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World Economic Forum: "Money For Jobs - Not War"
THE WORLD Economic Forum (WEF) participants claimed that they came to New York to show "solidarity with the people of New York". In truth, they came to show solidarity with George Bush's campaign to protect the interests of the multinationals, big banks and Wall Street.
Alan Jones, Socialist Alternative (CWI), New York city
Their hypocrisy didn't go unnoticed. Several demonstrations and rallies took place during the Forum at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, protesting at the policies of world capitalism.
On Saturday, 10,000 demonstrators marched across midtown Manhattan near to the posh hotel where the WEF met with slogans like: "Money for jobs - Not war!".
Heavily armed police were everywhere and by Sunday over 100 people had been arrested for 'disorderly conduct' at isolated actions that took place around the city. But overwhelmingly the protests on Thursday, Friday and Saturday were peaceful.
An important rally organised by the textile workers union UNITE! took place in front of the Gap chain-store in midtown with over 1,000 workers attending. There were several speakers from different union and anti-sweatshop campaigns in the US and internationally.
Over 100,000 jobs have been lost in New York alone and two million nationally since the start of the deepening economic recession in the US. Trade union leaders in New York, even though they would not organise directly against the WEF, had to do something to show that they are opposed to sweatshop conditions and the persecution of workers.
There were serious concerns about the effects of the rallies that were organised on Saturday because of the mood that exists in New York after 11 September. The police had advertised that they were planning to use heavy-handed methods against protesters in an effort to keep people away.
However, there was no hostility towards the demonstrators from the ordinary people of New York on the streets. It indicates the mood among the mass of the population is beginning to shift to economic concerns about job losses and cuts in services, as well as the Enron scandal.
The Bush administration pushes lavish amounts of cash for 'security', tax breaks for the rich and bailouts of big business while millions are facing a future without jobs, without healthcare and renewed attacks on civil liberties.
There were people from all across the country, especially students and young people at the main rallies on Saturday who came to protest the WEF.
Members of Socialist Alternative participated at all the main rallies and demonstrations and distributed 2,000 fliers and sold 250 copies of Justice (the Socialist Alternative newspaper) and other literature.
We exposed the corporate agenda of the WEF and explained the need to organise against global capitalism by linking demands against sweatshops and exploitation to a socialist programme for jobs, public services and to tackle the power of Wall Street.
We also called for an end to scapegoating Arab-Americans, Muslims and immigrants and the organising of broad left coalitions involving unions, community and student organisations, etc, to fight the corporations and defend workers internationally.
Socialist Alternative members explained the need for mass, peaceful, stewarded protests which give the police no excuse to stage provocations. Significantly, a section of young people at the rally wanted a serious discussion about the best way to build the anti-capitalist movement with democratic structures and a programme that can attract the millions of ordinary workers hit by the economic crisis.
The anti-capitalist protests organised against the WEF in New York, although smaller than the G8 summit Genoa protests, were significant because they took place in the city attacked by terrorists on 11 September and therefore a serious test about what is going to happen to the anti-globalisation movement.
The protests, despite their limitations, showed the extreme anxiety and even vulnerability of the US rulers about the situation and their deeper fear about the potential for the radicalisation of millions against the corporate ownership of politics and the layoffs and budget cuts they are implementing in the US.
In The Socialist 8 February 2002: