rn: Starhawk: Why we need to stay in the streets


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

This line from Starhawk's message below speaks to me most strongly: "I would
do almost anything to assure that no one, especially no young person, ever
suffers such brutality again. Almost anything. Anything except backing away
from the struggle."

Let's not give up, but let's work to prevent violence as well. For me
personally, this effort has largely taken the form recently of carrying on
dialogue, largely within the Canadian peace movement, but also with people
sympathetic to or involved in "rock chucking", police, the military. We must
find ways to get beyond the stereo-typing of police as "pigs" and protesters
as "hooligans". Those in uniform are potential allies; as our struggle
succeeds we can expect them (and others) to join us.

all the best, Jan
Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2001 12:38:39 -0300
From: Aaron Koleszar <•••@••.•••>
Subject: After Genoa: Behind Debate on Street Tactics [snipped by Jan]/ Why
We Need to  Stay in the Streets / on the road to Washington ...

After Genoa: Why We Need to Stay in the Streets
By Starhawk
Since Genoa, there has been lots of healthy debate about
where the movement needs to go. The large scale protests are
becoming more dangerous and difficult. The summits are moving to
inaccessible locations. The IMF and the World Bank and the G8 and
the WTO continue to do their business. Are we being effective enough
to justify the risks we're taking? Should we be focusing more on
local work, building our day-to-day networking and organizing?
I was in Genoa. Because of what I experienced there, including the
moments of real terror and horror, I am more convinced than ever that
we need to stay in the streets. We need to continue mounting large
actions, contesting summits, working on the global scale.
Our large scale actions have been extraordinarily effective. I've
heard despairing counsels that the protests have not affected the
debates in the G8 or the WTO or the IMF/World Bank. In fact they
have, they have significantly changed the agendas and the propaganda
issuing forth. In any case, the actual policies of these
institutions will be the last thing to change. But for most of us on
the streets, changing the debate within these institutions is not our
purpose. Our purpose is to undercut their legitimacy, to point a
spotlight at their programs and policies, and to raise the social
costs of their existence until they become insupportable. Contesting
the summits has delegitimized these institutions in a way no local
organizing possibly can. The big summit meetings are elaborate
rituals, ostentatious shows of power that reinforce the entitlement
and authority of the bodies they represent. When those bodies are
forced to meet behind walls, to fight a pitched battle over every
conference, to retreat to isolated locations, the ritual is
interrupted and their legitimacy is undercut. The agreements that
were being negotiated in secret are brought out into the spotlight of
public scrutiny. The lie that globalization means democracy is
exposed; and the mask of benevolence is ripped off.
Local organizing simply can't do this as effectively as the big
demonstrations. Local organizing is vital, and there are other
things it does do: outreach, education, movement building, the
creation of viable alternatives, the amelioration of some of the
immediate effects of global policy. We can't and won't abandon the
local, and in fact never have: many of us work on both scales. No
one can go to every summit: we all need to root ourselves in work in
our own communities. But many of us have come to the larger, global
actions because we understand that the trade agreements and
institutions we contest are designed to undo all of our local work
and override the decisions and aspirations of local communities.
We can make it a conscious goal of every large scale action to
strengthen local networks and support local organizing. Aside from
Washington DC, Brussels, or Geneva, which have no choice, no city is
ever going to host one of these international meetings twice. Even
now, we hear rumors that Washington is considering relocating or
limiting the upcoming IMF/World Bank meeting. But if we find ways to
organize mass actions that leave resources and functioning coalitions
behind, then each grand action can strengthen and support the local
work that continues on a daily basis.
Summits won't remain the nice, juicy, targets that they are for long.
Over the last two years, we've reaped an agenda of meetings that were
set and contracted for before Seattle. Now that they are locating
the meetings in ever more obscure and isolated venues, we need a
strategy that can allow us to continue building momentum.
As an example, some of us have been talking about linked, large-scale
regional actions targeting stock exchanges and financial institutions
when the WTO meets in Qatar in November. The message we'll be
sending is: "If you move the summits beyond our reach, and continue
the policies of power consolidation and wealth concentration, then
social unrest will spread beyond these specific institutions to
challenge the whole structure of global corporate capitalism itself."
Marches, teach-ins, countersummits, programs of positive alternatives
alone can't pose this level of threat to the power structure, but
combined with direct action on the scale we've now reached, they can.
Of course, the more successful we are, the meaner they get. But when
they use force against us, we still win, even though the victory
comes at a high cost. Systems of power maintain themselves through
our fear of the force they can command, but force is costly. They
cannot sustain themselves if they have to actually use force in order
to accomplish every normal function.
Genoa was a victory won at a terrible price. I hope never to undergo
another night like I spent when they raided the IMC and the Diaz
school, knowing that atrocities were being done just across the way
and not being able to stop them. I ache and grieve and rage over the
price. I would do almost anything to assure that no one, especially
no young person, ever suffers such brutality again.
Almost anything. Anything except backing away from the struggle.
Because that level of violence and brutality is being enacted, daily,
all over the world. It's the shooting of four students in New
Guinea, the closing of a school in Senegal, the work quota in a
maquiladora on the Mexican border, the clearcutting of a forest in
Oregon, the price of privatized water in Cochabamba. It's the
violence being perpetrated on the bodies of youth, especially youth
of color, in prisons all over the United States, and the brutality
and murder going on in Colombia, Palestine, VenezuelaŠ And it's the
utter disregard for the integrity of the ecosystems that sustain us
I don't see the choice as being between the danger of a large action
and safety. I no longer see any place of safety. Or rather, I see
that in the long run our safest course is to act strongly now. The
choice is about when and how we contest the powers that are
attempting to close all political space for true dissent.
Genoa made clear that they will fight ruthlessly to defend the
consolidation of their power, but we still have a broad space in
which to organize and mount large actions. We need to defend that
space by using it, filling and broadening it. Either we continue to
fight them together now when we can mount large-scale, effective
actions, or we fight them later in small, isolated groups, or alone
when they break down the doors of our homes in the middle of the
night. Either we wage this struggle when there are still living
forests, running rivers, and resilience left in the life support
systems of the planet, or we fight when the damage is even deeper and
the hope of healing slim.
We have many choices about how to wage the struggle. We can be more
strategic, more creative, more skillful in what we do. We can learn
to better prepare people for what they might face, and to better
support people afterwards. We have deep questions to consider about
violence and nonviolence, about our tactics and our long range
vision, which I hope to address in a later posting.
But those choices remain only so long as we keep open the
space in which to make them. We need to grow, not shrink. We need
to explore and claim new political territory. We need the actions of
this autumn to be bigger, wilder, more creatively outrageous and
inspiring than ever, from the IMF/World Bank actions in Washington DC
at the end of September to the many local and regional actions in
November when the WTO meets in Qatar. We need to stay in the
Starhawk www.starhawk.org

