>November 22, 1999
>On Sunday George W. Bush locked in his position in support of
>Social Security. As our profiles have shown, Bush has regularly spoken
>the stump in favor of privatization. But Sunday he was speaking to a
>national audience in an interview with Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the
>In the interview Bush said he would consider raising the retirement age
>part of a deal that would assure Social Security taxes could be diverted
>private accounts for Baby Boomers and those who come after them.
>As the attached news stories explain, Bush was so explicit before a
>audience that it will be virtually impossible for him to change his
>in subsequent debates.
That's suicidal. what a fool. which adviser made him do this.
anyway - Here is a good article by Geov Parrish, a wonderfully reasonable person, who writes for Seattle weekly (www.seattleweekly.com) and does eat the state! http://eatthestate.org I think he probably accurately predicts the scene.
BY GEOV PARRISH
In planning the (mostly) nonviolent actions against the WTO, activists are blending old protest tactics with newer, less passive ones.
ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, the official opening day of World Trade
Organization talks in Seattle, protests will also erupt. The widely
anticipated chaos downtown, however, will be only peripherally due to
the biggest and best-publicized event. That's the labor-sponsored
march that may draw upwards of 50,000 to Seattle Center for a 12:30
march to the Convention Center. Less well publicized, but perhaps
equally important, will be an entirely separate campaign kicked off
early that morning. Beginning at 7am with two separate legal
processions from Victor Steinbrueck Park and Seattle Central Community
College, an ad hoc alliance called the Direct Action Network (DAN)
will descend on the Paramount Theatre with one immodest goal: to shut
the WTO down.
Facing perhaps the greatest security apparatus Seattle has ever seen,
the chances that DAN will succeed are not very high. But chances are
excellent that in trying, DAN will spend much of the day generating
photogenic actions in which hundreds--perhaps thousands--of people
will risk arrest.
Media attention thus far has focused on the wilder aspects of planned
civil disobedience and what two separate Seattle Times op-eds last
week, in eerily similar dismissive language, referred to as Seattle's
"crazies" and "zanies." But most of the preparations for the November
30 direct actions are quite sober, focusing on keeping events peaceful
and participants safe. Planners also are striving to keep protesters
from a wide variety of cultures and ideologies on the same page, with
a consistent message of nonviolent opposition to the WTO.
For DAN, even creating a few simple tenets of nonviolence to ask
protesters to abide by on November 30 was a delicate matter. Their
four-point "nonviolence code" seems relatively commonsense: "1) We
will use no violence, physical or verbal, toward any person; 2) We
will not carry weapons; 3) We will not bring or use any alcohol or
illegal drugs; 4) We will not destroy property."
But a fifth plank commonly found in such guidelines--"We will not
run"--is missing; and the fourth and even first guidelines are not
entirely uncontroversial among protesters these days. Nationally and
particularly in the Pacific Northwest, born largely of woods-based
antilogging actions, a newer protest culture has in recent years
criticized an older, more static way of doing protests dating to the
antinuclear sitdowns of the late 1970s. The criticism, put simply, is
that a Gandhian-style passive presentation, where people politely wait
to be arrested, no longer works. Media are no longer impressed, and
police have figured out that avoiding arrests works better. In the
21st-century protest, tactical flexibility is increasingly considered
The WTO protest will be one of the first large-scale direct actions on
US soil not wed to the models of Gandhi and King in decades.
DAN'S ERICA KAY, a local veteran of protests with groups such as Earth
First! and the Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia, stresses
safety while allowing for innovative tactics. DAN is asking
protesters, particularly those that want to risk arrest, to take
nonviolence trainings--not to indoctrinate people in pacifism, but to
practice how to react in chaotic situations in a way that preserves
the message that protesters want heard. These trainings, typically two
to six hours, cover a wide array of topics and exercises: consensus,
quick decisions, responding to provocations, de-escalating conflict,
arrest and jail role plays, legal information, processing personal
fears and hopes. They'll be offered on a daily basis in the week
leading up to November 30.
For the younger, anarchist groups that are particularly skeptical of
what they view as "protest as usual," that won't be enough. They've
also been offering truncated self-defense classes, to give activist
more control during frenzied situations.
Another sort of preparation will also be under way, one that speaks to
the desire for less static demonstrations. Working out of the same
office as Erica Kay, Art and Revolution organizer David Solnit is
pulling together an eight-day series of workshops and trainings
leading up to the November 30 DAN protest: street theatre, puppet
building, mask making, costume design, music, and much more.
"When looking around the world," says Solnit, "to Chiapas or Europe,
the most powerful movements are using culture to come up with new
forms of resistance."
Solnit reels off different groups from around the world that will be
part of the November 30 morning processions: Vermont's Bread and
Puppet Theater, a former Barnum & Bailey clown who will be doing clown
seminars in the preceding week, a West African dance group, hip-hop
and spoken word groups, half a dozen local Art & Revolution street
theater groups from around the country, a Japanese butoh theater
group. "Artists from Washington are coming out of the woodwork," he
The international flavor is no accident, and it will be a wild card in
how the blockades and direct action will play out. Groups like the
People's Global Assembly will bring activists from around the world
with their own sets of WTO issues; and these activists, notes Kay,
tent to be much more direct about their direct action. The PGA has
been noted in India, for example, for burning crops to protest
genetically modified seeds. And just as the US has come late to the
global movement protesting the WTO, US activists will have the
opportunity to learn a lot from people from less privileged cultures
who've seen these barricades before.
How has the collision of different protest cultures in planning the
DAN protests changed Kay? She ponders the question. "I have a greater
acceptance and understanding of the value of a wider range of tactics
and techniques . . . I'm emerging with a less strong opinion of what
is right and wrong, and using different tactics so long as they're
used well. That's not where I was a year ago."
Another question remains: How will such new tactics and fragile
alliances play out under the glare of the WTO security apparatus?
For information on nonviolence trainings and the November 20-28 Art &
Revolution workshops, call the Direct Action Network at 632-1656.
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