17. Poor substitute
18. June 18th - a personal view
The following extracts are from an article in Freedom Press at the beginning of the summer (written by Nick S)....
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The left, though, whatever their rhetoric (and this goes for many anarchists too) conduct their politics entirely at the level of the moral and through entirely symbolic means. They don't live in the communities they purport to address and they have nothing practical to offer those communities to improve their everyday lives. The left (and again, this has to include much of the anarchist movement) has believed it can win by ideology alone......... On 18th June, in what purports to be an exercise in freeing ourselves from the shackles of capitalism, a good many of us will converge on the City of London, to take part in "an international day of protest, action and carnival aimed at the heart of the global economy, the banking and financial centres". If proof were needed of our movement's resort to entirely symbolic activity, none better could be found. Most people who suffer at the hands of capital don't do so in the heart of the City, they suffer through paying high rents on run down estates while local resources go to service local authority debts to the City, they suffer through hospital waiting list increases as bed capacities and staff numbers are lost due to health authority private finance deals. They suffer through exploitation at work, through higher prices and lower wages, through the increased cost of entertainment - football season ticket costs, club door prices, etc. Their quality of life is diminished through the actions of capital, but a demonstration in the City will do nothing to alleviate the conditions of exploitation. Hence, none of those most in need of liberation from the "roar of profit" (Reclaim the Streets leaflet) will go near such an event, because the "sounds of rhythms of party, carnival and pleasure" are a poor substitute for money in your hand and decent accommodation, and will take us no closer to their realisation.........
Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin has suggested that the anarchist movement could learn much from the methods of the Black Panther Party, of which he was a member. Specifically he has referred to the Panther's attempts to establish a survival economy for poor black communities, with the Panthers organising survival programmes to move towards community self-determination. Panther groups organised breakfast programmes for poor families, set up and ran medical centres in poor neighbourhoods, organised free transport for prison visits and established armed self-defence units to monitor and prevent police brutality. "Panthers established a network of community service projects designed to improve the life chances of African American people........
As Huey P. Newton, one of the Party's founders, noted: "In their quest for freedom [people] have to see first some basic accomplishments in order to realise that major successes are possible"........
The Euro elections should have made it clear to all of us; if we allow our politics to be reduced to the 'theatre of pseudo resistance', we will be as irrelevant to most people as New Labour and the Socialist Labour Party are seen to be. If anarchism is committed to bringing about the autonomous organisation of working class communities its time for us to prove it in practice, and prove it where it matters most.........
----- Nick S / Freedom Press
For me, what happened on June 18th was both inspiring and disappointing. I was inspired by the sheer numbers of people there, as it's always good to be among huge numbers every once in a while. It was particularly inspiring to see that this time, lots of people weren't just happy with having a party but wanted to take direct physical action against capitalist institutions. I was disappointed that more people didn't want to take this action, disappointed that more autonomous actions in the morning didn't materialise, and above all, disappointed that J18 didn't broaden out to include a wider diversity of groups and people, and that at the Carnival it was mainly just the usual RTS crowd. (I'm also disappointed that we're not now living in post revolutionary utopia, but hey ho .)
While I feel that the most crucial discussion for us to be having is where do we go from here, and what worked and what didn't. However, in my town, the criminal damage and fighting the police has yet again raised massive divisions, to the point where a significant number of activists have said that they'd never go on a demo like J18 again. We may be following the state's agenda to be even discussing the 'violence' issue, but where I live, it essential that we explain our stances and have understanding for others in order that we don't make ourselves so much smaller than we already are. I'm not going to defend the random meaningless acts of vandalism or untargeted insults physical threats or attacks. What I aim to do is put forward a defence of the economic damage caused by the trashing of LIFFE, of Mercedes Benz, of McDonalds, and any other capitalist institutions. For people who disagree with me, this issue appears to divide into two aspects - was this justifiable and was it effective.
