"Don't watch the light, watch the cars.
Light ain't going to hit you."
been an illusion that opposing the WTO is by its very nature a left issue.
That it's all really our party, naively thrown for us by those establishment
types, those innocent social-democratic officials of the AFL-CIO and all
the nice global liberals and lobbyists. In this view, while some stuffed
shirts may have disapproved of the ruckus---and a Pat Buchanan or two may
have awkwardly crashed our party--in downtown Seattle we were the action
in an anti-corporation festival. As the poet said at another revolution:
it was in that dawn to be alive/ But to be young was very heaven."
Nice, but no cigar.
The anti-WTO protests in Seattle were a radicalizing experience for many, on a tactical level. But on a larger scale, the Left has unacknowledged strategic problems with this issue. To sum it up simply, we have the problem that we may be helping to fuel the explosive growth of the Right and neo-fascism. And we have to think of refocusing to fight the Far Right in the anti-WTO struggle---just as we need to in every other contested terrain.
There are three political currents opposing the WTO here, not just one. In basic terms: Center, Left and Right. The Right-Wing wasn't partying down in Seattle that week only because they didn't want to be. Believe it, if Pat Buchanan or a David Duke had really wanted to bring thousands they would have. But why would they want their followers to unite with Jews and anarchists, mix with topless Lesbian Avengers by Trotskyist banners? And they definitely didn't want them clashing with the same cops they're busy educating and recruiting. No, they've got a different game plan.
Remember, we're not the only players. It wasn't the Right that got wiped out during the 1980s-1990s, after all. That was the Left, and today the revolutionary Left has small groups of activists but no real social base in the u.s. While the Right has a major social base out of the traditional settler culture (and is rapidly growing). And it's within that blood-warm environment that neo-fascist currents have clearly developed.
Sometimes we unthinkingly misjudge the Far Right. Seeing only the most visible, what infringes on our own world. Mentally ill shooters or small groups of headline freaks in drag. Those are only tiny flashes, glimpses of what might be coming. The first important fact about the Right-Wing is that it is still not coalesced, but it is huge. Often they dominate the social dialogue in rural areas and small towns. They are a major political presence not only within the ranks of the police and military, but in school boards, talk radio, churches, even some unions and local governments. Again, they cannot be easily counted or measured because they are still uncoalesced. Kept diffused by various imperialist strategies in order to prevent their disruptive potential.
How much potential can be seen by the fact that in the 1986 Louisiana election, 57% of the total white vote for u.s. senator went to David Duke of klan and neo-nazi fame. Or the quiet use of steady, low-level, anonymous settler violence in aryan regions to both eliminate sources of abortion and to end u.s. policing of public lands (i.e. the faint beginnings of a shadow government).
That means even when the Far Right is not immediately present in person---as they weren't in downtown Seattle at the ruckus and the tear gas---they have the massified subcultures to take advantage of and even symbolically appropriate our struggle as their propaganda to build their following. That's not a hypothesis, that's a fact, what they're now busy at. Even more easily because the establishment social democrats and liberals who run the anti-WTO campaign publicly welcomed highly visible Right-Wing participation in their coalition. Trashing Niketown is always fine, any day of the year, but to think of only that while letting the racists in the front door, unopposed, says something.
There is no question that "the Battle in Seattle" touched a popular nerve. At times the protest unity on the streets hit the surrealistic mark on the meter. Not just hard-hat steelworkers, longshoremen, and teamsters marching with gay & lesbian groups, environmentalists and radical students, but AFL-CIO porkchoppers loyal to President Clinton sounding like they'd hired Karl Marx as their speechwriter. Notably AFSCME boss Gerry McEntree, who in Seattle's best-known quote shouted:
"The system turns everything into a commodity! A rain forest in Brazil, a library in Philadelphia, a hospital in Alberta! We have to name that system: it is corporate capitalism!"
In such a rad atmosphere, it was only natural for Pat Buchanan's Aryan supporters to applaud as Amparo Reyes, a Mexican maquiladora sweatshop worker who has a 74-hour workweek, shouted into the microphone: "Long live the Zapatistas!" As Far Right, Center and Left converged politically in Seattle.
