Calgary analysis

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Jul 7 16:28:57 MDT 2002

(This just showed up on the aut-op-sys mailing list, a home for
"libertarian communists" and anarchists of all stripes. It is just the
lastest in a series of probing self-criticisms of the anti-globalization
movement that has emerged since the Genoa events. It is far too long to
post to the list, but I am including the opening synopsis plus an
interesting look at the impasse youthful activists appear to have reached.)


By Tom Keefer, July 2nd, 2002. (tom at

[Synopsis: An analysis from an anarcho-communist perspective of the
anti-globalization movement in the context of the G8 protest in Calgary
with a special focus upon the impact of Sept 11th, and contradictions
between the movement's reformist and revolutionary tendencies. Contains
a discussion on the weaknesses of the concepts of "anti- capitalism" and
"diversity of tactics" as expressed by the movement's radical wing. Tom
Keefer is a member of the North Eastern Federation of Anarcho-
Communists (NEFAC) http://]



An "anti-capitalist caucus" was held to incorporate "anti-capitalists"
involved with the J-26 actions. Unfortunately, other than a vague
consensus that they were opposed to "capitalism" there was no
understanding or agreement by this caucus as to what exactly capitalism
is, how it operates, or how and by whom it can best be opposed. There
was next to no meaningful discussion of how class, race, patriarchy and
struggles for native sovereignty impacted upon capitalism or movements
for its abolition, nor was there any discussion and analysis of what
capitalism could be replaced with and what role could be played by
various social movements and the working class (who, in withdrawing
their labour, can bring about an immediate cession to capitalist

Instead "anti-capitalism" became a strategy of producing "shocking" and
symbolic spectacles- "protest porn" -which had the effect of neither
shutting down the corporate center of Calgary, nor of reaching out to
un-politicized workers and linking up to their struggles or concerns.
Some of these actions included a "die-in" in a park, getting naked in
front of the Gap, having a group of people take off their clothes and
cover themselves in mud and grunt as they cavorted through the streets,
and the playing of two 5 minute games of "anarchist" soccer on a
downtown intersection following the snake march protest.

It thus seems that an "anti- capitalist" strategy was believed by most
attendees of the anti-capitalist caucus to consist of either an
irrelevant fashion statement or an apolitical and unplanned clash with
the forces of authority, and given the balance of forces confronting
activists in Calgary, most chose to opt for the former. From the caucus
one would never have guessed of the existence of something called the
working class and that it might have any relationship to capitalism
worthy of the name, or that the broad masses of that class need to
consciously mobilize themselves for the creation of a fundamentally
different kind of social system, should any anti- capitalist struggle
seek to be ultimately successful. Nor did it strike members of the
caucus that perhaps some of the many people we were supposedly trying to
reach with our message might be interested in hearing about what kinds
of alternatives we might propose to the capitalist order that we
criticize so voraciously.

The actions proposed in both the spokescouncil and the anti- capitalist
caucus, would have been appropriate (or would have been at least a
benignly irrelevant) had Calgary in fact been shut down by protestors
due to a broad based and effective conjuncture of social upheaval and
confrontation with the forces of state and capital. But in the context
of a social movement in the process of becoming isolated from its would
be supporters by a state orchestrated campaign of repression, and given
the crying need for the movement to deepen and extend its influence at
this critical junction, these actions were a useless diversion at best,
and a stupid farce at worst.

"Actions" like this serve only to draw a line between the radical
"anti-capitalists" and ordinary working people who while exploited by
capitalism, can see pretty clearly that a movement made up of naked,
grunting, mud covered middle class "earth people" has little to
concretely offer them in overcoming the oppressive conditions of their
lives. Similarly, how a handful of people playing soccer, watched by a
passive mass of 500 others for a short period of time in the context of
a crassly commercial and profoundly nationalistic ongoing World Cup
event constitutes a relevant representation of "anarchism" or for that
matter, "anti-capitalism", was never explained by anyone inside the caucus.



Louis Proyect

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