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) Australia, Melbourne, A Space Outside* #1 - Make poverty history versus direct action

Date Thu, 12 Oct 2006 15:05:45 +0200

The Make Poverty History campaign and Live8 concerts dominated the discourse
surrounding last year's G8 summit in Scotland, as the media bombarded us
with proclamations of the success of the campaign and its "people power" lobbies
for policy reform. Yet despite Bono and Geldof 's claims to the contrary, MPH
did not achieve any substantial change. Far from "rescuing" poor countries from
their poverty, MPH's real success was to gloss over the political issues, reinforcing
the dominance of the richest and most powerful countries and strengthening the
economic order which perpetuates the poverty of the majority world. As the
G20 gears up for its November summit, MPH is planning a campaign here, to be
run on much the same lines.
The failure of MPH's strategies only
underlines the need to engage in stronger,
more critical and confrontational direct
action, overtly challenging not only the
policies of powerful world leaders, but
the validity of institutional structures
such as the G8 and the G20, and the neo-
liberal capitalist system they represent.
Lobbying government officials and the
mainstream media, welcoming state lead-
ers and asking them politely to change
their policies only legitimises the G20 as
an institution, Inherent in MPH's cam-
paign strategy is an assertion that all the
system needs is a few slight changes for
all to be well with the world. But such a
strategy explicitly ignores the real politi-
cal issues associated with poverty and
inequality, and the complicity of capital-
ism's institutions, structures and elites in
creating and maintaining poverty. Rather
than challenging the economic dependen-
cy that global capitalism creates between
rich and poor countries, the MPH cam
paign welcomes the leaders whose
decisions ensure this dependency is sus-
tained, heaping praise on their rhetoric
of charity, and muting criticism of their
actual policies and actions.
In lobbying for reform, MPH becomes
embroiled in a constant attempt to stay
"on side" with political leaders, compro-
mising their position on fundamental
issues as a result. In watering down their
demands so as not to offend, the politics
of trade, liberalism and development get
subsumed in a wave of nauseating flat-
tery. For last year's MPH campaign in the
UK, this desire not to offend, together
with the close personal links between
MPH organisers and spokespeople
­ Tony Blair and Bob Geldof shared a
memorable hug on MTV ­ meant that
political goals identified in MPH meetings
were co-opted by the UK government to
the point of being indistinguishable from
the politicians' own policies.
Asking nicely is never going to result in
the substantial change needed to actually
make poverty history. Institutions like the
G8 and the G20 exist to keep entrenched
the systems of inequality which serve the
vested interests of the world's elites - the
men making the decisions are certainly
not going to abandon these interests
without a fight. The poverty of the ma-
jority world is the basis of the wealth and
development of the dominant. Neo-liber-
al capitalism is the most fundamental part
of the problem ­ the solution cannot be
found within this order, but rather lies in
the dismantling of the system altogether.
Direct action is a means of declaring
our opposition to these exclusive, un-
democratic and illegitimate institutions,
exposing their complicity in perpetuating
poverty and inequality critically and con-
frontationally through civil disobedience
and creative disruption. When engag-
ing in direct action, we are not asking
politicians and corporations to listen, but
forcing them to hear. Direct action is the
manifestation of our commitment, our
opposition and our resistance. We have
no fear of offending the government, or
our corporate sponsors: we have no need
to stay "on side".
The MPH campaign is conspicuously
apolitical. In place of an analysis that
recognises the structural forces behind
poverty and inequality, its focus is on
charity and celebrity. Its solution is to
buy a wristband, attend a music festival
for a few hours, and let Sir Bono and Sir
Geldof fix the rest. What's more, MPH's
dependency on a big budget and a big
media presence forces it to become highly
commercialised, and hence complicit in
the corporate culture that perpetuates
poverty and exploitation - MPH 2006 is
being sponsored by corporations such as
Optus which themselves play a significant
part in sustaining poverty.
MPH presents their campaign as one of
"charity" ­ "helping" the poor, starving
black kids who are unable to help them-
selves. Television images of small black
children with swollen bellies and sad eyes
encourage viewers to feel sympathy and
pity, but not responsibility and certainly
not guilt. MPH in Scotland last year was
very much a white movement and a white
campaign. African performers were con-
spicuously absent from the Live8 con-
certs, and African liberation movements
were largely excluded from the organisa-
tion of the campaign. It was a campaign
of white millionaire popstars "saving"
Africa's "helpless", silencing their own
fight for justice in the process.
Through direct action we assert that we
are not "helping", but acting in solidarity.
We acknowledge the role of colonialism,
IMF and World Bank structural adjust-
ment programs, and Western corpora-
tions in creating and perpetuating poverty
and inequality. Rather than lobbying for
debt "forgiveness", we assert the illegiti-
macy of this debt ­ undeserved to begin
with and already paid back, multiple times
over. We are not speaking on behalf of
the voiceless, but rather asserting that no-
one is voiceless, supporting each other to
actively resist at every level from the local
to the global.
The MPH campaign employs temporary,
short-term tactics only. People are invited
to come out for a day and watch a few
bands, and then go home and resume
their everyday lives, just as before. Its
organisation is hierarchical and "represen-
tative". It keeps participants in a limited
role ­ one safely removed from political
engagement, and which ultimately in-
volves no real participation. Bono, Gel-
dof, Blair and Howard ultimately dictate
the terms of participants' protest ­ come
to this place wearing white and watch
some celebrities. The real politics is "left
to the experts".
This kind of protest is non-threatening
to the global order: caged, safe, and non
confrontational. Capitalism is strong ­ it
can handle one day of peaceful, apolitical
demonstration. But a constant, everyday
struggle directed at every institution,
every meeting, every place where neo-
liberalism is perpetuated and enforced?
Now that might really put a spanner in
the works. Through direct, decentralised
action, not only are we challenging the
existing global order and demanding an
alternative, but we are actively working to
build and develop this alternative through
the very process of resistance.
Direct action is inclusive, collective. It is a
grass roots strategy which acknowledges
the local community as the basis for
social transformation, encouraging direct
participation in politics through radical,
open democracy. We assert that we are
all experts in the structures which affect
our lives. Direct action means interven-
ing, unmediated, in the systems which
surround us. Through critical thought
we can develop a critical consciousness,
which is emancipatory in itself.
Direct action radicalises and politicises its
participants, inspiring them to take action
and actively develop an alternative form
of community.
Direct action organises us ­ it demands
that we engage with our communities,
workplaces and schools. In developing
resistance we are creating networks; learn-
ing how to organise; experimenting with
alternative ways of building community
which establish ongoing foundations for
the process of change. In this way, direct
action makes the other world visible.
So the G20 are coming to town. We are
faced with an opportunity that we can-
not ignore ­ to stand up together and
say, loudly, publicly: we oppose you. The
anti-capitalist movement has grown out
of the action and determination of com-
munities the world over. We must come
out in colour and show our strength. Let
the regime know that we are everywhere.
Reiterate our constant, ongoing resistance
­ wherever they go, and whatever they
do, we will be ready to meet them.
*Anti-authoritarian collective.
A-infos-en mailing list

A-Infos Information Center