And what are the class forces clashing here deep below in tectonic plate?
So this anti-WTO movement is, in strategic terms, very different from what we're used to. After all, if you march on city hall to protest racist police brutality, you don't expect the ku klux klan to be marching alongside you chanting "No justice, no peace!" But that is the exact situation here.
The anti-WTO movement is extraordinarily broad, ranging from the revolutionary left to the centrist liberals and social-democrats who manage it all the way over to the neo-fascists and Far-Right.
The anti-WTO movement is also deceptively asymmetrical on a world scale. On paper it is a global unity, of grassroots anti-corporate forces of North and South together. But the official anti-WTO campaign is as centered in the white metropolis as the trans-national corporations they oppose, both sides heavily European and North American. While the actual anti-WTO struggle (as opposed to the official campaign) is at its highest tide, and is most furious, in the Third-World periphery. Where it is a matter of life or death to those involved. That is, the class politics of opposing the WTO are asymmetrical. With the Centrist anti-WTO forces in the metropolis being largely pro-capitalist, while much of the struggle in the periphery is anti-capitalist. As radical journalist Jaggi Singh observes of the on-going battles in India, here first quoting a union and women's rights activist in Madras:
"In Geetha's view, 'I think the American working class is worried about American capital going to the Third World to exploit conditions there.' She adds, 'That's an indirect fight.'...One group directly connected to the international anti globalization movement is the KRRS, the Karnataka State Farmer's Movement, representing thousands of peasant farmers in the southern state of Karnataka. In recent years, the KRRS has physically dismantled--with iron bars--a Cargill seed unit, trashed another office of the same multinational agribusiness, burned Monsanto's field trials of biotech cotton, and trashed a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet in Bangalore [Their actions put in some perspective the recent debate about so-called 'violence against property' in Seattle]."
This is one important aspect of the anti-WTO struggle, that it is a common front that allows activists in the metropolis to support the struggles of the militant peasants in India, the Zapatistas in Chiapas, or the Ogoni fighting both Shell petroleum and the Nigerian military dictatorship. But we have to make certain that we're really doing that, and not just helping to rip-off these struggles for pro capitalist agendas here.
While the official campaign against the WTO and the new global corporation economy has spread here, it arose earlier and is much stronger in Europe. In the London June 18th Protest, after all, ten thousand protesters literally took over "the City" financial district: burning cars, violently forcing banks to close, and in general making Seattle look timid & respectable. And it was in France where the indignant farmer José Bové became a national hero for "daylighting" a MacDonalds with his tractor. Far from icing him in prison, a French "socialist" government paid his airfare to march in Seattle as a celebrity ambassador of French economic nationalism. By contrast, you can try trashing an AT&T office in Manhattan in protest, and you can be sure that instead of a free deluxe trip to Geneva you'll be sitting in a cell in Rikers. In Europe symbolic attacks on corporate property, farmers or truckers blocking highways, mass protest marches, and a sprinkle of black-clad anarchists clashing with riot police have been a normal part of the political landscape for years.
And yet, the whole political landscape in Europe has at the same time throughout those years been shifting steadily to the Right, with openly neo-fascist parties gaining a mass base in the millions unprecedented since WWII. Their violent emergence has monkey-wrenched the whole European political spectrum far to the Right.
How do we understand this new emulsion, of mass protest movements against u.s. imperialism & the trans-national corporations being part of the same historical wave as the eclipse of the Left and the reemergence of neo-fascism as an alternative power? There is no issue that radicals have to unpuzzle more than this, because, like NAFTA & the WTO, it is coming to our neighborhood.
We can see how part of this plays out in real class politics by zooming in for a moment on the trade unions, which played such a large role in Seattle N30. While the unionized major industry labor of the imperialist center is a working class, it is not on a world scale the working class. That is, it is a special labor aristocracy that is a class above the oppressed proletariat of the world. And has politics to match. A labor aristocracy that today is shrinking in importance in the metropolis. And, as an old middle class, is maneuvering with desperation against classes above and below it.
