Minutes PGA Spokescouncil Thursday 29 July 2004 Taken by 3 separate minute takers hence the differences in styles.
Section I - PGA Actions and Campaigns
Section II - Relations between PGA and other organisations
Section III - Suggested steps to take in cases of
Section IV - PGAe Structure
Section V - Global process
Vincent opens the spokescouncil (10.30 pm)
First session: Actions and Campaigns
Facilitators’ introductory remark before discussion in the groups: “The Global actions will happen anyway whether the PGA spokescouncil calls for them or not…”
Discussion in the affiliation groups (untill 11.00 pm).
Start concensus debate spokespersons.
Global days of action
1. Global day of action supporting the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela and the Pachamerican? struggles. One group (from GB) is undecided and thinking of a block for the Global days of action supporting the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela and the Pachamerican struggles. They have a problem to support a group which is linked to electoral processes and the cult of a person. The Bolivarian revolution is connected to president Chavez and this group wants to support popular movements not governments. They are not against it, but cannot agree on it in this format. Another group wants action for all of America, not only Venezuela?. Marcello (proposer for the Global day of action supporting the [Bolivarian revolution]?): “I understand doubts of people who haven’t been involved in the meetings about the Bolivarian revolution we had during this week which were attended by a large number of PGA participants. But this is not about the president. October the 12th is about the Bolivarian revolution which is a movement all over Pachamerica. We call this spokescouncil seriously for support.” Vincent: “ If this global day of action focuses on the popular movement would anybody block?” A spokesperson: “No, but I suggest an amendment to the proposal: Focus on the popular movement more and state it is against governments and states.” Marcello: “The reality of Venezuela is very different from Europe. We can’t state it is against Chavez.” Facilitators: “It’s too controversial so we leave it for later?” The English group blocks the proposal. It is suggested to Marcello to rewrite the proposal text of the Global days of Action of the Bolivarian revolution. The final debate about it is therefore postponed.
2. [Asian conference]?; Global action on Gender. A spokesperson suggest to just support the whole thing. Another says that March 8th is not a good date. They express their concern but do not want to block. There’s a suggestion for the gendergroup to write a proposal concerning the date. There is unclarity about what the proposal exactly is since it is not in the blue book handed out to the participants of the spokescouncil. Somebody explains that the proposal concerns two different things: In July there’ll be a Global conference in Asia, and on March 8th there’ll be a Global action on Gender. Facilitators: “There’s not enough information on the proposal for this spokescouncil to make any conclusions. So we leave it.”
3. Resist the G8 // Global Action Callout // Wednesday July 6th 2005 This proposal just needs to be endorsed. Most spokespersons endorse it. One suggests that in focussing on the Global actions we should focus more on local filling in of actions. Amendment: Make the global and local focus technically more equal.
4. Extra proposals 20th of March Global day of action: beginning of invasion of Iraq. 1st of May: Focus on workers flexibility. 23rd of February Global day of action: against the war in Tsjetsjenia. Palestinian movements are calling for solidarity with them in general.
Remark: “These proposal should be written down.”
Campaigns [No borders]: A proposition for a no border day next summer in Greece. Sustained campaign on water: Cochabamba conference. This campaign exists already, but it should be mentioned.
Remark: “Let’s discuss the Estafette first.”
