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(en) Victory in Prague - WS61

From Workers Solidarity Movement <wsm@newmail.net>
Date Mon, 4 Dec 2000 06:42:56 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

      Victory in Prague
  IMF and World Bank closed down
    From Workers Solidarity No61

Any honest account of the September 26 (S26)
demonstrations in Prague would start off by
saying that the numbers that took part in the
demonstrations, some 12,000 people, were a
little disappointing. But it should go on to say
that those 12,000 people succeeded in not only
completely disrupting the World
Bank/International Monetary Fund (WB-IMF)
congress but in causing it to be abandoned by
the majority of delegates on the second day and
the last day was then cancelled. In short we
closed it down. It says a lot that you would be
hard pushed to find any media, mainstream or
'left' that makes these two points.

The WB-IMF, who met in Prague, are two of the
post-war bodies that seek to ensure that people
all over the world obey the needs of western
capitalism. Previous coverage in this paper has
revealed that they use national debt as a way to
force national governments to obey their
dictats, the 'Structural Adjustment Programs'.
For decades these bodies have been opposed in
the 'third world'. In the 1980's there were
countless anti-IMF riots in Asia, Africa and
Latin America.

Czech anarchists, in particular Solidarita -
ORA, played a major part in organising the S26
protests and more importantly in trying to
mobilise Czech workers for them. The weakness of
numbers on the day was in no small part due to
the refusal of union officials to pay for
organised groups of workers to travel to Prague
for the demonstrations. But the work of the
anarchists did start a much needed debate within
the Czech unions about the IMF. It also helped
mobilise the thousands of young Czech workers
and students who took part in the demonstration.

In the demonstrations before the IMF summit it
became obvious enormous numbers of anarchists
had travelled to Prague from all over Europe and
in particular from Eastern Europe. On S26 itself
around 3,000 anarchists marched as a single
block at the head of the blue section of the
march, another 1,000 formed a 'pink and silver'
section and up to another 1,000 stayed with
local affinity groups in other sections of the
demonstration. This enormous turn out dwarfed
the contingents of the various European Leninist

The limited media coverage Prague received in
Ireland tended to focus on the violence in a
rather abstract way - as if that was the point
of the demonstration. In fact it was an
inevitable product of the closing down of the
IMF-WB congress. The congress was protected by
11,000 police with riot armour, batons, tear
gas, stun grenades, water cannon, attack dogs
and even Amoured Personnel Carriers. These were
unlikely to step aside and let us through, so we
attempted to force our way through their lines.
In the circumstances this was the right thing to
do, and more to the point it succeeded in
closing down the congress.

A report widely circulated on the internet from
one of the bankers is worth quoting at length
from. It reveals the panic and disarray the
furious attempts to storm the centre provoked
amongst the bankers. "I saw ex-World Bank
presidents walking around not knowing what to
do...When I told him about the protests, he
became totally disoriented. The following day,
very few people went to the Congress Centre.
Most stayed away. They just stayed in their
hotel rooms. They didn't even want to go out.
... the meeting got cut by a day. ... they
denied that the protests were the reason.. The
press laughed at this."

Amongst the protesters on the early evening of
S26 the sense of victory was something you could
almost pluck out of the air. We marched into the
city centre led by an anarchist Samba band from
Seattle and fire breathers. Locals waved from
their balconies and tram drivers rang their
bells as we passed. Later that evening the
police, furious at their defeat, ran riot in the
city centre. They battered and arrested
tourists, curious locals and anyone who looked
like a protester. Those arrested were further
beaten in jail and denied both their legal
rights and access to food, sleep and toilets.

The beating the local bully boys of global
capitalism inflicted in the aftermath of S26
could not however overcome the defeat that had
been inflicted. Our anonymous banker concluded
that "I have a feeling that when the WB-IMF
bureaucracy assesses Prague they will wind down
the annual meetings." As the whole purpose of
these meetings is to demonstrate in a very
public manner their uncontested power over us
this would be a significant victory.

Of course as he also points out this won't put
them out of business. They'll just switch to
sorting things out by fax, email and in smaller
more protected gatherings. But none of us in
Prague imagined that this sort of spectacular
protest would bring down capitalism. That is why
we have returned home to activity in our
workplaces and communities. Join us in this.

Joe Black

For detailed eyewitness reports on Prague,
background information and the full text of the
bankers' report see

This article is from the print version of the Irish
Anarchist paper 'Workers Solidarity'. We also provide
a PDF file of the latest edition for you to print out
and distribute locally.

Get this and see more articles on the web at

[Don't forget: WSM meetings
The Dublin branch of the WSM hosts a monthly informal discussion for people
interested in anarchism and libertarian socialism. Please come along and
join in the discussion - or even just to listen. These meetings take place
at 8pm in the Bachelor Inn (upstairs), Bachelors Walk (beside O'Connell
Bridge). The next meeting will be on Monday December 4th and will be about
'The anti-capitalist movement - on the eve of Nice what is the role of the
European Summit'.

>From Irelands's Workers Solidarity Movement

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