After Genoa, How Do We Protest?

On our side, we
should try to do anything that works and is within our capacity. However, the
best tactics are those that increase our size and strengthen our commitment.
If rallying does that, good. If teach-ins do it, fine. If sit-ins, blockades,
and/or more aggressive tactics do it, that’s fine too. Debates over whether to
trash windows or throw Molotov cocktails or block buildings or hold teach-ins
or have rallies and marches or do all or only some of these options, and in
what combination and sequences, are not about what the evil in the world
warrants or about the courage of potential participants. They are about what
works to build a more effective movement.

July 20 began a
series of demonstrations in Genoa against the G8 (major industrialized
nations) meetings (see Starhawk’s article in this issue). As with
demonstrations in Seattle, Prague, Quebec, Melbourne, and throughout the third
world, activists tried to reverse worsening rules of international cultural
and economic exchange as well as to address sexist, racist, statist, and
capitalist injustices.

growing opposition to capitalist globalization has caused Bush, Berlusconi,
and others to fear that if a huge mass of humanity gains sufficient knowledge,
hope, and confidence, it will force more participatory outcomes against the
tide of their elitist globalization.

Berlusoni, et. al. thus decided in Genoa to send a message: oppose us and you
will pay a high price. They set their police loose to brutalize activists via
torture and shooting and to intimidate not only the dissenters in Genoa, but
also the broader public. Bush, Berlusconi, et. al. want to instill fear and
thereby ensure, for example, that at the next go around in Washington, DC,
starting on September 28, there will be a small manageable turnout, rather
than the immense outpouring of dissent and resistance they fear.

So how should we
respond? Encountering their predictable violence, we should not grasp defeat
from the jaws of victory. We have made them fearful and we are still growing.
We will have more victories if we can handle new stages of size and conflict.
Fear will exist—what the police did in Genoa was scary—but we shouldn’t become
passive. We shouldn’t do their work for them, by dwelling on our physical
pains and their violent tactics. This will disrupt our mental focus, induce
paranoia, and interfere with our broader message about globalization. Nor
should we react in a dance of danger, thinking we must escalate our actions in
the same terms they think about escalating theirs.

The compelling
answer to state violence is to educate more widely about the issues and to
attract and sustain ever wider and more lasting support. Our demonstrations
must include so many people, from so many backgrounds, from so many parts of
society, and with such clarity of purpose and intent, that the effect of elite
repression will not diminish our efforts, but rather enlarge them. We must
make elite’s repressive tactics benefit us, not them. That is the road to

Leading up to
Washington’s late September demonstrations, our movement must be busy being
born, not dying.                    Z