[Global Estafette]? A spokesperson: “We’re not sure about the point of an estafette of local actions. Global actions have more effect.” Another says: “It makes sense that actions are ‘travelling’ so to say.” Proposal: There should be a preparation meeting for each action in the estafette so groups meet face to face. Proposal: Limit the material on the website so there won’t be an overload of information. Amendment: A wikipage will only reach groups with access to the internet. There need to be other ways of distributing the knowledge as well. A spokesperson expresses his concern over a problem of language in the estafette. Somebody clarifies that the Global Estafette is only a method and that there is no political content in the term. A spokesperson doesn’t like the theme of the Global Estafette: “Taking it Back”. This is not very ‘sexy’. “Reclaim” was mentioned but is overused as a theme. We should find a new word. A spokesperson says: “We like the communication aspect of this proposal. It is something that should take more time to develop itself. Concern: How to make sure the estafette doesn’t get ‘broken’? What to do in case of a ‘weak link’, for example a group that creates problems? A spokesperson says: “We support this proposal and had the idea of a coordinating group that takes care of the long term perspective and coherent actions. Is there a group that wants to start this? Answer from one of the participants that worked on Estafette proposal: “Yes, the people that worked on this proposal have committed themselves to realizing this proposal.” Suggestion: Have physical meetings in between the actions. Technical remarks: a) Wiki-use is difficult. There should be guidelines to post on wiki. b) Make links on the PGA page. Definite Proposal: The Estafette should go from continent to continent Definite Proposal: There should be other forms of communication than just the internet.
Extra discussion - About the G8 proposal: The G8 group has reworded its proposal for endorsement.
The sentence in the fifth paragraph “Whilst supporting those converging in Scotland to disrupt the conference, we are also calling for others to take action in their villages, towns and cities worldwide.” is replaced with:
“This is a call for people to converge in Scotland to disrupt the conference, and for action to be taken simultaneously in villages, towns and cities worlwide.”
The proposal is endorsed.
- About the Gender thing: Someone explains that in Asia people don’t feel the need for a text. Can the proposal be endorsed without a text? Would anyone block if we just trust the people in Asia? ….(no minutes of answer)
Concluding The first session is endorsed except for the Global day of action for the Bolivarian revolution. Marcello will rewrite and adjust the text of the proposal. Discussion about this new proposal is postponed to the end of the spokescouncil.
Section 2: Relations between PGA and other political/activist organisations.
(eg NGO?s, [Trade Union]?s, Social Fora, Political Parties)
A discussion text was presented, including one proposal:
"1) The PGA network provides an excellent opportunity for groups to exchange their experiences about working with other organisations so as to share problems and possible solutions. PROPOSAL: A call for interested groups and individuals to compile a manual or reader on how to deal with these other organisations whilst upholding the kind of political ideas and practices that PGA endorses and also for making suggestions on how to contaminate others with our politics in our activism and everyday lives."
BLOCK - for two reasons: Firstly, part of the movement doesn't want anything to do with such organisations, so to do this in the name of PGA ignores this huge part of the movement. Secondly, when we work with other organisations it is only for tactical reasons, so we don't actually see the purpose of this proposal.
-Suggest that it be done, but not in the name of PGA.
-That's fine, we lift the block.
-This is more about ideas to stop, for example, hijacking by political parties than it is about working with them.
-There should be a balance in the reader between groups which do interact with these other organisations and those who choose not to.
-It could be called 'collective experiences' [of dealing with other organisations] rather than 'guidelines' [on dealing with them].
-Why are we still discussing this if it isn't going to be done in the name of PGA?
-OK. So it will be 'PGA-inspired?' not in the name of PGA.
-My understanding was that something like this could never be done in the name of PGA, and that the block was on calling it 'PGA-inspired'.
-You can't block calling something 'PGA-inspired'.
-Some things (eg calling for action) are actually done in the name of PGA, 'PGA-inspired' means something less.
-So I can write anything I want and put 'inspired by PGA'?
OUTCOME: Those who are interested in contributing will get together and write the reader, but it will be 'inspired by PGA' not 'in the name of PGA'.
Reactions to the rest of the discussion text
-We would like to make point 5 in the text a concrete proposal:
"That PGA does not allow people to become isolated or excluded in the PGA process because they belong to certain organisations that may be less situated within PGA hallmarks, but put the emphasis on people's behaviour within the network and at conferences."
-We agree with this but want people to reflect on how to deal with organised infiltration from hierarchical? groups.
-Political parties may be coming here to influence the conference negatively.
-Does this mean we wouldn't be able to exclude people from fascist organisations?
[We go back to small groups to discuss the proposal]
-This is a good proposal, and we would like to combine it with
"It was emphasised that hierarchy plays different roles in different organisations eg trade unions exist to assist workers and use a hierarchical structure whereas organisations such as some political parties actually seek to impose their hierarchical structure on others - therefore different approaches are needed for different situations".
