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(en) Canada, Media: Montreal Gazette: Can anarchists be organized?

From Resiste l'OMC!/Resist the WTO! <resisteomc@resist.ca>
Date Thu, 24 Jul 2003 21:21:55 +0200 (CEST)

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

[Full info about the anti-WTO actions in Montreal can be found at: http://montreal.resist.ca ...]
I'm confused. Aren't anarchists supposed to be anarchic? An Internet site
titled http://montreal.resist.ca offers a detailed outline of plans to
protest against World Trade Organization meetings that are scheduled to begin Monday.
"It depends on how you define anarchism," says protest organizer (and
avowed anarchist) Stefan Christoff, a 22-year-old freelance radio journalist.
"The anarchists organizing for this mobilization have always felt that
anarchy in practice means organization - but it's organization without a
central authority."

Who needs hierarchical structure? The anarchists have thought of
everything, including billeting. In addition to how many people you can
put up, the online Adopt-an-Activist form asks whether you have pets and
prefer non-smokers.

Montreal Mobilization Against the WTO is getting the jump on 25 trade
ministers and 350 of their aides (14 flunkies per mandarin) who will
attend the event. There was a poster run yesterday and a protest
organization meeting last night. Today's activities include a
banner-painting party and "harvesting of surplus food" from the Jean Talon

There are legal and medical workshops tomorrow and an anti-WTO teach-in on
Saturday. Sunday's main event is a protest against "war, occupation,
colonialism, genocide and displacement."

The Sunday march has been designated "child-friendly." There will be no
action that might expose children to tear gas or truncheons.

But you won't want to wheel a stroller anywhere near the Sheraton Centre
next week. If recent history - Seattle in 1999, Quebec City and Genoa in
2001 - is any indication, the hotel could be the scene of a balls-out,
come-to-Jesus hoo-ha when the WTO ministers attempt to convene.

Christoff said planning the protests involves analyzing "the realities" of
what might transpire at the corner of Stanley St. and RenŽ LŽvesque Blvd.

"Obviously, we aren't planning anything violent," he said. "But at the
same time, we recognize that struggle is not stage-managed."

Even if they didn't spend their formative years in the Boy Scouts,
protesters will be mindful of an admonition that applies just as well to
the downtown streets as it does to the deep woods: Be prepared.

And if things turn ugly, Christoff said, it's the responsibility of
organizers to provide medical and legal assistance to protesters who might
require either or both.

Legal and street medicine workshops are set to run tomorrow. Sessions will
last two hours, 45 minutes.

What happens if they're at the 2:44 mark and someone asks how to get
pepper spray out of a Kangol tuque?

Sorry, man. Time's up.

The business world's most anal-retentive executives don't schedule
meetings with that degree of precision. I'm starting to suspect the
protest movement is being run by a cabal of Swiss bankers.

At the risk of offending an anti-globalization activist, I asked Christoff
whether contemporary protest planning meetings were conducted with
corporate efficiency.

"People realize there's an incredible amount of work to be done this
week," he said.

But when the counter-cultural going gets tough, don't the tough get stoned
and blow off meetings?

Perhaps my perception of political protest is coloured by tie-dyed
memories of the 1960s, when we could mount a good Vietnam War protest in
Montreal - if it wasn't raining.

That was before the Internet and e-mail. Anti-globalization activists know
more about T-shirt factories in Honduras than we did about labour camps in

Christoff says he is one of thousands of people throughout North America
whose "entire existence revolves around anti-capitalist struggle."

"We're doing this out of a conviction," he added, "that the WTO and its
policies are fundamentally opposed to human values of social justice,
self-determination and dignity."

Not to mention neatness, order and punctuality.

MIKE BOONE The Montreal Gazette July 24, 2003 mboone@thegazette.canwest.com

La Mobilisation Populaire
contre l'OMC à Montréal
The Popular Mobilization
Against the WTO in Montreal

July 26-30 Juillet 2003

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