For example, the West Coast longshoremen (who are now both women and men) of the ILWU, AFL-CIO are in the thick of the fight against NAFTA & the WTO. Not only did they march by the many hundreds in Seattle, but they demonstrated "on the job" that day by closing down ports up and down the Coast. These ILWU members are for real about halting the WTO and all this global neo liberal reorganization because they have so much personally to lose.
The average West Coast longshoreman earns about $60,000-80,000 a year. It's not unusual for highly-skilled longshoremen or clerks who push overtime to hit $125,000-150,000 per year. With income guarantees and a full benefits package. This is the kind of income that lawyers, accountants, corporate middle-managers, and successful small businessmen make. And union longshoremen have the vacation homes, boats, multiple cars, stock portfolios or rental properties that are common for the u.s. middle classes.
How can capitalism pay blue-collar
workers $75,000 and $100,000 per year?
Because the Big Chalupa is only for a microscopic handful of strategically located workers in an increasingly mechanized and neo-liberalized transport industry. On
the entire West Coast there are only 7,000 union longshoremen, with another 3,000 clerks and foremen (which is less than the number of airline pilots just at United Airlines). We are talking about the labor that handles the vast Pacific Rim trade in automobiles, electronics, grains, clothing, timber, ores, people, etc. for this continental u.s. empire of 250 millions.
There are less union longshoremen
on the entire West Coast than waterfront truckers just in Los Angeles.
But these truckers are forced to be "independent
contractors" who must furnish their own trucks, have no benefits or income guarantees, and are hired only daily by the task. After job expenses, they often earn one-third or less of what the longshoremen make. And we're not even dealing with the much larger numbers of minimum-wage messengers, cargo handlers, and delivery men in major cities who are primarily Black and Latino and immigrant. Like the Afrikan immigrant men who deliver for the German-owned A&P, Waldbaum, and Food Emporium supermarket chains in Manhattan. According to the labor law violation suit just filed by the State Attorney General, these workers earn a nobel-prize-winning 87 cents to $1.74 an hour for 69 hour work weeks! But they didn't jet to Seattle.
The ILWU may protest the WTO now. But it has spent the past fifty years actually fighting the working class that is really below them. For decades it kept most Black and Latin longshoremen as casuals, who had to shape up daily in hope of work, and out of the union itself. Only federal court civil rights rulings forced it to stop being a small white men's club. Ironically, while the union has changed alot in race and gender--with many Latino and New Afrikan and women members-- its class politics haven't changed at all. It still pushes American nationalism, "partnership" with the shipping companies, and fighting the workers below them.
ILWU leaders openly refer to the largely Latino waterfront truckers even in print by the racist slang term, "Gypos". And tacitly support the shipping companies in keeping them down. This isn't class conflict in the form of race anymore, but openly about class conflict. For "Class is everything."
Unlike managers or accountants, if union longshoremen lose their footing on the capitalist mountainside they can't simply transfer their highly-paid skills elsewhere. There's no waterfront at the 7-11. Just as u.s. merchant seamen are highly paid, but have mostly been replaced by miserably-paid Third World seamen on "flags of convenience" ships, the state agencies and shippers want to reorganize labor in a more profitable way on the world's docks.
This is the onrushing wave of the capitalist future that these unions and others of the old middle classes are trying to hold off. And for some this may be something to resentfully protest about, but others are thinking that their countervailing leverage can only come from the power of their old nation state. This past February, some 2,000 union longshoremen on the East Coast packed a N.Y. government hearing to shout down and threaten their enemy---environmentalists protesting the ocean dumping of dredged-up sludge containing mercury and other toxic metals. Longshoremen were worried that halting the dredging might hamper seaport business expansion.
