Susan George, Paris, Kritikerin der Globalisierung, analysiert die Folgen der Proteste gegen den Gipfel der G8 in Genua. Sie stellt diese in Zusammenhang mit den Erfahrungen seit Seattle und fordert von den sozialen Bewegungen, ihre Methoden ständig zu evaluieren und gegenüber den Überwachungsmechanismen wachsam zu sein.
An analysis of the direct and indirect tactics to undermine the anti-globalization movement. According to the author, social movements are on thin ice now.
Genoa and developing state tactics (english)
THE GENOA PROTESTS
Democracy at the barricades
Heads of state were besieged in July in Genoa. They talked trade and money
inside a guarded, if luxurious, compound, while outside the Italian carabinieri
confronted demonstrators, only a few of whom were violent. Results: news footage
of handshakes and governmental agreements, their details already forgotten -
and of an unwarranted death, 600 injuries, beatings and frustration. The next
talks will be in the safe enclave of Qatar.
After the disgrace of Genoa, multinationals and European and international institutions targeted by "anti-globalisers" have a recurrent problem: how to discredit, weaken, manipulate and, if possible, annihilate the international citizens' movement which has disturbed the gatherings of the masters of the universe since Seattle. Police retaliation and direct repression are the most obvious weapons in the anti-anti-globaliser armoury. This April spring in Quebec smelled of tear gas: the official figure for the number of canisters fired against anti-FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) demonstrators was 4,707 - "excessive" according to a committee set up by the government of Quebec . Asked by doctors about chemical components and propulsion agents, the authorities professed ignorance: "We only do testing in terms of how effective the gas is on people" .
In Europe, too, the use of force and manipulation has reached new extremes. In Gothenburg, during the demonstrations at the summit meeting of heads of state and government of the European Union in June, the Swedish police used live ammunition. In Barcelona, on 22 June, where forums and demonstrations went ahead although the World Bank had retreated from holding its new economics conference, plain clothes police infiltrated the end of the march, vandalised property and attacked uniformed officers to provoke them into violent reprisals against demonstrators and journalists.
In Genoa, the Italian police went further: one dead, more than 600 injured, hundreds of arbitrary arrests and a real political plot. There is evidence of complicity between the authorities and gangs of Black Block agents provocateurs that damaged parts of the city .
But force seems to have little effect, so the authorities are resorting to legal harassment. A leading member of the Ruckus Society , known for its training sessions in non-violence to prepare for occasions like Seattle, was picked up on the streets of Philadelphia the day after demonstrations at the Republican Party convention. He was questioned for six hours by an officer who cheerfully admitted that he had orders to "dump a bunch of shit on his booking papers" , indicted on 13 counts and (unprecedented for such minor offences) required to put up bail of $ 1m.
Wrongful arrest, intimidation and ill-treatment of detainees, and closing meetings "as a preventive measure", are common wherever opponents of globalisation meet. For evidence, visit one of the independent, decentralised Indymedia websites  that are causing headaches in Washington. On the day of the big demonstration in Quebec, FBI and US secret service agents appeared at the Indymedia office in Seattle with court orders requiring it to disclose the names and email addresses of everyone who had visited the site in the previous 48 hours - several thousand people. This was in flagrant breach of rights guaranteed under the US constitution . In Genoa, on the night of 21-22 July, carabinieri raided the alternative media centre without a warrant, beat and arrested people, and claimed they were looking for evidence of infiltration by "rioters".
In Europe too, governments have no compunction about taking liberties with
the law. In December 2000 an attempt was made to reduce the scale of the demonstrations
against liberal policies pursued by the EU. At a European Council meeting in
Nice, 1,500 Italian nationals were held at the Franco-Italian border although
they had valid tickets and passports. In January 2001 Swiss authorities blocked
all access roads to Davos, transforming the region into a military stronghold.
The Italian government suspended the Schengen agreement for four days in a vain
attempt to prevent demonstrators from other countries congregating in Genoa.
There is a serious ideological backlash, too. How can the powers regroup after a fiasco like Seattle? The first ploy is to accuse opponents of being "enemies of the poor", a ploy used by London's Financial Times and The Economist, and by Mike Moore, director-general of the World Trade Organisation, who said in Geneva "these protesters make me want to vomit". Paul Krugman, economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and media darling, added: "The anti-globalisation movement already has a remarkable track record of hurting the very people and causes it claims to champion." Of the demonstrators in Geneva, he said: "Whatever their intentions, they were doing their best to make the poor even poorer" .
The theme was taken up on the eve of Genoa by President George W Bush, in a statement to Le Monde: "The demonstrators are condemning people to poverty". In its first issue after Seattle, The Economist tried a second argument. Faced with the success of the NGOs, it claimed that they "represented a dangerous shift of power to unelected and unaccountable special interest groups". The alleged lack of legitimacy of the "anti-globalisers" has been a constant complaint in business circles since the publication of the Geneva Business Declaration in September 1998, an outcome of a dialogue organised by Helmut Maucher, then president of the International Chamber of Commerce (also chairman and managing director of Nestlé and president of the Round Table of European industrialists) and the UN secretary-general.
The declaration said that: "Activist pressure groups should place emphasis on legitimising themselves. Where this does not happen, rules establishing their rights and responsibilities should be considered. Business is accustomed to working with trade unions, consumer organisations and other representative groups that are responsible, credible, transparent and accountable, and consequently command respect. What we question is the proliferation of activist groups that do not accept these self-disciplinary criteria."
