Attac on efficient organisation

A row broke out at the conference on the Saturday afternoon prompted by an announcement by the French committee that there would be no working group on 'enlarging the net'. What seemed to be a minor organisational matter in fact contained in a nutshell the very different approaches to left unity that exist in Europe. Prior to Florence there had been three working groups brought together to organise the event: programme, organisation and 'enlarging the net'. The latter was aimed at encouraging trade unions, NGOs and other new forces to participate in the ESF. However, going beyond this limited remit, the group's work took on a logic of its own and it actively helped to set up the European-wide anti-war network, which took responsibility for coordinating the February 15 demonstrations across the world. You would think that everybody involved in the ESF process would welcome such a very positive development. If we do not unite our forces across Europe, how can we be serious about challenging the European Union, let alone stopping a war? Comrades from Italy, most of them representing Rifondazione Comunista and the trade union federation Sin Cobas, therefore asked for the 'enlarging the net' group to be reactivated with its role widened: not only should comrades in this group bring new forces into the ESF - they should also be delegated to actively help setting up international networks "of the social movements" on various subjects. It became clear very quickly that the dropping of this working group was not an organisational oversight by the French comrades. It is part of an active campaign to keep the ESF purely as an annual talking shop. All French comrades argued in unison against this active approach to building networks. Led by Pierre Khalfa, official representative of Attac France, the comrades stated that there were "some organisations involved in the ESF process that do not want to be part of the social movements". Apparently, those organisations want to come to the ESF and sponsor it, but they do not want to build effective European-wide organisations that could strengthen our forces. Unfortunately, none of the comrades would enlighten the meeting as to who those organisations might be. In an interview with the Weekly Worker Christophe Aguiton revealed that it is apparently "the trade unions" who have called on the French mobilising committee to stop the ESF sponsoring networks or so-called "social movements". The comrade would not tell us which trade unions he means. Interestingly though, all leading comrades in the French mobilisation committee (Christophe, Pierre and Sophie Zafari) are members of the CGT, the trade union federation associated with the French Communist Party. It is obvious that we need an urgent discussion on the future of the ESF and the role of trade unions in it. Should we accept that the union bureaucracy of one particular country dictates the terms of the coming together of the left across Europe? The French won the day. Against the wishes of the clear majority in the hall, they insisted on a compromise. There will be a third working group, but it will only be allowed to discuss how to draw in new forces - it will not be allowed to build effective coordination between these forces. Tina Becker and Anne Mc Shane * Resist pull to right * Anti-war retreat