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Dialogue, work camps and Anti-Colonialism 1917-1947


Peace and Solidarity Period 1948 - 1969


Global Environmental Movement period 1970-1990.


Global Democracy period 1990-2004


Gandhi Today


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Gandhian and Indian Influence in the Nordic Countries

Nordic connections with Gandhi started in 1917. A Danish woman, Esther Faering, interested in education got in contact with Gandhi before he became the leader of the national movement. Gandhian and Indian influence is still important in the Nordic societies and especially among popular movements engaged in the struggle for global justice and responsibility. In this text I will primarily deal with the political influence, especially in mobilising people and societal conflicts. Indian influence culturally, at the official political level, and economically are of importance but is outside the scope of this study. The Gandhian and Indian influence on other societies is of global interest, if we see a need in challenging the present academic, governmental and corporate Western world view.

The Gandhian and Indian influence on Nordic countries can be summarised into four stages. The first is the dialogue, work camps and anti-colonial stage beginning with Danish women dialogue initiatives and continuing with international solidarity work camps and support for the liberation struggle with the World Youth Festivals in the late 1940s and 1950s as central. The second stage is the peace and solidarity mobilisations in the 1960s. The third is the global environmental movement stage 1970-1990. The fourth stage beginning at the shift of decades between the 1980s and 1990s is to early to put a label on but can be described as the anti-neoliberal global democracy period.


Dialogue, work camps and Anti-Colonialism 1917-1950s

After the first Danish-Indian encounter in 1917 followed a continuously growing South-North dialogue through correspondence with Gandhi, visits and organising practical solidarity work in India and the Nordic countries. Esther Faering and other liberal missionaries like Anne Marie Petersen soon visited Gandhi in his ashram.

Anne Marie Petersen was a woman of strong persuasion and practical mind, who had a vision of establishing a Christian National School already when she arrived in India 1909. She wrote to Gandhi: ìOnly by indigenous education can India be truly uplifted. Why this appeals so much to me is perhaps because I belong to the part of the Danish people who started their own independent, indigenous national schools. The Danish Free Schools and Folk-High-Schools, of which you may have heard, were started against the opposition and persecution of the State. The organisers won and thus have regenerated the nationî.

In 1924 Petersen could open one of the first national schools in Porto Novo were pupils got an intercultural education which combined the work of the hand with the work of the spirit. They learned to spin in order to produce their own clothes; grew their own food and learned to read and write as well as they had lessons about the Indian history, religions and culture, much inspired by Gandhi and her own ideas.

Petersen continued her efforts for decades. As a member of the Rural Reconstruction Workers Association, Anne Marie Petersen was in 1939 invited to speak at the conference for the rural reconstruction workers at Kengeri. She was the only woman at the conference. Mrs. Petersen spoke of the need for educating women teachers and suggested that her school in Porto Novo was developed into a womenís teacher training college which it became in April 1949. During the war the school had to close for a while as money collected in Denmark could not be sent to India, but Gandhi sent some money instead.

Terp and Reddy concludes in their book Mahatma Gandhi and the Nordic countries on this first Danish-Indian encounters:

ìWithin the framework of the struggle for Indian political and social liberation Anne Marie Petersen and Gandhi pioneered a North-South dialogue. They were in India, but came from different cultures. Also it was an early North-South dialogue including development aid, because Anne Marie Petersen couldnít have made her school (as big) as it became, without financial support from Christian friends and friends from the Folk High school movement in Denmark. Some of the concepts and terms they used in developing an national Indian school were later used in the development of the pedagogy of liberation, based upon íthe ethical indignation, the preferential option for the poor and finally the liberation of the poor and oppressed - and of the oppressor í.î

The first period of correspondence with Gandhi and publishing efforts in all of the Nordic countries has been thoroughly investigated by Holger Terp and E.S.Reddy. Their findings will be presented in a book to be published in 2005 and is also presented at the homepage of the Danish Peace Academy. They also write about other Danish pioneers in the cooperation with India.

Ellen H¯rup was another Danish woman that wrote extensively on Gandhi and Indian liberation in Politiken, a main daily in Denmark. As a daughter of the anti-militarist and liberal founder of the newspaper she was given space in spite of that it had turned less radical since its pioneer time. H¯rup was one of the few contemporary Scandinavian friends of Gandhi who dared to voice criticism of Gandhi, the Hindu and a social reformer:

ìGandhi enters the great and admirable fight for the untouchables. He fasts for their right to get into the temples for which he is subject to attempted assassinations, and he gets the entire priesthood on his back. Gandhi has declared that there is no such thing as an untouchable in the holy writings, and even if there were, it would conflict with all humanity and therefore could not be divine truth. Everybody enthusiastically follows him on his Harijan-tour. But the untouchable is a by-product of the caste system, and Gandhi fights for the untouchable but wishes to keep the caste system.î

In the late twenties the first meetings about Gandhi and non-violence were held in Copenhagen. H¯rup established the Friends of India Society in Copenhagen in October 1930. She also established the first monthly magazine devoted fully to the Indian liberation struggle and Mahatma Gandhi outside South Africa and India.

There was censorship on news from India after the Salt March of 1930. H¯rup, Carl Vett, a Norwegian barrister of the Supreme Court and his wife, Edward Holton James,.an American barrister from Boston, and Caroline (Bokken) Lasson ìcreated a little self-constituted commission, whose members all travelled to India on their ownî, meeting once in a while in India. The group took an interest in the severe repression against the Indian freedom movement during the civil disobedience movement led by Gandhi. In 1933 H¯rup founded The International Committee for India and published the magazine the Indian Press, the first magazine to support the Indian cause abroad.

There were problems though with the interest in India for international solidarity, causing the magazine to close down. The last number of the Indian Press quoted the Modern Review (Calcutta): ìIt was a mistake on the part of the Congress to have given up foreign workÖ It is true, we must win freedom mainly by our efforts. But the sympathy and at least the moral support of foreign nations are valuableî (August 1935). Ellen H¯rup then wrote, ìBecause of the decision taken by the National Congress of India, we have decided to suspend the publication of our magazine for the time being. We will take it up again as soon as the Indian organizations themselves recognise the necessity of a propaganda campaign in foreign countriesî.

Although other Nordic countries were involved, Denmark continuously was the most advanced in all aspects, publishing books and articles by Gandhi and on the Indian situation, corresponding with Gandhi and organising public solidarity work. But also in Finland a similar development took place with the interest in pedagogy as central.

The key Gandhian influence in all of the Nordic countries came in the late 1930s and during World War II through the international working camp movement and Pierre Ceresole, the founder of Service Civil Internationale. Ceresole met with Gandhi during his visit to Europe 1931 and got so inspired that he 1934 organised the first secular volunteer project in the Third world. Together with three others he went to Bihar in India for three years working side by side with local inhabitants, rebuilding the community after a natural disaster. During his stay in India, Ceresole became a quaker.

Back in Europe he went to Denmark and Sweden inspiring a new movement. In Sweden the movement started in 1937 sending volunteers to working camps organised by SCI all over Europe helping areas hit by severe natural or social problems. A small beginning was made 1939 in Norway. The war made the first attempts fade away but new national working camp organisations started to prepare for reconstruction work after the war, built on volunteer efforts and international solidarity for peace. IAL started in Sweden 1943, Fredsvenners N¯dhjÊlp in Denmark 1944, ID in Norway at the same time and IAL in Finland 1947, in all countries with quakers as central to supporting the initiatives.

