Chris Shaw and Jill McEachern

With recent events in Genoa, the anti-globalization movement has reached a crossroads. To choose which path to take, we must understand what has been revealed from the relatively innocent days of Seattle to the overt fascism of Genoa. Crucially, we must recognize that we are in a war.

This is a hard fact for many of us to accept. It goes against our deepest hopes for a peaceful and rational resolution to the current world crisis. It seems to offer a vision of combat, destruction, and death that violates in advance the world we hope to create. And, frankly, it scares most of us, including those who have known war.

The New World Order of global capitalism operates under no such constraints or illusions. It clearly knows that this is a war for survival of two totally irreconcilable world visions -- "everything is for sale" versus "people and the planet before profits" -- and it is either they or we who will prevail.

Their actions reveal this knowledge as their agents in the police and the various armies act with increasing military precision and violence to silence protest. One has only to realize that the ramped up violence from Seattle to Quebec City to Genoa has been almost entirely one-sided. At each protest, more police and soldiers come out, armed with increasingly lethal weapons.

Further levels of confrontation and aggression, almost all from the State, increase, and the civil rights of ordinary citizens are further diminished. In each case, protesters and those passersby merely unfortunate enough to be present have been gassed and beaten. Demonstrators in Sweden have been shot and in Genoa a man was killed by gunfire.

The war we seem afraid to acknowledge is, in fact, a global civil war. For all intents and purposes, the conflict between the New World Order and those who confront it is an early stage of World War III.

There is a spectrum of response that can be made to the agenda of the New World Order. First, one may accept as correct the basic premise that all the world and all the world’s people are mere commodities to be bought and sold by those with money and power. Such a statement is far too realistic and ‘honest’ for even its most ardent supporters to acknowledge, at least in public.

In its place, many cheerleaders for the New World Order clothe the reality of their agenda in the platitudes of neo-liberalism: “helping the poorer nations catch up”, ‘free markets’ equal democracy and human freedom”.

Statements of this type are the mantras of those who support this world view. The corporate media of most countries spin out such statements, daily, to the point where many people accept globalization not only as ‘inevitable’, but even desirable.

Caught between the underlying reality and the waves of pro-globalization propaganda, many citizens, particularly in the industrialized countries, choose to remain ignorant, placing their trust in some future happy resolution. After all, the hope goes, humanity has been through worse crises before; it will all work out in the end as it did in the past.

Others are apathetic, believing we can’t change the system. Many are simply afraid, especially after the repression of protests in various cities.

While these positions are understandably human, they are also philosophically indefensible given that the New World Order’s fundamental premise and global actions are innately immoral.

Another response to the globalization agenda is to withdraw from the system.

The logic of this approach says that we can make capitalist ideology and institutions irrelevant by replacing them with our own. We let global capitalism do its thing while we do ours: We can opt out of the system, substituting barter for banks and self-sufficient, sustainable communities in place of corporation-run societies.

A hundred years ago, this strategy might have worked, but no longer. The forces of the New World Order are everywhere, into everything, and can tolerate no alternative realities that might serve as counter-examples to the future world they frenetically crave.

Try to run your own economy as did Serbia and you get Kosovo and invasion; withdraw into your own community and you get Waco; escape to the Amazon and they will clear cut it around you.

We share with all humans the foundations for life on Earth: water, air, the very web of life. There is simply no place to hide, and the time left to save humanity and the planet is running out.

Attempts to reform capitalism by restoring national controls and making it responsive to civil society are sometimes touted as solutions, often by those already part of the system. ‘Chartered’ corporations can work for society if regulated by governments that recognize the primacy of people.

Entrepreneurial use of capital can benefit society if under the same regulations. The historical reality is that such controls have been short-lived at best and the current series of international trade ‘agreements’ and organizations seek to wipe out whatever regulations still exist.

World history is filled with examples of capitalism seeking total control. Until now, they have never had the collaboration of most of the world’s national governments. Now they do. There is thus no motivation for capitalism to reform itself, with the prize of the whole world within grasp.

