On Native Ground: TO DIE IN GENOA
by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt., July 28, 2001 -- It was inevitable, given the fear of t= he established order when faced with organized dissent, that someone would = die in Genoa during the G-8 summit. Since the demonstrations at the World=
Trade Organization's meeting in Seattle in 1999, the police presence neede= d to protect each succeeding gathering of those who want to plunder the wor= ld for profit has been increased. And the helmeted, club wielding protector= s of the rulers have no interest in upholding the right to protest.
Scores of anti-globalization activists have been killed in protests in I= ndia, Nigeria, Bolivia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Mexico and other place= s outside the glare of the corporate media. But the death of Carlo Giuliani= and the wounding of more than 400 others was captured on film and transmit= ted for the whole world to see. And suddenly, everyone sees the stakes of t= he argument: If unfettered free trade is so wonderful, why do the people di= scussing it need to deploy armies of riot police to protect them?
The answer is, of course, that globalization is not a benign thing. Gutt= ing protections of workers' rights and the environment and destroying civil= society as we know it are what "restructuring" the global economy really m= eans. And that's why there have been protests whenever and wherever the bac= kers of globalization have met. As French President Jacques Chirac pointed = out, "One hundred thousand people don't get upset unless there is a problem= in their hearts and spirits."
The G-8 leaders said the right things about helping the least of our bro= thers and sisters. They discussed how to deal with the AIDS pandemic and th= e crushing burden of debt on developing nations. But in the end, it was onl= y talk. The eight men that represent the richest and most powerful nations = of the world are more interested in maintaining a global economy that cater= s to the bankers and investors, not the four billion people -- two-thirds o= f the world's population -- who are trying to survive on a per capita incom= e of less than $2 a day.
President Bush talked before the G-8 summit about how theanti-globalizat= ion forces were no friends of the world's poor and werecondemning them to f= urther poverty. Is that so? The protesters in Seattle,Davos, Quebec City an= d Genoa didn't put these four billion people intopoverty; the International= Monetary Fund and the World Bank might have a little more to with it, not = to mention one-sided trade treaties such as NAFTA.
There is not inherently evil about free trade. But when agreements are = made that disregard concerns about human rights and environmental protectio= ns, you will see more of the kind of protests that we've seen over the last= couple of years.
Some may ridicule them as Luddites or hippie wanna-bes, but the anti-glo= balization protesters are raising legitimate points. The decisions that are= being made by a handful of leaders -- decisions that will have an impact o= n the entire planet -- need to be made openly and with the involvement of o= rdinary people. The power of multi-national corporations needs to be curbed= . The environment and human rights must be protected.
But none of these things will happen without vigorous, persistent and in= telligent protest. The words of Frederick Douglass come to mind: "Power con= cedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out j= ust what people will submit to, and you will have found out the exact amoun= t of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will co= ntinue till they have resisted with either words or blows, or with both. Th= e limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they supp= ress."
Even though future discussions of globalization are being moved to place= s that are difficult to nearly impossible for protesters to reach, the prot= ests won't be going away. The depth and breadth of opposition to corporate = rule over the planet is too big to be ignored or contained. And it is only = from this opposition that a change will come. Power concedes nothing withou= t a demand.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for morethan 20 = years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books).