-This came from a working group where a trade unionist wanted to feel able to bring people to PGA events. The criteria by which we tend to judge organisations can be too wide - eg there's a big difference between a trade union and a political party.
-It's good to encourage grassroots participation, but we propose that the individual, at least, must respect the PGA hallmarks.
-We want it to be made explicit that such people can come to PGA events as interested individuals, not as an organisation.
-In answer to the question about not being able to exclude members of fascist organisations, a fascist coming as an interested individual, respecting the hallmarks and whose behaviour during the conference was fine wouldn't be a problem.
-Somebody could refer to this and say "you aren't allowed to exclude me". And "not situated within PGA hallmarks" allows for a lot of different organisations.
-Someone could say they agreed with the PGA hallmarks, but what if we didn't believe them?
-That's all taken care of in this proposal; we judge people by how they act in the PGA network and conferences.
-PGA process meetings should only be open to people who agree with the hallmarks.
-Perhaps if someone's behaviour becomes unacceptable we could use something like the harassment/violence procedure [suggested in section III].
-In Milan the SWP were all thrown out and everyone was happy enough with that.
-We should distinguish between representatives and grassroots militants. We want to include grassroots militants, but we don't want well-known leaders or representatives using PGA as a platform.
-Amend 'PGA does not allow people to become isolated...' to 'PGA should not allow...'.
-And we want to exclude the political leaders or representatives.
"That PGA should not allow people to become isolated or excluded in the PGA process because they belong to certain organisations that may be less situated within PGA hallmarks, but put the emphasis on people's behaviour within the network and at conferences. However, people from such organisations can only participate as individuals, will not be allowed to promote their organisation through PGA, and must respect the PGA hallmarks when participating in PGA. Leaders and representatives of such organisations are not welcome in PGA, and PGA process meetings are only open to people who agree with the hallmarks."
OUTCOME: AGREED see Jajinci Interpretation
'The PGA Hallmarks clearly reject all forms of discrimination, including fascism and racism. However, the comment from one of the spokes of the meeting that '"In answer to the question about not being able to exclude members of fascist organisations, a fascist coming as an interested individual, respecting the hallmarks and whose behaviour during the conference was fine wouldn't be a problem" reads badly, and does not reflect the sentiment of the spokescouncil meeting. It could be interpreted wrongly, as it does not reflect the context in which it was made, which was to question the possibility that such 'openness' could be perceived to include fascists.
We are facing the long-term reality of the rise of racism and fascism in the world. This is a reality that needs to be confronted and challenged by the PGA network and the groups that are active within it.'
Section 3: Suggested steps to take in cases of physical/psychological violence
A suggested procedure for dealing with incidents of violence was presented. See spokescouncil agenda for details.
-This is not yet a proposal.
Reactions to the text (re-ordered slightly by issue):
-This is very much about the victim's feelings, the perpetrator is assumed to be guilty, we need to find ways of taking the victim seriously without assuming the perpetrator is guilty. We would also suggest changing 'he'/'she' to 'they'/'them' to get away from gender assumptions.
-We also have problems with using the words 'victim' and 'perpetrator'. We suggest using 'conflict party', since in some cases it wouldn't be clear which is the victim and which is the perpetrator.
-The term 'conflict party' can't be used in any situation.
However, 'victim' puts someone in a passive role, and carrys a stigma, so instead use 'affected person'.
-Suggest using 'alledged victim' and 'alledged perpetrator'.
-We're not happy with using the term 'conflict party' because if you've been attacked you're not in conflict.
-Insert 'This does not imply that the accusation is taken for granted as a fact.'
-Amend 'The victim always defines... and [this] will not be questioned.' so that it doesn't read as if the victim's allegations will never be questioned.
-There should be equality of approach to the accused and the accuser.
-We suggest setting up places of safety they can go to, both within the the camp and away from the camp to deal with people who feel they want to leave.