I'm an anarchist, and the way I see it, anarchism is fundamentally opposed to violence. One of the main aims of anarchy in my eyes is to remove violence from all human relationships. However, up to the point where we live in an anarchist society, we remain living in a system which is founded on violence. For two sides to live in peace, both must want peace. If one side insists on using force to make the other obey them, and work for them, then the other, if they want to retain their dignity and not be reduced to slavery, must resist force with adequate means, despite their love of peace.
I don't think it's difficult to prove that the state and the capitalist system is founded on violence - requires constant force or threat of force to maintain the existing order. Government needs laws to maintain inequalities and their order, and therefore needs police and armaments to back it up and force people to obey. Otherwise only people who wanted to obey would do so. The state has used violence throughout its history to rob the poor of their land initially, and then to maintain their monopoly on power. They are then the side that does not want peace freedom or equality, that relies on violence to exist - not the anarchists.
So I believe that violence is entirely justifiable in defending yourself from the onslaught of violence coming from the state. But I don't just mean it is justified against direct sudden physical attack (as in defending yourself from being beaten by police truncheon, which in my mind is quite clearly justified and doesn't need to be explained), but against a much more insidious attack. Using force against all those institutions which use violence, be it physical or mental to keep people in a state of oppression, is totally justified.
"The slave is always in a state of legitimate defence and consequently his violence against the boss, against the oppressor is always morally justifiable" (Malatesta)
Some people would say that excusing individual acts of violence leads naturally to an excuse of any violence and so excuses the arms trade etc. I do not accept that self-defence by the people against its government, or against a section of the community which maintains its power and privileges by underpinning it with force, has any affinity with the self - defence justification used by states to stockpile weapons. "The violence of the oppressed is defensive, unorganised and individual and usually unarmed. The violence of the state is massive, systematic, aggressive, and frequently involves the use of sophisticated weapons." There is no moral equivalence between the oppressor and the oppressed.
Some would go further to say not only is violence in self-defence justified, but that it is our duty to protect others in this way. And I don't extend this to war e.g. in Kosova - when the state usually forces its citizens to war, to fight rival nationalist powers, and where the state controls and organises the means of destruction.
To bring this back to June 18. Here, it is clearly the City that is the oppressor - it's veneer of respectability is underpinned by the laws and institutions of the state, and so by force. The deals that are done there cause ecological destruction, loss of livelihoods, debt, and death, on a massive scale. Everyone who opposes this in any way is acting not just in self-defence but in defence of oppressed people everywhere. Some people who argue for principled non-violence say that they would not criticise those in the third world for rising up and taking violent action, but that we in this country are not faced with such blatant oppression, we are not fighting for our lives in the same direct sense. We have a choice and we should avoid violence which only will lead to more violence.
Of course those in the Third World are on the sharp end of capitalism, but capitalism has a base in our country, at its heart is the City. I know we're relatively okay with our dole cheques at the moment, and we can get away with more protests without getting killed, but do we not feel any solidarity with those fighting in say Mexico or Nigeria to join with them and target the root of their ills with a similar sense of urgency and desperation? If people could see in front of them, the results of what goes on in those glossy buildings in the city, the deaths and misery it causes, I think most people would feel they would be justified in doing everything in their power to stop it happening immediately. And there is no being fooled that we live in a nice liberal democracy where we would never be as oppressed as activists in other countries. As soon as we begin really threatening the foundations of capitalism, you can be sure we will be repressed with practically as much force and violence as anywhere else.
On June 18th, people saw the opportunity to take physical and very direct action to try and stop some of the destructive things that happened inside those buildings, and in my mind there is no question that this is entirely justifiable as a defensive act. I also believe that fighting with the police who come in using violence to prevent us from challenging and stopping the destruction of the City, is a defensive act, and is justified. Whether it is particularly effective, or whether the people involved really understood the politics behind their defensive violence is another matter.
So is it effective to smash up property, or fight the police. Is it an effective strategy, use of energy, efforts, possible prison sentences, sentences, and bearing in mind it may lead to increased surveillance and repression. Also others would say it alienates lots of people from our cause, and even puts off lots of activists. Well, I want real permanent change, and won't be happy with small reforms. I want a revolution, and I want a non-violent revolution - as I've said, I'm not a lover of violence, and I'd struggle to eliminate violence from society. I think that for a revolution to occur and to be permanent, it'd have to be largely (I'll qualify this later) nonviolent - as its success would depend on most people wanting it, and knowing what it was they wanted to achieve by it.
