Seattle

Craven, Jim jcraven at SPAMclark.edu
Mon Dec 6 09:41:39 MST 1999



I just came back from Seattle last night--the last of the protests at the
King county jail were tapering off with the King County Prosecutors agreeing
to release the remaining arrested protestors if they agree to show up for
trial. The tactic is to demand public defenders, not waive right to a speedy
trial, plead nont-guilty and to clog up the system with trials. The vast
majority of those still held were charged with various misdemeanors with a
few charged with felonies.

I was involved in protests but also, with working press credentials,
circulated throughout various demonstrations in downtown and on Capitol Hill
and inside the press areas of the conference itself. I have to say honestly
that I was not as enthused and hopeful and some who were there and wrote
their own accounts. For example, in any demonstration, there are bound to be
some diverse and contending elements--brought together around a central
concern--but the diversity in Seattle was something else. I asked various
demonstrators some baci questions about the WTO--very basic--and many had no
idea about its basic origins, composition, proposed rules etc. The spectrum
from far right to "left" was truly astounding. I had some people telling me
they were there to protest the WTO as an instrument of a gigantic "Jewish
One-Worldist Communist Bankers Conspiracy"; we had the "China out of Tibet"
group; we had Greenpeace saying they were there to urge--plead--with WTO to
do more to "think Green" in their policies and procedures; we had the labor
aristocracy of the Hoffa types and Teamsters all of a sudden so concerned
about child labor in the Third World, environmentalism and "American
Sovereignty" and of course nothing said about the ongoing work of the
AFL-CIA and Teamsters as fronts for CIA labor activities in the Third World
and elsewhere or nothing about the long history of betrayal of labor by the
labor aritstocrats; I have a vivid image of a very overweight woman, telling
me how moral and healthy she was as a vegetarian, so moral because plants
like animals do not feel pain, and telling me that the Makah were savages
and needed to be stopped for "by any means necessary" for "Eating Willie"(I
asked her why she didn't think Indians on the verge of extinction--far
closer to extinction than Grey whales--weren't also cute and fuzzy, and for
a brief moment I felt like giving her the taste of the meat of my fist being
thrust into her mouth); there were some kids narcissistically dancing in the
streets saying to me now they fell like they were "in the sixties" and are
now "veterans" of street action.

Friday night, there were protests at the jail and at the Weston. At the
Weston Hotel where the delegates stayed, word came out that the delegates
were at am impasse and would be leaving without a future agenda due to
"Clinton's" environmental and labor concerns not being acceptable to the
Third World delegates'. There were cheers all over with protestors claiming
to have driven Clinton to take positions that sabotaged the conference and
"we won, we did it." Standing around in groups were Maoists hurling epithets
at Trostkyists and vice-versa and of course the neo-fascist Larouchites and
other scum parading around in "pro-labor", "anti-imperialist" postures
disguising their naked fascism. And of course there was that militant
"anti-capitalist" and "America-Firster" Buchanan and his cronies parading
around with their "American sovereignty", "pro-labor", "pro-family farm"
postures.

The actions were necessary and needed and did do something to mobilize some
degrees of progressive consciousness among some. The Seattle police did
launch assaults--I was in the middle of one on Capitol Hill and they were
definately not out of rubber bullets and tear gas there-- that were
unprovoked and of course the big unions were so proud of the fact that they
had made arrangements with the police to be so peaceful and law-abiding and
respectful of authority and of course the troublemakers and anarchists must
be stopped (not that they might be paid provocateurs of the police with whom
they had arranged to be so peaceful and respectful).

But all in all, I was reminded of Lenin's concept of  "Better Fewer But
Better". In addition to some determined protest, progressive and elightened
consciousness raising and courage, there was also a whole lot of infantile
narcissism, petit-bourgeois "single-cause-ism", ultra-reductionism (my cause
fuck everything else), robotic jingoism and just plain theater and carnival
in the streets. I would have preferred half the numbers present had they
been tightly organized and determined around a clear vision and
understanding of the origins, nature, dynamics, masks and consequences of
imperialism and the role of WTO in the service of U.S. imperialism and its
stooges and determination not to compound the mystifications and
ultra-reductionism of imperialism with some ersatz "leftism" and "populism".
At the demonstration on Friday night I was especially sickened as I hear the
self-appointed "leaders" (anyone with a bullhorn) tell the crowd to listen
carefully as they were about to hear from an Indigenous Leader who was there
to speak for the concerns of Indigenous Peoples (to be taken to speak to the
gathered at the jail) about WTO. As I heard his name announced I wanted to
throw-up on the spot: "Rudy James". Louis can tell you why I wanted to
scream  a grab a baton from one of the cops. All sorts of opportunists,
self-appointed saviors and "leaders" were thrusting themselves forward, and
many of the gathered, politically naive to say the least, had no idea some
of the scum that were being addressed as--and addressing them
as--progressive and revolutionary "leaders."

I interviewed some of the conference delegates. A couple asked me where the
hookers hang out and some appeared to be quite ignorant about specifics and
certainly about basic bourgeois economic theory that serves as the
foundation and rationale for WTO. Out of eight delegates I managed to
interview, only two had any knowledge about the infamous Summers Memo (a
concentrated expression of the twisted reductionist neoclassical "logic" of
imperial hubris and genocide that is one of the ideological/theoretical
foundation for neoliberal globalism and WTO) and none of those aware of it
would attempt to defend it. The delegates had obviously been briefed not to
talk to press except under controlled circumstances and to regard all press
as the potential enemy (eventhough the press acounts focused on the usual
sensationalism and action over any substance being discussed or protested
through the actions).
I agree with Carrol that the real question is what comes next and what will
those protesting likely be doing next to follow-up  from the street action.
In many cases, I am not too hopeful that a lot of substance or hard-core
organizing, propaganda, further actions or theoretical development will take
place for many of the participants. I hope I am wrong.

More later.

Jim Craven

James Craven
Clark College, 1800 E. McLoughlin Blvd.
Vancouver, WA. 98663
(360) 992-2283; Fax: (360) 992-2863
blkfoot5 at earthlink.net
http://www.home.earthlink.net/~blkfoot5
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