Eight good reasons to block the G8 (By: Affinity Group Wilnis)
An impressive number of groups in Germany and outside is currently preparing to effectively blockade the G8 summit this June. At least they will try to, they are, of course countered by a large police force that will try and stop them.
At carious info-nights about these mobilisation efforts held in the Netherlands, you often hear people voicing doubts about the use of blockades. It is sometimes claimed that they “useless”, “a ritual” and that “summits are only symbols”. Below you will find eight good reasons for taking part in the blockades and help making them successful.
1) In order to win. Imagine that this time round it will really work! The big names will, of course, be flown in with a helicopter, but that’s only a few of them. The lower ranks, especially the personnel, will have to be brought in by car. Furthermore, you can block a helicopter, too (with hang gliders, sky rockets&hellip, and on the day of the summit, people have already announced they will try and block the only big airport in the region. But again, imagine that it will be a successful blockade; that we are enough people with enough fantasy, initiative and courage to block the entry points. Then the G8 summit, where those who are instrumental in perpetuating global poverty, environmental destruction and neo-liberal business want to get together and play, will simply fail. Just that day, remember Seattle?
2) In order to create networks. Summit protests are spaces where countless groups and individuals join forces who rarely see each other in their daily lives, let alone organise protests together. We have been divided into countless one-issue movements which in turn are divided over strategic and political questions. But during protests against a summit such as this one, everything comes together and crosses each other. This cross-fertilisation yields unexpected results.
3) As a school for protest. The protests, the preparations and the action camps, are spaces in which everyone learns new things. It is a living school for self-organisation, theory, discussion, action forms, etc. Helping organising an action camp, witnessing how people who barely know each other can stop something of that scale in such a short period of time and under difficult circumstances, is in itself something that everyone should have experienced at least once in their lifetime. These camps are also places where people who have just recently decided to become active against the current world order can come into contact with people who have been active already for a long time. The blockades and actions can be astonishing experiences, they can change lives and let people see that we can change things and that resistance is possible. These experiences are then used in different places and on different subjects and thereby disseminated beyond only the summit.
4) For the spin-off effect: the effects of these sort of mass actions are much bigger than the place and time of the summit. It influences a large part of the surrounding society, the media, the discussions at the baker’s and in the bus. Suddenly everyone is talking about the issue, and that would never happen if the protests would not take place. Of course, not everyone agrees with the activists, but at least they are discussing the issues. Compare that with summits that meet with no resistance, which was common place only a few years ago. Then the media picture presented is largely that which those in power created, and you would see men in grey suites shaking hands. But now, WE are in the picture. But the spin-off goes much further than that: the networks created during the protests, activists return to their local settings and are inspired to carry on with their work. Because no one considers these summit protests as the end point in their lives as political activists; it is but one moment in our daily campaigns and struggles to change the world. But it is an important one that can be used well.
5) Ritual and spectacle? The common reasoning that summits are just a ritualised display of power and serve as a trap which activists step into by protesting against them is simply not true. The powerful would much rather meet and discuss in peace. Now they are forced to protect themselves with an army surrounding them in order to keep off the angry masses. They have a very hard time, under these circumstances, to legitimise themselves and their actions and are thereby forced to make all sorts of pseudo-promises. So this is what we have achieved already. Of course they also learn from these experiences and activists have to be inventive to keep up the pressure. It is also important to realise that summit protests cost activists a lot of time, money and labour, which could also be invested elsewhere. Hyping militant behaviour can also be irritating and counter-productive. Much more dangerous, however, is the ritualisation of powerless political agreement which mainstream NGOs make with governments, such as symbolic mass demonstrations (round the church and back). They also cost much time, money and energy, and are, moreover, painfully boring.
But to be active only at the local level and &lsquoositively’ is also not an option, the ruling elite will laugh at you and couldn’t care less. Every now and then, you have to try and come together and score ‘globally’, and then part again to carry on working at the local level. Also: not all actions that have taken place many times are also out of date. For centuries now, workers have gone on strike against their bosses and strikes are still necessary tools that book results.
