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Genoa 2001
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Will a death in the family breathe life into the movement?
Comment by El Flaco 8th Aug 2001

Seattle may have been some sort of watershed, but Carlo's killing in Genoa is a turning point for the anti-capitalist movement (if we can call it that). How we play it from here will have repercussions far beyond the blood-stained streets of Northern Italy.

It was no freak cub-cop overreaction that left one mother mourning and several others preparing to, as the sun hit the sea on Friday night, but a deliberate act of terror - in the most basic sense of the word.

The snowball that¹s been gaining weight and speed as it rolled through Geneva, Prague and Gothenburg has become far too jagged a spike in the side of those steering the planetary carve up. So bullets meet brains ­ and young people are shot dead for daring to think there can be another way.

The message from the world¹s authorities is clear: go back to your homes, do not meddle in what doesn't concern you, return to your televisions, to smoking dope and stealing traffic cones and leave the intricacies of global economics alone ­ because if you don't we will kill you. The same way we killed Carlo Giuliani.


For decades, the poorest of the planet's families from Asia, Africa and Latin America have been burying the fathers, the sisters and the first born sons who have dared to confront the forces of global capitalism. But Carlo's death spells something different.

For the first time the global elite has begun to kill the children of its own people. Dissent will no longer be tolerated. The whip of economic dictatorship is finally cracking at home.

But where we go from here is still up for grabs. The globalisers would dearly love to see us run scared, or split our ranks with paranoid accusations of 'whose side are you on?'.

Tactical difference should not be confused with police-collusion and counter-revolutionary activity... or vice-versa.


True enough, there were cops in ski-masks leading the more excitable and naive among Genoa's young bloods on attacks on corner shops, bus stops and post offices. But the agitators can be addressed.

If everyone who takes any action knows why they are taking it and what sort of action they think is necessary to achieve their goal, then the police will not be able to steer the crowds, the meetings, the discussion groups or 'the movement' as a whole. The problem is less one of infiltration, more one of focus.

The more liberal elements of groups such as the Genoa Social Forum (GSF) or Prague's INPEG, need to understand, that just because they have the ear of the newspapers, it doesn't mean they speak with the voice of the people.

The reformist agenda of these groups, who call for more legislation, more institutions and stronger government control over the runaway capitalist train, is an entire philosophy away from the genuine participatory democracy sought by many.


Instead of calling for the deployment of "non-violent methods of restraining and defusing violent behaviour" for those who fail to adhere to "the political and ethical parameters of our mass actions" (Walden Bello I expected so much more from you), perhaps the up-in-arms brigade should be questioning their own attempted coup of the global resistance movement.

Both INPEG and the GSF produced documents laying down "rules" for "participation" in what were illegal blockades of international meetings. The GSF tactical manifesto was insulting to the resistance history of many of it's signatory groups.

The anarchists were perhaps the only people (police included) who took to the streets with honest intentions, both about their goals and what they were prepared to do to achieve them.


The anarchists have long been aware that power (be it economic or governmental) is the problem - not who holds it - and needs, therefore, to be removed altogether.

The Black Bloc do not "detract from 'the message'"- they have a different message. And unlike the liberals and the hierarchical groups of the organised left who would, at best, replace those in power with their own institutions manned by their own people, and at worst, settle for seat at the G-8 table, the anarchist's message is not a lunge for the throne shrouded in the smoke screen language of 'justice' and 'liberty'.


The anarchists recognise that a power wielding state is no better than a power wielding corporation, and they are well aware that the police are the front-line defence for both.

This is not to dispel organisation. Organisation is imperative. Co-operation and communication between the disparate groups involved in the resistance is key. But an insurrectionary pseudo-government (complete with pseudo-police if Walden gets his way)? Hmmm... two legs good, four legs bad time already.

The strength of this movement/loose-amalgamation-of-people-who-ain't-taking-any-more-shit, has always been its leaderless fluidity, its constantly changing strategy, its unpredictable tactics and targets. This is why the authorities (until now) have found it so hard to get a handle on what we were up to - we weren't following patterns or playing by any discernible rules.

Now, as we witnessed in Genoa, the Man has caught up. Infiltration is the price of protesting-by-numbers. Though Italy was an ideal venue for us to mobilise an unprecedented number of insurrectionaries, it was also a touch for the global authorities who could mobilise one of the West's most corrupt, right wing and violent state security forces.

