[mgj-discuss] Fall IMF protests, what was, and what could have been last year
luke-- at hushmail.com
luke-- at hushmail.com
Wed Oct 9 14:15:46 EDT 2002
It is interesting to contrast the weekend of action that just ended with what could have been a year ago if Osama hadn't interfered.
The centrifugal forces that hurt us this year and limited our coalition were already showing, but the action woulod have gone down before they knocked anything out. Everyone from the ACC to the AFL-CIO was signing on, and we expected 60,000 people. Strategy was to be a static seige with a serious effort to penetrate the barricades and "break it open."
As long as I live I will never forget last fall: the huge buzz, the giant turnout expectations, the plan for a ceremonial torchlight parade of women to start it off, and the glorious summer burning on into a beautiful fall. September 7, I rode across lower Rock Creek and watched the sun go down, thinking about how the hell I would get into town safely. September 9th, I rode my "expendable" bike to the ACC meeting to test out a new aerobar. On September 11th were scheduled an anti death penalty action and the joint bike/comms meeting. Then, Osama fucking Bin Laden fucked it all up.
For a year we struggled to recover. NYC, we got our foot in the door. April, we showed we could still get turnout. In fact, last April's turnout was MORE than we would have gotten fall 2001 sans 9/11! With the completeion of this fall's protests,with real direct action once again, I am reminded of the movie Legend, which ends with a young couple completing what they had tried so hard to begin.
Politically, Bu$hoco and the IMF were sweating bullets about the possibility of a climactic battle in Washington(the Imperial Capital), after an escalating series of actions that had culminated at Quebec and Genoa. The buzz just grew and grew, and the cops were printing scare stories about 100,000 protestors with a Black Bloc 10,000 strong, using all the tactics of Europe. Such a giant battle, no matter who won, would have driven home the point about global opposition to what ALL the alphabet soup trade organizations are doing. Followed quickly by the Enron scandal, Argentina,and more corporate collapses it would have overwhelmed the system's ability to coopt or brush off our demands.
Militarily it would have been just as interesting. Realisticly we could have gotten 60,000 people, and when the meetings were limited to the weekend it compressed the ACC, the MGJ, and the IAC's surround the white house event into a single seamless whole. If the ACC took the "spearhead" role, their woulod have been a good chance of getting through. Presumably, the wall would have been the same thing we saw this year, and the Quebec "rocking" tactic would not have moved it. It would have been necesssary to use jacks and skateboards to roll it away. On the other hand, that stuff might not have been designed yet, and Long Fence might have just duplicated the Quebec wall, which everyone know how to handle.
The number and deployment of cops we saw this year would have been only slightly boosted, and with most of them behind the wall we would have commanded the approaches. Mass arrests would have been impossible against 60K of us. Once past the wall, a huge premium would have been placed on the armored strenth of Ya Basta type groups and dumpsters used as tanks, like in Seattle, Philly, and the Counterinaugural. With armor as spearhead and flank protection, it would have been possible to do what was NOT done in Quebec and get in to read our demands. Little doubt that would have ended the meetings, and no delegates would have tried to return the next day.
Just before 9/11, GW University was shaping up to be a pivotal battle, as the authorities wanted to close it and quarter cops there instead. If the students could have been encoraged to hold it, and we had reinforced them, we would have been holding a fortified position instead of assaulting one, and the meetings would ahve had to be moved again or cancelled.
This year, we had only the people who would have ORGANIZED last year. Last year was to be coalition warfare, and this was more of a "go it alone" deal with the MGJ and ACC doing completely different days, ZERO armor, and severely inadequate cavalry(bikes). With total turnout lower, blockade("engineer")crews could not get adequate coverage. As a result, we went in Satuday as an underweigh, almost all "infantry" action.
On the other hand, the ACC was able to create an entirely NEW strategy of Asymmetrical protest. ACC DID shut the city down, with 20% of what would have been last year's ACC turnout,by scaring the rich out. Had their been a normal rush hour, the two tire barricades on GW Parkway and Chain Bridge, the blockade at 14th and Indep, the Critical Mass, and the Snake March alone would have been sufficient to make for an absolutely hellish rush hour, equivalent to a severe ice storm. This was something Ramsey had ZERO ability to stop, wheras he could have maybe stopped us from penetrating the meetings last year by firing live ammo or requesting armor from the National Guard to blunt our armored power. Anybody underestimating ACC Armor should remember the 30 person affinity group that showed up in full armor for S29 and smashed through the police lines to escape. With 3,000 instead of 30, that would have been enough to spearhead a breakthrough scenario!
This year, our strategy did not depend on heavy slugging matches, so nobody wore armor. If ACC had had to go it alone with last year's turnout and tactics, it could have gone either way. This year, Ramsey was checkmated before we even showed up, and we could have stayed home and we would STILL have had the city shut down!
Both the tactical and strategic lessons of last year and this should be remembered as the economy continues down, the war in Iraq heats up, and the movement grows once more.We need to combine Coalition with real direct action. This fall we did not have enough coalition, and last spring we did not have enough "warfare". Capitalism is something only coalition warfare has a real chance of getting rid of. Between the growing war and the economic meltdown, there is a good chance Bush or the IMF will do something that puts them in the pits of domestic as well as global opinion, and we need to be in position to move fast when this happens. When people are looking to the movement to provide a framework but have already decided to do something (like in Europe), then turnout takes care of itself and logistics becomes the big problem.
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