Das Netzwerk der internationalen Kriegs- und Militärdienstgegner hat sich seit Jahren auch mit der Gewalt in Bereichen Menschenrechte, Soziales, Wirtschaft und auch Umwelt beschäftigt. Ihre jahrzehntelange gewaltfreie Widerstandspraxis muß sich nun mit globalen Dimensionen (selbst)zerstörerischer Herrschaft über Mensch und Natur auseinandersetzen. Sie muß zur Kenntnis nehmen, daß sich diese anonymisierten Strukturen den bisher praktizierten Methoden der Konfliktlösung (z.B. Mediation) immer mehr entziehen.


Facing the Challenges of the Anti-globalisation Struggle

A Statement by War Resisters' International

August 2001

War Resisters' International - an international pacifist network with more than 80 affiliates in more than 40 countries - was appalled by the violence of the Italian police against anti-globalisation demonstrators in Genoa. Members of WRI affiliates from several countries went to Genoa to protest against policies that inflict hunger and poverty on large parts of the world. These were people with a stated commitment to nonviolent forms of action and many had organised nonviolence training session before departure, or participated in last-minute trainings offered by the Foro Social in Genoa. What they encountered was a rampaging police force given the license to indulge in violence, sexism and even fascist behaviour in a premeditated attempt to intimidate all demonstrators, whatever their attitude to violence. Some were asleep in the office of Foro Social when the police raided it, beating anybody they could lay hands on. Others were subjected to violence and degrading treatment in police custody. Those of us who live in the so-called democratic west are shocked by the police violence in Genoa, and by the death of Carlo Giuliani.

On Contradictions in the movement

The struggle against economic globalisation is a global struggle against corporate rule, and for a just social order. In this struggle, movements from the west, the east and the south unite. Still we need to be aware of the challenge of internal contradictions within the movement, and of contradictions we face in our daily life.

Those of us who live in the west benefit from economic globalisation, from the more and more rudimentary welfare systems, which are a result of the workers struggle of the past, and designed to trickle down some of the benefits of economic exploitation of the south and east, from the widespread availability of the products of cheap labour in the south for consumer goods in the west. While for those of us in the west the struggle is for maintaining and expanding existing welfare systems, for creating a life in opposition to consumerism and merely materialist values, for those of us in the south and east the struggle often is a struggle for survival - a struggle against the destruction of the environment that provides the means for life, a struggle against slave labour and deprivation of the basic means for survival, a struggle for human dignity.

On Militarism

The events in Genoa point to the link between economic globalisation and militarisation. As a network committed to nonviolence, WRI has no illusions about the length to which police forces will go to defend corporate interests and the existing social order. If such overt brutality is a surprise to many in the West, it is all too common in many countries in the world, were the military and an often militarised police enforce the conditions necessary for an economic exploitation of the majority of these societies, which is the driving force of globalisation. The IMF's "Structural Adjustment Programs” rarely address military expenditure, while demanding serious cuts in social welfare and education. And NATO demanded that its new members in Eastern Europe adjust their military equipment to NATO standards, which will take away resources from welfare needs in these countries. Resistance to the absence of workers rights and the denial of basic human needs often meets with violence from the military and police forces, and it is no surprise that the human rights records of most of these countries are very poor.

Economic globalisation also challenges workers rights in the West, and is more and more used as a justification to cut down existing welfare systems. Growing resistance increasingly meets a more and more violent police force, sometimes even the military. Growing migration from the south meets with more and more rigid border controls, which are aimed to prevent the movement of victims of globalisation, and lead to a more and more militarised and racist immigration policy in the west, while at the same time the movement of capital is more and more "liberated” to foster a globalised capitalist economy.

War Resisters' International sees the economic injustice, which is a result of globalisation, as one of the causes of war and armed conflict. Therefore, as a movement against war, we need to engage in the struggle against economic globalisation, and join forces with anti globalisation actors coming from other movements and backgrounds. At the same time we urge the anti globalisation movement to acknowledge the links between globalisation and militarism, links that became all too obvious through the actions of the militarised Italian police in Genoa.

On Globalisation from below

While we oppose economic globalisation, we don't oppose globalisation per se. The anti globalisation movement is a global movement of people, a living example of globalisation from below. In this globalisation from below we need to be careful not to just mirror globalisation from above, which is all too easy as our perception is blurred by a globalised mass media. Why did the death of Carlo Giuliani send a shock wave through the anti globalisation movement all over the world, while the death of at least four anti globalisation protesters, shot at a demonstration in Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea on 25/26 June didn't spark the same reaction?

We need to value the many different struggles going on in almost all parts of the world, which unite in the anti globalisation movement. And we need to listen to the voices of those of us from the south, who are often silenced and not listened to, and who don't have any voice in the globalised mass media.