1947 saw the final goal of the Indian liberation movement ending British colonial rule but partioning Pakistan and India in the polarised way Britain many times left their colonies. Soon after Gandhi was killed 1948 by a hindu extremist during the many conflicts between hindus and muslims killing millions. The allied anti-fascist forces of the Soviet Union and the US brought hopes to many around the world with the liberation of India and the decalaration of both political and social rights as indivisible in the Unite Nations Human Rights Charter as positive signs. But it became the end of a period and the course of events took a new direction. This also meant a new period for Nordic-Indian movement relations as the cold war now set new hinderances in the way for South-North cooperation.


Peace and Solidarity Period 1948 - 1969

The global divide between the North and the South became evident 1948 when president Truman declared the American development doctrine stated to be universal dividing the world into developed and undeveloped nations. The same year the cold war became the dominant political agenda when US backed economic programs were seen as a threat by communist countries in Eastern Europe and the communists took power in Chechoslovakia.

Some small groups all with strong Gandhian inspiration started to confront the global development politics of the cold war states both built on centralised industrialisation, state power and division of the world in two blocs. In the year of 1949 two activists in the Swedish World Citizen Movement started a journey in an attempt to reach India. It was Margareta who saw herself as a disciple of Gandhi and Inge Oscarsson that started to hitch-hike with 250 crowns in their pockets, a small sum that could not bring two people the whole way to India. They succesfully arranged 100 public meetings on the streets and squares all over Sweden provocing the police with their anti-militaristic propaganda and their demands for ending misery in the world. Their attempt to reach India ended up in Northern Africa instead bringing back to the movement a stronger interest in liberation struggles.

Gandhian influence still maintained its stronghold in the pacifist movement during the 1950s, but another movement became more important in Indian-Nordic contacts. It was the anti-colonial movement, were the World Youth Festival became the most important meeting point were activists from India, the Nordic countries and the rest of the world could find each other. Festivals were held in Prague 1947, Budapest 1949, Berlin 1951, Bucarest 1953, Warsaw 1955, Moscow 1957, Vienna 1959 and Helsinki 1962 and they are still arranged today. The festivals was an initiative from the World Federation of Democratic Youth just before the cold war started and was basically controlled by communist parties, but had a lot broader participation and effects beyond the interest of ruling parties in the Eastern bloc. Each time more than ten thousand and sometime more than 30 thousand international delegates participated and a million or more people from the host country. Jan Myrdal, a Swedish author and veteran in the solidarity movement, claims that the festivals were a unique opportunity to make contacts that became crucial in the anti-colonial struggle and the solidarity mass mobilisations of the 1960s. From each Nordic country, many hundred young people participated in the festivals, fiercely condemned by the press. After going to World Youth festivals, Myrdal went to India, China and other third world countries writing books on India and other similar matters and making the Swedish people aware of the need for global solidarity and national liberation. Erik Stinus, a Danish sailor and poet also participated in the World Youth festivals were he met Sara in 1955, the leader of the Bombay festival Committee. They married and started a life together in Copenhagen in the solidarity, peace, women and other movements struggling for global justice. Stinus also edited a book on Indian ‚Danish relations. But the Indian influence through the World Youth festivals was primarily resulting in a joint struggle with all popular movements globally against colonialism and for peace, and did not contribute to the development critical aspects of Gandhian thought that was forced to the margin also in India during the 1950s.

Instead Gandhian thoughts survived in smaller circles decisive for the establishment of a solidarity movement wiht the third world. A key was the international work camps bring all kind of people together with an interest in volunteer action which hade recieved much inspiration from Ceresole¥s contacts with Gandhi and the first secular volunteer work in India in the 1930s. This international solidarity volunteer movement organising work camps became a key factor and still is in a broader alternative movement starting to send volunteers to the third world in the early 1950s and organising own development projects from Sweden 1957 and Denmark 1959.

The World Citizen movement in Sweden was very small, some years in the early 1950s mainly centered around Oscarsson. But in 1956 the activists from this movement made an action that became the first in Nordic countries of a new kind linking global issues and using expressive means that later would be described as typical for so called new social movements. With a spade in their hand the activist went up to the royal guard in Stockholm proposing a total disarmament turning the military resources into development aid for poor countries instead. It was a direct action that Gandhi would have been proud of. The action spurred interest and was helped by the strong advocacy in 1957 and onwards among pacifists for the same goal.

In some years a Swedish peace and solidarity movement had sprung up linking the anti-violence issues with the call for alternative uses of military resources and development aid, a movement that in different ways was inspired by Gandhi and India. In the pacifist movement Gandhi always had a strong impact but India started to have influence in Sweden also through other connections. This movement, built on Indian inspiration, soon established a model for mass based solidarity work. It soon had its results spread all over the Nordic countries and is still maintaining the largest solidarity actions in the Nordic countries and a high level of support among the population and governments for the third world. The Indian inspiration to this Nordic mass solidarity model has never been made public and is unknown outside oral tradition among some few people. Nation state oriented history, both academic and other, tend to systematically make invisible the kind of democratic connections that exists between the third world and industrial countries as such connections do not fit into the ideal that democratic progress at every stage starts in the West.

The more known mass movement of the early 1960s is the peace movement that limited itself to oppose atomic bombs or defence issues which was the case in the rest of Europe at the time. This more limited anti atomic bomb movement was also much inspired by Gandhi. In the Nordic countries the influence came primarily through Britain. Already 1952 Operation Gandhi took place in front of the war ministry in London with a street sit-in blockade, collecting 136.000 signatures for a peace declaration. 1957 a single person marched from London to the nuclear site at Aldermaston, followed by thousands the next year and 100.000 when the march went the other way and ended in London 1960. Bertrand Russell was a key figure both in initiating broader initiatives and himself participating in civil disobedience the Gandhian way. 20.000 activists participated in an occupation of the runways at Weathersfield air base, among them Oscarsson from the World Citizen Movement in Sweden. Hundreds of other Nordic people participated in the activities in Britain, soon bringing the ideas back home. 1960 the first Nordic atomic march took place in Iceland. Later the same year there was a march in Denmark, 1961 in Sweden and 1963 in Norway, in Iceland, Denmark and Norway with demands against atomic bombs on the national soil, in Sweden against the plans for a Swedish atomic bomb and to propose alternative uses for military resources.

The movement was successful and in some years the plans for atomic bombs on Nordic soil was for the time being dropped. In Finland The Committee of the Hundred, started in 1963, played a similar role as the atomic march campaigns in the other Nordic countries. Discussions on non-violence and Gandhian methods rather than his complete ideology were crucial in this era, that has been described by its own activists and academicians as the break-through of a new social movement. The Danish activist Toni Liversage writes in her memories: ìThe movement against atomic armament in the beginning of the 60s thus was the first broad popular movement in the post-war period, where people decided to take an issue in their own hand and act, and the movement in this way became a predecessor of the grassroots movements of the 70s and 80sî. Operation Gandhi began to have mass influence in many countries.

But it was another Indian influence, not primarily Gandhian, that is the origin of the largest mass solidarity action in the Nordic countries. All organisations of relevance to popular movements and politics with international linkages in the Nordic countries at this time to my knowledge had their global leadership in industrial countries, either in the West or the East. The exception was the Theosophist Society in Sweden which had a youth group, TUG, started in the 1950s by Gudrun Fjellander. Its first involvement with social action was in 1959 when the group ìadoptedî a Tibetan refugee child. Soon the members of the group became involved in the peace movement, visiting the Aldermaston marches and active in the first atomic marches in Sweden and other more radical activities of the pacifist and world citizen movement actions.

