G20 (G19+US) in Hamburg fails to accomplish much
Meetings of politicians who are defenders of global capitalism are rather good venues for displays of anti-capitalist alternatives. The G19+1 meeting in Hamburg, Germany this past weekend was one such occasion.
From alternative summits to zombie walks, street festivals, and direct confrontation with state violence by the Black Block, resistance was on full display. You would be forgiven for just thinking there were “violent” street actions by “demonstrators”. The media focus their cameras on the burning cars and the few protesters who get hit with water canons for heinous crimes such as kissing in the middle of the street in front of the police. This will sound familiar to anyone at the Toronto G20.
Hamburg is a town of active cultural leftism. Even the local football club and stadium opened its doors to activists. In a statement, the club decried the police ban on sleeping in the city and wanted to “send a clear signal for human rights, freedom of opinion, and the right to demonstrate”.
Churches and community organizations were also involved in supporting the demonstrations. The weekend saw nearly two-hundred thousand people engage in demonstration, discussion, and active resistance against the anti-worker, anti-environment, pro-capital “discussions” happening inside.
The final statement by the G19+1 was not exactly the show of force of global capitalism most of the leaders were looking for. It seems as though when you bring together liberal democrats, despots, and dictators (tinpot and tyrannical alike) you do not get consensus as much as contradiction and hypocrisy. Their “unanimous” statement outlines the agreement that the countries will do anything within their power to support capitalist control over the economy and society – with a special focus on supporting growth and stability of finance capital systems. Left out of the statement was any agreement on climate change, since the US no longer agrees that climate change is an issue for governments to solve.
Other statements focused on fighting poverty through female entrepreneurial support, promoting precarious work while at the same time decrying its negative impacts on people, and supporting UN declarations on refugees worker rights in “global supply chains” while promoting a global system that makes the expression of those rights impossible. In all, it is a regular meeting of heads of state who all agree that everything is basically just fine for the people that really matter.
The alternative Global Solidarity summit did not release a statement at the end, as is practice, but saw three days of packed seminars, talks, and discussions on what an alternative to global capitalism would look like and how best it can be won. These alternative summits have become a mainstay outside the G20/G8 meetings and act as a global networking event for progressive organizations, environmental groups, poverty activists, left parties, and socialists to get to know each other. They also operate as a way to train the new generation of activists on how to do outreach in their communities.
Of course, none of this actually undermines global capitalism. But it is necessary to remind the world that not all people agree with the nonsense put out by the G19+1 leadership and that we strive for something different and better.
Corporate media reports on Venezuela depicting the current situation make it difficult for casual observers on the left to understand what is going on. While this has been the case even when Chavez was president, it has become harder to get a clear analysis.
There is no mincing words: the situation is critical for the left in Venezuela. The collapse in oil prices, the unrelenting attack on the economy by internal and external forces, the sustained support by the US for violent far-right opposition, and a economic revolution that had not moved forward far enough. All these have meant that the politics of the Chavez legacy could not support the Keynesian economic infrastructure funded by high oil prices. Add to this the inevitable waning of support for a political project under violent attack as comrades become exhausted of the murders, attacks, and street violence the Venezuelan rich continue to inflict on those who want democracy. It is hardly surprising we have landed on what the Venezuelan project is today.
Venezuela recently made it back into the mainstream news because of the scale of violence in the streets metered out by the right-wing against institutions of the state. The history of this violence is well documented back to the original US-backed coup attempt against Chavez. But, to understand the current situation, the best place to look is at the uncompromising reporting of local media and (if you cannot read Spanish) the work of Australia’s Green Left Weekly and Venezuela Analysis.
Support for the revolutionary project that seeks to empower the people at the expense of undemocratic forces on the right should be sustained. The corporate media continue to promote the idea that the “opposition” right-wing are supported and lead by normal working folks in Venezuela. But, one does not have to know too much history to know that the level of political and economic violence perpetrated by the right-wing in Venezuela is only possible when backed by those with money and power – something normal, regular people do not have access to. This analysis should accompany any reading of the corporate media of what continues to happen in Venezuela.