Nothing To Lose
As a variety of analyses filters back to the anti-capitalist movement at large concerning events at the 2006 World Social Forum a familiar refrain is heard: What is to be done? A division has been forming for the last couple of years between those who see the WSF as an educational, or intellectual process for developing insights and strategies and gaining new knowledge and those who wish to see it evolve into a more political form. They want to see a plan, they say enough words, we need action.It is pointed out by many that the organization that meets in Davos for the World Economic Forum is anything but nebulous,is not stymied by internal debate over form, is in fact an institutional structure which shows no hesitation in asserting political power.
The power of Davos is essentially the power derived from unity of purpose and agreement on the form of mediation between the forces of production, finance, and the State globally. It is asserted through every good and service it produces and enforced in the last resort by an overwhelming police and military apparatus. The power of the anti-capitalist forces assembled in Caracas, on the other hand, is only the consensus of the workers, without whom the forces of production cannot produce. Without the organized force of labor,intellectuals and academics can debate and theorize till hell freezes over.In my opinion that power lies latent and unutilized due to both an unwillingness to accept responsibility for such an awesome power and a justified fear of the potential negative consequences of such concentrated power beyond control.As Machiavelli said: "For the greatness of the thing partly terrifies men, so that they fail in the first beginning." No structure of control or process for organization can be agreed upon. Some are untested, theoretical, and so lack support. Some are all to familiar and have a poor track record. The crowd over in Switzerland have no such theoretical, ethical or existential qualms. They are revolutionaries.
These attitudes (unwillingness,fear) create inertia and are expressed in different ways: "It is important to have the trade unions on our side, but not in the leadership role they used to have", "There is a new political culture and new issues." According to surveys, Forum participants are a highly educated elite and prefer being activists in popular movements and NGOs rather than institutional political parties. They participate in movements such as environmentalism or feminism that are percieved as being unrelated to particular social classes ( I would argue otherwise) and they prefer non-hierarchical structure and eschew the "old practices" of power politics. This is the point where dissatisfaction itself becomes a commodity, it is the enervation of collective resistance. The limits of these movements is that they are not political in the sense of the universal singular( challenge to the economy!); they do not relate to the social totality.It becomes Spectacular rebelliousness.In my opinion politics without the organizational form of the party is politics without politics. As the Jacobins said to the Girondine: " You want revolution without revolution".
Every gain of the working class, the unemployed and underemployed, the exploited and marginalized has been realized through organized mass struggle. At some point in the near future, every activist is going to have to decide whether he/she is on the bus ,or off the bus. Lend a hand or get out of the way. This call to action is precipitated by the very real fact of daily suffering, by the very real fact of the insane destruction wrought by imperialist war and the very real possibility that war could anyday be nuclear. With the global climate experiencing critical, irreversable change, with millions of humans starving or brutalized by poverty and disease, the theorists and intellectuals will have to realize it is time to settle on a less-than perfect arrangement, a less than pure process. The members in Davos have learned to settle, to accept,to move forward with their project in the realization that politics is messy. Life is messy. A movement of International Workers could rise from this moment and coalesce the disparite factions of the movement for global justice. Or it could fail miserably.Whatever. Praxis is its own truth.How many World Social Forums will elites fly to, how many millions will they spend not organizing?.