After Carlo Giuliani, Peaceful Protests Must Continue
Genoa may mark a milestone as significant as Seattle. But in which direction will it lead? CorpWatch's Kenny Bruno speaks out.
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
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
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.