Some reflections on the media outrage about Mayday 2000 which includes a useful overview of international activity on the day.
Like a lot of folk I've spoke to since MayDay, and most likely, like many of the people contributing to this, I've read with increasing disinterest about the "public outrage" that followed London's MayDay demonstrations. I'm yet to meet any of these 'outraged' people, but then again I don't know the leader writers from either The Daily Mail or The Mirror.
I haven't read about, however, the way the police and the press intimidated people in the lead up to the demonstrations. How weeks of extreme surveillance, threats of mass arrests, "30,000 prepared officers" and the "army on standby" created a veritable air of paranoia on the day. I haven't read why the police advised the parks department to board up statues in Parliament square, yet failed to warn the local McDonalds of the expected anarchist rampage - or indeed why the only shirtsleeved policemen on the streets that day were in front of this same McDonalds - or more precisely in front of several hundred pressmen, in front of McDonalds. I haven't read about why 5,000 people took to London's streets or what their concerns about growing global capitalism are. I never read about the week of MayDay actions in Bristol, or the demonstrations in Sheffield, Cardiff or Manchester. I never read about the 1,000 MayDay protesters who were prevented marching in Copenhagen. I never read about the blockades of Austria's Chamber of Commerce or Ottawa's pro-corporate Council of National Issues. I wasn't informed by any of the mainstream media about the 200 people attacked by mounted police in Sydney as they protested the Westpac bank over their involvement in Australia's Jabiluka Uranium mine, or the 10,000 demonstrators in Zurich who were met with a hail of rubber bullets and tear gas on May 1st.
I never read about the tens of thousands of Turks who took over Istanbul and Ankara in opposition to a $4bn IMF loan given to the country's leadership in return for privatising the state's industries. I never read about the MayDay demonstrators in the Philippines who were held back from storming Joseph Estrada's presidential palace by water cannon, or the pitched battles between South Koreans and police who struggled to keep students and workers MayDay parades apart.
I never read about the 1.7 million workers who demonstrated in over 1,000 locations in Japan or the 30,000 who marched in Luanda for increased wages. From Paris to Mozambique, Sri Lanka to Brasilia tens of thousands of people united under the MayDay 2000 banner in opposition to the stranglehold capitalism is exercising on the planet.
In fear of its people, the Pakistani government cancelled the 2000 MayDay holiday, raided meetings and arrested protest organisers. In contrast, the new East Timorese administration declared a new MayDay national holiday in response to a mass workers gathering.
None of this appeared in either The Sun or The Guardian. Surprisingly I never even read about the 200 policemen hospitalised by anti-fascist MayDay protesters in Berlin.
On the other hand I did hear calls by British politicians, on all sides of their, long discarded, fence, for increased controls over domestic dissent. The new prevention of terrorism bill is sliding through the House of Lords as I write. When it becomes law, which will be soon, they will cite what happened on MayDay in London to legitimise it.
Blair's plan to ice Livingstone out of the London mayoral race, with a high profile riot in the city, may have failed. But the seed of: 'Anti-capitalist equals cenotaph defacing thug,' was one thing that Blair and his border guards of capitalism, were desperately hoping would take root after the Parliament Square action.
Equally insidious and out of touch with the reality of the situation is the crap that's been spouted in the liberal 'thinking' press. The well educated suits who know how to 'resist' without breaching proper etiquette. The George Monbiots and Zac Goldsmiths of this world who sit in their thatched Hampshire cottages and accuse anyone who dares to stall a truncheon blow to the skull, of setting the environmental movement back x amount of years. They seem to be blissfully unaware that job insecurity, redundancy, bad housing, homelessness, hunger, poverty, in Hackney, Hull or Hartcliffe destroys communities and lives in the same way it does in Manilla or Ladakh. People in the so-called developing world are being fucked over - yes. But at the same time, people here in Britain have been so far removed from the decision making processes that affect their lives, when they get the chance - and with every fucking entitlement - they take some power back. Perhaps we should take heart that those who pull the power strings are so keen to marginalise our voices. WTO strategists - as exposed by Bruce Silverglade who attended the meeting - have met to discuss ways of "de-legitimising" the groups who opposed them in Seattle. At the same time the corporations and global institutions are going flat out to prove how socially concerned and environmentally friendly they are. The World Bank has created an entire environmental wing, Shell have pulled out of the Chad/Cameroon oil pipeline - though Exxon are still very much involved and are waiting anxiously for Clare Short and her World Bank cronies to sign away central Africa's oil legacy, eco-system and any hope of social reform they may have harboured.
Following on from J18, N30, A16 and MayDay, tens of thousands of us will head to Prague for September 26 to jump on the IMF and World Bank Group's first and hopefully last annual meeting to be held in central Europe. The Prague authorities have drafted in 11,000 cops and the FBI are in Czech co-ordinating the 'ring of steel' that will protect the death dealers. However the dragon of social revolution that awoke on January 1st 1994, when the Zapatista Liberation Army marched out of the Lancondon jungle to reclaim their land and their freedom. The leaderless, justice-hungry, beast that reared up on the streets of Seattle in November 1999, is more than a match for the entire alphabet soup of corporate controlled law enforcement agencies.
Prague, I'm told, is a beautiful place in September -and if enough of us go we can stop this fucking machine in its tracks. After Seattle, the global capitalist leadership cannot afford another significant defeat on this scale. These are crazy days for global resistance and make or break times for the planet and its inhabitants. By building on the links we've made and the successes we've had, we can and will change the course of history. The alternative doesn't really bear thinking about, does it?