By Stuart Jordan
AS the forces of the anti-capitalist movement began to mobilise for for the anti-G8 demonstrations on Saturday 2 June, Vladimir Putin set the tone for the week by threatening to visit nuclear genocide on the people of Europe. Putin’s threat is obviously a bit of hard diplomacy before the talks begin, but the fact that these men find it acceptable to use the lives of millions of innocent civilians as a bargaining chip in the power plays of global capitalism merely reveals the utter lunacy of our political overlords and the system of exploitation that they represent.
The violence surrounding this year’s G8 started back in early May when 40 social centres and homes were raided by “security officials”. Activists were charged under anti-terrorist leglislation and were accused of forming a terror cell. In a lower key, the No Sweat delegation to Rostock was accused, held and questioned for about an hour at Dover under Section 7 of the Terrorism Act. Further clampdowns at Germany’s borders were reported.
These “preemptive strikes” did not, however, stop Saturday’s demonstration of more than 50,000 activists who came from all corners of the broad anti-capitalist movement. As has been well reported in the bourgeois press, street fighting began towards the end of the demonstration between heavily armoured riot cops and Black Bloc anarchists, who had turned out in their thousands. Initially the police seemed to have been taken by surprise but reenforcements poured into the city and brutal repression followed with indiscriminate use of batons, water cannons and tear gas. Over a hundred were arrested and many were injured on both sides.
It is no surprise that this is the story that makes it into the mainstream press, with much liberal outrage. However, this very same press systematically ignores all the politics of the anti-capitalist movement in its attempt to keep the hope of “another world” out of the popular imagination.
The Morning Star too bemoaned the violence “marring” the demonstration, failing to see the cause of this violence in the very existence of G8. In its write up of events this supposedly left-wing paper whined on about how some officers had to be treated for “eye irritation from tear gas” whilst others suffered the terrible affliction of “smoke inhalation”.
In fact, although socialists have major tactical disagreements with them, the actions of the young men and women of the Black Bloc displayed great courage and commitment in the struggle for global justice, and we must defend them against police violence and media slander. If the political message does not get through the filter of the mainstream media, then at least the violence of the system is there for all to see.
However, the tactical disagreement is a major one: what good does fighting the police at events like these (rather than, say, to defend a picket line) actually do? Even the goal of “shutting down” a particular summit does little to weaken the stranglehold of global capital. Indeed the apparent decline of the anti-capitalist movement in recent years is surely due to growing disillusionment among activists with summit-hopping pure-and-simple. There is a reassessment about strategy and tactics throughout the movement, with more and more people coming to see the G8 is little more than an excuse for a few presidential banquets and a photo opportunity.
To build a real alternative to capitalism we need to direct our energies elsewhere and look to the real agents of social change.
On this basis it was a disappointment that the organised labour movement was noticeably absent on Saturday’s march. Instead of getting our revolutionary heads smashed in by riot cops, activist time would be far better spent in doing the hard graft of consistent trade union activity to build a militant working class movement capable of shaking the foundations of society.
Not even nuclear bombs, a 12 km security fence and the technological expertise of the German military would be capable of stopping such a movement from posing a real threat to the machinations of global capitalism.