But to those who extrapolate this argument to say that therefore our actions must convince the majority of people, and that using violence achieves the opposite effect of putting people off, I say that this is not our role. Our 'network' is never going to create a mass movement, nor should we try to. I for one am not trying to recruit people to our cause (well, maybe a bit), nor do I think we're a vanguard bringing lots of people to our side to sweep forward with a revolution. I'm fighting for my own life to improve, for my own right to be able to make decisions which affect my life, and fighting for a situation where everyone can run their own lives. In doing so, I hope that this will positively affect everyone else, but they have to make their own decisions and choices. I view our network as political agitators, stirring things up, forcing things into the open, onto the agenda, forcing people to think, informing people about alternatives, and crucially, inspiring people to believe that we can fight the system. You can smash the property of the rich and get away with it. You can fight back.
As a minority of people, who don't have the informed support of the masses, due to their forced ignorance of alternatives to the system, we should seek to curb the excesses. We know what's going on, and we should take action to stop it. We shouldn't allow our radicalness to be watered down in order to appease public opinion, a public opinion which is largely formed by media and state influences such as education. And in any case, I don't think people are as put off by this sort of J18 action as the state would have us believe. Many are inspired by what we achieved. What is so ineffective about trying to curb the excesses with counter-violence, and what alternative is there without having the support of the majority.
To return briefly to what I said about a 'largely' nonviolent revolution. Despite my desire for peace, I don't believe that things can truly be changed without using defensive force, as the state is built on a premise of violence to maintain the status quo. They won't hand their power away without a fight. They've been more than ready to kill, hurt, or imprison any resisters in the past, be they peaceful or not, if they threaten their hold on power. Even if the vast majority wanted change, the minority are the ruling class and they control the weapons. The numbers of people killed in insurrections or revolutions can never equal the numbers of people living in permanent slavery or dying in their thousands in the third world due to the sort of thing which goes on in the City. It's horrific that we may have to use force, but its more horrific if we fail because we refuse to do so. I find it odd that we don't hear many condemnations of the peasants revolt, of the loombreakers, or the Zapatistas, or of the Poll tax riots, all of which encompassed elements of violence. What is so different to J18?
"The state likes to present riots, revolts, and rebellions as isolated incidents and this helps deny their legitimacy, has reduced our recognition of their positive impact and has drawn attention away from the continual and consistent threat of state violence"
I also think it can be said to be effective because of the economic damage we caused to the city, we presented a very real threat to their institutions and profits, we engaged in real agitation, forced capitalism as a 'bad thing' onto the agenda, it allowed us to say why LIFFE is not in fact respectable and why it deserves the trashing, and above all, allows us to say who the real perpetrators of violence are in our society. It allowed us to remove the respectable veneer the city basks in. Finally, I hope that even if people disagree with the above, that they would not condemn the informed choices and actions of people on that day. For one, people don't tend to publicly condemn people for being peaceful. But mainly it is following the state's agenda - it merely deflects criticism away from the original issue and away from the state as the real evil savages.
This is adapted from an oral introduction at the beginning of a discussion on J18 (which took place in Manchester? -ed)
We reproduce here for reference the texts of the original J18 proposal and the leaflets, referred to in some of the discussion papers.
A proposal for: A day of protest, (etc)...
Black Leaflet text
International Leaflet text
Gold leaflet text
....Wherever there is oppression there is resistance.....