After Genoa: Behind Debate on Street Tactics

Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Aug. 16, 2001
issue of Workers World newspaper
By Brian Becker

The corporate and banking establishment fears that the anti-
globalization movement sweeping the world will get bigger,
stronger and more militant unless it is diverted or crushed.
Working-class people are suffering from more layoffs,
poverty and hunger worldwide. The IMF and the bankers
represent a tiny stratum of the population that has enriched
itself while the people who do the work are living in
Four hundred billionaires now possess wealth equal to that
of the 3 billion poorest people on the planet.
The anti-globalization movement could rapidly evolve into a
revolutionary movement capable of threatening the
stranglehold over the political and economic system the
capitalists now exercise. If the current worldwide
capitalist recession develops into a full-blown depression
in the United States and other major capitalist countries,
tens of millions of angry workers could fill the ranks of a
movement now led primarily by youths and students.
The lords of high finance in the United States have a
supreme level of class consciousness. They are well aware
that the current political stability could give way to
tempestuous revolutionary storms.
To their chagrin, the destruction of the Soviet Union was
not the end of history or the class struggle. The
revolutionary anti-capitalist movement has been reborn.
Now the capitalists are intent on using the police club and
the puppet media to prevent this radical movement from
maturing and moving forward. It is the duty of all
progressive people to defend the young--and old--radicals
whose vigor and self-sacrifice is awakening a spirit of
struggle and resistance.