In 1961 five young Theosophists, Jan Fjellander, Roland von Malmborg, Christer von Malmborg, Margareta Homstedt, and Jan Rosenblom, decides to support 100.000 refugee children in the liberated areas of Algeria during the ongoing war with France when 1 million people were killed. They send with the help of all the TUG group an information kit to all schools in Sweden, containing information on how to raise a subscription and why the money are needed to enable the Lutheran Aid organisation to help the refugee children. 112 schools got involved and the result was 600.000 Swedish crowns, 20 percent more than planned and a lot more than the grownups in the Aid organisation ever thought was possible and easily could handle.

The next year the established organisation for school pupils took over the campaign, collecting the double amount to he same country, this time to schools in the newly liberated country. In 1964 the campaign started also in Norway also supporting schools in Algeria, in 1967 it became Nordic and Danish and Finnish schools also participated in a joint project supporting schools for Indians in Peru.

Operation Dayís Work was born when pupils offered their service to the community and the payment went to solidarity with the third world. There were some other similar attempts in Sweden at individual schools and a more centrally organised campaign to support a humanitarian fund set up to honour the UN general secretary and Swede Dag Hammarskj–ld. But it was the TUG activists initiative that established a network and a goal that became a model for Operation Day¥s Work in both Sweden and soon also Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway. Apart from common third world development projects often directed to education money was soon raised also to the humanitarian work of violent liberation movements like Frelimo, ANC, SWAPO and others in Southern Africa. In 1969 Swedish pupils with their volunteer work supported the Mocambique Institute after strong controversy with 2 million SEK and the Finnish pupils with 450.000 FIM. In Finland this comes prior to state support given to such projects related to liberations movements, in Sweden the sum collected was more than the total sum given by the Swedish state between 1965 and 1968 ,to the Mocambique Institute, a support that had ended during the severe internal conflicts in the end of 1960s within Frelimo. Operation Dayís work did not only give more money than any earlier state, trade union, student or other popular organisations supporting liberation movements in Southern Africa, also it became a massive educational campaign that for the first time succeed to reach out in the whole society among both young people and also all the grown ups in the local communities that used the pupils for a dayís work. 1971 and 1972 liberation movements all over Southern Africa were supported by Operation Dayís Work in Finland, Norway and Sweden. 1974 the trade unions in Finland joined, giving a one hour salary, and in 1978 the Finnish church joined also. In 1985 alone, 40 million crowns was collected in a joint Nordic project to support ANC, in 1990 28 million crowns was collected in Norway alone to support Amnesty human rights education project in the third world.

The total sum collected is in Sweden 100 million SEK, in Norway a lot more and in Denmark and Finland a bit less. No estimate has been made of the sum collected, but it is probably above 50 million ECU or US dollars since the beginning in 1961. It has gained full support from all society, both from authorities and the civil society with one exception. In Denmark right wing political groups attacked the work for supporting the violent ANC, and since the mid-90s the Danish government has tried in different ways to make it harder to do solidarity action as a school activity, demanding that it should be organised voluntarily outside the school. The action has continued in large scale in Denmark, in spite of this. Operation Day-Work (Operation dagsverke, Operasjon Dugnad, Operation DagsvÊrk, Taksv”rkki) can be seen as a corner stone in a Nordic solidarity model. This model mobilises all the people in the work for global justice. The One Dayís voluntary work campaign, together with the many solidarity movements for liberation movements and other support for the third world, enabled the governments, at the height of radical politics, to fully support liberation movements in the third world and the position of third world countries in the UN. The Swedish government alone gave 4 billion SEK to the liberation of Southern Africa until 1994 during many years of sometimes violent struggle, 1 billion to the work of the liberation movements.

The young Theosophists continued to play an important role in the emerging alternative movement in more than a decade. TUG activist got involved in printing and smuggling election material into Zambia when the printers in the hands of whites refused material from the party representing the black majority in the country. They were involved in boycotting South African goods and had the ANC secretary as a guest at a TUG meeting in 1963. They were active conscription and consciousness objectors and the first to be allowed to do alternative civil service in voluntary organisations, in this case the UN Association. They became environmentally aware in the early 1960s and carried out the first large environmental actions in Sweden 1966 together with Anarchists and others in the ProVie (ìfor lifeî) movement. 10.000 no return bottles were disposed at the steps of the parliamentary building, blockading the entrance in protest against pollution and wasteful use of resources. Two young Theosophists started a mass-scale civil disobedience campaign in Stockholm filling every outdoor tobacco advertisement with the word CANCER, a struggle that finally after trials, used as a political platform, ended with a legal ban on tobacco advertisements.

The close connection to India was the main inspiration, changing the world view among the activists in TUG. The Fjellander siblings were children to Ingrid Nyborg-Fjellander, world secretary 1957-1975 to Rukmini Devi Arundale, a leader in the Theosophist Round Table, Indian parliamentarian and founder of the Kalekshtra Cultural Center outside Madras. She also held a leading position in the Vegetarian World Congress which in 1964 invited young Europeans to counteract the Western influence on young Indians. It had become a habit among many aspiring students in India to start to eat meat and wear nylon shirts inspired by the rumours of what lifestyle one should choose to be modern, spread by the fortunate few that had gone to universities in Europe. Thus a group of Europeans, among them five from TUG, made a tour through India, at one occasion talking together with a Jainist monk to a crowd of half a million people, at another to thousands of students, as European vegetarians critical to the claims that young Europeans were uninterested in a less wasteful way of life. The journey tilted the minds of the Swedish participants and further spurred their interest in changing the world and challenging the society they lived in.

In 1966 three Swedish young Theosophists splintered away from the Theosophist Society at the international meeting in Salzburg in Austria. The tension had grown to large between the growing social action interest among the young and the more narrow religious and philosophical interest of the elderly. The TUG activists grew even more ambitious, not only by starting the ProVie movement together with anarchists, linking way of life issues with global politics and a refusal to take part in the cold war. They protested against the Vietnam war in 1965, and Jan Fjellander had the office of the American Deserters Committee in his apartment 1967 when Sweden started to accept as refugees hundred of soldiers that refused to take part in the war. Together with other Theosophist, contacts were built globally to criticise the role of science, leading to a LASITOC conference in London 1970 where one of the results was to initiate alternative activities at the UN environmental conference in Stockholm 1972. This became the first time independent popular activities, with demonstrations and counter-conferences had an interchange with the official summit, resulting in a model for democratising global politics.

When the anti-Vietnam war movement grew stronger, anti-imperialism and the Left became the dominant anti-systemic thinking. The initiating organisation had been ClartÈ, a student organisation started as a socialist peace movement in 1920 and which in 1965 ideologically and in practice confronted the pacifist neutrality politics towards the war in Vietnam. Local groups were built in an anti-imperialist antiwar movement that radicalised all Sweden and soon also turned the government against the US politics in Vietnam. Here, there were also links to India, to mass movements, Naxalites and other communist groups that has continued through the years by articles in ClartÈ and other magazines. This Indian influence did not have as central role as the Gandhian and Theosophist connections had to the peace and alternative movement, where the Indian inspiration in some aspects can be seen as a key factor to the radicalism and capability to renew the form and content of political activism.

By the end of the 1960s a new crisis shaked the two bloc development model of centralisation of industrialism and state power. Criticism from below in trade unions and among farmers globally as well as among young people all over the world challenged the legitimacy of both Western style capitalism and Societ style planned economy. Both the economy, ecology and on the battlefields in Vietnam and other countries in the third world there was a crisis. Once more the situation for popular movements and relations between Indian and Nordic people¥s movements changed and once more Indian influence became essential to new strategies, this time confronting not only peace and global solidarity.


Global Environmental Movement period 1970-1990.

