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Toronto G20: Showtime again, or a Reality to Overthrow?
north america / mexico | imperialism / war | opinion / analysis Wednesday September 29, 2010 05:06 by Mensuel Alternative Libertaire - Alternative libertaire (France)
A comrade from the Union Communiste Libertaire in Montreal analyses why the form of struggle against capitalist ritual (G20s) has become inefficient. [Nederlands]
Toronto G20: Showtime again, or a Reality to Overthrow?
Because protest against capitalism’s various ceremonies has been loud and continuous for the last ten years, its wardens (press, police and politicians) have started to learn how to channel and sterilise dissent. A comrade from the Union Communiste Libertaire in Montreal analyses the outcomes of the last G20, and proposes tactics to renew with efficiency.
We could recount in minute detail the events that took place during the G20, but the story wouldn’t be very original. For the last 10 years, we’ve danced to the selfsame tune… Before the demonstrations everything is organised for the show to run smoothly. The police methodically unravels an intimidation campaign, just as efficiently taken up by the paper-cops (aka journalists) and by the reformists among the movement (union workers) that don’t hesitate to condemn, sometimes “preventively”, possible acts of violence...
Repression at the very core of the showOnce the stage is set, the show can begin. Reformists, on a short leash, parade to the cops’ tune (this being their usual and natural stint, everything turns out pat). The more rebellious radicals, cause a slight disturbance in the police’s and bankers’ everyday life, and with luck, despoil a few shops (in Toronto, some fifty windows were broken, four prowl cars burnt down). Repression is part of the act obviously, and more often than not, at the very core of the show: arrests can be counted just as comedians count applause.
Once Showtime is over, the curtain falls and everybody can go home. The head honchos have met their press impact objectives: to justify their economic policy in the eyes of the public. The cops are lightheaded with the feeling that duty has been accomplished for the better (minus animal agressivity), while militants are either overwrought or completely traumatised. Capitalist society gets away with the whole thing, unscathed.
Time to change tactics, or what ?So, is there nothing to say about these demonstrations, borne at arms-length and painstakingly by utterly committed militants? There is something to say actually. Because when upper-class institutions put their ass on parade in our backyard, we’re not gonna take it, sitting pretty. Inertia, even when it’s forced on you, is very real. In this precise sense the « globalisation» militants - whatever concrete meaning the word covers – are right: we need to react. So the real question is actually how…? How not to participate in this gigantic and spectacular show set up by State, media, and upper-class? How to avoid playing the role that is expected of us, which is unfortunately exactly what happened in Toronto? One possible answer: to not show up for the appointment; to pop up in another place than the one we are being expected; to multiply local demonstrations and to put more energy in popular education than in highly publicised mass-mobilisations. The remark is equally valid concerning direct action: why organise it in that part of town where 99% of police forces are gathered? If some anarchists have understood these tactical considerations, it nevertheless appears clear that the movement has a long way to go down that road. These issues are particularly urgent to solve when one considers the number of testimonies pointing at the Toronto cops letting rioters do their thing without more ado or reaction (1).
A second lesson can be learned from this episode. Repression was so systematic and harsh that the meaning conveyed is shockingly obvious. By the second day it was impossible for French-speakers to walk around town without getting arrested by the cops. People having dinner in the park appointed for pacifists were beaten up. Launching mass arrests in the dead of night, in the demonstrators’ dorms, the police has spied, infiltrated, hit, threatened, lied and terrorised like never before in Canada. This all adds up to more than 1 000 arrests.
The message is clear : the upper class is ahead of us, and pulling away. It has understood that the peoples of the world will stay idle in the face of the bourgeoisie’s “struggle against deficit” and other measures to “stamp out the crisis”, all of which fail to hide capitalism’s structural flaws. The Rich are simply apprehensive of this anger that can, if it gets rid of reactions that are too often spasmodic, sporadic, could become a very real threat for the merchant’s society’s reproduction.
(Union Communiste Libertaire, Montréal)
1. See: Joe Warmington, Toronto Sun, 30 Juin 2010.
Originally published (in French) in "Alternative Libertaire", No.197, September 2010.
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