That’s the easy part – the almost euphoric initial phase of a new movement. I remember the same exhilaration at the first conferences of the women’s liberation movement. Then comes the difficult bit. The second ESF in Paris must provide a launch pad from which this new Europe-wide social justice movement (hugely reinforced by the 15 February protests against the war) can transform itself into a material force for resistance and change.
There’s a need for strategic thinking to exploit the present contradictory moment. On the one hand, as anyone in Cancun will bear witness, EU institutions are pursuing neo-liberal economics to globally Dickensian conclusions. On the other, in Italy and the UK – the homelands of the European right in all its dubious forms – a popular awakening to the damaging consequences of neo-liberalism has already begun.
We must clear the ground by challenging the beguiling rhetoric, attractive to most Europeans, that a united Europe will counter the US. Equally plausible is a future of European multinationals competing with US rivals for cheap labour and plentiful markets in the South, or for any public sector deals that the US and EU connive to “free up”. There could be a military build up in a “Fortress Europe”, and a strengthening of European monetary policy not only against the dollar but also against the pressures of democratic accountability.
What is needed is an anti-imperialist, anti-neo-liberal alternative to US dominance. Rigorous policy proposals should be high on the list of what the next ESF stimulates. We need policies that bring us towards egalitarian economic relations with the South, towards a non-military security policy, towards democratic control over financial institutions, towards a just peace in the Middle East.
But policies are not enough on their own. We know that from the non-deeds of governments whose radical policies are subverted by the vested interests they supposedly set out to challenge.
We need to build new kinds of democratic power to reinforce the vote. We need workers” power that reaches out to citizens to improve public services and resist the global pressures to privatise. We need the power of an international peace movement backed by radical municipalities and able to open up inter-governmental contradictions. We need the strength of a movement for the free passage, and dignity, of people – built through solidarity between refugees and the labour and community movements.
To build these new kinds of power requires ways of organising that will be new in two respects. First, we will have to move beyond traditional electoral power. And second, we must make sure that whatever centralised power we put in place is accountable. We do not yet know the appropriate forms of political organisation for creating democratic and socially just alternatives at all levels – local and global. But most of us are involved in practical experiments and know of hundreds and thousands of organisations, networks and campaigns that share our values and goals. It makes sense to come together and exchange experiences. Together we can see more precisely where we want to go. And that is the point of the social forum.
The overriding concern must be to open up for all those resisting injustice a space conducive to the full exchange and thoughtful cross-fertilisation of ideas and action. Each organisation must come away from the ESF and similar forums strengthened in its capacity to resist and achieve positive change. This is especially important given the likelihood that next year’s ESF will be in London.
What is needed is a real shift in culture throughout the left, so that we can engage wholeheartedly in building an infrastructure for supporting and connecting a diverse array of organisations and movements whose independence is integral to their strength. We need to labour in a process of social change that will be led in ways we cannot predict or control.
Yasmin Gunaratnam reflects on John Berger’s gut solidarity with the stranger
Charlie Clarke and Heather Mendick discuss how to work through the tensions within Momentum
As man-made global warming gets closer to the tipping point, Andrew Simms finds reasons to be positive about averting catastrophic climate change
In this extract from his new book The Candidate, Alex Nunns tells the inside story of how Jeremy Corbyn scraped onto the Labour leadership ballot in 2015
Graham Jones proposes a framework for a diverse movement to flourish
Musician Eliane Correa reflects on the fading revolution
Trump's victory is another sign of the failure of the centre-left's narrative on climate change. A new message is needed, and new politicians to deliver it, writes Alex Randall
Siobhán McGuirk says the question we are too afraid to ask is simple - what kind of society leads to Donald Trump as President?
The battle lines are clear. Democracy is in peril and the left must take itself seriously electorally and politically. Ruth Potts speaks to Gary Younge, who was based in Muncie, Indiana, for the US election, about the implications of Donald Trump’s victory
We need a society built on openness, community and equality to truly defeat everything that trump stands for, writes Nick Dearden.
Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen
Short story: Syrenka
A short story by Kirsten Irving
Utopia: Industrial Workers Taking the Wheel
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry – and its lessons for today
Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant
Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’
Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue
Utopia: Room for all
Nadhira Halim and Andy Edwards report on the range of creative responses to the housing crisis that are providing secure, affordable housing across the UK
A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank
News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions
Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release
Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts
‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette
The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.
How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op
Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU
Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson
Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release
University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.
Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.
Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History
Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.
A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas
Book Review: Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
'In spite of the odds Corbyn is still standing' - Alex Doherty reviews Seymour's analysis of the rise of Corbyn
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
'A small manifesto for black liberation through socialist revolution' - Graham Campbell reviews Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's 'From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation'
The Fashion Revolution: Turn to the left
Bryony Moore profiles Stitched Up, a non-profit group reimagining the future of fashion
The abolition of Art History A-Level will exacerbate social inequality
This is a massive blow to the rights of ordinary kids to have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. Danielle Child reports.
Mass civil disobedience in Sudan
A three-day general strike has brought Sudan to a stand still as people mobilise against the government and inequality. Jenny Nelson writes.
Mustang film review: Three fingers to Erdogan
Laura Nicholson reviews Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s unashamedly feminist film critique of Turkey’s creeping conservatism
What if the workers were in control?
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry