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Against globalisation : some old problems and a new kind of movement
Before responding to the obvious question concerning violence in and against the movement, I want to first draw the most important conclusion from Genoa :
The unprecedented size and variety of the mobilisation shows that anti-globalisation has become a vast social movement. The urgent question is, how to profit from the truly historic opportunity of which the human tide of Genoa is just a particular sign ? The regime has not appeared so totally illegitimate for decades. In three years, anti-globalisation movement has practically become a subject of consensus. Anti-capitalism is following close behind: Two to three hundred thousand people demonstrated, despite the intense criminalisation campaign conducted since Prague and Goteborg. Opinion polls in countries as different as Greece, Switzerland, France and Italy indicate that large majorities in favor of the movement. We need to find really imaginative new ways (outside the traditional leftist forms of mobilisation and, of course, outside the bankrupt institutional forms) to bring this « silent majority » into the arena. There has been, for example, the proposal from Barcelona activists to organise a europe-wide « consulta », organising discussions with ordinary people in quarters and workplaces everywhere. (Inspired by the Zapatistas, a « consulta » of this type was recently organised by the spanish movement, in which almost a million people voted for the abolition of third world debt.)
Perhaps an initiative of this kind could at last make the potentially explosive junction between the anti-globalisation movement operating in the « stratosphere » of global governance summits and the day to day resistance against globalisation on the ground : against privatisations, GMOs or new forms of control at work, etc. This is the main question, how to make a qualitative leap equal to the situation. There are already some promising experiences in different places, but I cant really say more than that now, its the movement which will have to find the answers. Meanwhile, we must at least avoid the mistakes and traps that sabotaged the movement of the seventies, in particular around the question of violence, the States, and of course our own. Despite the obviously growing, massive popular rejection of globalisation policies, our rulers (right and « left ») have not made even the slightest, the most reformist concession, over the past three years. They have only one answer : growing police violence. In Genoa, we saw the the first murder and the first clear use of the fascists and their methods of terror against the movement in the North. A warning. And a measure of how rigid the regimes opposition to popular demands remains. Their plan is simple : frighten as many as possible - so that they stay home or condemn the radical part of the movement - and radicalise and criminalise the others. Berlusconis defense of the police brutalities was very clear « It was not possible to make distinctions between the violent demonstrators and the Geneva Social Forum that covered and protected them. »
Simultaneously, the police claimed to have proof of the « links » between black block and the « tutti bianchi ». They are applying exactly the receipt that worked so well against the movement of the seventies : State terror followed by an « anti-terrorist » Inquisition designed to divide the movement and progressively criminalise it, starting with the most radical elements. This can be very rapid, since the ultra-repressive legislation is already there. (Thus a group of street theatre arrested near Genoa risks 8 years in prison for « contacts with a criminal organisation » !). In fact, it is happening so rapidly that it may backfire on them. The manouver is too obvious ! Obviously, the States rigid and violent attitude tends to confirm the most radical part of the movement in its options, although it is not certain that there is really a greater proportion of « violent » demonstrators than before. They were a few hundred among the 10000 people who blocked the opening of the WTO in Seattle, and maybe a few thousand among the 100000 who tried to cross the wall in Genoa. But it was also the first time that organisations like ATTAC, for example, decided to be present during the day of direct action and not be content with the symbolic march with the unions the next day. So it also marked a high point in the practice of civil disobedience, which remains the central force and the novelty of this movement.
What is true is that the « Black Block » did a lot more material damage than usual, which isnt surprising since the police seem to have only intervened against the demonstrations, ignoring the attacks on banks, etc. There is also massive evidence (photos, videos and many eyewitnesses - including real anarchists) that a large part of the damage was done by false Black Block groups (police or fascists). These provocations justified the premptive attack on the strongest part of the demo long before it reached the wall and a level of deliberate police violence unknown in Europe for decades. The death of Carlo, the « Chilean night » at the Diaz school, the torture by fascist police in the Bolzaneto police station, the unprovoked police charges (including on the unions marching Saturday) were all part of this strategy of terror.
Many in the movement understood, after Prague and Goteborg, that the police would now be out to kill, and argued that at this moment violent methods would play into the hands of the police. But a movement cant take decisions like a central committee. All we can do is engage the debate. And to be credible, we must avoid facile condemnations and caricatures of the « Black Block ».
Rightly or wrongly, violence of different kinds has been inseparable from practically every movement for radical change in our culture, and has often been considered necessary to provoke real change. Some persons and groups - often dressed in black - consider that destruction of property, and in some cases violence against police, can be an effective and legitimate political tool. Implicitly, they invoke the legitimacy of self-defense and rebellion against a regime whose own illegitimacy and unimaginable violence is every day more obvious. And that is an old but important idea. But at the same time we recognise that perhaps our principle demand is a less violent society, and that the movement that builds that society must resemble it. So our violence (like that of the Zapatistas, who largely inspired this movement) must always be as minimal as possible. We wont win by force, we will win because people like our practices and the ideas behind them. And the right to self defence is just one of our ideas. Lets not get hung up on it or identified politically only with that !
Another of our ideas is precisely that we want a less macho society in which force isnt the only recognised way of deciding things. And that idea is much better expressed by determined non-violent direct action, by the sober refusal to accept injustice. Yet another idea is that we are for a diverse and non-hierarchical society in which all can be heard, without being silenced by the behaviour of others. It is also important that our movement should not always be expressing rage, but also the joy, the life and laughter of a real movement of liberation. We want to leave this grey and violent world behind, reproducing it as little as possible in our forms of struggle.
All these ideas, and more, are as important as the legitimacy of our violence, and can all be eclipsed by the excessive and « untactful » imposition of violent methods. One of the ESSENTIAL secrets of our success has been that so far, all forms of action and tendencies have generally been able to cohabit and even to support each other, with respect to repression in particular. This tolerance and unity is vital, as: 1) there will (happily) be - like in Genoa - more and more people of all kinds (reformists, people with children, etc.) coming to demos, and 2) it is impossible to ignore that part of the movement, particularly in Prague and in Genoa, refused and probably will continue to refuse to limit themselves to non-violent action. What was done in Prague (letting the different tendencies do their different things in separate zones) is probably the only practical alternative, while continuing the debate. Tolerance of different methods depends on organising the SPACE necessary for tolerance to be possible.
Over and above our very real differences, paradoxically we actually need each other. Without the " radicals " this whole movement wouldnt exist and would now be quickly recuperated. Without the " reformists " we would be isolated and wiped out. We are at once opposed and allied in a dialectical way. Anyhow, the sooner the régime can drive a wedge between us, the more difficult its going to be. In the short run, none of us is going to persuade or force the others to adopt a single attitude, so we have to learn to see beyond our particular conviction and position, to preserve the whole movement, keep ALL of it as safe and wise as possible.
This brings me to your question concerning the organisation and goals of the movement. Yes, we are - happily - very heterogeneous, spontaneous and unorganised ! Peoples Global Action, for example, (the network I work in) makes a point of being a « non-organisation » . We mustnt repeat the mistakes of the communist and socialist parties - fighting centralised power with new centralised powers that are soon as corrupt and hierarchical as the capitalists. We want (to borrow again from the Zapatistas) to deconstruct power, to have a « world in which there is room for many worlds » : the primitive communism of indigeneous cultures, small farmers communities, cooperative ventures. My God ! maybe even some small markets ! Who knows what people will choose ? No, we dont need some « better » WTO or global governance ! What we need is that, for the first time since capitalism and imperialism took power, people everywhere should be able to decide for themselves - and at the most local level possible - what is the next best step for them. Obviously, there is no one « Alternative » to propose that can satisfy all the diverse and complex societies on this planet. Let the people decide what they want to trade or to grow themselves, the forms of property or social solidarity they want ! The results could never be as disastrous as those of the various technocrats who massacred the last century. But how can local, intentionally unpowerful, decentralised organisations fight the European Commission, Europol, NATO, the CIA, Wall Street and in last resort the US Army ? Certainly not head on ! What is taking form is a worldwide network of resistances, communication and solidarity whose slogan could be « One no, many yeses ! ». Needs, dreams, demands (those of women, world over, are particularly important, for their oppression is indeed wider than capitalism) are being exchanged and discussed. There is fortunately no way of really « organising » or « deciding » this huge and frenetic activity. For instance, now when a summit of any kind is announced anywhere, a local coordination against it just springs into being and calls go out through multiple networks. At the Zapatista Encuentro of 1997, someone ventured the idea that our incipient network on the Web was like a « global brain », learning to think the future. And that Internet discussion lists had something inherently anarchist about them, because all they can do is circulate and discuss ideas. A call goes out and, if many collectives like it, it happens in those places. (Its almost like a market mechanism !) . Someone has also compared the movements attacks to bees swarming around an enemy. To me, the millions of communications (virtual or face to face in a convergence center), resemble thousands of ants touching antennas and running around in an apparently aimless way. And then, suddenly, an Indymedia center or a new campaign or an amazing success happens. I wouldnt like to be working for the CIA ! This movement is obviously easy to spy and infiltrate, but how can you really manipulate or decapitate it ?
What is certain is that globalising capitalism has brought into being its new enemy. Could it be the last ?
|Au même sujet||Des mêmes auteurs|
|Mondialisation||Olivier DE MARCELLUS|