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G8: Are You Happy?

by Susan GeorgeSpecial to CorpWatch
July 24th, 2001

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To the reader: This isn't a description of what happened in Genoa -- most people already know that, or can find out on Indymedia. It's better described as a [bad] "mood piece", as I was and am feeling pretty traumatized and angry after the events. I'd been there since Monday, July 16 for the Genoa Social Forum, participating in various debates, doing a lot of media work and left Thursday before all the trouble started (the demonstration on Thursday, centered around immigrants' rights was perfectly peaceful).


Are you happy, G-eighters? Happy to get together in these palaces in cities emptied of their inhabitants, with all that luxury and your "security" that costs ordinary citizens a fortune? Happy with your unchanging and catastrophic neo-liberal policies imposed with impunity on behalf of transnational corporations and financial markets? Happy to make sure that the injustice on this planet gets worse with every passing year and G-8 meeting? To announce your miserable little health fund amounting to just a tenth of what poor Kofi Annan asked for last month for AIDS alone? To show off your eight impeccable suits-and-ties and your self-referential gesticulations, because the only remaining purpose of your meetings is to reaffirm that you are indeed the G-8.

Are you happy, cops? Happy you finally took out a protestor? You didn't manage that in Gothenburg but you did this time. A big premier in Genoa, a legal murder. That'll teach the little bastards. Tear-gas, water cannon, anti-riot gear, that's for amateurs--bullets are for real men. Blood on the pavement. Crushed bodies. Nice work. Happy too you could raid the alternative media center and the convergence center in the middle of the night, smash the computers, confiscate the cassettes and club people who were sleeping, so there wouldn't be any trace of your activities? Bravo.

Are you happy, protestors? Not the huge majority that backed the Genoa Social Forum--I know you're devastated and some of you bloodied--nor those many "members" of the Black Bloc who were in fact police infiltrators; but you, the genuine Black Blockers, who never participated in any of the preparatory meetings that went on for months, who don't belong to any of the 700 responsible Italian organizations that had decided democratically to practice creative and active non-violence. Are you happy with your unilateral actions, to have willfully infiltrated groups of peaceful demonstrators so that they too got gassed and clubbed; happy to have responded to police provocations which were both foreseeable and foreseen? Are you happy we've finally got our martyr?

His name was Carlo Giuliani. He was 23 years old and he went to the demonstration with his own convictions, that's enough, they weren't ours, but we protest his execution, peace be with him.

The fact remains that this movement for a different kind of globalization is in danger. Either we'll be capable of exposing what the police are actually up to and manage to contain and prevent the violent methods of the few, or we risk shattering the greatest political hope in the last several decades. Whoever bears responsibility for what happened in Genoa--and it is massively on the side of the G-8 and the police, this broad, powerful, international movement, as irresistible as the tide; this movement of peoples united in solidarity that we've dreamed about can no longer go forward in the same way. It can no longer accept that anybody can do anything. A man has died.

If we can't guarantee peaceful, creative demonstrations, workers and official trade unions won't join us; our base will slip away, the present unity--both trans-sectoral and trans-generational--will crumble. We, the immense majority with serious proposals to make; we who believe that another world is possible, have got to act responsibly. Faced with the escalation of State-sponsored terror, we must figure out how to continue our demonstrations and direct action without endangering our people; how to avoid abandoning the terrain of the public space to the explosive ultra-minority. One thing is certain: we can't give up this struggle and we will not stop fighting against the huge injustices of present globalization, but we shall have to find new democratic avenues to wage this fight.

Twenty-five hundred years ago, the great Chinese strategist Sun Tzu said, "Do not do what you would most like to do. Do what your adversary would least like you to do." I fear that today our adversaries are happy. As for me, I'm just trying to surmount the events of Genoa and not give in to despair.

Susan George is Vice-President of ATTAC-France (Association for Taxation of Financial Transaction to Aid Citizens) and Associate Director of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. She is author of nine books, most recently, of The Lugano Report, Pluto Press. Interested readers can visit the Transnational Institute website.