Note from Jan: While I cannot support rock-throwing or other acts of
violence, I think it is healthy for those of us who support nonviolence to
see what others are saying (below). And if it is indeed true that supposedly
non-violenct protesters used violence against "black bloc" protesters, this
is certainly deplorable!

all the best, Jan
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001 22:46:06 -0400
From: rights action <•••@••.•••>
Subject: pga-org: Beyond Genoa ... on the road to Washington ...

Rights Action distributes this article with the interest of broadening
debate about the 'different form of globalization' that we are working
to create.
If you want on (off) this e-list, contact: •••@••.•••.
Rights Action encourages Canadian and US friends to go to Washington DC,
for the late September "Annual Meetings" of the World Bank and the IMF.
Please check www.abolishthebank.org and www.globalizethis.org websites
for information related to: educational and advocacy activities; protest
activities and marches; trainings; housing; transportation; media; etc.
From: "poll@" <•••@••.•••>
Date: Wed, 8 Aug 2001
Subject: "Beyond Genoa - where to now?"
Seattle may have been some sort of watershed, but Carlo's killing in
Genoa is a turning point for the anti-capitalist movement (if we can
call it that). How we play it from here will have repercussions far
beyond the blood-stained streets of Northern Italy. It was no freak
cub-cop overreaction that left one mother mourning and several others
preparing to, as the sun hit the sea on Friday night, but a deliberate
act of terror - in the most basic sense of the word.
The snowball that's been gaining weight and speed as it rolled through
Geneva, Prague and Gothenburg has become far too jagged a spike in the
side of those steering the planetary carve up. So bullets meet brains -
and young people are shot dead for daring to think there can be another
The message from the world's authorities is clear: go back to your
homes, do not meddle in what doesn't concern you, return to your
televisions, to smoking dope and stealing traffic cones and leave the
intricacies of global economics alone - because if you don't we will
kill you. The same way we killed Carlo Giuliani.
For decades, the poorest of the planet's families from Asia, Africa and
Latin America have been burying the fathers, the sisters and the first
born sons who have dared to confront the forces of global capitalism.
But Carlo's death spells something different. For the first time the
global elite has begun to kill the children of its own people. Dissent
will no longer be tolerated. The whip of economic dictatorship is
finally cracking at home.
But where we go from here is still up for grabs. The globalisers would
dearly love to see us run scared, or split our ranks with paranoid
accusations of 'whose side are you on?'. Tactical difference should not
be confused with police-collusion and counter-revolutionary activity...
or vice-versa.
True enough, there were cops in ski-masks leading the more excitable and
naive among Genoa's young bloods on attacks on corner shops, bus stops
and post offices. But the agitators can be addressed. If everyone who
takes any action knows why they are taking it and what sort of action
they think is necessary to achieve their goal, then the police will not
be able to steer the crowds, the meetings, the discussion groups or 'the
movement' as a whole. The problem is less one of infiltration, more one
of focus.
The more liberal elements of groups such as the Genoa Social Forum (GSF)
or Prague's INPEG, need to understand, that just because they have the
ear of the newspapers, it doesn't mean they speak with the voice of the
people. The reformist agenda of these groups, who call for more
legislation, more institutions and stronger government control over the
runaway capitalist train, is an entire philosophy away from the genuine
participatory democracy sought by many.
Instead of calling for the deployment of "non-violent methods of
restraining and defusing violent behaviour" for those who fail to adhere
to "the political and ethical parameters of our mass actions" (Walden
Bello, I expected so much more from you), perhaps the up-in-arms brigade
should be questioning their own attempted coup of the global resistance
movement. Both INPEG and the GSF produced documents laying down "rules"
for "participation" in what were illegal blockades of international
meetings. The GSF tactical manifesto was insulting to the resistance
history of many of it's signatory groups. The anarchists were perhaps