In 1969 three men went to India in a Renault on a trip that might be seen as the most important Nordic-Indian encounter so far. They were Sigmund Kval¯y, Johan Galtung and Arne NÊss. Their goal was to participate in the celebrations of Gandhis 100 years anniversary. NÊss was for many years the only university professor of philosophy in Norway and had an influential position in his country as a consistent advocate of a broad scientific approach to social questions and an interpreter of Gandhian thought to the Western societies. Galtung also interpreted Gandhi, started the first Peace Research Institution in the West in Oslo 1959 and later became central in building future research. Galtung and NÊss had written a book together on Gandhiís political ethic in the nuclear age together. Kval¯y was a philosopher and activist.

In 1970, civil disobedience explodes in Norway, otherwise a calm society that had little signs of dissatisfaction. The state planned to construct a dam at the second highest waterfall on earth, at Mard¯la in the West of Norway. The water should be led to the Romsdal valley where the power station should be constructed while leaving the original Eikesdal valley with no waterfall accept a small show for tourists in the summer. To stop the construction, environmental activists nailed themselves to the mountain with chains. Among them were Kval¯y and NÊss. The police evacuated the occupation but during the night local inhabitants from the Eikesdal valley reoccupied the construction site. Now inhabitants from Romsdal valley took the matters in their own hand and threatened the new occupants. Finally the action had to be given up. The Mard¯la action started a new era in Norwegian politics that also inspired similar actions in neighbouring countries. The same year all local women, children and men jointly blew up the dam at the biggest lake on Iceland in a protest against the effects on the fishing and environment. The next year some thousand activists stopped, in a violent battle with the police, the felling of a group of elms some hundred meters from the Swedish parliament and governmental buildings in Stockholm. The decision to fell the trees had been controversial and finally got backed by the Swedish government. But politicians had to give up after the direct action and the long occupation of the elms that started after the victory against the police in the Battle of the Elms.

The Mard¯la action was initiated by a course on Gandhian philosophy at the Oslo University. Gandhian thinking soon became essential to the environmental, peace and alternative movement, not only as a philosophy of method but also in deeper development critical sense. This was due to an alliance between the most advanced university philosophy of the country were both professor NÊss and small farmers in the rural areas like Arne Vinje played a central part. Small farmers maintained a philosophical interest and an important part in the political culture of the country. Sigmund Kval¯y, Mard¯la activist and eco-philosopher played a central role in establishing a globally conscious environmental movement. The environmental issues were linked to social questions challenging industrial growth society and urbanisation while at the same time contributing to the struggle against the European Union (at the time abbriviated EEC, European Economic Community). While all established organisations from labour, business and both right and left parliamentary forces as well as the mass media was strongly advocating Norwegian membership, a popular movement alliance was opposed. The conflict resulted in a victory for the popular movement alliance against all the established forces in the referendum of 1972, the only time (except for Greenland 1983 and Norway again in 1994) when the opposition to the establishment has won in a referendum on membership in the EU.

This resulted in a strong self-confidence among the popular movements in Norway and made them have a leading role in Nordic cooperation through the 1970s, which was organised at Nordic environmental camps. In Norway, Gandhian philosophy maintained a strong position both at academic and environmental movement level and as inspirator of civil disobedience. In 1981 it came to a climax. Sigmund Kval¯y had contacts with the Sami indigenous people in the North of Norway. There were plans to build a dam at Alta right across the biggest canyon in Europe in the heartland of the reindeering Sami land. Mobilisation started against this project already in the early 1970s, and from 1979 onwards the opposition was strong. But the authorities continued to start the construction. In January 1981 Sami activists together with environmental activists from all Norway occupied the site chaining them again but this time to each other and the ice they were sitting on. The occupation continued for a week in minus 30 degrees Celsius. To check it, the government brought every 7th policeman in Norway to Alta to carry the activists away and keep them from coming back. The battle was lost, but the Sami people soon got their own Sami parliament with more political influence then they had earlier.

Simultaneously, Nordic women made a joint initiative linking the environmental and peace movement, building on the broader vision from the 1950s, not to just oppose weapons but also demand better uses of military resources. In some months half a million signatures were collected, demanding disarmament and that the armament billions to food. Soon the Nordic women were marching for peace, first time to Paris 1.100 km with a core of 40 Nordic women, 10 from each Nordic country except for Iceland and thousands supporting them , than next year to Moscow, after that Washington and later through Central America. The inspiring force for this womensí peace movement was the civil disobedience action ut at the Greenham Common air base, where at the culmination 30.000 people continued the struggle against the NATO missiles and armament. In the book Fra Gandhi til Greenham (From Gandhi to Greenham) the Danish Women for Peace activist Toni Liversage writes in 1987 on how the movements have emerged with the ideas of Gandhi, civil rights movement in the US, anti atomic bomb movement of the 1960s, environmental movement of the 1970s and the new peace movement of the 1980s.

The next country after Norway to get a decisive strong Indian impact on its political culture and conflicts was Sweden. In 1983 P.G. Gyllenhammar, Chief Executive Officer of Volvo car company, initiated European Round table of industrialists, ERT. Their plan was to diminish social welfare, build motorways and strengthen business through a single European market with freedom for goods, services, finance and hire labour with an effect on both EU and states having economic cooperation with the EU like Sweden.

In Sweden, the environmental movement reacted to the ERT plan by building an international alliance and trying to continue a broader opposition against the corporate social and environmental strategy. In the Nordic countries there existed a broad alternative movement alliance against the development model including the liberation of financial control across borders involving 90 peace, women, environmental and solidarity organisations. But the leftwing organisations as well as the Green party saw this as a threat, challenging their own hegemonic position as system-critical leaders, and thus ignored and at occasions even attacked the alternative movement alliance for being too radical and broad in its scope, not understanding the role of popular movements as being to have a single issue mind. When the Environmental Federation, later merging with Friends of the Earth Sweden, thus tried to initiate joint social and ecological struggle against the ERT neoliberal program, the Left and the trade unions did not respond. They were also involved in a struggle for social justice, but at the domestic level, and were not interested in a joint popular movement battle against European corporate neoliberal plans. The environmental movement had to take up the task themselves. When the Swedish government decided to support the ERT plans by building a motorway at the West coast through one forests most severely effected acidification, opposition soon grew into mass civil disobedience.

The solidarity movement in Sweden had since long good contacts with India. The Bangla Desh-India division of the Swallows in Lund, a group within the Emmaus movement started in 1963, was the first to make the tree hugging Chipko movement in the Himalayas known abroad. Inspiration now came from India when the activist climbed the trees and hugged them to protect them. Soon the protest movement was nick-named ìtree huggersî by the press. Somewhat reluctantly in the beginning, the activist accepted the label which since than has become a general concept in Sweden applied to anyone protecting what she or he holds dear, asphalt huggers for those wanting to build motorways etc. The protests against the building of the motorway had a strong global aspect to it, Sunderlal Bahaguna from the Chipko movement in India visited Sweden marched side by side with the Swedish local activists in demonstrations and global environmental impact was debated. The Swedish environmental movement soon started to coordinate motor way actions days throughout all of Europe in the European Youth Forest Action, a network initiated by Swedish organisations in 1986. The battle against the motorway at the West coast was lost. 400 people were sentenced for obstructing the construction in the biggest political trial in modern Swedish history. The Left lost their parallel battle as well ending it with endless internal splits on the issue on the necessity of building a new workers party. Sweden became one of the most aggressive neoliberal countries in the world, dismantling control of speculation, which in a few years resulted in a deep financial crisis for the whole national economy.

The alternative movement maintained the links with India. The Swallows sent Maud Johansson and G–ran Ekl–f to build contacts with the Indian environmental movement,resulting in solidarity work with the Narmada movement, many other environmental protests and projects and the book PÂfÂgeln flyger on the Indian environmental movement in Swedish. Through the Indian contacts, the Swedish environmental movement grew more sceptical towards development. Links were established with Lokayan in India resulting in an article in the Indian magazine but no deeper involvement.