These classes in the metropolis most bitterly up in arms against "McDomination" and the WTO are not the oppressed, not the proletariat. Who are quite capable of organizing themselves without any white help whatsoever. 250,000 Mexicans, Chicanos, and Central American immigrants marched in Los Angeles against Prop. 187 on October 16, 1994. A year later a million New Afrikan men gathered on the Washington Mall. And after that some 400,000 Black women came to Philadelphia from all over the u.s. for the Million Women March. But not in Seattle---it wasn't their protest. Because those mass Latino and Black mobilizations were fighting the same old nationalism that is at the heart of the anti-WTO sentiment in the u.s.
It is the old middle classes of the imperialist center that are in motion here politically. Commercial family farmers; small retailers; the labor aristocracy of highly-paid craftsmen and unionized industrial workers; that stratum of intellectuals (more than a few of them liberal or "socialist") tied tit-to-mouth to the old welfare state. Plus the marginalized white lumpen-petitbourgeoisie, bitter at their social exile from paradise.
These are middle classes whose privileged but also precarious existence is bound up with successful national imperialism, and who look for security towards their old national economy and the insular national culture of the "good old days". In a word, who deep down consider themselves rightfully part of the capitalist winners, not the oppressed "losers". ( Don't forget that Tim McVeigh tried to be a career Army officer, while his comrade-in-arms Terry Nichols was a failed farm owner ).
Instinctively, the liberal managers of anti-corporate protest have understood this. Which is why the WTO protest managers have catered to nationalism and accepted neo-fascists as their allies.
Just as the New Right has understood how much this WTO issue is on their ground, based in classes that are sympathetic to their world outlook.
This is not some matter of some intellectual "line", some slogans, as the Left dreamily thinks of as politics---but of what you kill for. And the Far Right is killing people. First a few, then more & more often, until they establish their unwritten aryan law of what is to be "normal". Assassinating pro-Choice doctors or torching buildings full of immigrant laborers.
In Western Europe the foundation for the WTO fight was laid by the years of anti-NATO, anti-u.s., and "Green" campaigns. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s mass protests regularly shook European cities, with the black-clad "masked ones" regularly darting out of the crowds to hurl their own missiles at the riot police. But the only result of all this by the 1990s was the Europe-wide reemergence of fascism into the daylight as a political force. In Britain, the neo-fascist British National Party for the first time crested 100,000 votes in last year's elections, gathering strength in smaller industrial cities. In Austria, the openly pro-nazi leader Jörg Haider has led his Freedom Party into a ground-breaking election victory. Like their French, British, German, Swiss, Italian, etc. counterparts, the Austrian neo-fascists make opposition to the WTO, globalization and immigrant workers the main issues in their popular campaign to "save" their Aryan way of life.
And as they "tip" the social atmosphere, daily violent attacks on Afrikans, Asians, Turks, Arabs, and other non-Aryans become ordinary and normal. Not even news. Just as it was in the segregationist u.s. South. In Berlin, which officially celebrates its post-modern capitalist multi-culturalism, Jewish synagogues and buildings are under police guard. Because otherwise the resurgent fascist movement would torch them all. To say nothing of killing Jews. Which would be a big public relations embarrassment for post-modern imperialism's highly publicized German "Jew zoo" (the tacit understanding between the neo-fascist thugs and the police is that they concentrate on merely attacking people of color---less like a crime in Germany than a cultural activity---and the police let them proceed).
There was more than a coincidental connection between the reemergence of fascism and the politics of the earlier anti-NATO, anti-u.s., and environmental protest movements. In Germany, for example, this link was not unknown. It had been sharply pointed out even then by the RZ (the underground guerrilla network of the autonomist Revolutionary Cells), which highlighted the way that these protest movements had pandered to a sentimentalized nationalism in order to gain wider public support.
This approach was, of course, just as popular in Germany then as it is today in "Born in the USA". What German radicals didn't want to face was that their popular brew of shallow anti-Americanism was really only another form for German nationalism. Left policies actually tilled the ground for Fascist regrowth. In 1982-83, a series of violent attacks on individual off-duty GIs was blamed on the RZ and other underground radical groups. Both the Left press and the security police talked about this as though it were obvious fact. Although it was finally revealed (as the police had known all along) that it was neo-nazis who had done the attacks.
