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(en) Britan, Media, Live 8 and G8 are attempts to hijack justice campaigns

Date Sun, 19 Jun 2005 09:25:11 +0300


The First Embedded Protest by Kay Summer and Adam Jones
Shortly after Bob Geldof called for a million people to
converge in Edinburgh for the opening day of the G8 summit,
Midge Ure, the co-organizer of Live 8, was asked if he was
worried about the events being hijacked by anarchists. His
response was that Live 8 was, in fact, hijacking the
anarchists' event. There is more than a little truth in this
statement. What is becoming increasingly clear, however, is
that Blair and Brown, in turn, are trying to do something
similar with the Live 8 and Make Poverty History campaigns.

The spin surrounding the summit is beginning to appear as
little more than a cynical attempt to buy off a section of
what is commonly called the "global justice" or
"anti-capitalist" movement by feigning serious engagement
with some of its core issues: global poverty and ecological
crisis.

This is the first G8 summit in the UK since the battle of
Seattle, an event which brought the contemporary
anti-capitalist movement into the spotlight and succeeded in
breaking both the "there is no alternative" spell of
neoliberalism and the "one size fits all" dogma that had
plagued the old left.

This was a leaderless movement that began to talk about
building diverse communities of self-determination, direct
democracy and ecological sustainability. They declared:
"Another world is possible." A world, of course, free of
poverty, but also one free of the G8, whose raison d'être,
after all, is to manage a system that prioritizes the
pursuit of private profit over people and planet. In other
words, they talked about a world without capitalism.

Blair and Brown do not want a repeat of Seattle, or Genoa,
or any of the other summits that have been accompanied by
mass acts of disobedience. They want a stage-managed, benign
spectacle, and so they play along with Live 8 and Make
Poverty History, creating the world's first "embedded" mass
protest.

Blair's wearing of the Make Poverty History wristband and
Brown's presentation of a modest new debt-relief program
(one, we might add, with stringent conditions attached) were
carefully manipulated spectacles designed to obscure the
fact that the G8's policies are at the very core of the
world's problems.

While the coming together of hundreds of thousands of people
for the Make Poverty History and Live 8 events certainly
should be understood as a genuine expression of human
solidarity, if we are serious about wanting to change the
way in which the world works it is essential that we do not
make poverty of history in attempting to do so.

In other words, we need to ask ourselves: who have,
historically, been the agents of change? And, importantly,
who has the ability to change the way in which the world
works today? The answer, of course, is not Bob and Bono. But
neither is it Blair and Brown. It's ordinary, everyday
people. It's us. It's you.

Those who have the power to not only make poverty history
but to make history itself are the same as they always have
been: ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

The contemporary anti-capitalist movement, born in the
tear-gas-filled streets of Seattle, belongs to an ongoing
history of struggle: the Haymarket martyrs who fought and
died for an eight-hour working day; the anti-fascist
fighters of the Spanish civil war; South African townships
refusing to pay extortionate water bills; the ecological
direct activists who resisted the UK road-building program
of the 1990s; the workers of occupied factories in
Argentina; the Skye islanders who reclaimed their right to
free movement; the indigenous of Bolivia fighting the
privatization of natural resources. History is made by
people who refuse to play by the rules, who refuse to
politely ask for the powerful to throw them a few crumbs.

If on July 6, when the summit opens, the multitude who
converge on Edinburgh decide not to play their allocated
role in power's spectacle but to join together with those
from around the world taking direct action by blockading the
summit, while demonstrating real alternatives to the way in
which we currently live, then perhaps history will have made
one of those leaps that happen only a few times in a
generation -- a leap that restores our faith in our own
power to change things.

Adam Jones is from Brighton Dissent!* Kay Summer is from The
Common Place Social Centre, in Leeds; both are involved with
the Dissent! Network, promoting radical resistance to the
2005 G8 Summit
=========================================================
* [Ed. Note: Dissent! is antiauthoritarian anticapitalist
direct action social struggle initiative against the G8.]
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