florian schneider on Sat, 5 Feb 2000 19:27:19 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> more on davos

[some more reporting about davos. sorry for the delay, the text was
ready for delivery on last sunday, but because of technical problems
and misunderstandings it is a bit late now. /fls] 


In a way, it was the best meeting point one can imagine: a highway
service area in the Swiss mountains called "HEIDILAND". At 12 am, seven
buses from Switzerland, France, and Italy full of highly motivated
activists gathered to get together to the demonstration against the
World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. 

++ Busses waiting at the meeting point:

Weeks ago, the annual demonstration against the annual meeting of
business chiefs and the political elite was officially forbidden by the
Swiss authorities. Unlike the last two years, when only about 150 people
were freezing in front of the Nobel hotels, for the year 2000 the
administration feared a heavy confrontation between police and
demonstrators. Organizers and leaders from several NGOs tried to
explain, that a ban of the demonstration would exactly produce such a
confrontation and insisted on the freedom of speech and the right for
demonstration, but they were not heard at all. "Please, not another
Seattle," Tony Blair was whimperingly quoted by the morning newspapers.
The executives desperately wanted to avoid any more tarnishing of the
image of what they euphemistially call "globalization."

While Clinton was still showering in a hotel in Zuerich, before he was
brought up to the famous Kurort Davos by one of five chartered
helicopters, the crowd of notorious unwashed activists was still
awaiting two buses from Paris. The buses were blocked that night at the
border for a few hours, but eventually were allowed to continue their
trip. The road blockade, which a dozen MP-armed Swiss police men set up
a few kilometers before Davos, was rather artless as well: after a quick
peek into car boots, the buses were allowed to pass. Even more
suprising, though, was the number of people who gathered for the newly
"illegal" ralley at 3pm in front of the Davos railway station. optimists
had forcast 600 people, but, according to the organizers and Swiss
radio, almost 2000 came.

++ First activists gather infront of railway station:
<http://www.kein.org/davos/gathering.jpg> ++

"The demonstration is taking place," somebody shouted into a microphone
and suddenly everybody, who was sitting anonymously in the pizzeria next
to the railway station, jumped up to join the event. In the next second
police cars came with blue lights, policemen mounted their guns with
plastic bullets, pittoresc trucks with a gate in front formed a line
across the main street. 

++ Police behind gates: <http://www.kein.org/davos/blockade.jpg> Two
nervous police men: <http://www.kein.org/davos/block1.jpg> ++

Slowly the demonstration moved forward, but after a first speech was
held through the portable soundsystem the activists just overran the
police. This unforeseeable success produced a certain dynamic, of the
kind that can turn relations of power upside down (or maybe into their
opposite) -- at least for a few moments. Twice more the police tried to
stop the demonstrators, but their attempts didn't seem very serious. 

++ The break even point: <http://www.kein.org/davos/run1.jpg> Open
access: <http://www.kein.org/davos/breakthrough.jpg> Another futile
attempt to stop the people <http://www.kein.org/davos/gunsncamera.jpg>
Ahead: <http://www.kein.org/davos/run2.jpg> and on the run forward:
<http://www.kein.org/davos/run3.jpg> ++

Policemen, militants, cameramen, and spectators ran up the hill, where
Clinton had just started his speech. Some hundred meters in front of the
Congress Hall, a more familiar reality set in: water cannons, many more
police, many more guns, and many more gates were set up for a heavy
blockade of the road. 

++ Up the hill: <http://www.kein.org/davos/upthehill.jpg> Cross the
gates: <http://www.kein.org/davos/gatedown.jpg> The final blockade:
<http://www.kein.org/davos/gate.jpg> No chance to get further on:
<http://www.kein.org/davos/gun.jpg> ++

At this point, both sides seemed to tacitly settle with each other.
Straight- faced policemen suffered snowball attacks, some speeches were
held. Two of them reported from simultaneous demonstrations in Italy,
where 20,000 people Milan and 10,000 in Florence made rallies against
detention camps for illegalized migrants. (In the evening the Italian
Minister for Internal Affairs announced that the lager in Via Corelli
[see previous reports on nettime] will be closed.)

