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Two words to remember - empires fall
    #1688667 - 07/05/03 09:29 PM (17 years, 7 months ago)

Two words to remember - empires fall
For the past few years, the global justice movement has been like the child at the back of the crowd as the parade of history wheels by. As the pundits applaud and the marketeers cheer, we stand and shout that the Empire has no clothes, that its cloaks of finery are woven from financial fictions and economic voodoo.

Yet despite the present system's transparent contradictions and unsustainability, we also tend to imagine that its power is total, and to underestimate our own power to change it. The UN Development Program describes the current gaps between the world's richest and poorest as "grotesque" and "historically unprecedented," and the challenge of this new Empire seems overwhelming. But resistance is inequality's corollary.

"The struggle will continue. That is is human nature. One does not submit to oppression," says South African poet Dennis Brutus, who in the 1960s was imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela. Today, Brutus campaigns against corporate globalization - what South African activists call "global apartheid."

Nothing about the future is predictable. There occur in history certain moments of social and economic dislocation - for example, the industrial revolution in Europe - which are also the instants when social movements erupt that will change the world. We are creating a truly international resistance movement just as the revolution that we oppose - corporate globalization - is rife with symptoms of breakdown.

Activists from all over the planet are not taking to the streets because some anti-corporate political subculture has suddenly become hip, but because they are being dispossessed. For some, the dispossession is abstract - a loss of identity, of community or individual sovereignty. For the world's majority, however, the dispossession is as concrete as a handful of grain or a pension cheque.

Social unrest is almost everywhere one cares to look - the mainstream media has only failed to make the connections. News reports have celebrated China's expanding economy and newly minted membership in the World Trade Organization. Chinese labor activist Trini Leung tells a very different story. "Unrest has been growing among the retrenched workers and displaced farmers in the past decade," she says. "One can safely say that at least hundreds of protest actions such as sit-ins, street demonstrations, road blocks take place daily across the country."

Political instability is spreading throughout the world, in particular hitting those regions where the global economy feeds its oil addiction. The US economy is deflating. Financial crises ripple outward with terrifying frequency (Argentina's current chaos can be traced back four years to the crash of the "Asian tiger" economies). Meanwhile, even apparent victories for the free traders may be hollower than they seem. Despite US trade representative Robert Zoellick's cry that the launch of a new trade round at the wto meeting in Qatar last November had removed "the stain of Seattle," even the conservative Financial Times described the text as so vague it was "almost meaningless."

Protests against the world trade talks occurred in 60 countries, from 100,000 people in the streets of Rome to leafletting in Cameroon to a teach-in in Mongolia. Thai villagers protesting US patents on indigenous jasmine rice literally cursed the wto meeting, burning traditional charms of chili and salt to bring the delegates bad luck. The extent of Middle Eastern civil society's opposition to globalization was unmistakable at a conference in Beirut, Lebanon, just before the Qatar meeting. And in India, thousands of farmers took to the streets of Delhi to condemn the destruction of peasant livelihoods under global free trade rules.

Talking to activists from Italy, from Papua New Guinea, from Nepal, from Bolivia, from South Africa, they all say that the heart of resistance is beating more urgently than ever. For many, the Empire at war is nothing new. For the indigenous Kuna living along the border between Colombia and Panama, for the cocaleros (coca growers) of Bolivia, for the Brazilian Landless Movement, the war has been ongoing for decades or even centuries. Afro-Colombian activist Naka Mandinga, from the black communities of freed slaves who live in the forests of Colombia, is one voice in a global multitude. "They call it 'development' when one person is a horse and the other is a horse rider with a whip," he says. "They have sent US-funded paramilitaries against our communities in order to access the biodiversity and the oil. Two million people have had to leave the country."

It may be a constituency of the marginalized, but this global multitude is rich in human ingenuity, in collective resources, in imagination, and above all in sheer numbers. They - we - have only to remember that empires fall. British writer Nicholas Hildyard, of the radical research institute The Cornerhouse, reminds us that only one side is running scared: "Many seats of power have always been pretty powerless over many areas of our lives. If you read the literature of companies that we all ascribe great power to, their main preoccupation is how to overcome resistance from the likes of us and other movements. The most subversive thing we can do now is to free ourselves from fear and recognize our own power."

Mahatma Gandhi said it simpler still: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."


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Re: Two words to remember - empires fall [Re: Psilocybeingzz]
    #1689318 - 07/06/03 02:52 AM (17 years, 7 months ago)

You forgot to mention the source for this article, or did you write it yourself?
And maybe I should mention that links are sometimes a good alternative to cut and paste.

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Re: Two words to remember - empires fall [Re: Rhizoid]
    #1689720 - 07/06/03 10:29 AM (17 years, 7 months ago)

Nice... Sometimes I forget that. Thanks

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T'was born oftrue in the yearof the cock!

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Re: Two words to remember - empires fall [Re: Grav]
    #1690275 - 07/06/03 04:15 PM (17 years, 7 months ago)

do empires really fall? there always seems to to be some huge empire existing in the world, the roman-the british- the american, and they all have the same motives. sure...different cultures, but same effects.

enjoy the entertaining indentity i have constructed for you while you can.

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