A proposal has been made by various groups and movements of activists from England to hold an international day of action aimed at the heart of the global economy: the financial centres, banking districts and multinational corporation power bases. The suggested date is the 18th June 1999. Movements involved include Reclaim the Streets (RTS, a popular movement seeking the liberation of city streets and public spaces using direct action, and now Western European Conveners of Peoples' Global Action Against 'Free' Trade and the World Trade Organisation), and London Greenpeace (a group independent of Greenpeace International, recently involved in a large successful battle with McDonald's). This proposal is made in the spirit of strengthening our international networks and follows from the success of co-ordinated global action during May 16-20th 1998. These days saw actions, protests and demonstrations on all continents, for example over 30 'Reclaim the Streets parties' in over 20 countries - a combination of illegal carnival, protest and direct action, catalysed by RTS in London. In Brasilia 50,000 unemployed and landless peasants were on the streets, while in Hyderabad, India, 200,000 were protesting. These events coincided with the 'G8' meeting in Birmingham, Great Britain, and the third ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland. The 'G8' consists of the leaders of the eight most industrialised countries and exists solely to promote economic globalisation, 'free' trade and corporate dominance.
Next year between the 18th-20th June the G8 will meet in Koln, Germany. The idea is to take action around the globe to coincide with this meeting. This also links with the proposed tour of Indian farmers/activists in Europe to campaign against the World Trade Organisation and multinational corporations. The proposal is to encourage as many movements and groups as possible to organise their own autonomous protests or actions, on the same day (June 18th), in the same geographical locations (financial/corporate/banking/business districts) around the world. Events could take place at relevant sites, e.g. multinational company offices, local banks, stock exchanges. Each event would be organised autonomously and co-ordinated in each city or financial district by a variety of movements and groups. It is hoped that a whole range of different groups will take part, including workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, women, students, the landless, environmentalists, unwaged/unemployed and others....everyone who recognises that the global capitalist system, based on the exploitation of people and the planet for the profit of a few, is at the root of our social and ecological troubles.
The proposal has already been discussed by movements and groups on all continents, for example the Karnataka State Farmers (KRRS, India), the Rainbow Keepers (ecologists from ex-USSR states), Proceso de Comunidades Negras (Colombian Black communities movement), Friends of the Earth, Uruguay (Environmentalists), CTERA (Argentinean teachers Union), Reclaim the Streets (New York, USA; Prague, Czech Republic; Sydney, Australia), COMUTRAS (textile workers union, El Salvador), peasant movements in Mozambique and many more. Plans are already well advanced in London, and Koln, Germany.
Ideas are flowing and enthusiasm is growing. We'd very much like to hear what you think.
There is an email discussion list. To subscribe, send an email to email@example.com with the following request:
subscribe J18DISCUSSION Your e-mail address
then messages sent to J18DISCUSSION@gn.apc.org will automatically go to other interested groups around the world to facilitate wider discussion of this proposal. Or write to 'June 18th', PO Box 9656, London, N4 4JY, Great Britain.
OUR RESISTANCE WILL BE AS TRANSNATIONAL AS CAPITAL!
for more information on Peoples' Global Action visit http://www.agp.org
for more information on Reclaim the Streets visit http://www.gn.apc.org/rts/
for more information on London Greenpeace / McLibel visit
June 18th web-site: http://www.gn.apc.org/june18
PLEASE PASS THIS PROPOSAL ON TO OTHERS.
June18th 1999 International day of action aimed at the heart of the global economy: The financial & banking districts
"The collapse of the global marketplace would be a traumatic event with unimaginable consequences. Yet I find it easier to IMAGINE than the continuation of the current regime." George Soros, speculator and high priest of the markets
Financial districts across the world filled not with profit and plunder but with the sounds and rhythms of party and pleasure.
A world where people have control of their own lives and communities
A society based on mutual aid, sharing and the respect of nature.
