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The Movement moves again
The 19th Letter of an Autonomous Thinker



Amsterdam, November 24 2001

Dear reader, 

Ottawa saw a comparatively massive demonstration against globalisation. It was one of the first demonstrations after 9/11 that was not connected with the Afghan War. That war is only one of the instruments by which the West imposes a globalisation we do not want. The demonstration was directed against a more fundamental cause of the unequal division of wealth and power, against the wish of the Western elite to maintain its privileged position.

We cannot change the world by acting against the Afghan War. When the war stops the old situation – which we did not like either – will return. We want to create a possibility that another society will become possible. Thus the activity and the organisation of the Movement must already contain the seeds out of which a new society can grow. It must be a non-hierarchical movement consisting of horizontal networks instead of top-down (especially, state-like, corporate or party) structures. And the Movement must attack the root causes of the present social organisation.

The attack on the WTC was an attack on power symbols and not on power structures. Many actions of the Movement are also attacks on symbols. I prefer a long string of fairly small (autonomous) actions in the private sphere of people with power. The elite intrudes also our private sphere, isn’t it? The WTC attack and the so-called terrorist threat are used by the elitist powers to restrict and control even more the life of common citizens. Actions against these restrictions are sympathetic but actions against the people who restrict our life are more effective. In the present society the life of citizens is anyhow restricted. More or less within the limits of the law there are enough possibilities for actions that put pressure on leaders and that influence the mind of the elite.

David Graeber describes in the newsgroup alt.anarchism the purpose of our struggle: our actions are “less about seizing state power than about exposing, delegitimising and dismantling mechanisms of rule while winning ever-larger spaces of autonomy from it.” I agree with the first part (especially the dismantling) but I wonder about the second. I think it is not possible to withdraw part of our society from the influence of the powers that be and get some free space for nice people. The purpose is the breaking of the power of the elite that uses its power to get more wealth for itself and to maintain the right to give its position of wealth and power through to its progeny. Only when this power is broken real spaces of autonomy can come into being. But this happens only when we have got another social system that is not anymore ruled by a wealthy and powerful elite.

For more actions see http://www.blythe.org under Activists Politics the article titled Global protests against US war and World Trade Organization.

Yours truly, Joost van Steenis


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20. The end of demonstrations?
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