Thursday, June 7, 2007

More annoying G8: leaders or protesters?

I was thinking a bit more about this urge to ridicule the G8 protesters almost as much as the leaders. It is both terribly cynical and entirely understandable. There is no doubt that most of them are there for a good cause; it's great that they want to make a difference and are willing to sacrifice their own time and money to attempt to do so; and certainly there is legitimate reason to criticize the G8 for insufficiently managing the world system (or, perhaps, deliberately mismanaging it, i.e. to their own mutual advantage and to the seemingly eternal disadvantage of so many other countries, who—while ostensibly receiving aid and 'developing', are also, in concrete ways, getting screwed, etc).
I suppose this cynicism is born of my longtime frustration with the disparate global resistance movements whose causes I support, often partially but never entirely: mostly anarchists, socialists, and libertarians (but also more ‘moderate’ reformers and progressives, especially the Greens). I realize these groups, as well as the Anti-Globalization/World Social Forum crowd, clash on many fronts. But they all have important things to say, and they are all being ignored
by the establishment (the Social Democrat wing of the Socialists being an important exception here, though the divide between these two is only growing).

Two questions about the protesters. First, what do they want? Second, what are they trying to accomplish?
The two are not the same. The former is theoretical, a matter of politics and philosophy: what are your gripes with this meeting, these leaders, the new world order? What should be done instead? The latter question is more practical and refers specifically to their strategy at the Summits, the way they carry out their resistance, and what larger movement or discussion this act attempts to stimulate.

My gripe is this: in 2007, hasn't the g8 protest been done before, and done better, to sufficiently positive results (disruption, violence, general spectacle, lots of press and some controversy)? Isn't it time for the next level of protest, resistance, and would-be revolution from these guys? Now, I'm not sure what that level is. But it seems to me that the g8 protest thing has long past its peak utility. The only way these protests are ever going to make a difference again is if they get massively violent—a situation which in the long term undoubtedly benefits the protesters more than the g8, who would rather maintain the status quo of pretending to do stuff. G8 protests have been sucked into the permanent news/cultural cycle and have consequently lost their significance (we’ve all seen profiles of the protesters pictured below -- and it was just a matter of time before it became, say, a topic for quick and humorous reflection on ColbertNation.)

This is a pretty important topic, and I intend to return to it. Are there others out there of the "protesting: so over it!" mentality? Or am I just going all bourgie on you?

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