wiki:americas_proposal_2008

Americas Proposal 2008

Goals

May First/People Link is interested in building inter-Americas collaboration to:

  • strengthen the communications infrastructure used by progressive organizers,
  • strengthen international relationships on the left, and
  • share resources.

The proposal comes out of political discussions that have led to the following conclusions:

  • The most successful movements on the left today are happening in Latin America
  • The US is becoming increasingly less effective in enforcing it's politics internationally, creating new opportunities for significant changes in international politics
  • There is enormous disparity in resources, skills, and experiences in the left within the Americas, going in both directions
  • The Internet's potential for enabling low-cost and varied international communications is growing daily

For the first time in contemporary history, there is a division in economic functioning that affects the entire social fabric world-wide. Several of the countries in Asia have taken over responsibility for world production in capitalism. The United States and Canada have increasingly become specialists in consumption and the countries of the rest of the Hemisphere are responsible principally for the provision of raw materials and resources.

This dangerous and destructive situation is the result of capitalism's ever spiralling self-destructive irrationality. Essentially it means two things:

  1. There is no way any country in this Hemisphere is going to survive economically and socially in the next couple of decades without major changes in the way we organize our societies and their interaction.
  2. The progressive movement has an immense opportunity to actually begin constructing an alternative that can serve as a social model (and all that emanates from it) around which to struggle.

The concept of a Hemispheric Collaboration at the grass roots level has been kicked around here (and in many other places) for some time now. I think that one area in which this collaboration can be "modeled" is in the area of technology. It's available in every country, it is supported and enabled by techies in every country, it is highly useful and vitally important politically and socially to everyone and yet it suffers from major discrepancies in access and power.

These discrepancies have meant that, not only can't many people in the Hemisphere not avail themselves of the Internet's potential but their society and their struggles and movements have had appreciably less impact on the development of the technology and its tools.

So not only would this Hemispheric collaboration server as an excellent model for collaboration in other areas but it will actually serve a concrete and very productive purpose.

To make this start happening, we'd need to pull people together from all over the Hemisphere and -- talk about getting the breaks -- here's the Foro Social de las Americas.

Discussion

This project is being discussed via an email list with public archives. If you are interested in joining the list, please email jm@mayfirst.org.

Existing hemispheric organizing projects

The first step of a project is to start a dialog with other organizations and coalitions to develop relationships with groups who share our political vision.

Possibilities include:

  • The Foro Social Americas which will be held in October 2008 in Guatemala. Josue is in contact with Jeanine, one of the contacts in Guatemala, and has offered the support of May First/People Link. In addition, Burke pointed us in the direction of Rights Action as a North American organization heading up the effort (see their press release here). Jamie just sent an email to them asking how we could get more involved. Jamie just registered to be part of the USSF NPC Guatemala committee (which is in formation). And Ruben is part of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJA) which is helping to organize the Foro Social Americas (and is a member of the Hemispheric Council).
  • Riseup has pointed us in the direction of the Hemispheric Social Alliance, a coalition addressing similar issues but with a more political bent. Burke said that the US counterpart is the Alliance for Responsible Trade. He also pointed out a recent report by Tom Louden which indicates that the alliance seems to be a live and well. Jamie spoke with Tom and wrote a report back.
  • We are also in the process of applying to be members of the Association for Progressive Communications. We're discussing the application in ticket #250 and are working on the application here.
  • techmeet is a tech group composed of people from both Latin America and north America. Their next meeting is (via chat on the Internet) is this Sunday at 1:00 pm Americas/New_York time. I plan to join and will report back.
  • SWU is part of COMPA: Convergence of Popular Movements of the Americas. They have a profile on Idealist.org but the advertised link does not work.

Potential ideas for collaboration

Below are some proposed ideas for collaboration - offered purely as a starting point. Many projects could be started that would meet the goals outline above. The most effective may be the ones that are best able to politically engage activists regardless of their technical skill level.

  • Develop a coalition that would become an independent domain name registrar. We all have to pay a corporate or government based domain name registrar every time we want a new domain name. Many activists have had their web sites taken down because their domain name registrar took over control of their domain name due to politically-based complaints
  • Develop a coalition to become an Autonomous System - which would allow us to control our own block of IP addresses. An IP address is the unique number that identifies a server on the Internet. We currently rely on the corporation that provides our Internet bandwidth to give us an IP address. If our Internet bandwidth provider cuts off our access, we are off the Internet. If we controlled our own block of IP addresses, we could have two connections to the Internet via two different bandwidth providers, offering us more independence and reliability.
  • Develop a Bill of Rights for Internet participants. This bill of rights would cover our rights as participants, providers, programmers and activists. By collaborating on this document we would raise awareness of the political implications of our Internet activities and the need for holding Internet users and providers accountable for their activities.
Last modified 11 years ago Last modified on Jul 29, 2008, 1:38:41 PM

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