To draw a medical analogy, attempting to reform capitalism is like trying to reform cancer. In both cases, the pathology is unlikely to cooperate.

If we in the anti-globalization movement accept the premise that the New World Order is a pathological danger to humanity and the planet, and one that must be combated, we must first define what our long-term goals are.

Generally stated, I think most would agree with a mission statement something like, “Our aim is to replace rampant global capitalism with a just society and economy that puts the Earth and all of its people before profit”. To achieve this goal, we must choose appropriate strategies; within the strategies will be the specific tactics to be employed for this battle.

We are left with two remaining options. The most extreme is violent revolution. While many societies are close to this, we in the West are simply not yet there, neither practically nor emotionally. It may yet come to this everywhere as global capitalism’s grip continues to strangle the planet, but that time is not now.

Not only are we not ready, but violent revolution as a means to create a more just world carries within itself its own karmic implications: It will be next to impossible to teach future generations that violence is not an answer if their world has been born in blood.

This leaves us with the final current option: education, mass protests, direct action, and civil disobedience. This is very much what the anti-globalization movement is doing now.

The problem lies not with the basic strategy, but with tactics. Up to now, confronting the agencies of globalization at their meetings has had mixed success. We have succeeded in raising public awareness about the issues surrounding globalization, but we are now locked into a cycle of diminishing returns as non-violent mass protest has reached a predictable conclusion.

After Genoa, middle class white people now know what people of the ‘Third World’, the poor, and people of colour in our own society have known for years: if pushed hard enough, the Corporate State will kill. We may still hope in the long run to win this war non-violently with love and reason, but it should now be totally clear that without forgoing non-violence, we will not breach the barricades erected to protect the elite at their meetings.

Unless the anti-globalization movement becomes armed and ready for combat, it will never break into the fortresses. The very best we can hope for with a continued strategy of confrontation in the cities are more ‘Genoas’.

The planned protests at the IMF meetings in Washington DC in September 2001 seem likely to repeat the events in Quebec City and Genoa: more violence by the State, more injury, possibly more death, without protesters coming anywhere near to reaching their goals of either stopping the meetings or influencing their outcomes. The embarrassment we cause the leaders of the New World Order by showing up has now been countered by a new response.

Rather than have their agendas compromised by the untidiness of clashes in the cities, the globalizers will ensure that future meetings of the G8, IMF, the World Bank and others will be held in increasingly inaccessible places, for example, the desert dictatorship of Qatar, or the mountain stronghold of Kananaskis.

Their goal is to make future efforts to protest the globalization agenda increasingly difficult. What ‘face’ they lose by holding their meetings in secret in such lonely places is, for them, a small price to pay. Better to pay this price than allow ‘anarchists’ to expose their schemes; better to have meetings where only the tame press can report, where the violence of their police can go unmonitored, where those who dare to question their legitimacy can be crushed at will.

For them it even becomes an exercise in spin-doctoring. They are already claiming that they are forced to hold their meetings in out of the way places because of the ‘violence of mobs of unelected, unrepresentative, professional protesters’.

Time has run out on the movement’s focus on tactics of mass urban confrontation. By now, the point has been made that many average citizens of all countries oppose the process of economic globalization.

The damage wrought to cities hosting such summits has brought parts of the movement into disrepute, and ‘Black Blocs’ and other parts of the anti-globalization coalition mutually accuse each other of sabotage and collusion with the State.

As false as it is, the corporate media have succeeded in convincing many of our uninvolved fellow citizens that we are all ‘violent anarchists’, protesting only out of selfishness or a desire for the cheap thrill of street fighting.

If more of us are killed, the media will write us off as deserving of such a fate by dint of our 'violence', and any embarrassment to governments will be transitory. If instead a member of the police dies, regardless at whose hands, we can be equally sure that the press will use this to condemn the entire movement and governments will use such an event for crocodile tears followed by even greater repression.

