Dimitri Devyatkin on Sun, 24 Feb 2002 06:29:02 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] As the smoke clears, Britain's organised left expose themselves as the fad rebel tossers we always knew they were

As the smoke clears, Britain's organised/liberal left expose themselves as
the fad-rebel whip crackers we always knew they were

Feb 2002

Three weeks ago New York City got to host the World Economic Forum. As a
'tribute to the victims of September 11th', Manhattan taxpayers got to
indulge a bunch of tobacco, oil and airline magnates, and a
wannabe-planetary-cabinet of shady statesmen. Collectively, these people
responsible for an infinitely greater number of deaths and shattered lives
than the combined kill-rate of every Arab who ever strapped on C4 corset.

The WEF - think Bilderberg group with Bono in tow - is yet another (yawn)
boys-club of capitalism's shot-callers. Cue Troy McClure: "You may remember
us from such classics as Davos, and Melbourne's (later upstaged) own S11
(2000) street fight..." Anyway - it was their antics that sparked the
alternative World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil (another nice idea
quickly colonised by red flag hierarchies), and twice yearly mass protests
from across the anti-capitalist spectrum. But not this time.

Patriot Act and Bush-whack rhetoric aside, it's fairly predictable that the
lefty-millionaires Sierra Club should bottle out of confrontation with the
power brokers in the post-S11 city of tears. No real surprise either that
the AFL-CIO unions and the host of 'Global Justice' NGOs of every shade of
red and green balked at the idea of ruffling the feathers of New York's
finest. As the city's press, on both the left and the right, cranked up the
spectre of an "al Quaeda like black bloc" (Village Voice) massing like
"barbarians at the castle gates" (Newsweek). A string of Direct Action
Movement  'faces' lined up to distance themselves from anyone whose agenda
aimed for anything greater than a moratorium on badger baiting. "Vandalism
is inexcusable," lamented John Sellers, the caribina king of the
ludicrously-bankrolled Ruckus Society. Needless to say, the reporting (in
almost blanket fashion) concentrated on the differences in tactics between
the anarchists and the liberals. No space was given to the gaping
ideological chasm between the RaisetheFist militia on Fifth Avenue, and the
'raise the Tobin tax' lobbyists munching vol-au-vents with the delegates in
the Waldorf Astoria foyer.

In the event, a few thousand anarchists and assorted revolutionary types
took to the streets and, amidst an outpouring of sympathy, the 'poor
darlings' of the NYPD dutifully kicked the shit out of them and threw a
couple of hundred in jail.

The events in New York merely illustrate how the organised left (in the UK
as elsewhere) has used September 11 to re-position itself in an, at best,
more compliant, and at worst, more authoritarian stance.

Liberal Britain has been split between the trembling lips and disappearing
tails of those who are content to wrap themselves in a tear-stained stars
and stripes and vanish up Uncle Sam's arse, and those who have (at last)
been freed to brandish their handcuffs and lay down their own blueprints
a capitalist super-state. Either way, Britain's left-wing have finally
exposed themselves as the fad-rebel tosspots we always knew they were.

"Standing protesting outside Gap is a strange thing to do when civilians
being killed in Afghanistan," Globalise Resistance's Guy Taylor tells a
fawning Andy Beckett (Guardian G2, Jan 17 'Has the Left Lost Its Way'). The
implication being that before September 11 - before perceived public
for resistance to world dictatorship evaporated in an explosion of dust,
glass and cello music - it was perfectly natural to be protesting outside
Gap as civilians endured a blitzkrieg of Allied firepower in Palestine,
Indonesia, Columbia and Iraq. Beckett goes on to quote a stream of liberal
left-wing tossers who's politics were so well-founded that they'd managed
pull off complete ideological U-turns after a only couple of weeks of
heart-tugging ('poor old America') Newsak.

'Formerly hardcore left-wingers' were apparently getting all gooey over
Blair's Montgomery makeover. The Ecologist ran a debate titled: 'Is the
anti-corporate globalisation movement a finished force in the post-11
September world?' Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore was just one of those,
converted by the smell of cordite, giving it the: "I  was wrong to oppose
the bombing," line as the Taliban fled Kabul - as if the women of city had
thrown their oppressors out themselves, and were not about to become the
latest subjects of a US-manufactured puppet state.

As a rule, the anti war movement in Britain has been reluctant to confront
the illegitimacy of the warring authority. Though opposed to the bombing,
most silently-accept a 'first world'/US orchestrated 'solution' to
Afghanistan: namely the Western annexation of Central Asia.

To be fair, this reactionary slide had begun well before the World Trade
Centre attack. The SWP (perhaps after finally accepting the absence of
'workers' in its ranks) had already switched its' preferred handle to
'Globalise Resistance'. Having left it a little late to fasten their name
the anti-capitalist upsurge of 1999 (as they had done with the Poll Tax,
etc), they wasted no time ramming branded anti-war placards into the hands
of pacifist old ladies and fearful Muslims as Blair strapped on his flak
jacket. No sooner had the first F-16s scrambled and Globalise Resistance
morphing again - this time into the Stop the War Coalition.

Anti-capitalism (a phrase that was itself adopted by liberal left-wingers
trying to avoid any pro-revolutionary tags), has been dropped altogether by
the left in favour of "movement for globalisation with justice". You may
laugh, but the underlying thought processes behind this repositioning are a
little more sinister.

One leading voice of the liberal left is the New Internationalist magazine.
Their January/February issue was subtitled 'Another World is Possible'. The
introduction promised "visions" of "many diverse pathways into a better,
fairer world". The reality merely reinforced what Orwell pointed out over
sixty years ago; that the organised left's version of 'democracy' is little
different from the right's, and despite the tags, they have no intention of
doing away with the constraints of capitalism - and would merely replace
domination of private capital with that of state capital. Or to bring that
observation up to date 'a (neo)liberally-distributed amalgamation of the
two'. Global PPPs anyone?