-Some amendments: Instead of putting the groups together as soon as possible after rumours start or an incident is reported, they should be ready before the event. Also add this to the end "The effect of the violence is not over after the event. The contact group should try to stay in touch with the victim to provide support, and should also stay in contact with the perpetrator."
-Groups should consist of more than 3 people, and should always be an odd number.
-Instead of holding a general meeting before it's clear what's happened, the general meeting should be a last resort.
-There's too much emphasis on asking the victim to make the decision about whether to hold a meeting to deal with the incident. Amend it to read:
'Hold a general meeting if appropriate, unless the victim objects.'
-Put step 2 after 3 and 4 because the general meeting should be a last resort.
-After 'immediate and final exclusion is not the perfect solution' add 'although it is sometimes necessary'.
-Reintegration should not be the goal; sometimes it's not possible.
Using the term 'conflict party' would mean the whole thing wouldn't make sense.
-We suggest setting up more local groups for dealing with these issues (and inform the network of the results) so that local issues can, if possible, be resolved locally instead of taking up space on PGA lists etc.
-What if the victim doesn't want anything to happen? If it's a matter of principle maybe it should be discussed anyway, or should the victim's wishes be respected no matter what?
-We agree with the bulk of this, but have problems with the idea of using 'professional counselling'. Instead we should organise skill-sharing before events to provide for these needs ourselves.
As well as an Emma team there should be another group to deal with these issues. Skills and experiences would be passed from one team to the next in special skill-sharing meetings.
-We block the block on professional counselling, because in our experience people sometimes have particular traumas and need professional counselling.
-It wasn't a block on professional counselling, but we still think skill sharing should happen in order to meet this need as much as possible ourselves.
-Instead of starting the procedure when rumours are spreading, we should seek confirmation that something has happened, then start the procedure as soon as it is confirmed. The first step should be to separate the people involved.
-We want to add: 'The confidentiality of the victim should be respected and rumours should be stopped as soon as possible'.
-We block the groups working in confidentiality, we think this will decrease transparency and make rumours worse.
-The groups need to get a basic understanding of what has happened and then provide everyone with this outline. Instead of full confidentiality, they would just release a few details to prevent rumours.
-Please amend 'ESCANDA anarchist commune' to 'ESCANDA collective'.
-In every conference there should be a visible contact point.
-Someone in our group was attacked and wants to speak:
--I don't want to be labelled as a victim, or to talk about my case. We have to make sure that this gets implemented. Everybody has a responsibility to implement it. There were problems with the EMMA team - I tried to contact them but nobody got in touch.
-Frederica volunteers to co-ordinate rewriting of the text.
-Political disagreements need to be resolved by people meeting and talking so that we don't have people getting really angry, defacing of posters etc.
OUTCOME: The text will be rewritten, so that it can be agreed in the buildup to the next event in time to be implemented there.
Section 4: PGAe? Structure
1. Convenors? and Conference:
- Suggestion to have the next PGAe conference in Eastern Europe again as it is most important to network between European countries and to share resources. - Proposals that we find a creative way to say who is at the conference at the start of it and secondly that there is a meeting each morning rather than just announcements.
- We agree with their being a morning announcement meeting.
- Proposal to have a two week meeting focused on skill sharing and on theory.
- Proposal On the first day of the conference there should be an assembly to arrange issues to be discussed. - For Information Two days ago we had a meeting of people from Balkan countries (to which about 100 people came) we propose to have a follow up meeting to this in the winter/spring. There was no conclusion on where and when to have this. Further details are to be decided over email. Contact: email@example.com
- Should we keep the date for the next conference open? Global and European PGA processes are parallel and it shouldn’t be assumed that everyone is going to Nepal?.
- The global conference will need organising and the date of the [European] conference is flexible.
- Concern Shouldn’t encourage actions to coincide with PGA conferences as it might endanger children, refugees etc. at the conference.
- Good if there are actions after the PGA conferences and that it builds on people being empowered to create their own actions. - It is important that the PGA doesn’t reinforce national boundaries. Could be subregional rather than strictly divided into countries.
