What is Attac attacking?

Working Group on Social Rights (Attac Berlin):

And what about the movement? A speech for an offensive critique of globalization

The G8 summit is more than a month ago now, what remains is the joy and the satisfaction about the successful protests, about the work a lot of people were doing in the run-up to the summit, both within Attac and otherwise.
Like many others our local Attac Working Group had actively worked for two years preparing these summit protests, which we understood as a point of crystallization of a multiple movement for a different world.


If we want the days of Rostock/Heiligendamm to become more than a past climax of the movement critical of globalization, if we want them to turn into the beginning of a new flight of fancy, we besides all contentment need to ask ourselves critical questions as well. The last weeks this mainly happened in form of the socalled "violence-debate", which apart from the
pleasing variety of contributions clearly showed one thing: There is for sure no consensus within Attac for a strategy that aims at dissociations,
necessarily followed by splits of the movement. But this is exactly what Attac, or rather their spokesmen did - for empirical reasons we don´t need to put the gender-neutral form here, which we generally appreciate very much [1].
After the clashes at the big demo on Saturday spokesmen of Attac, as some members of the coordination circle like to call themselves, heavily condemned the violence of the demonstrators. We were very upset about it
ourselves as well in the situation, but we were not willing to make ourselves accomplices of the smear-campaigns of state and media, and we
neither wanted to be turned into such by "our spokesmen". There is absolutelly no reason to praise an alleged de-escalation strategy of the
police after the bans of demonstrations and the police raids in the run-up to the summit. Having joined in the smear-campaign against the "Autonomous" and by that adding to the negative presentation of the protests in the media
- relying on the false reports of the police for some days, e.g. about the numbers of officers wounded, pursuing no other public goal than to communicate the intact reputation of the own organization in the corporate media, even at the expense of other critics of globalization - did damage to the movement. By the way, a following split would not only include those who
countered the police violence as well present at the 2nd of June with their own physical violence, but also the vast majority of the movement critical of globalization that like ourselves for understandable reasons resisted the pressure to dissociate created by the spokesmen of Attac. It was important to save the G8 protests and the movement critical of globalization from a situation, where one burning car grew more important in the media than our issues, our indignation about the brute force of neoliberal capitalism and its effects. Not despite, but because of the wide scope Attac covers in society it would have been our task - instead of being frightened and join
in the mainstream-chorus of those being so shocked all of a sudden about violence - to publicly clear up things, to put them back into proportion again, to bring the movement back into an offensive position. That this finally happened, that public perception of the G8 protests took a turn to our favour, was due to coverage of the false police reports, of the inhumane treatment of more than 1200 people arrested, and mainly to the successful mass blocades, which were attendable for a wide variety of people and that communicated a 10.000-fold NO to the G8 and the structural violence of the ruling world order symbolized by them. All this hardly happened because of
Attac though, but rather in spite of Attac.

During the actionday on migration [2] at the 4th of June the police assaulted completely peaceful protesters with random arrests, pepper-spray
and punches, and countless provocations. Later on they forced an officially registered peaceful demonstration to dissolve by usingwater-cannons, with the "reason" that there would be too many protestors present. Nevertheless the following day "our spokesman" Peter Wahl on the press conference cheerfully and starry-eyed praised a hallucinated consequent "de-escalation" of the police, and again accused the "violent chaots", by that holding them responsible for all escalation. It fits well in the picture, that he had fought the successful mass blocades of civil disobidience in the time before the summit and that he presented capitalism as being without alternative from an "Attac-perspective" in the Tagesschau [daily news] shortly after.
Here someone sides with the ascendant circumstances, takes over the frames of definition of those governing, and castigates people, who - even if we think that their methods are unsuitable - for the most part still believe that another world has to be made possible. Please not in our name, we cannot stand that any longer. Peter Wahl disqualified himself as spokesman of Attac and expelled himself from the movement critical of globalization.
But the problem runs deeper: On the 5th of June the Attac spokesmen Sven Giegold and Pedram Shayar in a decleration on the blocades adopted the frame of definition of the german criminal code, when they wrote that "possible offenders will be expelled". It has been consensus on Block G8 not to accept any escalation from our side, but why to talk about "offenders" while
hundereds of critics of globalization, completelly singled out at random in most cases, are harassed with quite arbitrary accusations for allegedly commited offences like "aggravated violation of public peace" or "resisting
executory officers"?

Here again it is time to pose the question of the old american union song:
Which side are you on? If Attac wants to have a future, it unambigously has to side with the social activists critical of globalization, not with the "security forces" and paragraphs invented to oppress them.

Due to the pleasing scope of society Attac comes from, that has often been used to excuse political cowardice, at least one prominent Attacie - conservative Heiner Geißler - told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that it is hard for some "to feel the structural violence and still remain peaceful". Another sign that having a wide basis in society can be linked with an offensive, disobidient and partisan external presentation?

The campaign Block G8 successfully tried to mobilize many people to an action and explain it to the general public, an action which is illegal from a state perspective, but legitimate and necessary disobidience from the perspective of the movement. It has been supported by 124 organizations, groups and initiatives of a broad spectrum of society. Unfortunatelly Attac Germany was not among them.

On the contrary Attac spokesmen stabbed in the back of this broad spectrum of critics of globalization, when they tried to dissuade "their basis" from participating in the Block G8 concept of a deescalative but real blocade,
and to stage a remote pseudo-blocade instead. Fortunatelly the vast majority of Attacies on the camp rejected being taken for a fool by their spokesmen, so their denial of solidarity didn´t work this time. This situation confronts us with two important questions: One is about the state of democracy within Attac, the other about how we refer to civil disobidience.


