even the mainstream media are
publishing pictures of the heads of secret police and other people and
asking what on earth we pay these people for. In this respect, people, many
of whom viewed this whole summit and the zones, etc. very critically
beforehand, are quite angry about how the whole thing was treated by the
authorities. People around the neighbourhood stop me and start to complain
about this. Some older people told me it was worse than martial law time. So
it was a chance to very clearly show people how the police, media and
authorities act. Some old time activists from the Anarchist Federation held
a press conference and demanded that the media and police compensate small
shop owners who boarded up and left town in fear of the hoard for their

A few other small actions happened, including going to an outdoor speech of
Kwasniewski's and disturbing it.


According to friends, the Walpurgis Night festival was very successful. The
Festival of Independent Theatres as Well.

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