- We should be providing resources and allowing locals and participants to organize their own actions.
- There is a need for more people to engage in the whole preparation meeting cycle so old ground is not constantly recovered. People attending meetings should concretely take on implementing decisions. There are too many meetings and not enough actions. - Suggestion The conference programme should be decided on before the conference starts.
- Suggestion In the interest of transparency anyone can take part in the organizational process of the conference but the conclusions of meetings also need to be accessible. The minutes of all the meetings should be published centrally and on the web.
- Conference should include theory etc. and should include more about the self organization of the conference.
- Concern There are very few groups participating from Eastern Europe even though the conference is in Eastern Europe. There needs to be more outreach e.g. speakers tours and connecting different struggles together.
- Suggestion There needs to be a more structured approach to language as it is very English centric. Maybe a language working group should be set up.
- Point e on the agenda assumes a decision has already been made on having the next PGAe meeting in 2006?.
For further discussion:
- We think a solidarity fund for travel should be set up. This should be discussed at the next meeting. - What to do in the case of physical and psychological assault needs to be discussed at the next meeting.
2. Winter Meeting:
- The [Wop Marley] Collective in [Austria] offer to host a winter meeting. We are a small collective that raises money for legal teams. We have contacts across Austria.
- When a convenor is chosen they organize the conference.
- Suggestion in order to allow people who have a job to participate can the winter meeting be held over the [Christmas/New? Year] period.
3. Continuity and Skill Sharing
- Request People needed to help organize some PGA-process skill-sharing and to write a “PGA organization practical guide”. Anyone interested should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- There are no concerns to be raised.
- If anyone is interested in being involved they should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Info points
(paper passed round for established/new info points to give their details on)
- Proposal make info points meeting at the next winter meeting in order to exchange experiences etc.
- Request Need people to create a web site list of info points and to update the web site. Contact: email@example.com
- One new info point has been created.
- Info points contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
- Request People needed for doing the monthly digest. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- No comment.
7. European PGA list
- No comment.
8. Belgrade Conference Reader
- Proposal There should be a conference reader comprising texts and minutes from this conference.
- There has to be a written record of what has happened at this conference.
Contact for creating a conference reader from PGAe Belgrade: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
- Request Call out for people to send articles/experiences/minutes etc. from the conference to the above contacts for the conference reader.
9. Web pages
- Request PGAe list needs more [moderators]
- Need more people to be getting involved only about five or six people said they want to get involved in the network and structure.
- We ask that a list of jobs is circulated during/after the meeting.
Contact for the web page and email: email@example.com
Section 5: Global process
1. Proposals regarding the 4th Global PGA Conference proposed by the Asian conference to be in Nepal? 2005
A. The working group on the global process at the Belgrade? European conference enthusiastically supports this proposal and asks that it is endorsed by the spokescouncil.
Vote as to if people were in favour of the Nepal? conference. No objections.
B. Process for preparation in Europe for the Global Conference:
a) Contents of discussions in Nepal to be prepared before:
- Ammendment We want to change the ‘sustained campaigns’ text to acknowledge the hard work that some have put in. Under the heading ‘Contents of the discussions in Nepal that need to be prepared months before the conference’ change the sentence ‘Prepare the discussion about what to do with the non-existant “sustained campaigns” (which came out of the previous Global Conference but were not realized)’ to read: ‘Prepare the discussion about what to do with the “sustained campaigns” suggested at the previous Global Conference that were not realized and better communicate those that have been realised’.
b) Participation from Europe and financial aspects:
- Concern On the issue of the quotas and limiting numbers from an area we feel that this is problematic and that it creates tension. European over representation has more to do with political backpacking rather than real engagement with the issues.
- Suggestion People who go should go to an information point to get reading materials before the conference and should commit to feeding back information.
- In [Prague 2000] there was a meeting with all global PGA convenors where it was decided that there should be a quota system of 30% European and North American participation with 70% of the conference body being made up of people from the rest of the world.
