A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists **

News in all languages
Last 40 posts (Homepage) Last two weeks' posts

The last 100 posts, according to language
Castellano_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Türkçe_ The.Supplement
First few lines of all posts of last 24 hours || of past 30 days | of 2002 | of 2003 | of 2004 | of 2005 | of 2006

Syndication Of A-Infos - including RDF | How to Syndicate A-Infos
Subscribe to the a-infos newsgroups
{Info on A-Infos}

(en) Ireland, Working Class Resistance #10 - Class Struggle Versus Summit Protests

Date Wed, 14 Dec 2005 21:00:20 +0200

In the wake of the anti-G8 protests in Gleneagles and Edinburgh Matti
from the libcom.org group takes a critical look at the protests. Far from
contributing to militant tendencies within the working class such
protests are disconnected from the lives of working class people and
that they cannot as a result provide the basis for a movement capable
of challenging capitalism.
Well, there it was then. After almost two years of planning and
approximately £200,000 spent by the 'anti-authoritarian'
movement, the protests at the G8 summit came and went in the space
of a week. 200,000 attended the Make Poverty History march, 5,000
took part in marches on Gleneagles and hundreds took part in
blockades. But (and don't pretend you didn't know it was
coming!), was it all worth it?
One thing that everyone accepts is that summit protests are symbolic.
No matter how well they go, they are always symbolic and this is for
one simple reason: the summits themselves are symbolic. The
summits themselves are just pomp and ceremony for the world leaders
to show off their democratic and diplomatic credentials. Even if you
did manage to shut down the meetings, the decisions will get made
anyway. They'll just do it another day. So all the rhetoric of
activists calling to "Shut Down the G8!"? is, to put it bluntly,
absolute nonsense not to mention dishonest. Add to this the amount
of well-intentioned activists who have been arrested (354 at
Gleneagles) and those who'll get sent down, all for a symbolic
As its accepted that the protests themselves were symbolic, we come
to the other argument in favour of summit protests: that some of those
who hear about 'anarchism' on these protests will eventually
come around to a more coherent, working class based analysis. This
can't be denied. Many libertarian communists got involved in
politics after watching past summit protests on TV. I certainly did.
But does this justify almost two years of organising meetings and the
£200,000 spent? No, of course not. The reason that those of us who
did get involved in radical politics through summit protests did so was
because there was no other point of entry into radical politics. Simply
because some of us got involved through that kind of protest, doesn't
mean that new people necessarily should if we can develop more
effective political alternatives on their doorstep. Perhaps, instead of
getting people involved in solid class politics by first sucking them in
through dead-end activism, we should just try and create better entry
points for solid class politics!
The fact is that summit protests are yet more disconnecting of politics
from the lives of working class people. They are totally symbolic and
for all their radical talk, couldn't even begin to build a movement
capable of challenging capitalism. Our politics are only relevant if we
ground them solidly in our everyday lives and orientate ourselves
towards our workmates and neighbours to solve the problems faced by
our class. Through collective struggle to improve our daily conditions,
we (as a class) grow in strength and confidence and it is here, in the
daily struggles of normal working class people, that libertarian
communism is found. This isn't to say we reject a global analysis
in favour of some kind of 'localism'. It just means that while
we have a global political analysis, we realise that the only way we can
fight all the problems of capitalism is by fighting it where it effects us:
in our workplaces and our communities. As the old cliché goes,
"think globally, act locally"?.
One thing we can't forget when we are engaging with people is
that libertarian communism is not simply an ideology, it is a living,
breathing tendency within the working class that needs to be
encouraged. We are not trying to recruit people to some rigid ideology
of 'Libertarian Communism'; we are trying to promote a
fighting spirit within our class. And we can't do this through a
series of annual symbolic protests with no real substance to them. We
can only do it through day-to-day organising where we live and work
because it's only through collective workplace and community
action that we can encourage that spirit.
Things like the Turkish Workers' Action Group fighting for better
conditions in the south (as covered in WCR #9) or the Communities
Against the Water Tax network are where we can fight capitalism
directly, not symbolically, and where we can build a strong,
independent working class movement fighting for its own desires and
not those dictated by trade union bureaucrats or slimy politicians (left
or right, orange or green).
Whenever we take part in any form of political action we must always
ask this one simple question: "How will this contribute to
encouraging the militant tendencies within the working class?"?
So, how do summit protests contribute to increasing the sense of
solidarity, strength and confidence within working class communities?
The simple answer is; they don't. Their effect is at best,
insignificant and at worst damaging as it associates radical working
class politics with protests taking place outside the daily struggles of
our class, reinforcing the ever-growing walls of the activist ghetto.
The British libertarian socialist group, Solidarity, had it right when
they described meaningful and harmful action in their pamphlet
'As We See It':
"Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the
confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the
solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self -activity of the
masses and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and
harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their
apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their
alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the
degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others - even by
those allegedly acting on their behalf."?
The protests may indicate that a significant number of people are
opposed to the policies of the G8, but it in no way demonstrates any
alternatives. The protests were little more than a very expensive,
human petition. Capitalism is not about powerful men sitting round
tables running the world. Capitalism is not something we can gather
together from all corners of the globe to protest against. Capitalism is a
social relationship played out in our daily lives and that is where it
must be fought.

From the Pages of Working Class Resistance, magazine of


Organise Ireland <organiseireland@yahoo.ie>
A-infos-en mailing list

A-Infos Information Center