The 'visions' put forward by the NI's gathered worthies are 'diverse' in
same way the aims of the navy are 'diverse' from those of the air force.
Every proposal in the magazine is legislative and authoritarian. According
to the writers, elected bodies could be re-jigged, governing institutions
formed, legislation passed and treaties re-written. The lack of aspiration
is depressing... unless, of course, you're setting yourself up for a seat
'the world parliament'.

The World Parliament is Lord Monbiot's offering. Another spin on electoral
'representative' democracy peddled with all the fervour of a Republican
governor. Completely disregarding the lessons of history, where electoral
democracy has failed to either represent or serve the people (other than
those 'elected' and their chums), Monbiot taunts would-be detractors with:
"Power exists whether we like it or not... so we might as well democratise
it". You can't dis-invent the Bomb - eh!

As if a host of similar statist adventures (every election
the policy reversal of all elected bodies - e.g. the German Greens, the
failure of Kyoto, the carbon trading style legislative loop-holing that
followed, Nato - and it's complete disregard for law/anybody else, the
failure of; the UN; the EU; every other power-invested institution to
address anything other than its own pay checks ...and so on) hadn't all
resulted in those in power completely fucking over everyone else, Monbiot
goes on to outline his global hegemony leading the rest of us skipping to
milk and honey-dom. He never mentions, however, if two wolves and a sheep
would doing the catering...

Joining Monbiot in the NI is Jim Shultz ('executive director of The
Democracy Centre'), who uses the genuinely inspiring example of the
Cochabamba people's ejection of the Bechtel water company from Bolivia, to
'envision' - not for people everywhere to rise up against their usurpers,
not for the global rejection of economic dictatorship, not even for the
ditching of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement and all
similarly oppressive international trade treaties, but (wait for it) a
of rights' to ensure the FTAA does not overrule regional laws. Go Jim.

Maybe we should be grateful that the left has come clean - shaken off their
Seattle rain capes and returned to bickering about vote counts and
funding. For some time, the rhetoric of the leading left
wing/environmentalist NGO's has been almost indistinguishable from that of
the World Bank's... - though admittedly, this revealed precious little
either faction's agenda

But, the question remains - how wide is the influence of the organised left
and their liberal overlord companions - and how substantially are they
capable of stemming the rising revolutionary tide anyway?

There are those who hope they are well capable; the bods from the FBI who
spent half of last month dismantling LA's RaisetheFist.org with the site's
founder, Sherman, locked in the basement; the EU's Working Party on
Terrorism who are right now in Spain, drafting a document on intelligence
sharing about political activists in order to stamp out "violent urban
youthful radicalism"; the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure
Protection (PCCIP) and the half dozen US state and private sector bodies it
initiated  under the National Security Council and Department of Defence
name but two) to combat 'hacktivism' and 'cyberterror!'; the Swedish
authorities who have just rejected the appeals of eight activists, each
serving between 3-4 years, for using SMS messages to stop their mates
getting hammered by police at the EU summit in Gothenburg last year; every
boss, landlord and New Labour voter; every shareholder, whip-cracker and
charity director, (insert your own 'come the revolution they'll be the
against the wall' list here), and everyone else who, overtly or covertly,
revels in the deal capitalism has dealt them.

Back in Porto Alegre, undoubtedly the left's blueprint for a 'world
parliament' (in his keynote address Chomsky called it a sketch of the
beginnings of a 21st Century International), the predictable has happened.
Two years in, and the 2002 Forum is already playing host to corporate
lobbyists, media clowns and WEF delegates ("jumping ship from NYC"). Naomi
Klein (one of the 10,000 invited 'delegates') describes the WSF as at risk
from "turning from a clear alternative into a messy merger" with their New
York antithesis. 

In protest to what Znet's James Adams calls "left-wing corporatism", 600
attendees of the alternative Jornadas Anarquistas - Anarchist Journeys -
(some of the 50,000 'excluded' internationals who had travelled to Porto
Alegre to unite and discuss outside the 'conference centres') "broke off
from the opening march and occupied a three story house, building
in the streets, in order to emphasize that, as one IMC (Independent Media
Centre) poster put it, 'Porto Alegre isn't the social democratic paradise
that the PT (Brazilian Workers Party) makes it out to be.'" (The PT control
the municipal government and view the WSF as a party conference - draping
the town in their flags, propaganda and party faithful.) Needless to say: "
Local police, under the command of the PT, and dressed in full riot gear,
surrounded the house immediately, nearly running over one squatter at a
particularly high point of tension." Familiar?

However - despite the fifth International looking set to follow the first
into a dog-pit of  flying fur and shattered dreams, perhaps things are not
so bleak. The 50,000 who gathered outside the auspices of the WSF in Porto
Alegre, and the two thousand that took on the WEF in New York - plus the
tens of millions who have already learnt the hard way that genuine, direct,
democracy will never follow a recount, a rebrand or any amount of reform -
do not look like they are about to jack-in the revolution because
Washington's 'busted' the safety catch off its' Winchester.

Undoubtedly the atmosphere of resistance has changed. But, just because the
warmongers were quicker to colonise the airwaves, it doesn't follow that
they win the (global) war. By shirking off that protest-chic, the
reformist-statist-liberal-left has finally brought some clarity to the
message they have been concealing from disgruntled 'democrats' for years -
namely, that they do not seek the overthrow of illegitimate power, merely
its replacement. Now that's clear, we can get on with the fucking
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