Taking your desires for reality
The resistance will be as transnational as the capital June 18th 1999 On the eve of the 21st century the list of woes facing us seems greater than ever - economic meltdown, the millennium bug, environmental crisis, war, famine, poverty - all unconnected, we are told by the experts - to be solved only by more 'growth' and 'free' trade. The global market economy however, which had come to be seen as unquestionable dogma, is crumbling. As usual talk of reform is in the air, but a system based on the 'survival of the fittest' and 'growth' can only continue to cause human misery while destroying the ecology of the planet. A new world is possible. A global movement of resistance is rising - people are reclaiming control of their lives. Across the world, social and ecological movements are coming together, talking, taking direct action and enacting radical alternatives to 'globalisation'. In May 1998 their voices were raised during meetings of the G8 world leaders and the World Trade Organisation, when many local actions and demonstrations took place - autonomously organised, yet globally co-ordinated. These ranged from 50,000 landless peasants on the streets of Brasilia, to 30 simultaneous street parties across the globe, to 200,000 people on the streets of Hyderabad in India. Next year the G8 will meet in Koln, Germany, between June 18th-20th. Groups are already organising for actions to happen simultaneously on Friday June 18th in the financial districts, markets and institutions around the world. 'The City' of London is one of the key hubs of the global economy and this will be the main target of UK actions on June 18th. We will only realise our collective visions by taking action together, so June 18th will only work if a whole range of different movements and groups get involved; environmental, workers' women's, unwaged/unemployed, students, trade unionists, peace, pensioners, gay, anti-deportation the longer the list, the more effective the action.
Dream up amazing action
Organise local planning meetings or come to the monthly London meeting.
Choose your favourite Transnational Company, Bank or Investment Fund, find out as much as possible about them - location of HQ etc and prepare fun and games.
Spread the word - print leaflets - talk to people - network.
Take a day off work or go sick on 18/6/99
demonstrations, protests, actions, pickets, stunts, shut-downs, sabotage, leafleting, blockades, games, hacktivism, parties & more Simultaneously transforming the city of London and other financial centres across the world
IN recognition that the global capitalist system is at the root of our social & ecological troubles
18/6/99 - To Coincide with the annual meeting of the G8 leaders
A growing alliance of social and environmental movements "We are more possible than they can powerfully IMAGINE."
Shouted from the top of a crane during an occupation of a building sit, No M11 Link Rd campaign, London, 1994
JUNE 18th 1999
A day of international protest, action and carnival aimed at the heart of the global economy, the financial and banking centres across the globe. Activists from diverse groups and movements around the world are discussing, networking and organising for an international day of action aimed at the heart of the global economy: the financial centres, banking districts and multinational corporate power bases. Environmentalists, workers, the unemployed, indigenous peoples, trade unionists, peasants groups, women's networks, the landless, students, peace activists and many more are working together in recognition that the global capitalist system, based on the exploitation of people and the planet for the profit of a few, is at the very root of our social and ecological troubles. The June 18th occupation and transformation of financial districts, simultaneously across the globe, will be a contribution to and practical example of the process of making connections and building alternatives to the present social order. The action is timed to coincide with the first day of the Group of Seven (or G7) summit of the leaders of the richest nation-states - in Koeln, Germany - when again we will be told by the economic and political elites that the promotion of economic globalisation, 'free' trade and corporate dominance is the only way.
This proposal is made in the spirit of strengthening our international networks and follows from the success of co-ordinated global action during May 16-20th 1998. These days saw actions, protests and demonstrations on all continents, for example over 30 'Reclaim the Streets parties' in over 20 countries - a combination of illegal carnival, protest and direct action, catalysed by RECLAIM THE STREETS in London. In Brasilia 50,000 unemployed and landless peasants were on the streets, while in Hyderabad, India, 200,000 were protesting. These events coincided with the 'G8' meeting in Birmingham, Great Britain, and the third ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland. 1999 will see these coordinations increase. Alongside the June 18th global action, there will also be a tour of Indian farmers/activists around Europe to campaign against the World Trade Organisation, banks and multinational corporations. In the spirit of strengthening international networks for equality, freedom and ecological sustainability we encourage all sympathetic movements and groups to organise their own autonomous protests or actions, on the same day - June 18th - in the same locations - financial districts - around the world. Each event would be organised autonomously; could be co-ordinated in each city by a variety of movements and groups; while linked globally by post, telephone, fax, email and international meetings. Strikes, protests, pickets, actions, occupations, street parties, demonstrations, blockades, shutdowns - a unity of diverse events are being planned by a growing network of individuals, groups, movements and alliances. Your participation - no matter how small - is crucial; meetings need to be organised, events planned, leaflets printed and distributed, funds raised, laughter and conversation shared. If we cooperate and co-ordinate we can realise a different world; has it ever been so necessary and so possible?