6) In order to break out of the often illusionary ‘civil society input’ culture. In order to experience a different reality for a moment (other than the endless ‘consultation’ model with its ‘civil feedback groups’, ‘stakeholder meetings’, reports, studies and policy recommendations), it helps to, once in a while, attempt an actual act of resistance without compromise. Yabasta! It’s enough, in June in Heiligendamm, we had enough and will try and stop the limousines and dance on their roofs. All this in the hope that the practice of direct action will effect the negotiations, because not so long ago this was the case and had actual effect (e.g. in the squatting, women’s and initially the workers movements&hellip. Fewer things on earth are more fulfilling than to smash the party of fat cats and stop them, even if only for a moment, from destroying this planet.
7) For strategic reasons. Although the G8 is an informal meeting at which, officially, no decisions are taken, the G8 is becoming an increasingly important forum and, for this reason, is being increasingly institutionalised. Thousands of politicians and civil servants take part in it and it is prepared during the whole year by large teams. It is evident that these sort of meetings form the structure for negotiations between the most powerful capitalist nations in the world in order for them to coordinate their policies. Important decisions of other institutions, such as the WTO, IMF and World Bank, are prepared during this summit. The ‘system’ will not collapse if they cannot hold one of their summits, but it makes it all a little more difficult to keep the machine running smoothlessly. Imagine that each of their gatherings is met with such resistance. Also ideologically, they are forced into the defence by this form of mass protest.
8) For international solidarity. We fight against the G8 leaders because we are suffering from their policies. But we also know that often people that are hit the worst by them live in the global South, far away from the cities where the power lies, where the conferences are held and the offices of the multi-nationals are located. In southern countries it is often common to resist economic oppression with hand and feet, for which people pay a high price. Those people also appreciate that also in the capitalist centres, people actively resist and demand an end to the desperation and status quo. This is why ‘global’ actions often go hand in hand with very specific demands around specific issues that all have to do with the G8 – supporting the Ogoni fighting against Shell in Nigeria, freeing political prisoners, solidarity with Oaxaca/Chiapas, oppose GMOs, etc, etc.
But first and foremost 1) in order to win! Those who join can later tell their grandchildren (or those of the neighbours) that they were there; the historic beginning of the end of the capitalist nightmare. Heiligendamm, June 2007, that’s where you have to be, en masse and active!
------------------------------- For more information on the coming protests see, amongst others, http://www.dissent.nl
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1. The philosophy of animal rights is rational Explanation: It is not rational to discriminate arbitrarily. And discrimination against nonhuman animals is arbitrary. It is wrong to treat weaker human beings, especially those who are lacking in normal human intelligence, as "tools" or "renewable resources" or "models" or "commodities." It cannot be right, therefore, to treat other animals as if they were "tools," "models and the like, if their psychology is as rich as (or richer than) these humans. To think otherwise is irrational.
"To describe an animal as a physico-chemical system of extreme complexity is no doubt perfectly correct, except that it misses out on the 'animalness' of the animal."
-- E.F. Schumacher
2. The philosophy of animal rights is scientific Explanation: The philosophy of animal rights is respectful of our best science in general and evolutionary biology in particular. The latter teaches that, in Darwin's words, humans differ from many other animals "in degree," not in kind." Questions of line drawing to one side, it is obvious that the animals used in laboratories, raised for food, and hunted for pleasure or trapped for profit, for example, are our psychological kin. This is no fantasy, this is fact, proven by our best science.
"There is no fundamental difference between humans and the higher mammals in their mental faculties"
-- Charles Darwin
3. The philosophy of animal rights is unprejudiced Explanation: Racists are people who think that the members of their race are superior to the members of other races simply because the former belong to their (the "superior") race. Sexists believe that the members of their sex are superior to the members of the opposite sex simply because the former belong to their (the "superior") sex. Both racism and sexism are paradigms of unsupportable bigotry. There is no "superior" or "inferior" sex or race. Racial and sexual differences are biological, not moral, differences. The same is true of speciesism -- the view that members of the species Homo sapiens are superior to members of every other species simply because human beings belong to one's own (the "superior") species. For there is no "superior" species. To think otherwise is to be no less predjudiced than racists or sexists.
"If you can justify killing to eat meat, you can justify the conditions of the ghetto. I cannot justify either one."
