Aug 13, 2001
On July 21and 22, the heads of the eight richest countries in the world, the so-called G8, met in Genoa, Italy. They were confronted by a massive demonstration of 200,000 protesters from various countries of Europe. The Italian state greeted the protesters with 20,000 police whose mission was to crush the protest, including beating up peaceful demonstrators. The city was placed in a state of siege for four days. The entire downtown was made a “red zone,” surrounded by wire fences, with a passage through it controlled by the police.
A cop killed a 23-year-old protester with two pistol shots to his head. During three days, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, who came to parade without intending to take on the police, were made the target of violent police charges, of clubbings and tear gas. A detachment of police seized the office of the Genoa Social Forum, where the protest was organized, savagely beating and arresting the militants who were present.
The cost of this police deployment was one dead, 231 wounded and 288 people arrested. This was the price to be paid for a grand meeting of eight heads of state.
The heads of state who met represent the bourgeoisie of the biggest countries, the principal beneficiaries of an abominable and inhuman world economic order. It's an economic order based on the exploitation of workers by the capitalist class in each country, but also on the pillage of the Third World. Everything is done to favor big capital and enable it to extract still more profit. This world order destroys the lives of millions of human beings through diseases, including those which could be treated, or simply through hunger.
We understand then why 200,000 or more people, mainly youth, seized the opportunity to show their disgust at an unjust and inhuman world. The police violence unleashed against them is unspeakable.
Those who demonstrated against this summit meeting wished to make a symbol of it. But these summits, like so many other international meetings of the same type, constitute only a masquerade for onlookers. Nothing is done there for the people. Given the emptiness of the discussions and the absence of any concrete measures other than freeing up a paltry sum to fight AIDS, if there had been no demonstration, no one would have spoken of this summit conference, unless it was to report on the banquet menu. The only decision was to set the date for the next world meeting of the same type, far away, in an inaccessible valley in the Canadian Rockies.
The "leaders of this world," who each pretend to represent their people thanks to democratic elections, have no illusions about their lack of popularity. Hypocritical speeches deploring world poverty don't make them more popular at home, where they serve those who get rich off this poverty.
The heads of state may occupy the limelight. But those who run things are the big bourgeoisie, the bosses of the big enterprises, the stockholders of financial institutions, who in the shadow of more or less democratically elected politicians, exercise an iron dictatorship over the economy and the running of the world. These are the same people who, here in the U.S., as elsewhere in the world, lay off thousands of people without a thought, worsen working conditions and reduce the purchasing power of wages. Their riches come from the impoverishment of their workers. They are the ones responsible for unemployment, who prefer to speculate on stocks, if that brings them more than by increasing production and creating jobs. They are the sole beneficiaries of a crazy economic system where even the progress of productivity increases social inequalities, instead of lessening them.
It's this dictatorship of the capitalist class over the world economy which must be indicted, not only globalization, which is only one of its superficial aspects and which is only a new name for a phenomenon born a hundred years ago. And it isn't enough to protest symbolically at the time of world conferences, which perhaps are even going to be suppressed. That won’t change anything. It's necessary to take on economic injustice, the super-profits which breed poverty and unemployment. To accomplish that, we have to do everything here where we live, against our own bosses and our own state apparatus.