In fact, the killing of a policeman or soldier would likely be viewed as a ‘win-win’ event for them as it would further demonize the movement, further tribalize the police, and further divide the forces opposing the globalization agenda. One wonders that they have not yet upped the ante to killing one of their own to achieve just this response.

The use of ‘agent provocateur’ tactics by the State is well
documented against the anti-globalization movement and throughout the history of social uprisings. The architects of the New World Order will mourn neither our deaths nor those of the police if they should occur: We are merely in their way; the police merely their tools whose deaths may serve a purpose. We need a new tactical approach.

There are two major war-fighting doctrines now taught by Western armies: attrition and manoeuvre.

Attrition warfare was that which characterized most wars up until the end of World War II. Basically, in this form of war, an army fights for space, attacks the enemy at his strong point, and seeks to wear him down by attrition, ultimately totally destroying him. The winner of such wars is the side best able to withstand the attrition in lives and material.

Our current anti-globalization approach has been mostly that of attrition: They barricade themselves, we besiege; they move to new locations, we follow. The fundamental problems with this approach are that
(1) they have all the weapons;
(2) they are in defensible positions with the force required to hold them; and
(3 ) they are already planning to move to ever more remote fortresses where our ability to follow and effectively confront them will be severely limited.

A rule of thumb for offensive operations says that to succeed, the attacker must outnumber the defender by a ratio of 3:1. As they move farther from major cities for their meetings, this ratio will increase in their favor.

Add to this the fact that they will now operate out of sight of all but the controlled media, and we have the recipe for a complete failure of our future goals if we carry on with an attrition approach.

However, if we adopt the manoeuvre doctrine, the move to more remote locations becomes irrelevant and it presents the anti-globalization movement with opportunities.

Historically, ‘manoeuvrist’ doctrine has been used successfully by various armies. In brief, the manoeuvre doctrine says this: Attack the enemy’s weakness, do not fight for space, disrupt the enemy’s tempo, and destroy his cohesion.

Changing the tempo of attacks and hitting where least expected prevents the enemy from responding to any challenge in time, and saps his morale. In military terms, such tactics “get inside the enemy’s decision cycle” and keep him constantly striving to catch up. In the end, disorganization and demoralization force surrender.

In many ways, the manoeuvre approach in war is much like the guiding tactical philosophy of most martial arts that seek to defeat an opponent by attacking weak points, rather than by confronting strength with strength.

We can accept that there will always be a place for demonstrations in major urban centres, if for no other reason than to educate and expand the movement, if only to ‘bear witness’ to the crimes done in the name of globalization.

We can, however, also envision future hypothetical scenarios in which the manoeuvre approach could provide added ability to fight back by increasing mobility and flexibility of thinking to our overall strategic plan. Imagine this:

***Any resemblance of the following to any current or future events or people is purely coincidental. ***

It’s the year 2005. The state of the environment and the plight of poor and working class people the world over is desperate. Successive meetings of the global elite have been met by ever greater numbers of protesters taking to the streets, despite the danger.

The State has turned to face-recognition software and anti-gang legislation to prosecute anti-globalization groups and assumed “leaders”. Increased intimidation and violence is unleashed against dissenters in the lead-up to the meetings, and the demonstrations themselves are pure carnage.

After a protest against the IMF, Independent media footage and accounts flash around the Internet, exposing the lie of the official line about the death of a policeman. It’s a PR disaster for the State.

Meetings of the international financial and trade bodies are moved away from urban centres, and are held secretly in remote locales. Rather than attempting to follow, anti-globalization groups such as the “Guardians” and “Global Resistance” move when and where least expected.

Supply lines for food, water, air, transport and communication become opportunities for direct action. Organizations that support the meetings become the focus of boycotts and other forms of interference, causing them to reevaluate their participation.

The cost of doing business is escalating, but globalization marches on. The Resistance begins to increase the pressure by hitting global capital the only place they can be hurt – in the wallet.