-- Dick Gregory
4. The philosophy of animal rights is just Explanation: Justice is the highest principle of ethics. We are not to commit or permit injustice so that good may come, not to violate the rights of the few so that the many might benefit. Slavery allowed this. Child labor allowed this. Most examples of social injustice allow this. But not the philosophy of animal rights, whose highest principle is that of justice: No one has a right to benefit as a result of violating another's rights, whether that "other" is a human being or some other animal.
"The reasons for legal intervention in favor of children apply not less strongly to the case of those unfortunate slaves -- the (other) animals"
- John Stuart Mill
5. The philosophy of animal rights is compassionate Explanation: A full human life demands feelings of empathy and sympathy -- in a word, compassion -- for the victims of injustice -- whether the victims are humans or other animals. The philosophy of animal rights calls for, and its acceptance fosters the growth of, the virtue of compassion. This philosophy is, in Lincoln's workds, "the way of a whole human being."
"Compassion in action may be the glorious possibility that could protect our crowded, polluted planet ..."
-- Victoria Moran
6. The philosophy of animal rights is unselfish Explanation: The philosophy of animal rights demands a commitment to serve those who are weak and vulnerable -- those who, whether they are humans or other animals, lack the ability to speak for or defend themselves, and who are in need of protection against human greed and callousness. This philosophy requires this commitment, not because it is in our self-interest to give it, but because it is right to do so. This philosophy therefore calls for, and its acceptance fosters the growth of, unselfish service.
"We need a moral philosophy in which the concept of love, so rarely mentioned now by philosophers, can once again be made central."
-- Iris Murdoch
7. The philosophy of animal rights is individually fulfilling Explanation: All the great traditions in ethics, both secular and religious, emphasize the importance of four things: knowledge, justice, compassion, and autonomy. The philosophy of animal rights is no exception. This philosophy teaches that our choices should be based on knowledge, should be expressive of compassion and justice, and should be freely made. It is not easy to achieve these virtues, or to control the human inclinations toward greed and indifference. But a whole human life is imposssible without them. The philosophy of animal rights both calls for, and its acceptance fosters the growth of, individual self-fulfillment.
"Humaneness is not a dead external precept, but a living impulse from within; not self-sacrifice, but self-fulfillment."
-- Henry Salt
8. The philosophy of animal rights is socially progressive. Explanation: The greatest impediment to the flourishing of human society is the exploitation of other animals at human hands. This is true in the case of unhealthy diets, of the habitual reliance on the "whole animal model" in science, and of the many other forms animal exploitation takes. And it is no less true of education and advertising, for example, which help deaden the human psyche to the demands of reason, impartiality, compassion, and justice. In all these ways (and more), nations remain profoundly backward because they fail to serve the true interests of their citizens.
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be measured by the way its animals are treated."
-- Mahatma Gandhi
9. The philosophy of animal rights is environmentally wise. Explanation: The major cause of environmental degradation, including the greenhouse effect, water pollution, and the loss both of arable land and top soil, for example, can be traced to the exploitation of animals. This same pattern exists throughout the broad range of environmental problems, from acid rain and ocean dumping of toxic wastes, to air pollution and the destruction of natural habitat. In all these cases, to act to protect the affected animals (who are, after all, the first to suffer and die from these environmental ills), is to act to protect the earth.
"Until we establish a felt sense of kinship between our own species and those fellow mortals who share with us the sun and shadow of life on this agonized planet, there is no hope for other species, there is no hope for the environment, and there is no hope for ourselves."
-- Jon Wynne-Tyson
10. The philosophy of animal rights is peace-loving. Explanation: The fundamental demand of the philosophy of animal rights is to treat humans and other animals with respect. To do this requires that we not harm anyone just so that we ourselves or others might benefit. This philosophy therefore is totally opposed to military aggression. It is a philosophy of peace. But it is a philosophy that extends the demand for peace beyond the boundaries of our species. For there is a war being waged, every day, against countless millions of nonhuman animals. To stand truly for peace is to stand firmly against speciesism. It is wishful thinking to believe that there can be "peace in the world" if we fail to bring peace to our dealings with other animals.
"If by some miracle in all our struggle the earth is spared from nuclear holocaust, only justice to every living thing will save humankind."
Harold German Bustamante
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