The RZ pointed out in their Easter 1983 message* that as internationalists they were neither "anti-American" nor "pro-German" (as the liberals, social democrats, conservatives and neo-fascists were). While they had attacked u.s. military bases & officers, they had never been for attacking individual enlisted men or women off-duty. Further, that the RZ condemned the "racist feeling" among Germans depicting GIs as "animals", "rapists", etc. , and the exclusion of Black GIs from many restaurants and bars. Correctly, they linked this type of anti-GI sentiment not to fighting oppression, but to the hatred of foreigners, immigrant workers and other non-Aryans. The RZ were "even sadder" that the German Left press itself was also promoting this nationalistic racism, in an opportunist strategy which quite naturally the Far Right only fed on:
"The political responsibility of the anti-American attempts does not fall on the armed left groups, but rather on a certain part of the peace movement which practices a diffuse nationalism. Which disseminates the absurd idea that the Federal Republic of Germany is an 'occupied country'. Which is awakening a German patriotism and is abandoning left politics while it equates the question of missile deployment with a question of national identity...Those who make Coca-Cola a synonym of genocide and consider it a principle form of cultural imperialism, and place it on the same level as the American government support of all military dictators, remove from themselves the possibility of understanding the fascist origin of nationalist or anti-American actions.
"..And this is the way in which the will of the peace movement alliances led in part consciously, in part with naivety, to nationalist or fascist positions. The occurrence of fascist groups, of anti-semitic actions, is not surprising. In the first place they operate on only one line: racism and hatred of foreigners."
* This is one of the few RZ documents available here, and only thanks to the work of ATS in Canada.
The key understanding is that to gather mass support those anti-NATO and "Green" movements kept playing the chord of Germans as victims (while Germans are really among the oppressors and beneficiaries of global imperialism).
This resonated popularly in the racist-nationalist psyche, along with the ever pleasing nostalgia for the supposedly better "local" capitalism (like Old Dixie) and the nationalist culture of the "good old days". And this is more than a little like today's mass anti-WTO united front between progressives and the Far Right.
No one is saying that those protest movements were the cause of the regrowth of Fascism. They were but one element in a much larger reaction. However, those policies had a double importance: of keeping the Left entranced in a cinematic fantasy of mass popularity, while much of its energies were being bled off to feed the growing Far Right.
The issue of Right-wing activity inside the anti-WTO issue has been raised already by the Dutch group De Fabel van de illegaal (The Myth of Illegality). De Fabel, which had been active in organizing early anti-WTO forces in the Netherlands, protested the Seattle organizers reaching out to the Right-wing in a grand white-on-white alliance. Mike Dolan of Ralph Nader's Public Citizen lobby, who was the chief organizer of the Seattle mobilization, is quoted by De Fabel as not only accepting the participation of but enthusiastically endorsing Right-Wing politician Pat Buchanan: "Whatever else you say about Pat Buchanan, he will be the only candidate in the 2000 presidential sweepstakes who will passionately and unconditionally defend the legitimate expectations of working families in the global economy." De Fabel adds: "As long as they are conservative and obedient, and not unemployed, black, gay, woman, lesbian or Jewish."
In De Fabel's analysis, the problem
is not so much the Buchanans as it is the international lobbyists and opinion-makers
of the anti-WTO campaign. While student activists, grassroots environmentalists,
and white radicals created the militant action downtown in Seattle, it
was the NGO (non-governmental organizations---such as Nader's Public Citizen)
leaders represented in the elite "think tank" of the International Forum
on Globalization that built the alliance in the first place and set the
overall politics. And they are largely conservative behind a thin
humanitarian veneer, in De Fabel's view
( instead of repeating at length from De Fabel's papers, we urge you to read and evaluate them yourself. The same with Alain Kessi's "Millenium Round" of the WTO Under Fire... From Both Left and Right. )
This WTO shoot-up has more going on than anyone can discuss at any one time. Everyone's got moves, everyone's got cover stories. The Left as well, we should see. On her way to Seattle, a prominent European feminist who works with Third-World women's groups stopped off to give a speech. It was thoughtful, zeroing in on the WTO as both a special new menace to people everywhere and a rallying point for anti-capitalist unity against "the race to the bottom". She emphasized how workers in the affluent North now have real common cause with the oppressed of the South.