Headlines read, “Protesters ignore G8 meeting, stock markets are shut down in all G8 nations”. Columnists go on to detail the surprise change in tactics from demonstrating outside meetings to shutting down stock markets from Vancouver to London to Moscow in the weeks preceding and during the summit.

Other reports describe direct action taken against multiple arms of corporate power in key cities by fast moving activist affinity groups, and raids into government and business files by hacker ‘commandos’.
Such future hypothetical scenarios raise an ethical question that must be squarely faced: Would such tactics be likely to harm innocent people? The answer, clearly, is ‘yes’.

The global money markets and stock exchanges are now totally rooted into the daily lives of many ordinary citizens. Most in the middle class own stock or mutual funds and any downturn in market stability will affect them. Interfering with the markets must inevitably hurt the ‘innocent’.

Seen from the broader perspective, however, the damage inflicted on middle class citizens might be considered the lesser of evils. In comparison, doing nothing or withdrawing must surely doom us all.

Confrontation in barricaded cities brings tear gas and batons onto protesters and uninvolved bystanders alike. No one should pretend that all of the people gassed in Seattle, Prague, Quebec City, or Genoa were even peripherally involved with the protests or that these people would have suffered this fate if we had not confronted the Corporate State in their cities.

In the extreme, if the condition of the environment and society deteriorates to the point of revolution, it will bring death and misery to millions. An unfortunate reality of any war is that many suffer who are not combatants. The only solace to the grief that would be brought to bystanders by direct action is that we fight also for those who remain uninvolved, and for those yet unborn.

It is doubtful that manoeuvre tactics alone will be enough to halt the aspirations of global capitalism. Such tactics, however, will slow the march toward world domination long enough to decide how best to bring capitalism to an end, or at the very least force it into accepting a new, mutually beneficial relationship with the rest of us. The burden of proof that capitalism can be reformed must always rest with them.

Big business and its political puppet leaders may have more resources in money, in police and soldiers, but in the end they are few in number, ultimately unable to win an endless civil war, nor even profit by fighting it. Those fighting for a just global society are more numerous, have the potential for more creativity and mobility, and have the added power that comes with justice.

If for no other reason, the New World Order will ultimately lose because their ideology is pathological to humanity and the planet. Thus, while the long-term outcome is certain, it would be far better if the anti-globalization movement were able to defeat capitalism in the short term before Mother Earth does it herself, taking the rest of us down in the process.

The tasks before us are not simple and the battle for the Earth is unlikely to be short or painless. Facing the challenges of the present and future, it is far too easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the damage already wrought and by the powers arrayed against us. It is too easy to seek refuge in apathy, to wish we had been born in a less frightening time.

This fear brings to mind an ancient Jewish prayer, the ‘Shehechianu’, which thanks God for “…giving us life, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this time”.

Normally offered at holidays and happy events, this prayer has a deep meaning for those of us alive now. Rather than despising the adversities facing us, we can instead be grateful that we are the generations chosen to fight this battle: We are the blessed, fortunate to be here at this time and place, and given the task of redeeming the world.

Great evil brings forth acts of great heroism and sacrifice – without one, we might not witness the other. In the face of the evil perpetrated by the New World Order, many otherwise ordinary people have found an inner courage and a calling to fight for global justice: ‘Je me souviens’ those who went time and again into the hail of tear gas canisters and plastic bullets in Quebec City. Generations to come will honour this struggle, and so we must fight in the way we hope to be remembered by those who follow.

The struggle for global justice has already laid the foundations for the world we hope to build. The anti-globalization movement is powerful in its diversity of peoples and visions, in its core spirituality, and in its determination to wrest back control of our world. Within the movement, consensus decision making and a refusal to acquiesce to traditional forms of leadership have changed the way many of us view community and democracy.

Our opposition to global capitalism has spawned multiple notions of what society could be like, how economies could be run, how sustainability might replace consumption and greed.

The seed has been planted: We now see the outline of what the world will look like when we win. And we will win.


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