the only people (police included) who took to the streets with honest
intentions, both about their goals and what they were prepared to do to
achieve them.
The anarchists have long been aware that power (be it economic or
governmental) is the problem - not who holds it - and needs, therefore,
to be removed altogether. The Black Bloc do not "detract from 'the
message'" - they have a different message. And unlike the liberals and
the hierarchical groups of the organised left who would, at best,
replace those in power with their own institutions manned by their own
people, and at worst, settle for seat at the G-8 table, the anarchist's
message is not a lunge for the throne shrouded in the smoke screen
language of 'justice' and 'liberty'. The anarchists recognise that a
power wielding state is no better than a power wielding corporation, and
they are well aware that the police are the front-line defence for both.
This is not to dispel organisation. Organisation is imperative.
Co-operation and communication between the disparate groups involved in
the resistance is key. But an insurrectionary pseudo-government
(complete with pseudo-police, if Walden gets his way)? Hmmm... two legs
good, four legs bad time already.
The strength of this
movement/loose-amalgamation-of-people-who-ain't-taking-any -more-shit,
has always been its leaderless fluidity, its constantly changing
strategy, its unpredictable tactics and targets. This is why the
authorities (until now) have found it so hard to get a handle on what we
were up to - we weren't following patterns or playing by any discernible
rules. Now, as we witnessed in Genoa, the Man has caught up.
Infiltration is the price of protesting-by-numbers. Though Italy was an
ideal venue for us to mobilise an unprecedented number of
insurrectionaries, it was also a touch for the global authorities who
could mobilise one of the West's most corrupt, right wing and violent
state security forces. Recent history has shown the Italian security
services are prepared to stoop to anything in order to undermine
subversive movements. Genoa proved they haven't lost their touch.
James Anon made the point on Indymedia.org that if the non violent
protesters came up with something that worked, maybe more people would
adopt their tactics.
However, non violence should not be confused with not rocking the boat -
as often appears to be the case. Those who feel the 'violent anarchists'
are curbing their successes should maybe look at how successful their
own tactics are. It is no coincidence that Tony Blair "welcomes"
peaceful calls for debt reform - the communiqués are duly issued, the
lip service paid, and then..... nothing changes, and the global carve up
getting mapped in the Oval office doesn't miss a step.
Maybe time within the 'movement' would be better spent skipping the
anarchist witch-hunt and focusing on our common enemies. One of the more
eye opening moments in Genoa came when the non-violent protesters and
the Black Bloc crossed paths. At around three o'clock on July 20th, an
anarchist bloc had tried to cross the Piazza Manin en route to the red
zone, the non-violent white handed pacifists in the square, refused to
let them pass. Discussions between the two groups were interrupted by a
vicious police attack during which the white hand protesters sat down
hands aloft and took a severe beating without fighting back (as is their
prerogative). However an hour later when three masked youths walked back
through the square, the (understandably upset) pacifists threw first a
stick, then a bottle, then a rock at them. They saw the Black Bloc as
the cause for their pain. No violence had been directed at the police
wielding the boots, the clubs and the teargas, but strict pacifist
adherence could be suspended in order to attack anyone (without
authority) who had not stuck to "their" tactical code. Perhaps this
pacifist submission to authority says more about the the authoritarian
nature of the society they seek, than about their abhorrence of the
Black Bloc's tactics.
The more reasoned voices of Italy's Ya Basta collective are already
admitting the error of attacking the brick throwers (there is something
twisted about an elite Tutte Bianchi hit squad in Subcommandante Marcos
t-shirts beating people with crash helmets for wearing bandannas over
their faces).
However, the security services will no doubt be fuelling the fire of
division and will embrace the peace-policers (as they did in the US
during the anti-Vietnam protests of the 1960s) who, they hope in turn,