- The [Prague] meeting made the quota decision for the one conference only it was not agreed as PGA principle.
- Suggestion on how to deal with European overparticipation. It could operate a spokes council system where there are only a limited number of speakers at the conference from Europe regardless of how many European people go.
- Do we need some kind of quota system to avoid an imbalance of representation from different regional networks?
- There should also be a gender balance.
- Translation needs a special budget.
- Some proposals now suggested at this meeting conflict and will have to be resorted at the winter meeting.
- This will be work in progress as other regional PGA conferences need to feedback.
- We need to agree a system to deal with the tendency of European overparticipation?
- Do we need to agree the 30% to 70% split here? Maybe we could have an objective of maximizing participation but be aware of the balance. We should leave discussion on this till nearer the time when numbers are more fixed.
c. Contact with other continents:
- Concern We feel that there is a lot of descriptions about understanding cultural issues from Asia but there should also be information given to the [Asian convenors] about European and other cultures, for example about gender. The convenors should pass on this information to the wider society.
C. Timeline Proposal:
- Amendment change the text of section C Easter 2005 section from ‘Preparatory meeting for people in Europe going to the conference’ to read: ‘Preparatory meeting for groups in Europe that want to go to the conference’
- Amendment Section C Easter 2005, add ‘or an imbalance within Europe’ to the paragraph that currently reads ‘checking how we are doing in terms of participation from different continents, and deciding what to do if it seems that there will be an imbalance between participation from Europe and other countries’.
- Amendment Add ‘Post conference meeting to prepare the follow up work and share with people who could not attend the conference’ to the June-September paragraph.
- Amendment Under the heading ‘Easter 2005’ in the first paragraph, add ‘to give training on cultural flexibility to European groups’ at the end of the sentence ‘we would also like to invite the Asian convenors (from Nepal, India and Thailand) to the meeting’.
- This last addition is potentially patronizing and maybe shouldn’t be included or should be phrased differently.
- However this text was agreed at the meetings previously and was missed off the minutes even though it had been discussed at the meeting and put on the list of things to come forward to this meeting. It isn’t right for facilitators to independently change what was agreed.
- I felt that the point was covered by different words within the text.
- We support two way cultural exchange before the conference e.g. to describe some of the difficulties faced in Europe as people can think that Europe is some kind of paradise.
2. Extending the Global Network
A. Contact [South Africa]?n convenors: and ask how they want to take the process forward? Can Europe help?
- There are [South African convenors]?.
- The [South African delegation]? agreed to host a conference but no contact has since been made.
- Someone agreed to take on contacting the [South African convenors]?.
B. PROPOSAL: Support speakers tour of grassroots organizations from the Middle East to Europe.
- There is a group of people from Iraq, Lebanon and Israel working on establishing a speakers’ tour from the Middle East to Europe.
- The PGA support this though it is not a PGA initiative.
3. Visibility of the [Global Network]?
A. Propose the creation of a Global list of convenors, make it freely available on the web and when you meet new people, pass this list on.
- One person volunteered to put a list of current global convenors onto the website.
B. Informal European PGA Conference 2004 Newsletter
- There has already been talk about having a report and there is a working group started.
Venezuala Proposal Revisited:
A reworked proposal was brought back to the spokes council.
The new text was agreed.
- We don’t have enough information about the Venezuelan situation though we don’t block the proposal.
- October 12th is not only about Venezuela and doesn’t need to be PGA endorsed.
PGA Relations with other Organisations Revisited:
- The inspired by PGA reader/branding of PGA discussion needs to be postponed until winter because we do not have enough time now.
- Anyone can say ‘inspired by PGA’. More radical groups (in France) feel that PGA is not radical enough. Not deciding the issue increases the split between PGA and other groups.
- Definate Proposal Specific reader about the wider communication could use the term ‘inspired by the European PGA’ as the approach will be different in other continents.
- Proposal Need to include wider groups and to mention the diversity of tactics used by groups.
- Thanks to DSM for their work in hosting the conference.
- Facilitating and the spokes council has worked well this conference.