The irresistible rise of global anticapitalism



An introduction

“The highest expression of dignity can be summed up in a single word. ‘No.’ ”
-Dai Qing, woman resisting 3 Gorges dam in China

Part of the beauty of this movement of movements which is emerging all over the world, united by a common “no” and striving towards “many yeses,” is that it is impossible to define from a single perspective. Although the “no” is a clear rejection of capitalism, the refusal of a world where profits are more important than people and the planet, the “many yesses” are spoken by many tongues, in many places, with many different stories, ideals, and experiences. The “yesses” refer to the multitude of positive alternatives to a system that imposes the misery of monoculture onto every corner of the planet, making everywhere look and feel like everywhere else. The same food, the same insecurity, the same clothes, the same misery, the same restaurants, the same hunger, the same hotels, the same homelessness, the same shopping malls filled with the same deadening musak.

While the president of the Nabisco Corporation is “looking forward to the day when Arabs and Americans, Latins and Scandinavians will be munching Ritz crackers as enthusiastically as they already drink Coke or brush their teeth with Colgate.” these movements see progress very differently: Progress is defined by the amount of diversity and differentiation within society; progress is when an Indian farmer shares tips about pulling up genetically modified crops with a British environmentalist; progress is realising that the alternatives to capitalism for a landless Brazilian peasant are very different than for an unemployed worker living in the suburbs of Paris; progress is many worlds in one world..04 This book does not desire to find commonality or to present a complete overview; it’s simply an attempt at bringing together some of the stories which have inspired us and helped us continue, against the odds, to struggle for a better world. It was conceived as a way to translate, broadcast, and amplify these many yesses, this sense of extraordinary possibility that is being created by the multitude of irresistible uprisings which are taking place everywhere. Most of these stories are united only by the desire of their authors to disobey those who tell us that the law of the market is sacrosanct

“It has to start somewhere It has to start sometime What better place than here What better place than now...”
--Guerrilla Radio, Rage Against The Machine, The Battle of Los Angeles.

Where and when did this movement of movements originate? Some say it began on November 30, 1999, as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) tried to meet in a city reeking of tear gas and paralysed by tens of thousands of demonstrators. Others think it started on New Year’s Day, 1994, when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect and the Zapatistas emerged from the mountain mist of southeastern Mexico, declaring war on the Mexican army and neoliberalism.

Still others believe it was the spectacular defeat of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) in 1998 that spearheaded it, or that it was the global street party in May 1998 which sowed the seeds of global resistance. But the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s austerity programs have triggered widespread rioting from the mid 70’s onwards in the global South.

Resistance is nothing new, and the movement’s exact origins are perhaps only interesting if one thinks that history marches forward in a straight.line. But we are learning that history is a fluid creation, made up of many stories, which take on different shapes when viewed from different angles. It is through these stories that we can begin to recognise our differences, and to understand that to replace capitalism with another singular global system is as absurd as leaving the present system in its place. “Democracy used to be a good thing, but now it has gotten into the hands of the wrong people.” - Fortune Magazine

Resistance may not be new, but the desire for positions of power and formations of political parties which marked uprisings of the past have given way to new and diverse social movements, which no longer aspire to take power, but rather, to dissolve it, creating spaces for face-to-face direct democracy. “Participate, don’t spectate;” “Listen, don’t preach;” “Talk to someone who doesn’t look like you,” - these are cries that are now echoing from Seattle to Bangalore, from Porto Alegre to Genoa, from London to San CristŠbal.

Even tactical forms are changing and becoming more fluid; linear marches are being replaced by the multifaceted, self-organised forces of direct action. Whether it’s the Brazilian landless peasants (MST) squatting huge tracts of empty land and building cooperative farms and communities, Reclaim the Streets taking over a motorway for a street party, or Indian peasants banning politicians from their villages under penalty of being tied to a tree - direct action is the order of the day. It’s about taking control of our own lives and collectively deciding the future of our communities, without the mediation of politicians and bureaucrats. The dispersal of power into the hands of the people themselves is at the very heart of this movement.

“The right to remember does not figure among the human rights consecrated by the United Nations, but now more than ever we must insist on it and act on it... When it’s truly alive, memory doesn’t contemplate history, it invites us to make it.”
Eduardo Galeano, Upside-Down

One of the most potent annihilators of resistance is forgetting, the eradication of collective memory. The breathtaking thrill of participating in a quasi-insurrectional experience becomes harder and harder to remember as time passes. Newspaper cuttings, which have the insidious power of spectacularising the events and colonising our memory, are often all that remain. “History,” says Howard Zinn, “is written from records left by the privileged”, and those records detail the triumphs of power and the conquest of capitalism rather than the consistent acts of individual and collective resistance which illuminate our past and shape our future.

For this reason, though we in the global North might not forget events from Seattle, Prague, Queb”c City, or Genoa, the mass mobilizations and radical movements of the global South, which have inspired our encounters and actions, have.remained invisible to us. “We are Everywhere” will attempt to redress this balance, bringing to light some of these often-unacknowledged uprisings. As these voices mingle with the voices on the Northern streets, we begin to see that a unique revolutionary situation is emerging, where seemingly separate movements converge and the wave of global resistance becomes a tsunami. We have begun to recognise each other as allies, to struggle together, to take actions which cause turbulence thousands of miles away, as well as create ripples which lap at our neighbour’s doorstep. Together, our hope is re-ignited, hope that everything can be transformed, hope that we have the power to reclaim memory from those who would impose oblivion, hope that history belongs to us if only we believe we can make it with our own hands.

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time... But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Lilla Watson, A Brisbane based Aboriginal educator and activist.