Reflections and strategies 10 years on from J18 and Seattle 1999

The Cube cinema, 1 February 2010, 7.30pm:
J18 & Seattle 1999 – reflections & strategies 10 years on

The Bristol anarchist bookfair collective and Bristol Indymedia present an evening of films and discussion that look back to the global protests and counter-summit mobilisations of 1999, and consider where next for the movement of movements. This event is part of Bristol Indymedia’s monthly programme at The Cube, entry as usual costs £3/4 but nobody will be turned away for lack of money – just state what you can afford.

cube_1-feb_posterWe’ll be showing 2 short dramatic films, one each from J18 and Seattle, which should get your adrenalin pumping. There will be no ‘big name’ speaker, so there will be plenty of time for discussion and contributions. Scroll down for background reading links.

In 1999 protests, street parties and riots in Cologne, London, Seattle and worldwide put anti-capitalism firmly on the political agenda and the state & capital on the back foot. As the cutting edge of the misnamed ‘anti-globalisation’ movement that opposed unrestricted neo-liberal global free-market expansion, the anti-capitalists weren’t just asking for debt cancellation for poor countries, they wanted to smash the G8, IMF, WTO and World Bank, and tear down the whole capitalist system. These we-are-winningmovements had been building slowly for a decade, usually outside of and separate to the established political parties and structures. They developed their own organisational infrastructures, normally based on non-hierarchical and consensual formats, and utilised various supporting tools, not least the internet and the birth of Indymedia in November 1999. Alongside established NGO’s and a huge variety of groups and campaigns, they co-existed under slogans such as ‘one no, many yesses’ and employed a ‘diversity of tactics’. The slogan ‘we are winning’ was sprayed on city walls across the world.

Within a couple of years these movements and mobilisations appeared to have peaked as police tactics & state repression escalated and the economy boomed, and then along came 9/11….but in fact they have continued worldwide, usually ignored in the western media. Now a earth_common-treasury1decade on humanity and the planet stands on the edge of the environmental abyss, whilst the financial crisis foretold by these movements have come to pass. Yet the structures of capital and the state, whilst shaken, remain in control as they condemn billions to poverty, take back the gains won by previous struggles, and chuck our human rights and ‘civil liberties’ in the bin. What can we learn from these recent mobilisations and movements? What can we do now?

Background reading:
It occurrs to us that some younger people may have no idea what this event refers too. For instance they may not know that the image ‘Evading Standards’, is from the front cover of a spoof paper distro’d across London on June 18 1999. Thats a spoof of the London paper Evening Standard by the way, a fairly right-wing rag. And maybe some older people may wish to re-acquaint themselves with some of the events, news and critiques around at that time. So here’s a number of background reading resources mixing fact and comment…

A. Info on J18 – the Carnival Against Capitalism on June 18 1999 (the London event was part of a worldwide series of actions against the G8 meeting in Cologne that day)
Backed up version of original J18 sitej18_flyer-front2
Some J18 images
J18 protests on Wikipedia
The run up to J18 in Do or Die no.8 plus more on J18 in no.8
Reflections on J18 pamphlet (Oct ’99)
‘Give up Activism’ and it’s ‘Postscript’ is a provocative article in the Reflections on J18 pamphlet
Practice and ideology in the direct action movement (from Undercurrents no.8)

B. Info on N30 – the Seattle protests against the WTO (World Trade Organisation) on 30 November 1999seattle-flyer1
Seattle archive & images at PGA (Peoples Global Alliance)
Seattle protests on Wikipedia
Seattle black bloc communique (and also here)
A random personal account from Seattle
Seattle 10 years on interview with an activist organiser

C. Some comment articles 10 years on
10 years of Indymedia settle_guncop
Comment piece from Datacide, plus more general background
Red Pepper article by boss of War on Want (1/12/09)
Comment on 1999 & COP15 mobilisations
SWP article (late Nov 09)
Organising for the anti-capitalist transition
Seeing The Elephant In Copenhagen: A Blind Mans Account – (reflections on movements) by Chris Carlsson
Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism
Interview with Werner Bonefeld in Shift magazine

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