S11 forum discusses strategy

Issue 

BY GRAHAM MATTHEWS

BRISBANE — "The demonstrations in Seattle have opened a significant crack in the ideological stronghold of the international financial institutions", said Max Lane, addressing a public meeting of more than 100 sponsored by the S11 Alliance here on August 8.

Lane and three other speakers addressed the demand that the World Economic Forum, which meets in Melbourne in September, be shut down.

"Mass movements and struggles have been going on in the Third World for more than the last 100 years", said Lane, who is national coordinator of Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor.

Lane addressed the growing destitution of the working masses in Indonesia and called for increased international solidarity from those present. "Slogans are meaningless if we are not at the same time trying to find the ways of increasing solidarity with the Third World", he said. Key to this was opposition to Australian support for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, he argued.

Lane spoke against anti-globalisation strategies which divide working people internationally, particularly so-called social clauses in trade agreements which penalise only working people in the Third World, not their exploiters. "We must unite the people of the First and Third Worlds and not give in to nationalism", Lane said.

Richard Sanders, a Griffith University academic and anti-globalisation activist, accused the World Economic Forum of overseeing the "progressive removal of the rules that civilise and tame capitalism". Sanders argued that corporate economic activity, particularly in agriculture and mining, is at a level far beyond the environment's ability to cope with it.

Sanders spoke passionately against commercial genetic engineering. "Biotechnology companies are messing with the blueprint of human life", he argued, citing the escape of the Monsanto-produced Roundup-resistant canola plant into the Canadian environment. "The agenda of the WEF is to transfer power away from governments into the hands of the wealthy", he said.

The third speaker at the forum was Dr John McCullogh, research officer with the Queensland Teachers Union. McCullogh spoke on the effect that the corporatisation of education was having in narrowing the curriculum.

The final speaker was Elena Marchetti from the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Marchetti traced the proud history of WILPF from opposition to war in 1915 to the World March for Women in October this year.

"Women work 66% of hours worked in the world. They own only 10% of the world's wealth and 1% of the world's property", she said. Marchetti focused on the need for governments to reduce military spending and increase funds to services for women.

Brisbane S11 Alliance meets Mondays at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Southbank, 7pm.