Free trade agreements, investment deals, and the debt system, are tools used all over the planet to build the power of international finance. These tools are supported by non democratic multilateral agencies such as the IMF, WTO or World Bank, to carry out an offensive against citizens, to dominate democracies and to prevent attempts to build social justice and sustainability. The logic of profit is extended to all aspects of life on the planet, discarding products, talents, emotions or nature unless they can be bought and sold in the marketplace. At this time, Attac reaffirms its complete rejection of murderous and earth-destroying capitalism, which uses the state apparatus to benefit banking and large international corporations, while trampling on the rights of citizens and emptying the word democracy of any meaning.
Why a Charter of Principles
Born in France in 1998, from an editorial in the newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique which issued a call to ‘disarm financial markets’, Attac originally had three major objectives: a tax on financial transactions, a ban on tax havens, and the end of free-trade agreements. Since that time, our network hasn’t stopped growing. We now want to reconceptualize and update our demands in an ever harsher neoliberal context.
Who we are: our structures
Attac is an international movement fighting against neoliberal capitalist globalization and working for social, ecological and democratic alternatives. We are part of the ‘alter-globalization’ movement which brings together social movements at international and local levels.
Attac means “Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and for the Action of Citizens”.
Attac is a citizen space for reflection and democratic debate, which develops political strategies in order to transform the current reality. We seek not to govern, but to mobilize, to strengthen citizens’ demands, and to create links between those creating the concrete alternatives which get us closer to the better world we want.
Attac is a network of autonomous associations (most of them with “Attac” in their name), which build an independent power base. Internationally, Global Attac (or Globattac) is a non-hierarchical and horizontal network. Every local group of citizens is welcomed to join us in our fight.
What we do: our actions
Because ATTAC is a worldwide network, our activities are diverse. We provide and produce popular education, books and reports, events, activist information, and support to local projects. The results are as varied and rich as our network.
We view popular education and social mobilization as an integral part of political action by rebellious citizens in their search for freedom, equality and solidarity. We aim to build a sustainable world where all human beings live in dignity.
What we stand for: our principles
1. We demand more democracy and that finance be put at the service of the people.
We aim to disarm the financial markets and deconstruct the neoliberal narrative. We reject the increasing concentration of wealth and the subordination of people and their rights to the dictatorship of the markets. Capitalism’s inherent inequalities prove that it is bad for humanity. Profits must never decide how we live, rather power must return to the citizens, who have both the right and the duty to resist and create alternatives.
2. We stand for a sustainable economy, which ensures the right to a decent life for all the inhabitants of the planet.
We defend the right of peoples and nations to exist and to develop, by building the material and cultural resources for a decent standard of living. This implies safeguarding human rights while respecting individual cultures. We further believe that our existence must be sustainable over time and ecologically respectful towards the planet, thus fulfilling our responsibilities both to nature and to future generations. Against an economy obsessed with production, that devastates nature and the climate, we demand the transformation of infrastructure, transport, buildings and social relations along ecological lines in order to attain social and environmental justice.
3. We reject the patriarchal system and its culture.
We reject patriarchy as an ideology and as a form of political, economic, religious and social organization that helps capitalism profit from the largely invisible work of women, and that spreads insecurity and inequality. We fight against all forms of violence, discrimination and inequality experienced by women, and for equality between men and women, and between different peoples. We insist on the integration of the feminist struggle as part of the struggle against the domination of capital.
4. We reject any kind of racism and the denial of rights to immigrants.
Immigrants are turned into scapegoats for the social crises which capitalism generates. We fight against the discrimination which immigrants face, and demand their equal rights. Borders don’t exist for investments or financial transfers. Rather borders exist to keep poor people away from rich countries. Free trade is only a very partial vision of freedom.
5. We reject militarism and we propose a culture of pacifist cooperation between peoples.
We fight against and denounce the rise of totalitarian neoliberalism, an economic and cultural system that aspires to be the only economic model on the planet. It ignores international conventions and regulations to intervene militarily anywhere in the world to defend its interests and its access to raw materials and natural resources. It uses the ‘war on terror’ as a pretext for this intervention when, in fact, neoliberalism itself has a major historical responsibility for the appearance, expansion and reinforcement of terrorism. It also uses the ‘war on terror’ to destroy democratic achievements and protections and impose a de facto state of emergency which relies on fear, lies and media manipulation.
6. We promote the social economy, based on solidarity, and support the movement to reclaim the ‘commons’.
We call for more citizen participation focusing on economic justice, ecological sustainability, and democratic processes. We’re convinced that business can and should be managed in a more democratic way, as shown by cooperatives. We stand for the right of citizens to access the ‘commons’ in accordance with their needs, rather than the logic of profit.
What we demand
Demanding more direct democracy
We want to reconquer and extend the democratic space lost by citizens, to the sole benefit of financial power. We demand respect for democratic decisions, and the extension of citizens’ rights to participate through direct democracy, including through citizens’ control of finance.
Controlling capital movements and redistributing financial profits
We demand the control of capital movements, by the application of a global tax on financial transactions (FTT) to redistribute wealth and reduce inequalities.
Fighting against speculation and tax evasion
We demand a ban on tax havens and effective measures to fight tax evasion and speculation.
Defending the public sector
We defend the public sector. This includes public services such as education, health and transportation, but also public banking and a public system of retirement provision. Furthermore, we advocate for the recognition of ‘natural commons’, allowing resources like water, seeds, land, education and healthcare, as well as the ‘information commons’, to be communally managed and shared, rather than appropriated by private interests.
Levying progressive taxation
We defend progressive taxation to ensure global public goods and services can be provided and wealth is fairly distributed. We particularly call for progressive taxes on capital, including corporate profits, to eliminate the privileges of a few.
Rejecting the system of debt and the ideology of austerity
We denounce the debt system and demand the suspension of payments on, and the auditing of, public debt. We demand that priority be given to fulfilling the economic and social rights of people, rather than subordinating these rights to debt payments. The debt crisis, which has drowned many countries in the European periphery, is part of the same crisis which has drowned many African, Asian and Latin American countries for decades, and continues to mortgage the future of those countries today.
Rejecting neoliberal agreements
We reject neoliberal trade and investment agreements in which the rights of investors overrule the fundamental rights of citizens, threatening democracy and the sustainability of the planet.
Transforming an economy based only on production
We reject the current ‘productivist’ model, which exploits labour and natural resources for profit. We want to replace this model with a society based on democracy, equality, solidarity and ecological sustainability. In particular, this means relocalizing economic activities.
Denouncing the domination of the global South through the extraction of wealth
We denounce the current production model which demands the extraction of value from many countries of the global South, particularly through forcing them to produce raw materials (in monocultures, huge mining projects, unconventional oil and gas, infrastructural mega-projects). This generates huge profits for transnational corporations by exploitation labour and natural resources. It has the backing of most governments despite the social and environmental damage.
Contributing to a just transition
We aim to contribute to a just transition away from the current capitalist model of production, distribution and consumption, which leads to the loss of control over our ‘commons’, deepening inequalities and ecological debts. To this end, we encourage alternatives, some already underway, like food sovereignty, financial control, energy democracy. These alternatives can achieve the fairer integration of peoples based on solidarity, complementarity and cooperation.
Remark: The above text is revised by Nick Daerden during the WSF in Montreal.