The Invisible Network

By The Glocal Research Centre, 13 July 2004


The Glocal Research Centre of Barcelona's Infoespai on the progress of the 'antiglobalisation' network Peoples' Global Action (PGA) and the challenges it faces

Mayo Fuster, an active participant in the People’s Global Action (PGA), reviews the network’s progress and potential



During the Second Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and against Neoliberalism (August 1997, Spain) grassroots movements activists from the North and South met to develop tools for providing continuity in communication and co-ordination during the struggle against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other ‘free’ trade bodies. Out of that enterprise, in Geneva on February 1998, the network process People’s Global Action (PGA) was founded.

PGA is situated amongst the anticapitalist and antiauthoritarian critics of globalisation. It is a tool for confluence and co-ordination, based on decentralisation and autonomy, but it is not an organisation: it has no membership, representation or legal personality. The PGA’s central structures are minimal, and its communication tools and conferences are maintained and organised by rotation, by collective elements of the network known as ‘convenors’. These structures, which have been crucial to the continuing process of confronting globalisation, are based on a ‘network logic’, one which can be seen as opposed to the lucrative logic and competition of the market or the centralist logic of the state – as well as the old hierarchical organisation of the social movements.

From PGA have come actions like the Intercontinental Caravan for Solidarity and Resistance (Europe, 1999), and the strategy of calls for Global Actions Days — for example the day against the Financial Centres and the G8 of 18 June 1999, or the blockade of the Millennium Ronda of the WTO on Seattle 30 November 1999, and the International Monetary Found and the World Bank (WB) counter-summit at Prague September 2000. During these actions the PGA established itself as a global network, grounded at regional levels in Latin America, North America, Asia and Europe. In Europe the first PGA conference took place in March 2001 in Milan, through the convenors Ya Basta and the UK’s Reclaim The Streets. In September 2002 the second conference took place with convenors Eurodusnie from the Netherlands and the Movement of Global Resistance from Catalonia managing a high level of participation. The third meeting in Europe will take place from the 23 to the 29 of July 2004 in Belgrade, in charge of the convenors Drugaciji Svet je Moguc°. This is being held in Belgrade to reinforce the connections with the Eastern European collectives, at a time when East Europe is becoming the Europe’s imperial ‘back yard’. A new gender group is working on introducing the gender issue at this PGA Conference, traditionally not specifically considered at the network’s conferences.

Coming meetings during 2004 are in Dhaka, organised by Krishok federation of Bangladesh, and a Latin-American meeting organised by PGA’s Latin America convenors CONFEUNASSC (The peasant federation of Ecuador), which is also convening the Latin American Social Forum. There has also been a call out from the Direct Action Network (DAN) which mobilised for Seattle, to make a new meeting of North American organisations under the PGA hallmarks. Finally, PGA is working to organise a network in North Africa and one in the middle east, with a focus on the Palestinian question. Not properly from the PGA, but adjacent to it, the celebrations of autonomous encounters recently at Argentina and Brazil are particularly notable.


At the global level, the PGA has so far held together due to the initiatives of a support group mostly composed of Europeans. Ultimately this has created an uncomfortable situation for the support group: some in Europe, and in the support group itself, have felt that the group have been taking too much of a lead and that the process is in danger of becoming Euro-centric. Consequently the support group stopped taking initiatives to push the process; but so far, the convenors of other southern organisations haven’t taken their place. The results of this can be seen, for example, in the fact that another global conference is not yet planned, or that for the first time the PGA didn’t issue a call for a Global Day of Action for a WTO summit in Cancun – (although there were continental PGA calls in Asia and Latin America).

Despite the feeling that the PGA dynamic is weak now in Europe, there are still many instances in which the intervention of groups close to PGA have strengthened anticapitalist resistance – for example, by making it possible to welcome Bush and the G8 with determined blockades, rather than a purely symbolic parade. But although organisations recognising themselves in the PGA’s principles are always found where struggle is going on, the PGA’s name is generally not invoked during local or regional struggles, and remains largely invisible. This has created an odd dynamic. Today’s PGA may still be present in diverse regional contexts, but globally its instruments are in danger of dissolving through disuse – in spite of the fact that spaces are still needed to bring together action and international connections amongst antiauthoritarian and anti capitalist collectives. Such spaces might be traditional protests or new ‘Glocal’ experiences set locally but connected internationally (see for instance Escanda, the Can Mas Deu self-managed social centre, or the Infoespai.)

There is also a desperate need to articulate a response to the worrying ongoing process of co-optation of the social movements. During the development of the context that has given visibility and confluence to these movements, power has collected around the Social Forums, which often have a reformist, anti-neoliberal agenda. The calls for Global Days of Action have been appropriated by those outside the PGA ambit in which they were created, by for example ATTAC or the WSF’s call for the last WTO summit in Cancun. This has raised the question of whether it still makes sense for the PGA to issue calls, and whether it is necessary for PGA to find new proposals other than the Global Days of Action and summit blocking. For many it has become a priority to develop ways in which our connections can become ‘grounded’ in, and reinforce, our local struggles. A deeper exchange of the knowledge, experiences, problems and forms of struggle currently being tested and a reflection on the perspectives of resistance and social organisation was precisely the purpose of the First International Meeting on Activist Research and Social Movements which took place in Barcelona in January 2004.

It is necessary now for reflection about what has happened during the last, very resonant years, and about how to continue The context in which PGA exists has changed deeply, in part because the mobilisation against global capital in which it has taken part has become massive enough to surpass the PGA’s own political limits. In 1998 people were thrilled and empowered to hear that decentralised co-ordinated actions had taken place in 65 different places around the world. Today, everybody knows that resistance is as transnational as capital, and the WTO, the World Bank and so on are vilified the world over. This circulation of knowledge and ideas is essential (as were the ideas of non-violent direct action against WTO brought to the West by the KRRS, or Reclaim the Streets’ idea of street parties). But we must go further. So far PGA has been an almost exclusively oral culture and its exchanges have taken place mostly during relatively unprepared conferences. The next step must be to design a more extensive communication system, allowing for longer term exchanges of analysis – whatever the medium.

LINKS The peasant federation of Ecuador –
Reclaim The Streets –
Escanda –
Can Mas Deu –
Infoespai –
Eurodusnie –
First International meeting on Activist research and social movements –

For more info or contact: 'Web principal de la AGP', which needs updating European conference Belgrade July 2004
Contact e-mail for the Conference: <>
Gender working group: <>

Mayo Fuster-Morell Glocal research centre - Infoespai []
e-mail: <lilaroja AT>