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(en) Black Flag #222 - The end of confrontation: A step back

From anarcho@geocities.com
Date Thu, 12 Dec 2002 03:34:40 -0500 (EST)


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The campaign "Against the Europe of the Capital" was a network of
activist groups, indymedia, and actions against the European summits in
Spain during the Spanish presidency of the EU from January to June
2002. The most important summits were Barcelona, Madrid and Sevilla.
However the campaign appears to have been a step back for the
anticapitalist movement after Prague and Genoa. Reformism, a lack of
direct action, failure to use blockades and a lot of police were some
reasons for this retreat.
Defeat in Spain
Barcelona saw a record 500,000 demonstrators, Madrid and Seville were
not bad, with around 150,000 people. But these demonstrations consisted
in the main of a short walk, a civic protest, a far cry from anything
approaching direct action, blockades or even a tantrum.
    It was easy for the mainstream media to portray a picture of
responsible citizens asking for a bigger piece of cake, and to hide the
real confrontations that happened (in Barcelona). After Barcelona, the
official media's satisfaction with the anti-summit protests was evident
and when the media are pleased, this should ring alarm bells for us. A
few months later, in Seville, even a sub-delegate of the government
said that the demonstration was successful. The state got what they
wanted from the media - coverage of the official summits, and a few
pages set aside for their friends in the social forums - the existence
of any dissident movement was ignored.
    In the battlefield, fear triumphed. Media manipulation against the
black bloc resulted in some demonstrators, mostly the organisers of the
social forums, forming a second police force with their own security
bodies. In Seville, some demonstrators said that they were scared of
the hooded black shadows moving in the demonstrations, but what about
the blue gorilla aiming rubber bullets at our heads?
    The repression against the dissident activists was brutal, before
and during the summits. In Seville, the numbers of secret police, the
infiltrations, the hounding of the social centres, the physical and
psychological aggression, the provocateurs, and the constant police
control made things very hard work for the activists.
What happened to confrontation?
There was little or no confrontation in the anti summit actions. The
anti-black bloc hysteria made it impossible for the rioters in
Barcelona be close to the other demonstrations. The black bloc action,
so called "Mars Attack: Los ricos tambien lloran", had pretty big
support, but they made the tactical error of advertising the action and
the police had no problem splitting the bloc up and making arrests. On
the another hand, in Madrid and Seville, direct action had very little
support, the tiny number of activists and the big number of police made
it impossible to do anything interesting.
    The lack of interest in direct action during these events is no
mystery. The social forums' leadership consists mostly of reformist
organisations, who misrepresent the movement in the mainstream media,
and attract the masses because there is little other choice in Spain.
Confrontation is not on the agenda of groups that collaborate openly
with the system (from the big unions to Oxfam, Attac or the
institutional left parties). In fact their traditional vision of
political action is a peaceful demonstration, walk around and a
photoshoot in front of an institutional building.
    On the another hand there aren't any organisations or movements in
Spain trying to form new theories or protest strategies as there were
during previous anti-summit demonstrations in other countries. The
small anticapitalist groups (anarchist and leninist) and the anarcho
syndicalist or anticapitalist unions (SOC, CGT or CNT) have their own
and old ways of fighting, and most of them are not really interested in
the movement.
    Finally, there was a lack of interest from groups outside of Spain
to help organise blockades etc. It felt as if, after Barcelona,
anticapitalist groups lost interest in fighting the summits. In Madrid
the dissident block had to split because they weren't strong enough to
carry out their action, in Seville the anarchist co-ordination was
isolated, marginalised and completely surrounded by the police.
Conclusion
Maybe the time for big anti-summit demos is over. Capital spoke very
clearly in Genoa, they're not going to let us continue. This is
probably a good time to look for new ways of fighting, using our
experience of the past couple of years.. The anti-summit demos are
turning into advertising campaigns for political parties, NGOs and
political sects. Its probably not worth fighting the reformists for a
strategy that is already finished. It is time to look for new ways and
alternatives.
Iban





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