Brian Holmes on Mon, 8 Oct 2001 19:57:45 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Naomi Klein: Activism After September 11

Willard Uncapher wrote:

" The real struggle should be how to define and implement positive goals:
economic justice, civil rights, democratic frameworks, balances of power,
regulatory transparency, and so on.  Globalization to an anthropologist
means a lot more than cultural homogenization, or modernist / colonialist 
universalism.  And to the public, the demand and struggle for 'economic 
justice' and cultural and natural sustainability sounds a lot different 
than 'antiglobalization' and its protests. Indeed, I would have thought
that the term antiglobalization was invented by the mainstream press to
isolate, humiliate, and belittle 'progressive activists.' "

As far as I can tell, the term _was_ invented by the mainstream press to do
exactly what you say. In fact what we have seen expressed at the various
summit meetings over the last 2 years is a "movement of movements,"
bringing together many different groups occupied with the complex issues
you have listed in the first sentence quoted above. What happened was that
most of these groups, finding themselves confronted with the impossibility
of making the public powers react to their critique and proposals, took the
risk of practicing or associating themselves with civil disobedience and
direct action in highly public situations where they could not be ignored.
At the same time, all the groups involved in this "movement of movements"
stepped up their communicative output and networked relations, helping to
create a greater willingness among the public at large to consider complex
issues - as you describe so well in your post.

A protest movement, with its drama, its hasty convergences, its symbolic
violence, is a risk. It has been useful up to this point. Now it will
change. One reason is that the events of 911 have so clearly revealed the
dangers of the globalizing process that governments around the world will
have to address at least some of them much more deliberately - leaving room
for some of the critical analyses that have been made in the nineties to
influence public policy. Another reason is that any demonstration that
looks as, let's say, "unruly" as the last one in Genoa did, is likely to
lose its legitimacy in the eyes of the wider public. So there will be a
change in tactics and symbolic language, necessarily - if only to respond
to the deliberate unruliness of the police.

I think it is very important to contribute to those changes. We cannot
expect our governments to solve the problems for us, spontaneously. They
have to be constantly watched and pressured (as they are by the corporate
interests). It will be vital, in the upcoming years, to find forms of
action as effective, more effective, than the series of summit protests has
been. Otherwise I'm afraid the notions of bioregionalism, which are very
interesting indeed as you describe them, will remain notions.

Thanks for such a thoughtful post - Brian Holmes

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