"We stand to lose everything we have gained since the War, World War II. The so-called 'family wage', where one person's salary can support the whole family, sick leave, medical benefits, subsidized child care, union protection, all our rights. Everything is in danger of being lost!" Our audience of almost entirely white middle class intellectuals nodded in a wave of agreement.
Afterwards, a woman comrade who at age sixty is a minimum-wage blue collar worker, remarked angrily to me: "What is she talking about, 'We stand to lose everything...'? I never had any of those things, and I don't have them now! Health benefits, child care...we don't have those things. Doesn't she know that? My entire life as long as those white men with big union contracts got theirs, their big bucks, they never lifted a finger for the rest of us."
My comrade spoke the truth that the political strategy of the middle classes try to conceal. Their "We" does not mean us. The anti-WTO campaign in the metropolis primarily represents the needs and desires of certain middle classes. A fact that both Far Right and Left cover up with lots of populist talk... and lots of nationalism.
It's paradoxical that a world-wide campaign that advertises internationalism is more like an alliance of little nationalisms.
The Aryan grass-roots appeal of a Pat Buchanan is only that of the old settler nationalism, of code phrases which they all understand to mean "White people first." His program demands that Government, trade laws, and corporate policy all place---as his slogan says---"American workers and people first" (just as "Austrians First" is Jörg Haider's slogan). The AFL-CIO unions have this same program, and had it before Buchanan did (which is why they supported the Vietnam War down the line), but put liberal talk on top of it. So the unity in practice is not really around any kind of internationalism, but around the decaying old nationalism. How else could the Far-Right and the establishment liberals work together?
But the Right's influence extends far beyond its own followers. There is an almost palpable distortion in the political field from the suddenly magnetic attraction of retro capitalist nationalism. Seattle's Town Hall debate on globalization that week, sponsored by the IFG and The Nation, featured pro capitalist views on both sides. Figures like David Aaron, u.s. undersecretary of commerce for international trade, and Ralph Nader. But in his report on the debate, Left Business Observer's editor Doug Henwood was clearly most surprised by the line of Indian physicist and well-known eco-feminist author Vandana Shiva:
"Shiva, rightly denouncing the WTO as an agency of imperialism, urged a "return to the national decision-making which we control," apparently not noticing that the nation-state itself was an imperial inheritance, nor disclosing just when it was that 'we' (whoever that is) controlled its governance. Her India seems like one consisting almost entirely of displaced peasants; she spoke of it as a single thing, as if unriven by class, ethnic, and regional differences. She also claimed that business was once limited by ethical concerns, but with the WTO, the logic of profit maximization has taken over---a strange version of capitalist history indeed."
It wouldn't be unusual in a nation where Hindu Right-Wing nationalist gangs murder with impunity and the rural police are well-known for raping and torturing women, for an activist to seek some protection by sheltering her work under the umbrella of a vague anti-colonialism or a "loyal" nationalism. But we still have to say clearly how misleading this nostalgic talk about "our own" nationalism is. And you have to be in a delusional state of mind to believe that there ever was anything ethical about anyone's national capitalism. These two words don't even go together.
The reality is that the anti-WTO issue is in danger of being pulled onto the terrain of demagoguery and nationalism. Just as earlier anti-u.s., anti-NATO, and "Green" movements were in Europe. This is a natural environment for the Far Right, one in which they are strengthened and will grow a hundred-fold. They are past masters on this ground.
Even in Vandana Shiva's India, where the grassroots anti-WTO movement of workers and peasants is radically anti-capitalist, Jaggi Singh has reported that the Hindu neo-fascists have mounted their own anti-WTO protests. They're not unaware, they're in tune with new neo-fascist strategy world-wide. When Hindu Right-Wing union, farmer and student organizations angrily confronted WTO director Mike Moore during his January 2000 visit, they condemned Western corporate "biopiracy" and "a global system, which actually protects and supports the rich and the powerful..." In other words, they are utilizing a certain kind of radicalism which stirs up popular anger at what is foreign, appropriating the language of anti-colonialism. In their case, of course, the "foreign" enemies to be killed or driven out include Indian Muslims, Christians, socialists, feminists, anarchists, lower castes, and indigenous tribal peoples. A program they have well underway, as we can tell by the bodycount in the thousands already.
