Seattle Was Only the Beginning
- News for Anarchists & Activists:
COLUMN: Seattle was only the beginning
Updated 12:00 PM ET December 5, 2000
By Pamela White
(U-WIRE) BOULDER, Colo. -- A year has already passed since
more than 50,000 anti-globalization protesters gathered in
Seattle. Opposed to the human-rights, environmental and
economic abuses associated with rape-and-run capitalism and
global corporatization, they came from across the United
States and beyond in an attempt to shut down a week-long
meeting of the World Trade Organization.
And they succeeded -- at least for a while.
Concerned citizens managed -- largely without violence -- to
bring WTO business to a halt for one day, while making it
difficult at best for delegates to meet the other four.
Like a pebble dropped in a vast, dark lake, the event caused
a ripple that has spread and continues to spread today.
Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Prague,
Melbourne, Australia; Windsor, Ontario; Ft. Benning, Ga.,
and Cincinnati -- the battle has been joined on more fronts
than anyone could have imagined last December.
And a battle it has been, with more than 100,000 activists
having put themselves on the line in the United States alone
against an increasingly hostile and militarized police
force. With the aid of unrepentantly violent U.S. Marshals,
the police have committed acts of unprovoked violence,
striking the first blow in Seattle and deliberately
targeting reporters with rubber bullets in Los Angeles.
The ripple made by the Battle in Seattle would be larger if
newspapers and television had reported the facts. Rather
than people reading about brave police and "militant
protesters," readers would have learned that the police had
begun bashing heads before a single window was smashed. They
would have read about the group of protesters that sat
singing peacefully in a park -- until riot police arrived
and began literally beating them on their heads with batons.
They would have read about the locals who were held from
their homes by police -- then sprayed with pepper spray by
those same police when they applauded the cops' departure
from their neighborhood.
The past year has provided horrific images that many of us
will never forget: activists with missing teeth, torn skin,
and bleeding faces in Seattle; police on motorcycles
deliberately driving over the prostrate bodies of protesters
in D.C.; panicked youth fleeing a concert in L.A. under a
hail of rubber bullets.
And absurd images: a police chief displaying chili peppers
confiscated from the activists' kitchen; a standoff between
puppet-makers and police in Philly that resulted in the
apprehension of many street puppets; Clinton giving a speech
in the Staples Center about how much better off the United
States has been under Democratic leadership while cops cut
the power to protesters' TV outside.
But it has provided wonderful images, as well, images that
hint at new possibilities: a young woman in a yellow
raincoat dancing with a grin on her face in front of
hundreds of police clad in riot gear; thousands of activists
arriving simultaneously at intersections around the
International Monetary Fund and locking down to the sounds
of drums and cheers in D.C.; street puppets, dancing,
fire-eating, Native drumming -- and some rather unorthodox
It's like nothing we've seen in the United States since
Vietnam. But unlike the activism of the '60s, this movement
isn't the creation of one particular generation or class of
people. It isn't just white college students from middle-
and upper-class families who've been protesting the WTO, but
grandmothers, high school students and blue-collar workers.
And it's growing.
Still, there's a lot of work to be done, both in educating
the American TV-addicted masses and in bridging the gap
between the middle-class experience of most progressives and
the struggle that defines the lives of colonized peoples,
including those within our own borders. A conscious effort
must be made to reach out to those who don't understand the
issues -- and to those whose daily lives make the violence
of Seattle seem trivial.
Often, Americans tend to think of themselves as leading the
way, whether with regard to technology or entertainment.
When it comes to social revolution, however, we are
following, just waking up from a comfort-induced stupor.
Seattle did not spark a global movement -- it simply joined
one that was already in motion.
Regardless of how you look at it, Seattle was and is cause
for celebration. Changing the world is a long-term process.
And we've shown we're up to the challenge.
The Website of Lord Weÿrdgliffe:
The Dan Clore Necronomicon Page:
"Tho-ag in Zhi-gyu slept seven Khorlo. Zodmanas
zhiba. All Nyug bosom. Konch-hog not; Thyan-Kam
not; Lha-Chohan not; Tenbrel Chugnyi not;
Dharmakaya ceased; Tgenchang not become; Barnang
and Ssa in Ngovonyidj; alone Tho-og Yinsin in
night of Sun-chan and Yong-grub (Parinishpanna),
-- The Book of Dzyan.