We hereby send you the article "Seattle '99, marriage party of the Left and the Right?", concerning the campaign against the Ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation starting at the end of November in Seattle (USA). Please feel free to distribute this article further, or to publish (parts of) it. We would be happy to receive feedback on this article from you or others.
(De Fabel van de illegaal, Netherlands)
"A historic change is under way at the very heart of the globalisation process: millions of people are mobilising. Tens of thousands of them will be in Seattle," says lobbyist Susan George. "The fight against the WTO and all it stands for is in my view the main one. There is even a chance of winning this fight." George is one of the foremost European lobbyists against "the globalisation".
Many lobbyists seem to somewhat overrate the movement. "Seattle will be the protest of the century", some of her colleagues say, without much knowledge of history. "The bosses are scared", others add. But who are they supposed to be scared of? The left has not been a very strong force since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and it hardly exists nowadays. That's why the lobbyists are no longer exclusively looking to their left. They have started to actively build a new worldwide movement in which not only left-leaning people, but also conservatives, nationalists and even the New Right must be able to feel at home. The extremely unclear concept of "globalisation" comes in handy. Political activists of all creeds can project their own problems on it.
George and some 60 other lobbyists, researchers and opinion leaders and their NGOs are members of the International Forum on Globalisation (IFG), an elite think tank. They organise a congress in Seattle and never tire of repeating that they expect some 2400 participants. IFG members often participate at meetings all around the world. They are the main driving force behind the campaigns against "the globalisation", and they initiated the actions against both the MAI and the WTO.
They want to bring the Left and the Right together in one big movement, and they seem to be successful at it. Therefore the IFG lobbyists cherish their somewhat progressive image and at the same time try to remain acceptable for the Right. But after reading their articles and books it becomes very clear: the IFG is politically right wing and very conservative.
By criticising "the globalisation" and multinationals they try to use the remaining left-wing activists to further their own conservative goals, and also try to influence them ideologically. Therefore the IFG are a danger to the already vulnerable left.
In the Netherlands, a lot of left-wing activists are also enthusiastically participating every time the IFG-members initiate a new campaign. They are also organising actions at the end of November, taking part in the worldwide coordinated protests. In the beginning of this year the Dutch organisation "De Fabel van de illegaal", together with some other groups, was still actively asking organisations to sign the NGO declaration on the WTO, which was written by some IFG members. When the ideas of the IFG became clearer to them, De Fabel decided to stop, although other groups continued. In the near future De Fabel will publish an analysis of the right-wing ideas of the foremost IFG members.
The French farmer and leader of the Confederation Paysanne (CP), José Bové, no doubt belongs to the nationalist category. The farmers of the CP are angry with the US government, which doubled the import tariffs on French cheese, in retaliation for the decision of the EU to put a ban on meat with hormones coming from the US. The farmers immediately started a dynamic campaign against McDonald's, which is after all an American multinational.
The angry farmers organised many actions, and even broke down a complete McDonald's restaurant in Millau. Last June farmers from India, arriving with the PGA action caravan, came to help a bit. At home they also have a tradition of attacking American companies. The French farmers also disturbed an American film festival because they are very much worried about their own French culture. Bové got arrested but was released shortly after. He sent his regards to the French premier and president for their support and received a ticket to Seattle from the ministry of agriculture to defend the French interests there. Besides the French Communist Party and the Front National, some Dutch anti-globalisation activists also reacted very positively to the farmers' actions. They called for solidarity with Bové.
The populist Buchanan is probably the foremost representative of the extreme right in the US. His constituency consists of Christian fundamentalists, militia members and neo-Nazis. These millions of people might explain Dolan's flirt with Buchanan. Together with his enthusiastic commentary Dolan sent around a newspaper article in which Buchanan openly says: "American workers and people first." But Buchanan is not alone with that opinion. Also the big right-wing trade union AFL-CIO wants to make "the rights and interests of US workers a priority". The union also mobilises their rank and file for the demonstrations in Seattle.
While organising, Dolan keeps repeating his mantra: "Remember, for us, the enemy isn't these governments that comprise the WTO. The enemy is the transnational corporate, free trade lobby." Consequently Dolan can perfectly work together with the right-wing Republican council member Derdowski, who earlier initiated plans for a Seattle MAI free zone. Also according to Derdowski the discussion around the WTO transcends the old borders between the left and the right. "The issue for conservatives is the sovereignty of America, the constitution. State and local authority is in danger of being eroded through international treaties, ceding authority to foreign regulatory bodies." Together with the Republicans Dolan organises a demonstration in Seattle.
On a meeting they brainstormed on how to get the conservative inhabitants of the affluent districts of Seattle to also take to the streets. They decided to put IFG member David Korten on the task. They assumed this ex-businessman would easily connect to the rich. Shortly after, Korten showed up at the grassroots level. He acted as the most important guest lecturer at a strategy meeting on non-violent direct action. Korten is probably the foremost ideologue of the movement against "the globalisation". He would very much like to return to the 50's, when the economy was, according to him, still local and capitalism was not yet "perverted". His second hang-up is neo-Malthusian. He wants to reduce the world population from 6 to 1 billion. How? That he has, wisely, not revealed yet.
De Fabel van de illegaal, on the other hand, fights the coming together of the left and the right. Whoever starts working with the right automatically drops migrants, women and gays as potential allies, for they are always under attack from the right. The last couple of months De Fabel have heavily criticised collaborations with the right. Articles have been written on the ideas and activities of the New-Right ideologist Goldsmith, who is also an important IFG member and sponsor of the think tank. George got very angry about the criticism. De Fabel was splitting up the movement, she wrote. And because of that "we" would lose the "crucial battles" that "will be fought" in Seattle.
Millionaire Goldsmith was put on the program of the IFG conference in Seattle, but in the meantime he has been taken off. Whether the cancellation of his lecture has anything to do with the criticism of de Fabel remains unclear.
(De Fabel van de illegaal)
Some editing of the English translation by Alain
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