By demagoguery we mean the depicting of the WTO as some vast foreign conspiracy which steals our supposed local or national capitalist "democracy". Was it the WTO which placed a major sewage treatment plant right in Harlem, knowingly pushing up air-pollution levels just as an epidemic of Black and Latin childhood asthma was starting? No, that criminal act was committed by our very local capitalism? For N.Y. anti-WTO protesters, it might be that Seattle is much closer to them than Harlem, if you know what i mean. Was it the WTO which has killed and is killing thousands of Navajos by radioactive uranium ore waste poisoning? No, that was the "democratic" u.s. government.
Which is why Pat Buchanan attacks "the Jewish lobby" and immigrant labor, why neo-nazis have come out in public applauding the "angry white people" who "shut down the Jew World Order" at Seattle, and why the Right-Wing is pretending that the WTO is as alien as "The X-Files" (when it's really just Pat and Jörg's cousins).
Beyond the street scenes, the Far Right may be less visible now but they are investing heavily in this campaign. Part of their re-manufacturing of themselves not as defenders of corporate America but as "populists" fighting for their own nation & its workers against the sinister forces of the New World Order (sounds like the Left, doesn't it?). On the front page of the December 27th issue of Spotlight, newspaper of the Right-wing Liberty Lobby, the headline reads "POPULISM GAINS MOMENTUM AROUND THE GLOBE." Under it is a big photo of an anti-WTO banner at Seattle, over smaller photos of four anti-WTO "populist" leaders that the Liberty Lobby specifically applauds as "nationalists": Pat Buchanan, Jörg Haider of Austria, Christoph Blocher of Switzerland, and Mahathir Mohammad of Malaysia.
The fact that the Right-Wing has a major social base is one reason that the anti-WTO campaign leaders are so eager to enter into an alliance with them. While the Left has preoccupied itself post-Seattle with a debate on trashing Niketown, the anti-WTO campaign itself is being used in propaganda to legitimize and popularize world neo-fascism. It's only a natural consequence of this that major anti-WTO campaign leaders are now calling for more u.s. police arrests & repression of radicals. Don't take it lightly. For this is one "anti-WTO" demand that imperialism is sure to take care of! For us, fighting neo-fascism and its new friends seems to the immediate point in the anti-WTO campaign.
It's telling that there have been many social-democratic criticisms of the "Black Bloc" etc. for trashing stores, for "undemocratic" violation of the N30 non violent pro-capitalist official strategy. But who got to vote on the top-down legitimizing of Pat Buchanan and racism? Who should be accountable for this?
There are many important sides to the anti-WTO campaign which have not been discussed here. Not because they aren't urgent, but because we felt it necessary to focus on a strategic question that has not been brought into full consciousness yet. We know that we've raised more questions than were answered. But this is only one contribution among many.
One last thing. We have to deal off the truth that the revolutionary left has no social base of support in the metropolis right now. To say this is simply facing reality. Because we don't, there is a natural tendency to seize on "get rich quick" schemes. To look for "magic bullets" or some issue we can jump aboard that will magically gain us a mass following. This is like furiously mining "fool's gold".
For reasons in the basic class
structure, Left politics have been marginalized in the metropolis, certainly
in the u.s. We exist in the far edges of society, politically speaking.
This is not of our making, and is not even necessarily bad. In the world
of Babylon, the oppressed are the ones who are marginalized, first and
foremost. Undocumented workers, classes of disposable women, exiles, Third
World workers fighting even to survive. The world's majority exists at
the margins. And, like them, we are faced with our marginalization, and
with the knowledge of how much we must transform ourselves and our own
culture just to survive.
from review of anti-fascism.