George Monbiot recently wrote that the creative groups mobilising for March 26th need to become "propositional" and not just oppositional. He is right about this, yet he misses the main point. For many of us, the fight against austerity is about far more than merely resisting job losses and reduced services, and calling for state reform. Fundamentally, it is an opportunity to bring into being a new political model based on the power of democratic structures, or what some of us call people's assemblies. Therefore, our proposition is not to the state, but to our fellow marchers and the wider public.
To sum it up, here is our simple manifesto:
1) We are fighting for a new model of democracy, and not for mere state reforms.
2) As was shown with the Iraq invasion, we cannot defeat the cuts with marches from A to B.
3) We want to go beyond defence of the welfare state and organise to liberate people. By way of a common politics of constitutional change, community welfare or 'common-fare'.
4) These aims cannot be achieved by old political structures such as parties, unions and sectarian pressure groups.
5) They can be achieved only through new forms of political organisation.
6) We are calling these new, common organisational forms People's Assemblies. PAs are a non-sectarian, strategic organizing tool which, when joined up have the potential to transform society everywhere.
7) In Canada the Greater Toronto Workers' Assembly is building a movement of trade unionists, workers, students, and social movements which cuts across the usual sectarian lines. And there are many other examples worldwide of Popular Assemblies springing up in recent years. It is clear that Assemblies have the potential to build a movement to peacefully transform the way that services are owned and run locally and nationally, but also internationally too.
8) After the march on Saturday, we should like to see People's Assemblies spring up in cities and rural locations across the country and further afield.
9) During last December's UK student protests, campus-based assemblies of students and local anti-cuts campaigners temporarily appeared across the country, with over 300 in attendance at Cambridge University and a regular Student Assembly established in London.
10) More recently, anti-cuts campaigners occupied Lambeth Town Hall and declared themselves to be a People's Assembly in solidarity with the movement.
11) At the recent National Educational Assembly and the European Assembly in Paris last February students and workers voted for the formation of campus-based and city-wide assemblies across the UK and Europe
12) On March 24th-26th in addition to actions in the UK, there will also be international demonstrations against austerity and the financialisation of human life. Many of these actions have been organised by Popular Assemblies across Europe and world-wide.
13) After the march this Saturday, we plan to camp the night in Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square.
14) On Sunday, we are inviting everyone to participate in a National Constituent Assembly in Hyde Park, from around 11am to plan future strategy together, and in particular to commit to building permanent People's Assemblies in their local communities so that we can begin the process of democratic revolution here in the UK, Europe and world-wide.
15) It is possible to imagine, and collectively build a world in which everything gets properly looked after through commonly owned and run public services working alongside the best of the services we already have. This is our dream, to perfect democracy and the political economy of public service provision so everyone can live in dignity, and be empowered to shape our culture together as equals. The key to making this great dream a reality is the developement of new structures, working People's Assemblies and the embrace of a new local to global politics of the common.
16) Thomas Paine said it far better than we can: "we have it in our power to build the world anew".
17) For more information, have a look at the People's Assemblies web-site, and help us make the Network grow. Better still, join us on Saturday night and on Sunday morning in the park!