The country after Sweden to be strongly influenced by India was Finland. Here a solidarity and environmental movement was developed later than in the other Nordic countries, but when it started, all happened at once. 1979 a dam site was occupied at Koij”rvi, houses was occupied in Helsinki by young people, a new peace movement emerged, workers stroke, and a mass movement to support the third world grew out of the idea to give a one percent volunteer tax on your income to development projects. 1979 is also a year when Finnish interest in Gandhi was expressed through the book The Core of Gandhis Philosophy by Unto T”htinen published in New Delhi. When the activists came to occupy Koij”rvi, they were met by Ville Komsi who explained how the direct action was based on Gandhian thought. By 1989 this alternative movement had expanded its scope and organising capacity. At a seminar this year, with participation from almost all solidarity organisations in Finland, Indian participants made it clear that they did not want more development aid, and that they were critical towards development as such. Instead of helping the third world, it was the whole way development worked that had to be changed. Indian activists also participated in the struggle against a motorway project to be built between Hesinki and Turku. A long march inspired by the Indian Padyatra tradition was organised knocking on peopleís doors along the way where the motor way was supposed to be constructed. Global issues were addressed in terms of the climate effects, emphasized by the Indian participation. The struggle was successful, when an economic crisis started and the plans were given up.

A Finnish criticism emerged against the official ideology of sustainable development promoted by the UN, business, governments and environmental organisations all over the world. Finland became the only country were this ideology did not get a hegemonic position, in the rest of the world the interested popular movement accepted or tried pragmatically to use the new sustainable development process as a tool to put their own issues at the focus. Fundamental criticism was abandoned, or as in Sweden somewhat forced to the margin. The Finnish sustainable development critique became important to the Nordic cooperation among environmental movements in the Rio process, resulting in a more action oriented approach. Global climate action days were organised in 70 countries, coordinated by the Finnish solidarity organisation KePa and the Swedish Environmental Federation. Among Nordic environmental movements, or at least the Finnish and Swedish, it became a saying that the most important solidarity work was to change the development model of your own country as it was built on exploiting the third world. But in general, business, NGOs and governments were successful in establishing sustainable development as the solution to the global environmental and social crisis, including free trade as a main solution to the problem. Neoliberalism had received its human face with the legitimation of the global NGOs.

With the professionalisation of the environmental, peace and solidarity movement making them adminstrators of sustainable development while at the same time as former planned economies under communist party rule fragemented a new period started. The global development model divided in two blocs collapsed with the falling of the Berlin wall. This time again Indian influence became crucial for Nordic peoplesí movements in maintaining and further develop radical positions, in the beginning with strong Gandhian influence but later more and more through radical modern Indian people¥s movements and their global alliance building through People¥s Global Action.

The Global Democracy period 1990s ‚ 2004

The fourth period is not marked by any massive action inspired by India, but Gandhian and Indian influence has continued to grow or has been maintained, especially in Finland (but much less so in Denmark). In 1990 a seminar on democracy and development critique was organised by the Finnish Ymp”rist– ja Kehitys (Environment and Development) and the Estonian Green movement in Estonia in connection to the European Nuclear Disarmament Convention in Helsinki and Tallinn. Here, more in depth discussions were carried out in the Sauna, in the lake and other indispensable place for philosophical interchange on what development is, and what alternatives are there, Gandhian socialism and practical mobilisation. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) a report never came out of the seminar, but linkages were built on an international scale, opposing the sustainable development model and proposing mass mobilising padyatra marches and local action days. Climate action days were successfully carried out through the Swedish Finnish cooperation as well as broader initiatives like Alliance of Northern People on Environment and Development, ANPED, ahead of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. But in general the sustainable development ideology also demobilised participation in the movement, making it harder and harder to combine local activities with mass-action at hot spots. NGOs were able to split the movement into a local level separated from an international lobby level, where the professionals advocated issues on behalf of local people they had no democratic relation to. In Finland the Indian connections continued to develop, but for the rest of the Nordic countries Gandhian ideology became more and more forgotten as well as other Indian influence.

Gandhian inspiration strongly reemerged when the Karnataka farmers and their chairman M.D. Nanjundaswamy took the leadership in forming Peoplesí Global Action, PGA, centered around the principles of non-violence and refusal to cooperate as the main tools in the struggle against the neoliberal world order. The use of violence was not explicitly excluded but the emphasis was only made on non-violence with the inspiration from the Gandhian style mass movements in India and the impressive demonstration with half a million participants against WTO in Bangalore in 1993. Also many other movements were present when PGA formed at Geneva 1998, mainly mass movements from the third world like the Landless movement from Brazil, the black movement from Colombia, Ogonis from Nigeria, Maoris from New Zealand, the Indians from Ecuador, trade unions from Argentina, Nicaragua and Canada, farmer movements from everywhere and the Zapatistas from Mexico as well as Friends of the Earth from Finland, Sweden and Uruguay.

The kind of mass mobilising long marches dreamt of at the Estonia seminar in 1990 had meanwhile emerged all over Europe. It was the movement of the unemployed that staged star demonstration from the corners of France and Spain ending with manifestation in the EU summits in the capitals, in Paris in 1994 and Madrid in 1995. In 1997 The Euromarch against unemployment and exclusion started in Ivalo in Northern Finland, Tanger in Morocco and Tusla in Bosnia and other places walking two months along 14 routes making one thousand meetings on its way ending with a mass demonstration at the EU Summit in Amsterdam. PGA came in the right time to radicalise and broaden the scope of the movement. Soon international action days against finance capital and WTO was carried out all over the world and the multilateral investment agreement, MAI, was defeated. The third world mass movements and some NGOs like Third World Network managed to leave the era of struggling for a lobby place at the sustainable development negotiation table behind, making it impossible for mainstream NGOs to maintain a reformist marginal change attitude to MAI and later to WTO. The anti-globalisation movement emerged with summit protesters and PGA as key actors.

PGA also influenced Nordic movements. Some PGA activists were brought to Finland at a development meeting with governmental representatives. At the Nordic counter-power summer camp in Falun 1999 initiated by Friends of the Earth Sweden, a representative from the Karnatka farmers came, at the EU Summit in Gothenburg 2001 PGA organisations from Bangla Desh and Indonesia participated as speakers at demonstrations and seminars. PGA included anti-capitalism in its platform at its meeting in Bangalore 1999, causing Friends of the Earth in Sweden and Finland to leave the network as this goes beyond an anti-neoliberal alliance. The direct action oriented movements was especially inspired by PGA and has established a Nordic Anti-capitalist network including Globalisering underifrÂn (Globalisation from below), in Sweden, Globale R¯dder (Global Roots) from Denmark and a social center from Helsinki. This Nordic PGA network is today the most influential cooperation among radical movements in Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden also having an impact on Social Forums.

In general today, Gandhi and Indian influence in the Nordic countries is maintained through publication of articles, spreading of civil disobedience ideology, of PGA confrontational and non-violent tactics, NGO style environmentalism of the Vandana Shiva kind and radical trade union and Marxist analyses of Indian and global matters.

In Sweden there is even av magasine Gandhi Today with Jan Viklund as an editor and in the peace movements articles on Gandhi are continously published. Norway is still the country were Gandhian philosophy is mostly red and established at the university and in popular movements as an inspiration to civil disobedience in a non-violent way. Recently a seminar was held on Gandhi with popular movements and the Indian embassy involved. In September 2004 the main solidarity and peace organisations issued a magazine, The Gandhian View with articles by prominent writers as Arundhati Roy, Kenneth Kaunda and others on nonviolenvce and global justice movment. In Denmark, once the leading Nordic country in a South-North dialogue with India and Gandhian thought there is very little traces left. But there is a Gandhi statue in Copenhagen, given by Indira Gandhi on her visit to Denmark in 1984. It is placed in N¯rrebro, the most radical part of Copenhagen which has seen many battles between police and activists the last 60 years.

