Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/216/9146
What we think
After Genoa - what way forward?
THE BLOODY events at the G8 summit in Genoa mark a turning point in the anti-capitalist movement.
Leaders of the world's eight richest nations slept in a luxury liner and junketed on five star cuisine.
They were behind a 13-feet steel barricade, topped with barbed wire.
Meanwhile outside the six square mile exclusion zone, police shot dead young protester Carlo Giuliani, and brutally attacked and injured hundreds more.
After Genoa, the G8 will hold their next summit in a remote resort in Canada's Rocky Mountains. In November the World Trade Organisation (WTO), focus of previous protests, will meet in Qatar in the Middle East.
But, the representatives of global capitalism insist, they are "not running away from the anti-capitalist protests".
Most people will think differently.
However far they flee, however brutal the repression meted out against peaceful protesters, anti-capitalism won't fade away.
The siege mentality of big business's spokesmen reinforces a growing sense of alienation - amongst young people in particular - from capitalism and its institutions.
When Carlo Giuliani was shot, Tony Blair rejected calls for the summit to be suspended, arguing that the politicians should carry on with their "democratic" business.
But it is precisely because he and the rest preside over an undemocratic system based on inequality, injustice, environmental destruction, debt and poverty, that the anti-capitalist movement keeps growing.
In the last year, three million people have protested in 20 countries world-wide. Millions more sympathise with their aims.
In an opinion poll in Britain 67% thought big corporations have more power than governments. 76% thought they put profit before people.
Black and Asian youth in areas such as Brixton and Bradford are beginning to link the brutality and racism which they face daily at the police's hands and the vicious attacks on anti-capitalist protesters in Genoa and elsewhere.
Workers fighting privatisation in education and other public services are drawing the conclusion that they too are '"anti-capitalist".
After Genoa many will want to consider where the movement is headed.
At least 700 separate organisations were involved in the protests, voicing their anger and concerns on the streets.
From the beginning, the anti-capitalist movement embraced many varied groups and ideas. Differences over strategy and tactics were already emerging before Genoa.
The media focused on groups such as Drop the Debt and Oxfam which refused to participate in the Saturday demonstration of 300,000 because they feared it would be "hijacked" by "violent anarchists".
But the main divisions aren't between those who support and those who reject violence.
Most protesters, while condemning police and state violence, understand that smashing up shops and property and individual acts of violence by demonstrators, don't take the movement forward and can give politicians an opportunity to increase state repression.
Other debates are more significant. While spokespeople for the anti-capitalist movement such as journalist Naomi Klein praise its spontaneity, many involved in the protests are deciding that they need to be better organised.
While other 'leaders' argue naively for a more 'humane' form of capitalism and for reforming institutions like the IMF and World Bank, radical young people and increasingly sections of workers, look towards a more fundamental change.
Direct action and anti-capitalist protests outside the institutions of global capitalism raised millions of people's awareness of capitalism's iniquities and placed the spotlight firmly on the system as a whole.
But by themselves, these protests cannot end capitalism. Even if its representatives are forced to the far ends of the earth, they will still meet and control our lives.
Ending capitalism requires mass movements involving radicalised young people, the urban and rural poor in 'developing' countries but with workers playing the central role.
Two general strikes in Greece this year in protest at changes to the social security system brought the country to a halt.
These showed why workers are not just one 'pressure group' amongst many but the decisive force with the potential, collective power to change society.
With a world recession looming, the anti-capitalist protests are a foretaste of much bigger struggles to come.
We will strive to link the anti-capitalist with the workers' movement. But being anti-capitalist is not enough. We have to be clear what we're fighting for.
Socialism is about taking control away from the multinational corporations and rich elite and democratically and sustainably planning production for need not profit.
The struggle for socialism is the only way forward.
In The Socialist 27 July 2001: