The NATO summit in Oslo 2007 — The scramble for attention (part 2)

April 26th to 27th 2007, Oslo hosted the annual informal NATO summit which was accompanied with a series of protests. I will try to give you an overview of the events surrounding these days from the perspective of an Oslo activist. This is the second part.

One factor in the special way the Norwegian left is handled is the huge amount of media attention it gets — and that is of the positive kind. I believe it is fair to say that the vast majority of the non-parliamentary left, or those who are active in parliaments but do not believe much in parliaments’ abilities to fundamentally change society, there is _one_ common strategy on how to change government policy:

Make your case known in the media -> your proposal gains popular support -> politicians react to opinion polls and more parties are willing to adopt a stance closer to your’s -> the government implements a law or a policy that encompasses what you wanted.

Blitz and Attac: although style and methods differ, goal and strategy are in reality the same.
Blitz and Attac: although style and methods differ, goal and strategy are in reality the same.

Generally the entire anti-capitalist left agrees on most issues. In this case it would be for Norway to pull out of NATO, for NATO to be shut down, and for all NATO (Norwegian and from other countries) soldiers to be pulled out of Afghanistan as fast as possible. So there is not really a difference in the amount of radicalism among us. However, some groups have to consider other groups outside the anti-capitalist left and they therefore moderate what they can ask for. One example is the left of the Socialist Left Party which, although itself through and through anti-capitalist, has to consider the right in the party, which is social liberal and does not understand much of the ideas of the anti-capitalist left. Other major considerations are how radical ideas one wants to gain support for can be, whether one should prioritize a long-term perspective of changing society fundamentally or a short-term perspective of changing one tiny bit of society, and what kind of measures to gain media attention are productive.

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The NATO summit in Oslo 2007 — Coercion in Norwegian (part 1)

April 26th to 27th 2007, Oslo hosted the annual informal NATO summit which was accompanied with a series of protests. I will try to give you an overview of the events surrounding these days from the perspective of an Oslo activist. This is the first part.

The protests around the NATO summit would end with confrontations between protesters and demonstrators. (Photo: spisderike.net)
The protests around the NATO summit would end with confrontations between protesters and demonstrators. (Photo: spisderike.net)

Friday April 20th, I was on my way to Bergen for the national council meeting of Pedagogstudentene to represent the University of Oslo, when my phone rang as I was passing through security control. “This is XX from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs […] We were wondering if you were showing up on the meeting on Monday?” What were they talking about? Why would I, just a simple student without any offices be asked to show up at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs? “It’s a meeting on the NATO summit later on next week, we sent you an invitation…” OK, I got it. This must have had something to do with my previous involvement with Blindern Fred. Since I started coordinating the group fall 2004, never more than about 4-5 activists at any given time had been involved with the group at any given time. It was tiny. But we had quite a few successes in setting the agenda by getting media attention on various issues. When I had left for the Americas, the group had pretty much dissolved. Only one older employee of the meteorological faculty, Rolf Solvang, continued running the organization in his less activist style, by for example arranging a debate on “Norwegian media’s role in war” (Wednesday this week).

But now Blindern Fred somehow was considered an organization that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs needed to talk to before they could hold a NATO summit. Nice!

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