Four members of the AWL attended this year’s European Social Forum in Athens, held from 3 to 7 May. Although the huge venue made the size of the event difficult to estimate, it seemed smaller than previous Forums. That perhaps reflects the relative cost of getting to Athens, and the size of the Greek left.
The dominant politics were the usual inclusive but vague ‘Another World is Possible’, with a strong anti-American flavour.
The AWL held a lively debate on socialists’ attitude to the European Union which attracted contributions from a range of groups including supporters of Basque independence, the Swedish Left Party and the CPGB.
Our comrades attended a seminar on fundamentalism and imperialism hosted by the Greek left group Spartakos, the Labour Party of Pakistan and the Alternative Information Center of Israel/Palestine. The LPP’s sharp critique of fundamentalists – ‘not human beings but death warrants’ – was a welcome change from the general backing for anyone against America which seemed to prevail in the Forum.
We also participated in a seminar on fighting multinational corporations. Karen Johnson spoke on behalf of No Sweat, alongside campaigners against Coca Cola and Nestlé.
As yet it is not clear whether there will be another ESF: although the event provides undoubted opportunities for networking, it is sadly lacking political direction. The absence of democratic structures makes it hard indeed to see how this will change.