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I can't help but compare the Occupy Wall Street protests to the movements that sprang up against corporate globalization at the end of the 1990s, most visibly at the World Trade Organization summit in Seattle. Like today's protests, those demonstrations were also marked by innovative coalitions among students, trade unions and environmentalists.
Here are the things I think today's activists are doing better than we did back then. We chose summits as our targets: the WTO, the International Monetary Fund, the G-8. Summits are transient by nature, and that made us transient too. We'd appear, grab world headlines, then disappear. After the 9/11 attacks, it was easy to sweep us away completely, at least in North America.
I was honoured to be invited to speak at Occupy Wall Street on Thursday night. Since amplification is (disgracefully) banned, and everything I said had to be repeated by hundreds of people so others could hear (a.k.a. "the human microphone"), what I actually said at Liberty Plaza had to be very short. With that in mind, here is the longer, uncut version of the speech.
I love you.
And I didn't just say that so that hundreds of you would shout "I love you" back, though that is obviously a bonus feature of the human microphone. Say unto others what you would have them say unto you, only way louder.
What happened in Toronto and why do we need to fundraise?
G20: Globalization Goes Bankrupt
"The rage of the disposessed is fracturing the country, dividing it into camps that are unmoored from the political mainstream. Movements are building at the ends of the political spectrum that have lost faith in the mechanisms of democratic change. You can't blame them.
But unless we on the left move quickly, this rage will be captured by a virulent and racist right wing, one that seeks a disturbing proto-fascism.
Every day counts. Every deferral of protest hurts...
Complacency comes at a horrible price.."
On April 16, 2000 approximately 30,000 activists converged on Washington D.C. as part of a direct action against the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank meetings occuring that weekend.
History and Context
Following on the perceived success of the Seattle protests in November 1999, the then fledging anti-globalization movement set its sights on the policies of the IMF/World Bank, which activists said promoted poverty in developing nations and global inequality between nations by forcing poor nations to adopt free market reforms and other neo-liberal policies in order to qualify for loans.