In Denmark, the work to systematically study Gandhisí Nordic connections is carried out by Holger Terp, an activist in the pacifist No more war organisation, but he is rather isolated. No More War has more or less no activity more than through the very ambitious Peace Academy homepage, were Terp continuously updates a thousand year time line on peace movements and peace actions globally month by month.

The influential Danish peace researcher Jan ÿberg was not able to establish a center in Denmark and started Transnational Foundation for Peace, TFF in Lund in Sweden instead. This center is actively involved in conflict resolution in former Yugoslavia, was opposing the Iraq war and has contributors from all over the world. ÿberg recently made a pilgrimage in the foot steps of the Salt march in India meeting old participants from the 1930 mobilisation and reflecting on the Gandhian philosophy in a report publicised in the homepage of the peace center. In late 2004, TFF also published a bibliography on books, articles, videos and links in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish on Gandhi or written by him dating almost 80 years back.

In Sweden one can also find other traces in the peace movement. The local chapter in Tyres– of the Swedish Peace and Arbritation Society started solidarity work with India in the late 1960s, which is still carried on. In a cafÈ on the west coast one can find Gandhi cookies made by the owners, two long time pacifists and friends of India, Ola and Erni Friholt. At this cafÈ, a jubilee seminar was held in the summer of 2004 with Johan Galtung and others that wrote books on alternatives and the movements in the 1980s.

Folkr–relsestudiegruppen, Popular Movement Study Group in Sweden have carried out a study on global popular movements the last two and half thousand years by Jan Wiklund and a study on the global NGO system by the author of this article. In these two studies Gandhian popular movement strategy is given a key place in developing lay person movements opposed to specialist and generalist professionalisation in American style NGO/civil society model or Russian one-party state model. Of intellectual importance is also a dissertation in progress made by Stellan Vinthagen stressing nonviolence as practical knowledge. Vinthagen is a long time plowbill movement activist and sceptical towards making Gandhi into an ideal outside history and social cicrumstances interested in linking normative nonviolence ideas to social movement theory.

The strongest connections with India and Gandhian thoughts today are developed in Finland. The cooperation starting in 1989 has developed by exchange of activists between India and Finland through the 1990s. This contributed to further cooperation among popular movements in Finland and wider perspectives on issues as privatisation, unemployment and democracy. One of the results of the wider perspectives was the creation of the Pro Demokratia movement that has contributed to the struggle against privatisation and forming Social Forum in Finland. Finland has had good connections to the World Social Forum and its international committee, which enabled building connections between Brazilian and Indian actors bringing the WSF to Mumbai in 2004. The South-North exchange programme also included politicians after a while, among them ministers from Finland and former prime ministers from India. The result has been the establishment of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam ‚ Democracy Forum including both activists in popular movements and politicians. At WSF in Mumbai Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam in Finland and India organised a seminar with Finnish and Indian speakers on Gandhi, the only at Mumbai and WSF so far.

In Norway Gandhi is still best established, recently confirmed by a new version of NÊssís book on Gandhi, immediately interpreted also into Swedish. In the peace magazine Transformator, articles on Gandhi are published. Norway is also the only Nordic country were a systematic study on civil disobedience from 1799 until today has been carried out, published by the organisation No more War. Institutionalisation of Gandhian thought is stronger in Norway than any other Nordic country. Here many popular movements ideologically also states that civil disobedience in the Gandhian way is central to a strategy for changing society. But in spite of this Norwegian movements are more blatantly than any others in the Nordic countries failing the system-critical Indian popular movement tradition. The civil disobedience originally inspired by Gandhian thought has become a political method and not part of cultural and social opposition to the development model.

Here the Nordic PGA network is weaker than in any of the other countries. More important is that in Norway, the global neoliberal civil society built on replacing development critique and lay movements with sustainable development management of projects and advocacy could gain hegemony. Thousands of people became professional advisors to the government or staff of NGOs funded by the state, forgetting about connecting global issues to local and national popular mobilisation and instead developing a niche as global often radical lobbyists.


Gandhi Today

At present, a separation can be seen between Gandhi and the influence from
India in the Nordic countries.

On the one hand, Gandhi is used as a repressive tool against civil
disobedience activists if they, in the face of growing repression and
precarious work conditions, use violence to defend themselves. At the same
time as parliamentary forces especially in Sweden have given up confronting
the repressive measures against demonstrators, they adopt themselves to
media trends and use their resources to declare violent demonstrators as
the main problem. At the same time as Gandhi is used as a tool against
those who refuse to be passive in the present situation, the same forces
avoid more and more the radical civilisation and development critique of
Gandhi. He is used to a high degree in a stymied way.

On the other hand, the radical global movements inspired by the Karnataka
farmers'attacks on corporate rule and othe mass movements in the third world at are the fore front of influencing young activists of the kind that is under heavy criticism from self claimed Gandhians. In an economic and political situation were a neoliberal agenda is carried out by both Green, Left, Social Democratic, Center and Right parties in all Nordic countries, there is much less room for building lay movements based on horisontal solidarity. The so called new social movement proclaimed to be horisontal and democratic are in fact highly hierarchic structures due to easy funding for donordriven professionally administrated projects. This is the preferred
model for fragmented mobilisation in the neoliberal political culture.
Especially the Danish but also other Nordic NGOs have also specialised in
developing on an international scale. In such a culture there is little
room for sustaining and nurturing a broader movement able of addressing
issues in people's daily life linked to global development issues. It is
hard already when issues are limited to distribution of wealth and even more so if linked to the question of the content of development the way Gandhi always did.

The present neoliberal political agenda across the party spectrum creates
severe daily problems for people. In Sweden, the population at large feels
twice as stressed as in the 1980s, according to a recent study, and young
people feel three times as stressed. More and more of the security net and
public service are privatised, while at the same time many people are
permanently unemployed. Especially, immigrants and young people are forced into precarious work or social exclusion, as groups to keep out of the more privileged positions held by the majority of people. The conflicts in
society have thus developed special tensions along class lines declared as
ethnic or generational problems. Racism has resulted in violence, including
killing of immigrants, burning of mosques and restricting the rights of
refugees. Segregation continue to grow for every integration programme that is launched. Youths figthing against marginalisation and the privatisation of the public sphere are seen as a provocation and often ends in confrontations with the police.

The movement with young activists addressing privatisation of the public
sphere, racism, refugee and the worsening job conditions for marginalised
labour as well as global justice, has stepped into growing confrontations
with the state. These confrontations reached a peak at the EU and Bush
summit in Gothenburg 2001, when some 200 activists clashed violently with
the police in the streets and destroyed shopping windows refusing to be
non-violent when attacked by the police. This caused a political party and
media panic as well as a strong reaction among the public. 90 percent in
gallups made immediatly after the riots strongly condemned the
demonstrators. In trials, demonstrators often accused on vague evidence for
even more vague crimes were sentenced in total almost 50 years in prison
compared to in total maximum two months after similar riots in Seattle,
Prague and Nice.

The response among Green-Left movement and parliamentary parties was to
attack the activists that supported or declared their understanding of the
rioters. Often Gandhi or non-violence fundamentalism was used, which was
especially questionable for the Green and the Left party who both belong to
the parliamentary support for the government that is responsible for the
growing repression of the system-critical movement. The same forces also
did what they could to destroy all networks where different strands of the
movement cooperated, claiming that no cooperation whatsoever should be allowed with groups who claimed understanding of the use of violence in domestic conflicts.