++ What is going on in Italy? <http://www.kein.org/davos/italian.jpg>
Homo davosiensis in the crowd <http://www.kein.org/davos/davosman.jpg>

With mobile phones on hand, the latest news arrived, greetings were sent
and broadcasted. On the way back down the hill some side-effects of the
extremely defensive police tactics appeared: the smashed front of a
McDonalds, some broken windows of WEF shuttle buses, a few damaged
Mercedes Benzes of unknown businessmen, burning WEF banners and a
Turkish flag unfurled at the entrance of the Sheraton hotel. The whole
afternoon with its great tactical set-up would have been a complete
success for the counteractivists if it weren't for a few idiots who
joined the wrong party. Hooligan style, they beat up a policeman who got
lost amidst the running activists. The man got heavily injured, as
mainstream media reported.

++ The way back: <http://www.kein.org/davos/down.jpg> A well-known
symbol <http://www.kein.org/davos/mac.jpg> No banner anymore
<http://www.kein.org/davos/banner.jpg> Smoke on Davos:
<http://www.kein.org/davos/smoke1.jpg> Snowball effect:
<http://www.kein.org/davos/snowball.jpg> Attack on the hotel
<http://www.kein.org/davos/sheraton.jpg> and on the car of businessman
<http://www.kein.org/davos/car3.jpg> Other collateral damage
<http://www.kein.org/davos/flags.jpg> ++

Inside, 3,200 government, business, and civil-society leaders gathered
to join the 30th World Economic Forum, also known as "the Summit of
Summits." The program of the meeting and all its rhetoric sounded a bit
like a Next Five Minutes conference, with one minor difference: this was
the political and economic elite. Nevertheless, the WEF is an excellent
example of what recently has come to be known in some circles as a
post-governmental organization (PGO). Behind closed doors and
accompanied by a few invited, hand-picked journalists, important issues
are pre-discussed and ushered into various political processes. The
organizers of the counter-activities mwentioned as an example the joined
efforts on bringing down the kurdish guerilla PKK after the last years
WEF: "Last year representatives of the US-American oil lobby as well as
of the Turkish and Russian governments met under this very understanding
of humanizing globalization to draw up the conditions for a transit
corridor for the strategic commodities oil and gas on their way to
Western markets. The Kurdish resistance needed to be dismembered."

One of the goals of the this year's meeting was to stress the
"reflective" side of the elites, to speak about a so-called "responsible
globalization". After the PR debacle of Seattle, the world needed to
understand how truly concerned the self-proclaimed leaders of the world
are about the underside of the "inevitable" process of globalization,
such as the "problem of poverty," which has "not been resolved," and the
"paradox between the harsh business reality and human and social
values." One part of this strategy was to invite to the meeting five
representatives of NGOs that were signatories to the "Declaration of
Bern"; with them in tow, the elites launched a campaign called "The
Public Eye on Davos." In order not to be compromised, the NGOs developed
a double strategy as well: they called on authorities to allow the
forbidden rally to continue, but obviously only on a purely rhetorical

The composition of the demonstration showed a wide range of a renewed
radical left, mainly influenced by relatively strong groups from Italy
and France. Their coalition is largely based on the belief that
monitoring the thinktanks and decision-makers along the process of
over-exploitation on a global level is not enough. But this slender
common ground seems to have reached its limits in Davos: there was a
serious lack of theory and analysis. Davos revealed a new challenge: to
fight the developing coalition of NGOs and PGOs that dream of a new
empire based on global governance. There is and is urgent need to
develop new concepts of autonomy based on further connectivity and

some links: 
- anti wef site
- real audio reports <http://www.lora.ch/davos/start.htm> 
- Public eye on Davos <http://www.evb.ch> 
- WEF official homepage <http://www.weforum.org> 
- Pictures from Milano <http://www.ecn.org/mi29gen00>

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