There is no precedent for the kind of anti globalisation movement that is needed today, and no precedent for building global structures from below, that secure global representation.

On Violence

The events in Genoa raise many questions, and point to some of the challenges the anti-globalisation movement and the peace movement need to face. The question of violence by movement activists - although only a small minority - is only one of them. The violence of a minority of demonstrators, and also of agents provocateurs, offered a distraction, which enabled the globalised mass media to carry repeated images of demonstrators trying to smash windows while neglecting the real issues: that the profits of multi-nationals are at the expense of the poor of the world and that what is presented as "aid” usually serves to promote western corporate interests. Furthermore, this violence disempowers people, those who want to protest nonviolently. Not only were they seen as being associated with the violence of demonstrators, but also they were exposed to the even more violent actions of the police, who claimed that the violence of some activists justified indiscriminate attacks on the mass of demonstrators.

WRI and its members need to engage in dialogue with those promoting violent resistance to globalisation, which we see as an expression of disempowerment and hopelessness. Violent protest fuels the spiral of violence, and ultimately social militarisation. On the one hand, this militarisation takes the form of tougher policing, on the other, certain protest groups pay more and more attention to covert forms of action or techniques for damaging property than to a strategy that addresses the real issues. These tendencies can only lead to social marginalisation for protesters and offer a pretext for states to increase their security apparatus.

However, the question of violence from the side of resistance movements is not a new one: the anti-colonisation movements of the 50s, 60s and 70s used violence even armed struggle on a large scale, and violence is a permanent issue on the margins of social movements. While WRI condemns this violence, this shouldn't distract us from the issues raised by these movements, and their often justified cause.

While WRI strongly condemns violent acts committed by movement activists, we shouldn't turn a blind eye on the far greater violence of the Italian police in Genoa, and the structural violence of economic globalisation in general. It is the tragedy of movement violence that it distracts attention from structures of violence, which kill far more people by denying them the basic means for survival without throwing a single stone, or firing a single bullet.

On Nonviolence

War Resisters' International and its members believe that the anti-globalisation movements needs to re-orient itself towards a strategy of nonviolence - not just against the violence of the police and states against demonstrators, against the kind of violent militancy of some movement activists, and against the structural violence that deprives the majority and protects privilege.

A strategy of nonviolence needs to involve building our own strength as a movement, and developing alternatives to economic globalisation and corporate rule. A strategy of nonviolence needs to involve making use of the rich heritage of nonviolent movements from all over the world in preparing for nonviolent confrontation, drawing from experience in nonviolence training from the US Civil Rights Movement, the Gandhian movement in India, the landless movement in Brazil, the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, among many others. In promoting nonviolence we are not naïve. We are aware that our nonviolence needs to include to be prepared to face violence from the police and the states, to resist violence non-violently, and to prevent violence from a small minority of movement activists.

A strategy of nonviolence also needs to involve a rethinking of the present focus on following the summits of those in power, an agenda set by the powerholders and not by the movement itself. While Seattle served to bring the movement out into the open, and inspired many all over the world to join the movement, the repetition of these actions from Seattle to Washington, Prague, Davos, Quebec, Gothenburg, Genoa is not a real strategy, if this remains the main focus of the movement, and is not accompanied by local action. This is a lesson those of us in the west should learn from those of us in the south, who engage in creating economic alternatives in the landless movement in Brazil, in rural areas in India or Africa.

While we unite in opposing corporate rule and economic globalisation, we need to work on developing our own vision of nonviolent economics. We need to admit that we are weak when it comes to alternatives, and that we know well what to fight against, but only have a blurred image of what to fight for. Therefore we welcome the attempts made at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre/Brazil to discuss alternatives. A nonviolent strategy against economic globalisation needs to include a global discussion on nonviolent economy, an economy that is defined by human needs and respect for the environment and other living beings.

War Resisters' International, August 2001

War Resisters' International

5 Caledonian Road * London N1 9DX * BRITAIN

tel.: +44-20-7278 4040 * fax: +44-20-7278 0444

email: info@wri-irg.org * http://www.wri-irg.org

WRI put the statement "Facing the challenges of the anti-globalisation movement" out to trigger a discussion within War Resisters' International, and to contribute to the discussion within the wider peace movement and the anti-globalisation movement.

We would like to know in what what way you are involved in the strategical debates, the discussion on violence and nonviolence. If you are coming to the WRI Council meeting in September, where globalisation will be one item on the agenda, then please make sure you are up-to-date with what your organisation is doing on this issue.

Please let us know about any feedback you receive on the WRI Statement.

(Put in the internet by M. Reichl 31.08.2001)