Particularly important was to split the antiracist network which
succesfully had united radical anti-fascist action groups with all kinds of
less radical and often much better financed organisations without commited
activists. This anti-racist network had succesfully avoided being coopted
by state attempts to divide and rule by only giving resources to wellfunded
professional antiracist campaigns that only addressed issues of daily life
social racism and completly avoided state racism in the form of political
decisions on refugees and the like. The actions of this network had never
resulted in any violence. Anyway Green and Left parties as well as
nonviolence ideologists claimed it should be split apart and excluded as a
cooperation partner and many established organisations left it.

As a result of the use of Gandhi in an anti-violence propaganda devoid of
Gandhian systemcritical confrontation with the injustice of the present
development model, Gandhi today probably is more hated than ever in Swedish history among young activists struggling for global justice. Greens,
"hippies" and nonviolence propaganda makers are denounced as provocatuers in the hands of the police, politicians and media. While Gandhi and Gandhians in earlier radicalisation periods have been admired or seen as mildly irrelevant and idealistic lacking the necessary firmness against oppressors, Gandhi and Gandhians are today seen as part of the violent
repression used against those who refuse to be passive during the corporate
neoliberals attacks on people. If Gandhians are known at all and not
totally ignored.

Racism continue to flourish, with the biggest nazi demonstration since the
second world war held in Salem in Sweden late 2003. The radical antiracist
groups have not been able to mobilise any significant countercampaigns
against the growing racism. On the contrary, the political parties have
started to propose sharper demands on immigants, adopting to the polices
proposed by xenofobian political movements. But still, the anti-racist
network has shown to be the most important mobilisers of continued action
against the nazis and state racism. The attempts to split it apart did not
succeed and even less so attempts to build wellfunded NGO alternatives as
these projects lacks capability of mobilising on the streets against racism
and the daily threat that nazism represents in Sweden.

At the same time as the Nordic Gandhians have failed to bring radical Indian influence into the present situation in the Nordic countries other Indian forces have done so more succesfully through Peopleís Global Action Network. Here the PGA principles to a large extent formulated by late Karnataka farmers leader Swamy is the basis for nordic cooperation amongst the radical groups fighting racism and capitalism:

1. A very clear rejection of capitalism, imperialism and feudalism; all trade agreements, institutions and governments that promote destructive globalisation.
2. We reject all forms and systems of domination and discrimination including, but not limited to, patriarchy, racism and religious fundamentalism of all creeds.
We embrace the full dignity of all human beings.
3. A confrontational attitude, since we do not think that lobbying can have a major impact in such biased and undemocratic organisations, in which transnational capital is the only real policy-maker;
4. A call to direct action and civil disobedience, support for social movements' struggles, advocating forms of resistance which maximize respect for life and oppressed peoples' rights, as well as the construction of local alternatives to global capitalism.
5. An organisational philosophy based on decentralisation and autonomy.

On the one hand Gandhian propaganda lacking mass participation and devoid of systemcritical confrontation with the established system, on the other hand Gandhian confrontational principles from present days Indian people¥s movement devoid of fundamentalistic antiviolence.

What is lacking in both the antiviolence propaganda approved by the
established system and the anticapitalistic PGA network is a more profound
criticism of the present development model. There is an understanding that
globalisation is not the problem, questioned is instead the way
globalisation is organised. Thus terms like globalisation from below is
popular, putting the main emphasis on the social side and ignoring the
material biological side of globalisation.

In other Nordic countries, the situation is similar although less
polarised. Gandhi is used against the few young activists who openly
address the injustice of the society and global world order of today, by
confrontations that sometimes can become violent. Gandhi is the concern of
those unable to mobilise systemcritical actions in the daily life and
streets sitting on offices making professional campaigns on global issues
or of some few elderly idealists. Maybe with the exception of Norway.

The old modernist state with its attempts, at least in rich countries, to
include everybody in a corporative society is replaced by postmodernist or,
with the word of Zygmunt Baumann, floating modernity states built on
excluding people. Social control built on supervising people at the
workplace, at school and other places inside institutions is replaced by a
constant threat of being excluded from privileged institutions into
unsecurity. There is a constant demand to be personally responsible for
being flexible. Individually you are responsible for being valuable to the
company or organisation that for the time being is interested in the human
capital you can offer. It is no longer the company that supervises its
employees but the employee that has to show his or hers usefulness. Such a
society is becoming less and less a society but more of a postsociety were
individuals learn to live under constant insecurity threats whether they
are inside or outside established institutions.

In such a system, using Gandhi as an argument for utmost self control
becomes compatible with the modern repressive neoliberal state. The demands are directed against the individual, who regardless of resources for
succesful training and participation in nonviolent struggles or the
situation is asked to live up to moral standards that well established
middle class more easily can mobilise than the working class and exluded
people of today. Today a society were moral authority can be used
against an opressor is undermined. Instead are demands directed against individuals for not living up to perfect ideals. Constructive work to colletively rebuilt commons where society can be reborn becomes marginal or even a threat to this individual moralistic project supported by established forces.

It is no coincidence that neither Green or Left parties have made any
organised effort to jointly campaign against the state repression after the
EU-Summit in Gothenburg, and in such a way collectivley rebuilt a society
where it is valuable to restrain oneself from violently confront an
opponent. This in spite of that the repression after Gothenburg has been
more severe than during the whole previous century, in spite of that many
of those sent to prison have no violent record, and in spite of the often
questionable evidence.

Both left parties and greens have a tendency to live in the old days of the
corporative state where disciplined efforts were rewarded by society, both
at work and in political life. The new flexible job market and politics
through mass media puts hard restrains on people feeling the need to
protest in their daily life against unsecurity or for global justice.
Movements are harder to build when organisations, with the political
parties and NGOs as prominent examples, make themeselves less and less
democratically dependent on their members and more and more get access to a donor-driven financial state and private market. The left can handle this
situation easier in the short term than the alternative movement, built more
on civilisation critical and Gandhian traditions. The left have their
different parliamentary and revolutionary traditions polarised against each
other to fall back upon, offering the radical activists the choice they
prefer. For Gandhian inspired movements, the situation has been more
difficult at least in short terms.

Gandhi is split in two. One half is used as a repressive argument against
those that do not live up to individual perfection in the face of police
repression and lack of collective solidarity. The other half demanding
constructive work and unity among oppressed as well as a stronger criticism
against those passive than against those using violence is forgotten.

PGA shows that this is not the only way to bring Indian people¥s movement
influence to the Nordic countries today. There might be a possibility to
blend some of the systemcritical Gandhian tradition with the PGA tradition,
and address some of the profound problems the Nordic societies have in the
transition from corporative welfare states to more neoliberal oriented
models. Such a blend might also have international importance like it had
in the 1970s and 1980s. During this period, Nordic countries with Gandhian
inspiration in the most radical popular mobilisations also contributed to
globally important strategies like ecosophy and the struggle against the EU
neoliberal project, spearheaded by mass civil disobedience.

But this requires an openness from both those inspired by Gandhi and the
radical young activists as well as a willingness to formulate a deeper
systemcritical philosophy that goes beyond both antineoliberalism,
antiviolence instead of nonviolence and anticapitalism addressing also
global ecology and the fundamental social order of professionalising issues
through the combined NGO and state system. Such an openness will necessarily confront vested interest not only among state, parliamentary and business circles but also many NGOs where some profess their belief in Gandhi.