will return the anti-capitalist front-line to the letters pages of the
Washington Post.
The rats inside the global red zone want us to crawl back to our
workplaces, to the fear of unemployment and to the gratitude for an
irregular playtime. But we can say no. We can say: we do not care how
well protected you are with your armies, your police, your banks or your
brands, because we have had enough and we will not run from your guns.
Theses would-be leaders can scuttle off to Qatar or cruise ships or
Rocky Mountain retreats, but we know their meetings have little impact
on the real decisions made elsewhere. Perhaps we in the West should
follow the example of India's farmers who removed Monsanto's
headquarters brick by brick and took it away. If we don't like Bush's
missile defence plans, we could go to Flyingdales and take it away,
brick by brick, bullet by bullet. We have the ability to take capitalism
out piece by piece, pound by pound. We could pick a company, say Balfour
Beatty, and put them out of business. A thousand actions at a thousand
sites dismantling every facet of their insidious business. Would their
shareholders bail them out? Unlikely. Then we could move on and up
When we can co-ordinate our actions as millions of people, then maybe we
can dismantle the oil industry, the arms industry, the jail industry,
the government industry?
The mass street actions we have been able to mount and the dedication,
planning and application of those on the streets has shown us that we
have the wherewithal to make decisions and carry them out regardless of
what the state may think or threaten. If we put this dynamic to work
away from the mega-summits we can become a threat again. But we need to
be imaginative and we need to stay ahead of the beast. Where we choose
to go from here is crucial to whether we are in the process of sparking
serious global change or whether we are merely in the death throes of
another cycle of resistance.
If we don't want corporate activity in our neighbourhoods, lets chuck
the corporations out. If we don't want the police or the government
flexing their muscle in our neighbourhoods, lets stop recognising their
bogus authority and encourage others to do the same. Lets link our
communities together - not through state or business initiatives - but
through people who share a common struggle. If we believe in making
changes and creating something better, and if we are prepared to take
the risks and put in the time, then lets do it.
Lets not let Carlo's death be in vain. Because when one of us catches a
bullet, a club or jail sentence, a little bit of all of us dies. But
together we are alive and together we can, and we will, win.
See also The Case for Confrontation, by the same author:
Rights Action raises funds for 50 grassroots human rights, community
development and environmental projects in Chiapas, Guatemala, Honduras
and - most recently - Peru and El Salvador. If you would like to find
out more about our work, contact: [Canada] Rights Action, 509 St. Clair
Av, W., Box 73527, Toronto ON, M6C-1C0; [USA] Rights Action, 1830
Connecticut Av, NW, Washington DC 20009.; [Guatemala] t:
To make a tax-deductible donation to the work of the 50 grassroots
groups that we support, make checks payable to "Rights Action" and mail
to the Canadian or US address, above.
General information:
T: 416-654-2074
E: •••@••.•••
W: www.rightsaction.org

Aaron Koleszar <•••@••.•••>
"Por todos nuestros muertos, ni un minuto de silencio. Toda una vida de 
[To honor our dead, not a minute of silence. A whole life of struggle.]
- In memory of Carlo Giuliani who was murdered by a soldier at the G8 
meeting in Genoa, Italy.
"Find out just what people will quietly submit to, and you have found out 
the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them, and 
these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows. The 
limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
         -Frederick Douglass       [and by the inaction of witnesses]
Evil flourishes when good people do nothing.
"If you assume that there's no hope, you guarantee that there will be no 
hope.  If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are 
opportunities to change things, there's a chance you may contribute to 
making a better world.  That's your choice." - Noam Chomsky
http://www.indymedia.org - The Independent Media Center (IMC)
The Biotic Baking Brigade.....coming soon to a pie-o-region near you.
•••@••.•••                              http://www.asis.com/~bbb/