Murder on the Fast Track Express

Carlo Giuliani

A version of this article was first published in New Ground 77, July — August, 2001.

Murder on the Fast Track Express

by Bob Roman

The murder of Carlo Giuliani at the G8 demonstrations in Genoa and the subsequent police raid on the dormitory and the Italian Indy Media offices are repulsive, outrageous and to be condemned. Without actually consulting all our members, I think this is something that all Chicago DSA members would agree with. This much we would all agree on but I’m not sure how much more; the murder, the raids, and role of the Black Bloc in general are not without some rather complex ambiguities.

My own opinion, and I do emphasize that it is my own, is that the murder was an event waiting to happen; it is an implicit part of the script that the Establishment and the anti-corporate globalization movement have written for themselves. It was only by chance that death didn’t happen in Quebec or in the Czech Republic. If things continue as they are, we should not be surprised if it happens again. We are all to some degree complicit in Carlo Giuliani’s death.

This is not to say that we are all equally complicit. It is the elite nature of these gatherings that provokes the strangled rage of the street. It is the closed, secretive nature of the negotiations that mobilizes mistrust. It is that these “free” trade agreements are so clearly written to the benefit of the rich that motivates the opposition of so many. It is the wealthy that have set this agenda; it is the political leadership that selected the venue. They run the meeting; they are first in line for responsibility.

It did not take the murder to start a reassessment of strategy and tactics within the anti-corporate globalization movement. Quebec was such a near thing that the process began shortly afterwards. Some of the concerns are political. Ted Glick of the Independent Progressive Politics Network wrote in his column shortly after Quebec:

“Make no mistake about it: the battle we are waging against the global capitalist order is a political battle, first and foremost, far and away. It is not a military battle because if it were we’d be snuffed out in a New York minute. It’s not an economic battle because, even with all of our coops and alternative economic institutions, as important as they are, our “economy” will never just grow and grow to the point at which the corporate economy is supplanted; it’s not in the cards. Our primary work, the touchstone of all of our discussions concerning tactics, must be about winning the hearts and minds of literally tens of millions of North Americans. It is only that broad base of support, out of which can grow a bigger and bigger movement of organizers and activists, which will make the changes we seek possible.

“Based upon my experiences in Quebec City, as well as in D.C., Philadelphia and Los Angeles last year, I don’t think all of those involved in this righteous struggle share the view that it is primarily political, that we need to develop and adjust tactics with the hearts and minds of those tens of millions in the forefront of our thinking. I’m referring specifically to many-not all, but many, it seems-of those who are commonly seen as making up the Black Bloc.”

Make no mistake about it; Ted Glick is not proposing to buy into the corporate media’s characterization of “good” demonstrators vs. “bad” demonstrators. Rather,

“It may be that individual Black Bloc’ers wouldn’t have been bothered if serious injury had been done to one of the cops as a result of their actions. I don’t think that is a good thing, but I can at least understand it. But they should care if the tactics they use are directly responsible for injury to those of us who are also out there putting our bodies on the line, and they should care about the effect of their tactics on those broad masses of working-class people who know little about either the FTAA or us and who, unfortunately, rely on the corporate media for their information. And although we don’t control that media, we can have some influence over how and what they report depending upon what tactics we use.”

Similar concerns have been raised within the pacifist community but as much from an ethical perspective. The War Resisters League, for example, has begun revisiting the issue of what role, if any, does violence against property play in non-violent civil disobedience.

It would be a pleasure to report a similar reassessment among the economic and political elite, but beyond some public hand-wringing and a sly look at smaller, more easily controlled rural venues, there’s not much to report.

An example of the continued arrogance of the corporate elite and their political lackeys is the recent introduction of “Fast Track” negotiating authority in Congress as HR 2149. Introduced by Illinois Congressman Philip Crane (8th), the legislation has collected 100 co-sponsors, including the entire Illinois Republican delegation though none of the Democrats. The bill includes no provisions requesting that the matter of labor or environmental standards even be brought up at the negotiations. As such, it represents a hard line maximalist position. Considering that the Republican House leadership hope to have passed the bill by the time you read this, compromise does not seem high on their agenda.

In a demonstration of opposition, two Democratic Congressmen, Martin Frost and Earl Pomeroy, have circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter demanding labor and environmental protections as objectives in any agreement. The letter gathered 99 signatures.

Activists in Chicago have already responded with some demonstrations. On Friday June 6 over 40 union members, religious leaders, community activists, and students protested at Congressman Crane’s district office in Palatine. As a means of peaceful protest, they took over Crane’s office and began to sing, filling the office with the strains of “We Will Not Be Moved, ” picket signs, and gravestones depicting images of shutdown factories and mills. Protestors demanded to speak with Crane, who was in Illinois while on Congressional recess. Ultimately, two representatives from the protest, Sarita Gupta of Chicago Jobs with Justice, and Bill Carey of USWA District 7, were able to speak via telephone with Crane’s Chief of Staff. Meanwhile protesters chanted and rallied outside the office, garnering support from pedestrians and cars. Although there was no expectation that the protest would shift Crane’s position, no one was prepared for the outright insults directed toward Gupta and Carey. At one point, the Chief of Staff asked Sarita Gupta, “What did you smoke on your way to work this morning?” As the staff at Crane’s district office locked themselves inside, the protesters chanted “We Will Be Back!”

And the movement will be back. Plans are already being made for the IMF / World Bank meeting in DC this fall.

Author: rmichaelroman

... whatever ...

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