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international / irish social forum Tuesday October 19, 2004 18:51 by seedot

From the Newswire by Seedot: A report and pics from a weekend in London - covers the Camden Centre, Beyond the ESF and the Official ESF.

ESF logoThe ideals of the social forum process speak of the creation of a space for dialog and debate between the many social movements that present an opposition to capitalism. The Porto Allegre principles are designed to ensure as inclusive and broad a forum as possible, to encourage the cross-fertilization of all these strands that make up what is referred to as the 'movement'. While the London organising process has been heavily criticised for its departures from the charter of principles many people traveled to London because of the sheer scale of the event, the opportunity to see the differences between the groups and test the pulse of the European movements. The diversity was supposed to be the strength of the social forum, the size was supposed to overcome the problems in the organising with space for everyone in the various events.

Before I left Dublin I had read of the range of groups and spaces and thought that the weekend would be an opportunity to witness this marvelous coming together that many had spoken of in the social forum process. The weekend before I had sat in a circle at the Irish Social Forum and heard academics, trade unionists, social democrats and anarchists discussing their opposing and complimentary views of neo-liberalism and their strategies for dealing with it. The meeting had been positive, not least for the links that were made and the comparisons drawn with the mass movement that developed in Ireland a century before as Nationalism, Socialism and what came to be Irish Republicanism coalesced to defeat the imperialism of that time. London was supposed to be this on a much larger stage.

Flying home my feelings were more of frustration and opportunities missed than any real satisfaction or excitement. I attended events at the Indymedia Centre in Camden, at the Beyond the ESF in Tottenham and the 'Official' ESF at Alexander Palace. Each event was well organised and attended yet it felt like I had been to three conferences in the one weekend. The frustration was that the linkages and cross fertilizations seem to have been ruled out even before the event began as each of the movements retreated into its own space, establishing multiple fora which talked amongst themselves. While what happened was thoughtful, sincere and at times exciting it was what didn't happen that left the lasting impression.

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