June 1 Anti-G8 Solidarity Action
On June 1st, this year's G8 summit will begin in Evian-Les-Bains, France. Although the French military will secure a thirty-mile "bubble" around the town, anti-G8 organizers anticipate that thousands will turn turnout. There will be, without doubt, conflict between the military/police as demonstrators attempt to disrupt travel to Evian by G8 functionaries. In addition to usual resistance activities there will be a massive mutual aid based village at Geneva.
Two years ago one demonstrator was killed, and hundreds seriously injured during anti-G8 action in Genoa, Italy. The 2002 summit was held in the Canadian rockies so as to hide from indignation of the people. This year they will not be so lucky, though they will attempt to cloister themselves away in an exclusive corner of the French Alps. As the protesters will be facing actual military forces, the word should be spread for solidarity actions in cities around the world.
The G7 was set up in 1975 by Giscard d'Estaing in order to provide a focal point for the leaders of the most powerful states to have informal discussions on financial and economic matters.
It brought together the U.S., Japan, France, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom and Italy; in effect, an alliance of the main powers on the 'right' side of the Iron Curtain. It was only in 1994 that Russia joined this very closed circle.
Officially, the G8 is happy to issue 'recommendations'. These are implemented by international institutions like the International Monetary fund (IMF) and the World Bank, whose richer members are the major players) or the World Trade Organisation (WTO), dominated itself by the same countries.
The G8 is a 'democratic' institution in the sense that it brings together the 'elected' heads of state. But let us not forget the mechanisms of representative democracy: the media's 'manufacture of consent', the blank cheque granted to the loudest (or richest) voices, and a complete lack of popular control on the actions of these same 'elected' officials. Because of this, the G8 cannot avoid normal rules of behaviour, and without the so-called 'anti-globalisation' movement, very few of us would be aware of the role and the nature of the debates that take place. Although it would defend itself against the accusation, the G8 is an example of a self-proclaimed world government.
It is, also, an example of the general process by which economic and political power is concentrated into the hands of a few individuals, sharing a unique vision of the world: OSEC (The Organisation for Security and Economic Cooperation which groups together the 29 most industrialised countries), the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO and the G8 operate in mutual agreement. Let us take a look at the remarkable efficiency of this cartel: a concentration of wealth and power for some; uncertainty, poverty and repression for others. Never has the gulf in inequality been so great: each day 100,000 people die of starvation; in some 70 countries where approximately a billion people live, the levels of consumption are today less than what they were 25 years ago; 1% of the wealthiest people on the planet have an income equal to that of 57% of the most impoverished.
In other words, less than 50 million of the most wealthy possess as much as 2.7 billion of the most poor. Never have attacks against the foundations of our systems of social welfare (free education, health for all, pensions, drinking water etc... ) been so aggressive and consistent. The politics of social breakdown are a direct result of the actions taken regarding economic competition. When the Jospin government opens up the capital of the FEB -French Electricity Board (The Barcelona summit) or undertakes the privatisation of pensions (the Charpin Commission), it is in line with agreements taken at these meetings.
If the globalisation of trade (in ideas as well as goods) follows directly from the communication networks which give rise every day to new technologies, the unequal distribution of wealth, and the pursuit of a production based politics are the choices of society where responsibility lies with the political and economic elites. All these decisions lead to disastrous effects on society (lack of job security, a lowering of buying power and the minimum wage) and on the environment (oil-slicks, deforestation, a rise in traffic and other kinds of pollution. To maintain social order, these decision-makers rely on the media to fight their corner since information itself is an industry, obedient to similar mechanisms. Television, with all of its revenue and publicity is not in a position where it is likely to express a point of view hostile to that of 'eat, consume and die'. Fortunately, there is still the book trade, or is there? In France arms dealers are in possession of 80% of school books and 70% of the distribution of all books.
And if that is not enough, the secular arm of the state is there to bring back to the fold any sheep that stray from the flock. On this, the G8 at Evian will not fail to cooperate with police and add its piece to the ring of steel. Under the cover of the war against terrorism, the group of 8 will take the opportunity to prescribe a powerful police force in order to keep its stranglehold around the borders of the 'free world'. It is not often that the notions of political asylum and freedom of movement are allowed to circulate around the corridors of power.
Anti-immigration politics have been responsible for several hundred deaths of all ages and serve the mafia networks which feed the traffic of individuals and maintain a state of tension
The G8 leaders also can be found at the UN Security Council or at the heart of NATO. At times their manifold interests prevents them from speaking with one voice. Yet these discussions serve only to keep up the 'democratic' smile on the faces of the principal leaders whose role is to organise the militarisation of the world, and to defend the economic interests of the multinationals. And so the G8 fulfils a tripartite mission of organising the economy, the police and the military, allowing the powers that be to maintain their hold over entire populations.
The mobilisation of organised masses outside the summits of this world government makes it necessary to alter 'our' communication network. 'They' need to disarm their critics by integrating the least radical fringe of the movement and criminalising the actions of the most subversive elements. All the major powers fear popular direct action, the autonomy of social movement, the means of functioning at odds with the logic of power. This is because for them, all disputes not settled in the parliamentary domain and which do not express themselves in a vote, are dangerous.
At the same time, they are trying to convince us that the next G8 summit is more open to 'poor' countries by proposing minor roles to 'humanitarian NGOs' so that they can participate in certain debates. Even the least protesting NGOs these days mostly refuse to make us of their security. As for 'developing' countries invited to Evian, they will naturally be represented by their ministers (and not by unions and the actors of 'civil society'. When we consider the relations between the North and the South, the pressure that the U.S. brings to bear on the domestic politics of many poor nations, what can we expect from these discussions? The G8 will be a G28 for a day, will chat under the gaze of a compliant media, between glasses of champagne, and will work out how to integrate them to the dominant capitalist model that our guardians present as ' the shortest route to development', But it is for toxic dumping grounds, oil reservoirs, raw materials or cheap manpower that these nations have been invited to participate in the plundering of the planet. It is not enough, apparently, just to cancel the debt of the poor countries so that its populations can attain a better life.
A s far as we are concerned, these are the social struggles led in these countries and it is those who make them live like this that will be of interest of us during our Anti-G8 meetings.
Let us not look for in the recomposition of a new part of the left an advanced social dynamic and a popular reflection. Let us not look for a return to keynesianism, to the state regulation of capitalism or to the delegation of power, the means of our emancipation. We will find this in the practical alternatives which make the break from capitalist logic, in direct action initiatives which call into question the various aspects of domination.
Like capitalism, the G8 cannot be reformed. It must disappear since it cannot deliver what we most want: freedom and justice.
For more information, go to www.claaacG8.org
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