Patrice Riemens on Fri, 27 Mar 2009 05:39:11 -0400 (EDT)

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<nettime> Katharine Ainger: Once beaten for stating the obvious, our time has come

from The Guardian (UK) bwo Bricolist/ Jaromil

Katharine Ainger:
Once beaten for stating the obvious, our time has come

Ten years ago, the anticapitalist movement predicted this recession. Now
it must envisage an alternative global future

It was 1999 and the summer of corporate love. Many pundits - now talking
of "bad apples" and applauding bailouts - were predicting the stockmarket
would go up forever. Not coincidentally, it was also a decade ago that the
anticapitalist movement emerged with a rambunctious "carnival against
capital" in London's Square Mile; the contagion spread to the streets of
Seattle where the World Trade Organisation meeting was shut down by
protesters later that year.

The movement, which was essentially demanding democratic control over the
global economy, wreathed summit after summit of the G8, the WTO and the
World Bank with protest and teargas. It was wild, infuriating, diverse and
sometimes incoherent, as only a network that encompasses indigenous
peoples, radical environmentalists, workers and kids in hoodies could be.
The movement was like the child in the crowd as the emperor of global
neoliberalism wheeled by, pointing out that his cloaks were woven from
financial fictions and economic voodoo.

They must now be credited for their prescience. Today, everybody can see
the emperor has no clothes; but as the G20 meets in London next week to
ensure financial "stability" for a return to business as usual, it appears
rather as though the emperor has rushed back to the very same discredited
tailors to bail them out and commission several new outfits.

And what of the movement that predicted the crash? Post 9/11 it lost
momentum as it was forced to rechannel energy into fighting rearguard
actions against state repression and the war on terror. Yet the less
visible but vital processes of developing workable alternatives, building
grassroots movements, and popular education continued. The movement also
effected a palpable cultural shift of alternative economic ideas and
environmental concerns towards the mainstream; in Latin America social
movements helped elect governments that were prepared to challenge
neoliberal doctrine. Movement demands also foreshadowed a rebalancing of
power towards the global south, and helped to delegitimise the
institutions of the global economy.

These ideas have never been more relevant or necessary. Clearly we need a
vision, and it doesn't look as if the G20, still so in thrall to financial
capital, will deliver one. So could this be the hour for a movement that
was beaten, teargassed and imprisoned for pointing out the now blindingly

NGOs, churches and trade unions are mobilising thousands to turn out on 28
March with the demand to "Put people first"; 1 April is "Financial Fools
Day", when direct action activists and environmentalists will be setting
up a climate camp outside the European Climate Exchange in London -
because the same financial system now in crisis is being entrusted to cut
emissions through the artificial creation of a market in carbon credits.
Meanwhile another group called G20 Meltdown is promising a carnival at the
Bank of England. The climate camp has an open process and has worked hard
to establish its social base of legitimacy; the carnival is more of a
hotchpotch, and it's unclear who will turn up. Perhaps some windows will
be broken - and frankly, it would be astonishing if no one was angry
enough to do so.

Whatever they decide, the G20 and other leaders are going to be faced with
increasing unrest from those paying with their jobs, their social security
and their taxes for a crisis not of their making and a bailout not of
their choosing. From Haiti to India, people are rioting over food. We are
entering a singular moment of climate chaos and food shortages, a social
and energy crisis as well as financial meltdown. The solutions the
"alter-global" networks have developed offer a way out that is based on
whole systems thinking. Fundamental to this vision is an economy that
meets the needs of everyone on a planet of finite resources.

Which is why the climate camp in the city, with its slogan "Because nature
doesn't do bailouts", is one of the most interesting of all the movements
coalescing in London next week. It's a potent mix of seasoned
anti-globalisation activists who are skilled in creative direct action and
a new generation that is energised and refreshingly undogmatic. The camp
has taken a key component of the globalisation movement - the temporary
autonomous zones of street parties and convergence centres liberated in
cities during summit protests - to a new level, creating a
transformational space which prefigures the world they want, featuring
everything from wind turbines and composted waste to decentralised
decision-making and creative play.

At the end of this year, almost exactly 10 years to the day since Seattle,
this new incarnation of the movement will be on the streets during the
Copenhagen climate summit demanding real climate justice that does not
rely on the current "business as usual" proposals. Perhaps anticapitalism
had the right idea at the wrong moment in history. Perhaps its moment has

? Katharine Ainger is co-author of We Are Everywhere, a book documenting
global social movements.

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