Mumbai x 3

Three kind of events took place at Mumbai in January 2004, all three having their impact in the Nordic countries and all the result of Indian interventions in global popular movement politics. Apart from the official World Social forum IV there was on the one side Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam that among others organised separate meetings with dialogues between center-green-left political parties and movements on environmental and social issues, as participation of party representatives is not allowed at WSF. On the other side was Mumbai Resistance 2004 organised by farmers, fishermen, indigenous people and revolutionary parties as an alternative to WSF for radical movements and organisations excluded as they were parties or groups that could use arms in their liberation struggle.

Those three strands in the global justice movement have been existing before. But it was first at Mumbai they were more well-organised and had their positions more clearly expressed. PGA, Via Campesina and Gandhian networks had friends both at Mumbai Resistance and WSF, one can guess also at Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. Green parties could fully participate in the Green Corner organised by Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam as an alternative to WSF together with social democrats and others.

In the Nordic countries the new articulation of the three strands had a prominent place in the public debate on World Social Forum and the global justice movement. Vandana Shivas criticism against Mumbai Resistance was published in Aftonbladet, the biggest daily in Sweden. She claimed that WSF represented the global justice movement and that Mumbai Resistance were late-coming splinters. A false description of the history, as the zapatistas in PGA are widely known as pioneers in the struggle against neoliberalism and initiators of uniting the global justice movement, and as the Karnataka farmers in PGA that with their anti-WTO demonstration in Bangalore 1993 sparked much environmental interest in the struggle against neoliberalism were among the organisers of Mumbai Resistance.

Shivas position has not received much attention in spite of a growing debate in some newspapers on WSF after Mumbai. All six social forums organised in Sweden so far has been regional and the most successful in Lund twice, with more than 2.000 participants, involves all three strands from Mumbai, PGA groups, NGOs like Amnesty, environmental and solidarity movements, social democrats and Marxist-Leninist revolutionary parties. At other places, political parties but not their affiliated youth federations has been involved.

PGA aligned groups in Sweden and Denmark have successfully chosen to influence the social forums. A suggestion from Friends of the Earth Sweden to urge the participation of Zapatistas in the Social Forum has gained fairly wide support. Social democrats like the minister of development aid and social democratic journalist Petter Larsson has participated in the WSF debate, by stating the need for social forums to be open to debate with political parties and Larsson by proclaiming the need to focus on a programme of political alternative demands similar to the ideas of French Attac founder Bernard Cassen. Also Arundhati Roy received attention by getting her inauguration speech at WSF reprinted in Aftonbladet.

A more hotly debated Indian intervention in the Swedish discussion on WSF has been the translation of Aspects of Indias Economy magazine special issue on the subject. It has been translated by a well-known ClartÈ activist and published by FiB/Kulturfront (People in Pictures/Cultural Front), a membership organisation and magazine based on defending freedom of speech and anti-imperialism with long-lasting relations to India. This Indian criticism focus on how WSF splits the global justice movement in the liberal shape of a civil society apart from political parties turning the movement into reformism, the role of NGOs, exclusion of revolutionary parties and foreign Western funding. This booklet was attacked by Aron Etzler, one of the founder of Attac Sweden and the editor of Flamman, the Left Party weekly. He denounces the booklet as ìrubbishî in a tone seldom seen in the Swedish debate. He particularly criticises what he claims to be uninformed claims that WSF has not taken a stand on the Iraq war and points at that the leader of the anti-G8 demonstrations in Genua at the same time was involved in the WSF process, thus stating that a split between summit protesters and WSF is false. Etzler finds only the information on Ford Foundation funding of interest. Aspects of Indiaís Economy have answered that the information on the lack of deciding against the Iraq war came from the Teivo T”rvinen, Finnish member from Network Institute on Global Democracy in the international WSF committee. The accusations of being uninformed on who, what and when actually decisions are made on WSF content and positions is problematic. It is systematically hard to know or contradictory even for insiders, and becomes somewhat of a boomerang as an argument. The booklet also caused another kind of discussion, criticising a dialogue strategy from Attac that tended to take away the necessary focus on mobilising people in common in Gothenburg against privatisation of health care and dismantling of public health services. A kind of Attac strategy that also could be seen at social forums according to the revolutionary communist youth, an organisation that in practice is one of the strongest initiators of nation-wide local antiwar demonstrations that by many often are used as the best example of WSF political success.

It is clear that by moving WSF to India, the process has been firmly democratised due to extraordinary efforts from all three kinds of meetings in Mumbai. Aspects of Indiaís Economy have comprehensively summarized some of the criticism against WSF in a way that cannot be ignored. Jai Sen has contributed to openness in the official WSF process in India and globally by very open-minded reflections and co-editing the most ambitious book on WSF so far, Challenging Empires. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam have through its newsletter and homepage made both the political party participation in Mumbai and the overall picture more visible and thus more democratically transparent.

It is to early to estimate the result of this attempt at global democratisation in the Nordic countries. Anyway, it shows that Indian influence is still vibrant. Much of the globalisation critique is monopolised by the Left ,dividing itself into polarised fractions, one focusing on the need for national sovereignty together with international solidarity and the other on establishing and strengthening transnational political institutions like the EU and a global civil society. Both can find their positions strengthened by Indian interventions like that of Shiva, Roy or Aspects of Indiaís Economy.

A key organisation in the preparations for social forums in Sweden has been the democratic membership based Ordfront, the most-read magazine in Sweden and a publishing company printing articles and books by Shiva, Roy and Noam Chomsky. A special Ordfront delegation went to WSF in Mumbai and visited afterwards Shivaís ecological center. Ordfront is now in a severe internal crisis due to a conflict between the two polarised leftwing positions. An interview with Diane Johnstone, critical towards Western politics during the breakdown of former Yugoslavia and the demonizing of Serbs was publicised in Ordfront magazine. It contained some false information on a prison camp erected by the Serbs and on mass murder in Srebrenica, which caused strong criticism in the liberal press, blaming Ordfront for supporting genocide.

The criticism against Ordfront resulted in the firing of the long time journalist responsible for the interview. The editor of Ordfront made the highly questionable statement that genocide had taken place in former Yugoslavia and was backed by the board. At the annual general meeting the members too censured the way the board had given in to the liberal attack. Roy and Chomsky have written a statement supporting freedom of speech and Johnstoneís contribution to the debate. The crisis in Ordfront continued with an extra AGM announced on grounds that have been questioned. This time the extra AGM reversed the decision from the ordinary AGM under strong pressure from the established press. The polarised conflict is a sign on a general crisis for leftwing strategy between a new NGO and global civil society orientation and an older national sovereignty and popular movement orientation stressing the need for allowing all opinions heard. What is new or at least very seldom takes place is direct interference from the third world in an internal discussion in Sweden like that of Roy.

What is lacking in the internal left wing polarisation is both a deeper development critique and a stronger commitment to personal responsibility for taking action against social injustice. This can be contributed by a renewal of Gandhian thinking and the way Indian movements have democratised the global justice movement by strengthening simultaneously all three strands: the non-violent confrontational PGA or revolutionary way, the reformist NGO and global civil society position, and popular movement making dialogues with center-left political parties. It is to early to estimate the possibilities for such a development beyond the polarised positions of the left. But during 87 years a continuous Indian-Nordic dialogue has had an important impact on Nordic political culture and popular movement, an impact that continuously built on renaissance for Gandhian thinking but also other Indian popular movement experiences.

What can be stated is that the established views on how world politics is influenced must be revised. The common claims in the West backed by the global university industry claims that the West is the origin of democratic movements and the rest follows suite is false. It is of democratic and global importance to systematically denounce this false ideology, built on disinterest in empirical evidence and vested interest theory, a task for Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and others interested in a South North dialogue and search for knowledge that can help us towards social justice and saving our planet.


Tord Bj–rk



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For further references tord.bjork (nospam)