Looking for Ideas on Networks in Encuentro Documents
by Stefan Wray
July 29, 1997
Despite the fact that one of the central purposes of the
Second Intercontinental Encuentro For Humanity and Against Neoliberalism
is to focus on expanding and developing intercontinental networks of alternative
communication and intercontinental networks of resistance and struggle
against neoliberalism, the word 'network' only appears in about %15 of
the documents available so far in English and an extensive treatment of
'networking' and 'the Net' appear in even fewer documents.
I searched available English documents with the keyword
'network' and found the following.
can we make a network of local struggle? is a bit disappointing if
you are expecting an extensive discussion of networks, networking, or the
Net. The word 'network' appears in the title, and that same question is
reiterated again, but throughout this relatively long piece there is only
one, rather vague, sentence that attempts to answer that question:
". . . The network, the movement, will only develop
if we can elaborate and communicate unifying themes. . ."
Flexploitation and Resistance Beyond Waged Labour, another long document,
there was one paragraph with reference to networks:
". . . various activists have begun to support each others'
struggles -- not simply as a formal 'solidarity', but also as a social
network and mutual identification. Having been marginalized from secure
'employment', fragments of the working class recompose themselves into
networks of resistance. . ."
with the Indians, what now? , again there is passing reference to networks,
but only in one location:
". . . It concerns the creation of a network of struggles,
a network where their presence is effective, tangible, fraternal, and solidarity.
. . "
Reference to networks appear several times in Notes
From The Melbourne Gathering For Humanity And Against Neoliberalism,
where networks are described as solidarity networks or participatory-democratic
". . . But we endeavored to construct it around the networks
and struggles in which we were involved or with which we had some immediate
contact. Formally or informally, the politics of such networks are autonomous
(autonomist?), libertarian, democratic. . ."
". . . they have organized networks [coordinadoras] around
the country. . ."
In discussing networks, Neoliberalism
in Europe is more concrete about networks of resistance that these
other examples and it discusses networks specifically in relation to the
Internet, although in a critical way:
". . . the initiative at the base is occurring in a shift
toward participatory-democratic networks. . ."
". . . There are areas where collectivities and networks
have developed necessarily as an insulation against the social deterioration.
There are the development of sorts of 'micro-collectivities.'. . ."
". . . The European network against neoliberalism is
growing in a moment when new and important contradictions may rise, but
the most serious problem we aren't still able to resolve is how to give
continuity to the struggles, a certain mark of unity ( respecting differences)
and synchrony of time. . ."
to Neoliberalism: A View From South Africa treatment of networks is
more sophisticated than some of the documents posted so far. It is worth
reading the entire concluding section called Towards New Networks of Struggle,
but here is quote from that part:
". . . European movements tends to be solidaristic with
Chiapas more than representing a network of resistance to neoliberalism.
The building of the network of resistance has made many steps forward in
communications by Internet, ( which is overestimated in our opinion), less
in other types of communication. To speak to sound and living bodies is
different than speaking virtually. . ."
". . . To act as an assembly when we are all together
and to be a network when we are separated is not enough. It is necessary
to establish common appointments of struggle and utilize other means besides
Internet. . . "
". . . The network against neoliberalism is improving
but we are not still able to link our forces. A proposal to do this, could
be a weekly and common broadcast dedicated to initiatives against neoliberalism.
. . ."
". . . An alternative to neoliberalism will in the long
run depend on alternative forms of organisation and networks of struggle
capable to root the desire for change arising from the whole articulation
of the South African class composition. This desire is currently excluded
and not represented by the alternative between invisibility and institutionalization
imposed by neoliberalism to the South African people. Making these networks
and structures visible again is a major challenge from this point of view.
'S.O.S.-tainability' To Self-Managementmentions networks, in a different
way than any of the above, in terms natural "network structures" and ecosystems
as "living networks of beings and their environment."
". . . In the beginning, when life began, it created
a network around the whole planet that transformed its atmosphere. . ."
As has been stated, reference to networks, networking, and
the Net, in the above documents is sparsely scattered throughout the texts.
There are only several Encuentro documents that deal exclusively or extensively
with this subject.
". . . Before, genetic information was distributed through
that planetary network of bacteria - now, using all the networks of information
in existence we have to distribute living consciousness, a consciousness
of universality and of forming part of this planet which is capable of
maintaining itself both in space and in time, making use of the environmental
capacity of life to constantly renew itself, based on the energy provided
by the sun. . ."
Which Net? provides several pages of insight into these areas. It is
a cautionary piece though. It warns us not to be too eager to use the Internet
uncritically. It is divided into four parts: (1) Zapatistas and the 'Net';
(2) The current theoretical and political debate over networking; (3) The
meaning of networks for the international left; and (4) Possibilities and
Problems in further networking. It concludes with the following admonition:
"Up till now, and to stress this point once again, the
'Zapatistas' Network' is a metaphor and has not entered into the danger
areas and principal problems. Therefore even more, the continual experiments
and the ongoing searches for new political forms are very important in
these global Neoliberal times. In this sense, there can not arise the problem,
attributing the 'Zapatistas' Movement' as itself a form of core networking,
and, in doing so, to view the two initiatives for alternative forms of
communication and resistance as a starting point in world-wide network
from groups and organisations who have emancipatory demands. To be sure,
there already exist such political forms (or experiments) for quite some
time now- even if they were cause-related, regional or organised along
lines of interests. The more or less deep-seated, and above all, a multi-faceted
and a practical-oriented international network of the Zapatista Movement
can be an important contribution in the development of alternatives and
resistancies. There neither exists 'the' Network, nor 'the' Net."
A more detailed discussion of Net, Which Net? should take
place. This is definitely a must read.
As I've already made reference to in another post to this
Web Foro, Monty Neill's Toward
The New Commons:Working Class Strategies and the Zapatistas has a section
Homogeneity, and Networks which is also an important contribution to
Finally, there is a document only summarized on the main
Encuentro site in Spain for English documents that looks like it would
be good to have translated from the Italian. It is called Constructing
Encounters by Means of Networks - Constructing Networks by Means of Encounters.
Here is the summary:
"10 thesis on the construction of the intercontinental
network, the practice of direct democrary, the dynamic traditional politic
and the old world. Taking as a starting point some observations on the
experience of the zapatistas communities of Chiapas, we try to understand
the challenges that face those who live inside the monster. And we point
out some problems."
I hope that within the debates in the flesh on the ground
in Spain there is more emphasis placed on elaborating understandings and
critiques of networks, networking, and the Net. After all, creating, and
enhancing already existing, intercontintental networks is one of the main
purposes of the Second Intercontinental Encuentro.