rn:Uniting the protests: What if Chomsky, Nader were on death row?


Jan Slakov

From: "Carolyn Ballard" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Mumia & the WTO -- Uniting the Protests
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 22:30:34 -0800

> WTO / Seattle / Mumia
> By Michael Albert
> The World Trade Organization treats working people in countries throughout
> the world as assets to manipulate in pursuit of private corporate profit.
> >From Guatemala to South Africa and from Thailand to the South Bronx, this
> causes impoverishment, illness, and even mass starvation. When resistance
to exploitation follows, the flip side of exploitative trade and aid policies
> is coercive repression. We need change, yet we cannot civilly persuade
> people who regard us as a target for exploitation, manipulation, and
> repression that they ought to curtail the pain their policies cause
because of humanitarian concern. They don't care about our humanity or that of a
15 year-old earning $1.50 a day in Jakarta or dying of starvation in
> Instead, to get change from economic elites, we need to raise social costs
> until the elites see that maintaining their policies will cost them so
much that they must relent.
> Movements to the raise social costs of maintaining abhorred policies,
> however, come in two broad types. (1) They can fight for immediate
reforms, such as reversing WTO policies, as ends in themselves with no further
> aspirations, taking as given the underlying relations of the economy. (2)
> They can fight for the same immediate reforms, but seeking to empower
> constituencies to create lasting infrastructure and organization and to
> raise consciousness and commitment, all leading to winning further gains
and ultimately transforming underlying relations.
> There are many differences between these broad approaches, each of which,
> however may use letters and lobbies, teach-ins and leaflets and rallies,
> speeches and marches, civil disobedience and even massive strikes and more
> militant disruptions to convey to elites that they have to change course
or suffer unacceptable losses of legitimacy and stability. But, differences
> aside. I want to make a single, simple proposal that I hope both wings of
> anti-WTO activists will find congenial: WTO activists should reject WTO
> policies and economic hardship and oppression, of course - but also Mumia
> Abu Jamal's incarceration and pending execution as well as coercive
> repression more broadly.
> The U.S. is hell-bent on killing Mumia in large part to make a powerful
> statement about the efficacy of state repression. This death penalty, like
> lynching in the past, is in considerable part meant to send a message
about the futility of opposition. Mumia does not deserve to die. Moreover,
> activists should not sit idly by while repression is legitimated by lethal
> injection. Sincere advocates of social justice seek liberty for the
> oppressed and resist efforts to destroy opposition to injustice. They thus
> work to save Mumia Abu Jamal just as they fight exploitative
globalisation. The only way to save Mumia, however, is to raise social costs
sufficiently to force a new trial. But to raise social costs requires
activism of many shapes and forms and .and diverse activism is what Seattle
is about. The
> anti-globalisation movement is big, visible, and recently relatively rich
in assets. What an opportunity it has to reverse one of the most damaging
> attributes of contemporary movements - their parochialism and single-issue
> narrowness.
> It isn't that every movement needs to enunciate all demands of every other
> movement all the time. Of course not. But it should be obvious to all, it
> seems to me, that prospects for winning major gains on a grand scale - and
> turning back international trade agendas or U.S. domestic repressive
agendas are, in fact, major gains on a grand scale -- are enhanced rather than
> reduced by building solidarity among movements and especially by bridging
> long-standing gaps and even chasms. At this moment Mumia and the WTO are
> arguably the two most pressing focuses of political activism in the U.S.
The trade agreements are in process. Mumia's execution is nearing. Neither
> struggle is peripheral in any sense. To have many members of each of these
> movements openly support the aspirations of the other would go a long way
to creating trust and broadening consciousness in both cases, and to
> communicating to elites that their policies are having still another
effect they can't afford - uniting opponents of injustice. More, all indications
so far are that in the U.S. WTO organizing is being done, overwhelmingly, by
> white activists. So in addition to the general benefits of mutual support,
> we have the possibility of a largely white-led movement taking the
> initiative in expressing solidarity with the Black community over
preventing the execution of a very prominent black political figure. Imagine
that Ralph Nader or Noam Chomsky was awaiting execution. Would their plight
enter the consciousness and visible manifestations of the folks going to
Seattle? Then so should Mumia's.
> The anti-WTO forces can in one simple act of inclusion communicate that
> struggles for justice are necessarily interconnected and mutually worthy.
> They can teach that winning valuable gains in any venue requires raising
> social costs so high that it cannot be accomplished without diverse
> constituencies from many venues joining the effort. To either overcome WTO
> plans or to free Mumia it is necessary to unite and fight.so let's do
both. What an opportunity for a largely white-organized project, at least in the
> U.S., to evince solidarity with a Black activist and a Black-led movement.
> What we have in Seattle is an opportunity for better communication and
> better activism. We need to seize the opportunity. We need to recognize
that social change legitimately and understandably bubbles up in many forms and
> with many agendas, but that ultimately it's all about the same damn thing:
> winning justice, creating a better world.
> Go to Seattle or bring the spirit of Seattle to your locale. Add to
Seattle Mumia, and add to Mumia Seattle. As Mumia writes: "Conventional wisdom
would have one believe that it is insane to resist this, the mightiest of
> empires.... But what history really shows is that today's empire is
> tomorrow's ashes, that nothing lasts forever, and that to not resist is to
> acquiesce in your own oppression. The greatest form of sanity that anyone
> can exercise is to resist that force that is trying to repress, oppress,
and fight down the human spirit."
> If Mumia can practice solidarity and mutuality from death row, surely we
can do as much from outside.