Alex Callinicos, a theorist of the British SWP, has produced this reflection on the third European Social Forum (ESF), held in London in 2004. In this post, I will concentrate on what he says in section 2, arguing with those (mainly French) within the ESF who wanted to prioritise neo-liberalism over the Iraq war.
I wholly disagree with Callinicos. I think that, first, the war in Iraq is far less important than what should be the real issue for the Social Forum movement: the everyday and structural violence built into the present organisation of world capitalism.
A focus on the war evades thinking through the real issues around globalisation. Worse, in the current climate, a focus on the war appeals opportunistically to various constituencies who do not care at all about dealing with these issues (Little England and Little Europe isolationists, liberals, etc) or who are straightforwardly reactionary (political Islamists and their fellow travellers). This opportunism, typical of the SWP and their patron Ken Livingstone, puts getting a good turnout (which is then read as a sign of some sort of upturn in class struggle) over thinking through - or acting on - the real issues. This opportunism is disingenously described by Callinicos as 'the movement expanding' to 'embrace' more people.