Recent history has shown the Italian security services are prepared to stoop to anything in order to undermine subversive movements. Genoa proved they haven't lost their touch.


James Anon made the point on that if the non violent protesters came up with something that worked maybe more people would adopt their tactics.

However, non violence should not be confused with not rocking the boat - as often appears to be the case. Those who feel the 'violent anarchists' are curbing their successes should maybe look at how successful their own tactics are.

It is no coincidence that Tony Blair "welcomes" peaceful calls for debt reform - the communiqués are duly issued, the lip service paid, and then..... nothing changes, and the global carve up getting mapped in the Oval office doesn't miss a step.

Maybe time within the 'movement' would be better spent skipping the anarchist witch-hunt and focusing on our common enemies. One of the more eye opening moments in Genoa came when the non-violent protesters and the Black Bloc crossed paths.

At around three o'clock on July 20th, an anarchist bloc had tried to cross the Piazza Manin en route to the red zone, the non-violent white handed pacifists in the square, refused to let them pass. Discussions between the two groups were interrupted by a vicious police attack during which the white hand protesters sat down hands aloft and took a severe beating without fighting back (as is their prerogative).


However an hour later when three masked youths walked back through the square the (understandably upset) pacifists threw first a stick, then a bottle, then a rock at them. They saw the Black Bloc as the cause for their pain.

No violence had been directed at the police wielding the boots, the clubs and the teargas, but strict pacifist adherence could be suspended in order to attack anyone (without authority) who had not stuck to 'their' tactical code. Perhaps this pacifist submission to authority says more about the the authoritarian nature of the society they seek, than about their abhorrence of the Black Blocs tactics.

The more reasoned voices of Italy's Ya Basta collective are already admitting the error of attacking the brick throwers (there is something twisted about an elite Tutte Bianchi hit squad in Subcommandante Marcos t-shirts beating people with crash helmets for wearing bandannas over their faces).

However, the security services will no doubt be fuelling the fire of division and will embrace the peace-policers (as they did during the anti Vietnam protests of the 1960s) who, they hope in turn, will return the anti-capitalist front-line to the letters pages of the Washington Post.


The rats inside the global red zone want us to crawl back to our workplaces, to the fear of unemployment and to the gratitude for an irregular playtime. But we can say no.

We can say: we do not care how well protected you are with your armies, your police, your banks or your brands, because we have had enough and we will not run from your guns.

Theses would-be leaders can scuttle off to Qatar or cruise ships or Rocky Mountain retreats, but we know their meetings have little impact on the real decisions made elsewhere. Perhaps we in the West should follow the example of India's farmers who removed Monsanto's headquarters brick by brick and took it away.

If we don't like Bush's missile defence plans, we could go to Flyingdales and take it away, brick by brick, bullet by bullet. We have the ability to take capitalism out piece by piece, pound by pound.

We could pick a company, say Balfour Beatty, and put them out of business. A thousand actions at a thousand sites dismantling every facet of their insidious business. Would their shareholders bail them out? Unlikely. Then we could move on and up. When we can co-ordinate our actions as millions of people, then maybe we can dismantle the oil industry, the arms industry, the jail industry, the government industry?


The mass street actions we have been able to mount and the dedication, planning and application of those on the streets has shown us that we have the wherewithal to make decisions and carry them out regardless of what the state may think or threaten.

If we put this dynamic to work away from the mega-summits we can become a threat again. But we need to be imaginative and we need to stay ahead of the beast.

Where we choose to go from here is crucial to whether we are in the process of sparking serious global change or whether we are merely in the death throes of another cycle of resistance.


If we don't want corporate activity in our neighbourhoods, lets chuck the corporations out. If we don't want the police or the government flexing their muscle in our neighbourhoods, lets stop recognising their bogus authority and encourage others to do the same.

Let's link our communities together - not through state or business initiatives - but through people who share a common struggle. If we believe in making changes and creating something better, and if we are prepared to take the risks and put in the time, then lets do it. Lets not let Carlo's death be in vain.

Because when one of us catches a bullet, a club or jail sentence, a little bit of all of us dies. But together we are alive and together we can, and we will, win.

See also Case for Confrontation:

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