An Attack Against the Enemy

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Alex Callinicos is right (April SR). Anti-capitalism is growing--and not just in Britain.

Most countries now contain organisations similar to Globalise Resistance or the Socialist Alliance, although the precise nature of these organisations varies from country to country. In France, as Alex says, Attac started as a largely single-issue campaign, promoting the Tobin tax. Attac Germany, which developed some years later, generalised from the start.

Just one year ago there were perhaps 200 Attac members in Germany. Then Genoa happened, and the organisation grew. In Stuttgart, the founding meeting for Attac was on 14 September, some three days after anti-capitalism supposedly died. We had to move from the planned room to a bigger room to provide space for the 150 people who turned up.

Attac is strongly supported by the two main trade unions. And through the Social Forums--based on Porto Alegre--Attac is central to bringing together a wide range of organisations which have been reactivated by the new militancy. Most importantly, Attac is a central focus for young activists. This is particularly the case in the movements against war and imperialism. This year we have mobilised for a 10,000-strong illegal demonstration against a Nato meeting in Munich, and a 25,000-strong demonstration for Palestine. Next month should see the biggest demonstration yet--George W Bush is coming to Berlin, and tens of thousands of activists are planning to greet him.

Yet Attac is not without its problems. Attac Germany made no mobilisation for the massive demonstrations in Barcelona and Rome. Although there is formal support for the Seville demonstration, many people locally are arguing that our energies are better spent organising conferences that talk about what is wrong with globalisation, without doing anything to confront it.

In the face of this conflict, many good activists are starting to turn their back on Attac. A friend of mine--a socialist from Palestine--now proudly introduces himself as an ex-Attac member. He is still active in the thriving anti-war group, but says that we should leave Attac to the reformists. This is a mistake. Many young (and not so young) activists are still joining Attac because they want to change the world. There is a battle for the soul of Attac that we are not giving up.

The key to this is socialist organisation. Linksruck, the SWP's sister organisation, is much smaller than the SWP, but has still been able to shape the Attac anti-war groups as a focal point for the people who were inspired by Genoa. We are trying to use the energy of these groups to reinspire many of the old activists who want to change the world. The fact that anti-capitalist organisations are growing is truly inspiring. We need politics, however, to ensure that they are successful.

Phil Butland
Stuttgart