The task of the coordination circle is it to cluster and coordinate the processes of forming opinions taking place at the different levels of Attac, and just not to talk whatever one wants independend of the basis. If we ourselves can´t even appoint or vote out "our spokesmen" - the most prominent of them get sent into the coordination circle for years by members
organizations - the fact that they ignore Attac consensuses and alliance agreements gets even more uncanny. If Attac wants to take serious its
emancipatory approach, there ultimatelly have to be really democratic decisions made within our network about who is talking in our name, and what the person will tell. The increasing independence claimed by some functionaries has to be pushed back in favour of a democratic culture of discussion. Thereby we do not reject professionalization in general, but a movement that wants to make possible another world has to make possible real democratic participation, and has to take into account different time
horizons of those partizipating. To make this possible, a fundamental reflection is needed about the structures and modes of action of Attac and everyone involved in our network at any level. We are not only talking about necessary critique on "our spokesmen" here, but also want to encourage the reactivation of the basic levels as actively contributing actors.
Important questions can not be sorted out on the level of functionaries, but have to be decided in really democratic processes by the basis. Besides politics of dissociation and splits mentioned above, among others this touches the question of how we relate to civil disobidience.

Civil Disobidience

If Attac today is not calling for civil disobidience like other "organisations serving the public good" (youth of BUND, Pax Christi,
Greenpeace, and many others) this is not a law of nature but a politically wrong decision taken at the management level. We believe that changes "can only be achieved democratically, that is to say through partizipation of many people in social movements" [3] This does not only imply the necessity to work on actually democratic practices and processes within our networks,
but also means that social changes can be achieved in a democratic way only if a lot of people activly get moving. This active movement can´t retreat to submissive appeals to the good-naturedness of those seemingly in power,
it can´t remain within the frame of their legal defintions [4], but to produce real social changes, it has to push the development of social pressure from below, of emancipatory alternatives and real countervailing
social power. We think it is important to follow an offensive strategy of civil and social disobidience, connected to a broad campaign of information and discussion, with action trainings and places to exchange and develop new
forms of action. This is the direction of the finally quite successful attempts of networks like Block G8 and BlockAid. Some thousand people
partizipated in the action trainings, never before had it been possible to really cut off a summit from overland supply lines for such a long time, a lot of people participated for the first time in an action of civil disobidience. So now is the time to connect this civil disobidience to the work we do contentwise and to the discussions in society, to put it on a
broader basis and resolutely promote it in public, to motivate not at least undecided and inexperienced people to take disobidient action. Actually this should be the task of an "actionoriented education movement" as Attac claims to be.


In perspective of a new orientation after the G8 protests, we think it is indispensable for Attac to clearly position themselves in solidarity with the movement of movements critical of globalization in all its spectres, to respect agreements alliances take and to abstain from defamation of critics of globalization. The success of the movement as a whole should be more important to us than the own organisation, if change in society remains to be our goal. Likewise the success of the project Attac, its perception, membership developments and political power to assert things is intrinsically tied to the development of the social movements critical of globalization.

Disobidient forms of action not only enable a lot of people to make real collective experiences of resistance and open up public spaces of perception for issues critical of globalization, above all they express a definitelly rejecting, antagonistic mindset of the movement towards the politics in power.

Such an antagonistic expression is essential to reveal the delegitimation of G8 and Co. more clearly in the future, to attack the media stages of the "Saviour of Africa" Blair and the "Climate-Angel" Merkel, and to point out the necessity of fundamental alternatives. It is especially the duty of networks like Attac with their privileged access to the media to communicate this antagonistic attitude. Besides a well-founded decomposition of the ruling propaganda this demands a clearly disobidient and non-defamatory public positioning.

We should essentially differ from hegemonic structures as well on an organizational level. To get rid of the vertical structures within Attac we think it necessary to involve the basis much more in decision making, to further develop the organisational aspects and, at the same time, fundamentally reflect the structures of Attac and the competences of its bodies. Members of Attac bodies that were sent in by member organizations should at least depend on a vote of confidence by the plenary council and should for sure be quoted. We reject a development of Attac to become an ordinary NGO with top-down-structures and de facto social democratic orientation. It is necessary to adopt the perspective of the movements, organizational as well as in contents, and to anchor it in the broader social context. Instead of a defensive policy of dissociation we want an offensive, disobidient strategy oriented towards social movements.

Another world is possible! Another Attac as well?

Attac Berlin :: Working Group on Global Social Rights :: Beginning of July 07

[1] Notable exception is the federal managerial head Sabine Leidig. But as
she neither has the democratic legitimation nor a polical mandate, she
should stop acting out one and to misuse the platform Attac, for example to
insult left activists as "irrationals". (Leipziger Volkszeitung, 2nd of May

[2] We think it is unbearable that Attac is not able at the moment to come
to an offensive antiracist consensus, thereby not exactly expressing
solidarity with millions of refugees and migrants, or the social movements
against the brutal and killing regimes of migration of the rich countries.

[3] Taken from the discussion paper "Attac Germany on the debate about
violence" dating from 2001, in which dissonciation from violence has at
least been formulated as an invitation to dissenters to discuss, and in
which commitment to civil disobidience was expressed.

[4] This is in fact what Attac spokesmen do when they categorically reject
open and direct participation in disobidient forms of action, when they
critize militant forms of action in exaggerated and unsolidary ways, when
they can accordingly only show solidarity to "legal" forms of action, as
defined by dominant conceivabilities.

[http://www.globale-soziale-rechte.org ]