by Joe Davison
(Swans - July 18, 2005) The 2005 G-8 Summit, held at the luxury Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland from July 6th to July 8th, was notable for many reasons but three that stood out in particular: (i) the failure to come up with anything to alleviate unremitting poverty in Africa other than a pledge to raise aid by a paltry 15 billion dollars by 2010: (ii) a set of announcements on climate change which amount to the final and complete death of Kyoto and with it the assured continued degradation of the environment: and (iii) coordinated bomb attacks in central London which came almost certainly as a consequence of British involvement in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
This lack of substantive progress, any progress at all in actual fact, came despite an unprecedented "Make Poverty History" campaign spearheaded by Oxfam. Designed to put massive public pressure on the leaders of the G-8 to cancel the debt and come up with a package of measures on trade and the environment, it culminated in a huge march in Edinburgh in advance of the summit on Saturday, July 2nd, a march which attracted upwards of three hundred thousand people from across Europe and the U.K. In addition, held in conjunction were live rock concerts in London, Berlin, Philadelphia, Tokyo and Edinburgh organised by those sycophants of the political elite, Bob Geldof and Bono. A veritable who's who of multimillionaire pop and rock stars turned out for this ego spectacular, along with the odd Hollywood celebrity or two, hopefully all of whom shared the same private jet to save on aviation fuel.
Ultimately this latest exercise in bread and circus political campaigning achieved nothing; nothing at all.
That it did achieve nothing would have come as no surprise to anyone in possession of an analysis which penetrates beyond the symptoms of economic policies and an economic system predicated on ever-increasing profits no matter the human or environmental cost. And when you do look at it like that you very quickly realise that the very idea of these eight men, leaders of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world, coming to Scotland, staying in the obscene luxury of the Gleneagles Hotel and, there, in between champagne receptions and rounds of golf, getting to grips with the mayhem, misery, and wars resulting from their policies, their economic system, was a nonsense from the word go.
This then brings us to that phenomenon otherwise known as the Global Justice Movement.
Arriving on the international stage with a bang at the WTO in Seattle back in 1999, this heterogeneous movement encompassing groups and people of all political stripes has grown bigger and more coherent with each passing year. Taking a quick stock take of this movement's phenomenal success in such a short space of time provides hope where before there was none. Prior to 1999, institutions like the WTO and the G-8 were able to meet in almost complete anonymity anywhere they liked. And at those meetings they went about their business unmolested and totally unchallenged. Well, not anymore they don't. Now, whenever and wherever they meet, it's under a state of siege.
An example of this came at this year's summit in the shape of the biggest and most expensive security operation ever mounted in British history. A five mile perimeter fence, complete with watchtowers, was erected around the grounds of the Gleneagles Hotel, manned by some of the 10,000 police officers drafted in from all over the U.K. Chinook helicopters were used to ferry riot police from location to location and above them fighter jets flew regular patrols. Out at sea, in coastal waters, a US aircraft carrier stood ready with 2,000 US Marines aboard ready to be deployed at a moment's notice. All of this stands as a testament to the effectiveness and growth of the Global Justice Movement. Yes, and in just six short years it has also succeeded in exposing the savagery and barbarity hidden behind the benign words and terms employed by the masters of the world to describe their economic policies. Words and terms like globalization, neo-liberalism, free market, structural adjustment, have all taken on a negative connotation in the public consciousness, testimony again to the efforts of the Global Justice Movement.
Some have referred to this movement, which also encompasses the antiwar movement, as the New Left. Maybe this is so. However, it has up to now been held back by one major and significant deficiency: namely the meaningful and organised participation of the workers. Because, as effective and welcome as mass protests and demonstrations are, they are no substitute for industrial action on a massive scale. For it is only a general strike, in the U.K. but especially in the U.S., that can stop this juggernaut of imperialism and war in its tracks and perhaps usher into being the catch-phrase of the Global Justice Movement, "Another World Is Possible."
The mobilization leading up to this year's summit was organised by a group called G-8 Alternatives. In a week of protest marches, vigils, running battles with thousands of riot police brought onto Scotland's streets from all over England, police whose heavy-handed tactics were those of an occupying force, the event that stood out was the Alternative Summit held at various venues throughout Edinburgh on Sunday, July 3rd. Five thousand people from all over the world attended plenary sessions and workshops on a wide variety of topics and struggles. Imperialism; aid, trade and debt; the politics of oil; WMD's were just a few of the major issues analysed and discussed. Anti-imperialist struggles represented included Palestine, Iraq, Latin America, and Ireland. Speakers and delegates included people like Susan George, Mark Curtis, Scott Ritter, George Galloway, Bianca Jagger, Trevor Ngwane, Dennis Brutus, Tommy Sheridan, and Eamon McCann.
Three hundred fifty protesters were arrested during and around this year's G-8. Sadly, however, the most significant statistic was the 49 dead (at time of writing) and 700 injured as a result of the four bombs which exploded in London during the morning rush hour on Thursday, July 7th. Pictures of Tony Blair in the aftermath pontificating yet again about the need to face terrorism and the terrorists wherever they may be were every bit as nauseating as they've always been.
The irony is that the 350 protesters arrested were doing just that when they went up to Gleneagles. For, make no mistake, Bush, Blair & Co. are without any shadow of a doubt the most dangerous men on the planet, men collectively responsible for 100,000 and counting dead Iraqi men, women and children; for the lives of those soldiers sent to Iraq who won't be coming back; for the 30,000 children who die each day in sub-Saharan Africa due to hunger and preventable disease; and now for those 49 Londoners, many of whom would have been against the war, who were killed on their way to work.
It is simple but true; the only way to prevent terrorism is to stop being a terrorist. These eight men, plutocrats all, their role and function that of representatives of the international ruling class, are terrorists of the most heinous kind. One day, if there is any justice in this world, the perimeter fence erected to protect them in their bubble of luxury at Gleneagles will be a permanent one erected to keep them incarcerated in the high security prison where they truly belong.