Summit hopping and movement building: some questions
Posted by KM on December 23, 2008
Hey folks, as it’s christmas, I’ll be scrooge! I have some doubts on the copenhagen stuff, but I’m open to persuasion on why it might be a good idea, and will probably end up coming anyway…
I think re. copenhagen we should be asking ourselves some questions, and will certainly have to have come up with goood answers to them if a mobilisation is to be successful:
* In what way are summit mobilisations (especially ones that months in advance divert significant amounts of energy and attention from actions and mobilisations in the lived, everyday world of our communties) effective in ‘increasing the overall bargaining power of working people’ (to use the terminology of ['20 Theses Against Green Capitalism' by Tadzio Mueller and Alexis Passadakis]) and pushing alternatives to capitalism? Is capitalism and capitalist solutions to climate change effectively opposed in this manner?
* Summit mobilisations, both watching them from afar and participating in them, are good ways to inspire and radicalise some people (hell, it worked for me!), but are they good ways to grow mass movements? Does the
innacessibility to people with little disposable income, little time for travel, heavy family or work commmitments etc etc make them attended mainly by a very narrow demographic?
* Were the G8 and other IFI mobilisations really effective? I’ve heard some involved argue that summit mobilisations pushed the anti-globalisation movement into a dead end cos the spectacle of resistance created at the big demos and riots wasn’t matched by any comparable concrete, material resistance to capitalist social relations in the places people lived and worked. Are we in danger of doing this with 3 climate camps (which now seem in many way similar to summit mobilisations, though originally intended to pull us away from them) followed by a trip to copenhagen? Aren’t we spending a lot of time on ‘one off’ big events where the same people keep turning up?
* What’s our message? The difference between copenhagen and the past summit mobilisations is that in the latter the objective is clearly to deligitimize the whole thing, to shut them down, to say they don’t have the right to make these choices on our behalf. What with the former? Do we want the conference to take place and run smoothly? Presumably yes, cos if it doesn’t it really will be ‘business as usual’. If so would we be better off supporting the lobbying efforts of more progressive nations (new zealand, sweden etc) and the global south?
I’m generally very confused about the question, ‘what is effective opposition to capitalism?’, or indeed how to build a mass movement against climate change!
I appreciate the need for a diversity of tactics, but am apprehensive about mis-alocation of scarce resources, if that makes any sense…