The third ploy is to repeat that the protesters don't know what they are talking
about, to label them and their organisations "opportunist" or "alarmist".
Their ideas and opinions are described as "disinformation", "blatant
lies" and "nonsense". Thomas Friedman of the New York Times says
opponents of neo-liberalism are "despicable [and] deserve a slap in the
face" . The Financial Times, mildly threatening, says that if the advance
of globalisation's foes is to be halted, "now is the time to draw a line
in the sand" . But what happens if the "self-discipline"
is not forthcoming, if no-one takes any notice of the "line in the sand"
and the opposition continues to "talk nonsense"? A great many people
are considering this.
In the middle of the desert
In March 2000 the Cordell Hull Institute in Washington , a pro-free-trade think-tank, ran a seminar "After Seattle: restoring momentum in the WTO". Of the 50 participants - senior civil servants, ministers, advisers to big firms, ambassadors - only two represented NGOs. One, scandalised by the proceedings, posted an account of them on the internet . The meeting had been less concerned with the WTO than with finding ways to silence the opposition. Cecil Parkinson, who had been British minister for trade in the cabinet of Margaret Thatcher, began by saying they must never have another WTO meeting on US soil as it was far too easy to organise protests there. Clayton Yeutter, former US secretary of agriculture, agreed. They should choose a place where "security could be assured" and give little advance notice to "keep the protesters off balance".
The Brazilian foreign minister favoured holding the next meeting "in the middle of the desert" - more or less what will happen in November when the WTO conference meets in Qatar - or "on a cruise ship". In fact, the G8 summit in 2002 will be held in a nearly inaccessible place in the Canadian Rockies. To general applause, he then passionately defended child labour: children in Brazil helped their families by earning a few reales hauling bags of coal from depot to steelworks. A senior US civil servant suggested they should "give the NGOs some other sandbox to play in": they could be told to take their concerns to the International Labour Organisation, which has no powers. Another senior US civil servant, keen to "delegitimise the NGOs", suggested persuading the foundations that fund them to turn off the tap. That would force them to back down.
And whatever the real reasons, the most important American foundations are changing their approach. According to reliable sources - who prefer to remain anonymous - think-tanks and organisations opposed to globalisation are beginning to be denied resources. Also, and unusually, the presidents of major foundations are personally monitoring allocations of funds by their programme managers in cases where, in the past, they have funded groups in the Seattle constellation. The Ford and Rockefeller foundations now favour think-tanks like the Economic Strategy Institute, whose president is a former adviser to Ronald Reagan and whose list of donors reads like a Who's Who of US transnational corporations .
Electronic surveillance is another powerful business weapon. The eWatch company . illustrates capitalism's ability to profit from anything, including the activities of those who question its supremacy. This subsidiary of a public relations company offers to monitor everything on the net about its corporate subscribers, checking not only the media, but also a database of 15,000 online public discussion groups and 40,000 newsgroups. For an annual fee of $3,600-$16,200, "you can monitor the competition, government regulators, activists, opposition groups, and anything else that impacts your business". Cheap at the price.
Such tactics are not expected. And maybe they prove that the opponents of
corporate-led globalisation are making a real impact - why otherwise would the
masters of the universe bother with them? But that is to underestimate the importance
international capital attaches to this battle. Its hatred of democracy has never
been so clearly displayed. It must, by fair means or foul, establish the legitimacy
of its domination before any more shocks. (From this point of view, the elections
of Bush and of Silvio Berlusconi are heaven-sent.) Social movements have to
watch their step now, especially since Genoa. They are entering a minefield.
 See "Chasing the holy grail of free trade", Le Monde diplomatique English edition, April 2001
 Toronto Star, 3 May 2001, quoting official sources.
 Quoted by Cathy Walker, national health and safety director of the Canadian automobile workers' union, in Now Magazine, Toronto, 17-23 May 2001.
 A churchman, Don Vitallano Della Sala, reports having seen Black Block members emerging from a police van (La Repubblica, 22 July 2001, Le Monde, 24 July 2001).
 See Bruno Basini "Avec les maquisards anti-mondialisation", L'Expansion, Paris, 7 June 2001.
 Personal statement by John Sellers.
 www.france.indymedia.org and www.indymedia.org.
 Communiqué issued by the Seattle Independent Media Centre, 27 April 2001.
 Paul Krugman, "Why sentimental anti-globalisers have it wrong", International Herald Tribune, 23 April 2001.
 New York Times, 19 April 2000.
 Financial Times, 19 April 2001.
 The Cordell Hull Institute is one of the American partners of the Institut français de relations internationales (Ifri).
 Bruce Silverglade, Centre for Science in the Public Interest, "How the International Trade Establishment Plans to Defeat Attempts to Reform the WTO", electronic message, 5 April 2000.
 See www.econstrat.org, in particular announcements of Rockefeller and Ford Foundation grants for studies on international trade.
 eWatch, based in Dallas, is a subsidiary of PR Newswire: www.ewatch.com
* Vice-chairman of Attac France, author of "The Lugano Report", Pluto Press, London, 2000, and "Remettre l'OMC à sa place", Mille et Une Nuits, Paris, 2001.
Informationen über und Texte von Susan George:
(Put in the internet by M. Reichl 29.01.2002)
siehe auch Der Kampf um demokratische Kontrolle