"By taking direct action, people make connections , they talk and communicate with each other, they break down the isolation and fragmentation of this alienated society. These connections are now spreading across the globe as people realise that their particular local struggles are part of a wider problem - the global economy."
For international planning & discussion, subscribe to the J18 email list -
send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
with the following request -Subscribe J18DISCUSSION your email address.
If your group is organizing an EVENT OR ACTION for June 18th PLEASE send your group OR MOVEMENTS contact details to J18contacts@hotmail.com
This will allow a global list of groups taking part to be built up. This will be an invaluable resource for everyone taking part to show the quantity and diversity of groups doing actions on June 18th. This information will be put on the web-site and on the j18discussion list.
"the collapse of the global marketplace would be a traumatic event with unimaginable consequences. Yet I find it easier to IMAGINE than the continuation of the present regime." George Soros financial speculator, predator and profiteer.
IMAGINE financial districts across the world filled not with profit and plunder but with the sounds and rhythms of party and pleasure
IMAGINE replacing the existing social order with a free and ecological society based upon mutual aid and voluntary cooperation
IMAGINE taking your desires for reality "If you say the organisation of society and its domination by unaccountable tyrannies, which is what it is, is improper and unjust.. you have to consider what the alternatives are and how you move towards the alternatives... And those are not trivial matters; they require organised popular movements which think things through, which debate, which act, which experiment, which try alternatives, which develop the seeds of the future in the present society"
Liverpool St. Station >< City of London, Noon
On June 18th the leaders of the eight most powerful nations will meet for the G8 summit in Cologne, Germany. Their agenda will be the intensification of economic growth, "free" trade and more power for corporations as the only way towards a bright future. But these 'leaders' are not in control... Our planet is actually run by the financial market - a giant video game in which people buy and sell blips on electronic screens, trading life for money in their search for ever-higher profits. Yet the consequences of this frenzied game are very real: human lives, ecosystems, jobs and even entire economies are at the mercy of this reckless global system.
As the economy becomes increasingly global and interdependent those resisting its devastating social and ecological consequences are joining forces. Around the world, the movement grows - from Mexico's Zapatistas, to France's unemployed, to India's small farmers, to those fighting road building in the UK, to anti-oil activists in Nigeria - people are taking direct action and reclaiming their lives from the insane game of the markets. Resistance will converge on June 18th as hundreds of groups simultaneously occupy and transform banking and financial centres across the globe.
If you act like there is no possibility of change for the better, you guarantee that there will be no change for the better.
The choice is ours.
Carn'ival n. 1. An explosion of freedom involving laughter, mockery, dancing, masquerade and revelry. 2. Occupation of the streets in which the symbols and ideals of authority are subverted. 3. When the marginalised take over the centre and create a world turned upside down. 4. You cannot watch carnival, you take part. 5. An unexpected carnival is revolutionary.
Cap'italism n. 1. A system by which the few profit from the exploitation of the many. 2. A mindset addicted to profit, work and debt which values money more than life. 3. An unsustainable ideology obsessed by growth despite our finite planet. 4. The cause of the global, social and ecological crisis. 5. A social system overthrown at the end of the 20th century...
A massive carnival in the world's biggest financial centre - the city of London - will be Reclaim The Streets' part of the day. Let's replace the roar of profit and plunder with the sounds and rhythms of party, carnival and pleasure!
Friday June 18th - An international day of protest, action and carnival aimed at the heart of the global economy: the banking and financial centres.
Reclaim The Streets
Meet 12 noon, Liverpool Street Station, London EC1
Bring a radio and disguise yourself to blend into the City. Office worker or bike courier costumes work best!
Don't play their game, call in sick on Friday June the 18th
Do not underestimate the power of global resistance.
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