DC Showdown

Mass Actions to Confront World Bank/IMF

By Orpheus

Revolutionary Worker #1118, September 16, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org

Momentum is building towards the next showdown between the forces of international capitalism and the rising movement against imperialist globalization. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) are holding their semi-annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 29 and 30--and activists are mobilizing to oppose them.

When protesters flood into D.C. at the end of September, they'll be carrying along the aspirations of tens of millions for a better world. They'll be backed by the people in Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, and other countries who are battling austerity programs enforced by global capital. They'll be supported by people all over Latin America, Asia and Africa who are being driven deeper into poverty because the economies of their countries are in the deadly grip of the IMF/World Bank and capitalist corporations. Youth and others all over Europe who have been in protests that rocked Prague, Gothenburg, and Genoa will also have the backs of those converging on D.C., as will the revolutionaries in Nepal, Peru, and the Philippines who are fighting people's wars to overthrow repressive regimes and the rule of imperialism.

The stakes in D.C. were raised by the intense clashes this past July in Genoa, Italy, during the summit meeting of the world's richest countries, the G-8. The Italian police carried out savage assaults--killing one protester, Carlo Giuliani, and attacking people with massive tear gassing and vicious beatings. Going up against this police-state repression, thousands fought back courageously. Activists in Italy and internationally have pushed out the real story of the police terror in Italy, provoking a major political crisis for the regime of Italian premier Berlusconi.

Confrontation in the Belly of the Beast

Since the 1999 Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO), capitalist state authorities around the world have coordinated efforts to suppress this new movement through open police repression, spying and intimidation, and slanders and distortions through the media. But the movement has continued to grow and spread. And it has also increasingly targeted not just the effects of global capitalism but the system itself.

Now activists in the U.S. and from other countries are coming to the capital of the biggest imperialist power. Many youth are determined to surge back into the streets--refusing to be beaten back by the cruel and unjust machinery of repression that the capitalists have let loose, and determined to further build the rising struggle.

The IMF and World Bank meeting in D.C. will bring together 7,000 finance ministers, economic policy makers and private bankers from over 180 countries. These include some of the world's biggest bloodsuckers--led by corporate and government officials from the U.S., the biggest bloodsucker of them all.

Confronted with the movement against imperialist globalization, the IMF and World Bank are being forced to posture and pretend to be concerned about the situation of the people of the poor countries. IMF/World Bank officials claim they are meeting to "consider the policies needed to promote poverty reduction and more sustainable and equitable growth." They say they've come up with a new "disclosure policy" supposedly designed to make their work more "transparent"--but then refuse to disclose what the new policy is.

While officials talk this stuff, the people of the world continue to suffer and die from IMF/World Bank Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) and other projects. In the poor countries, these SAPs force cuts in social services, increase poverty, and cause destruction of the livelihoods of small farmers. They also open up oppressed nations even more to foreign investment and control by the financial institutions, banks and corporations of the imperialist countries, especially the U.S. World Bank "development" projects destroy the environment and people's way of life in many countries.

As with every one of these summits of the rich and powerful, the IMF/World Bank meeting will be protected (from the people) by the armed might of the capitalist state hosting the meeting. The D.C. Metro Police are being backed up by cops from nearby jurisdictions and other cities on the east coast, state police from several states, and the D.C. National Guard--a total force of over 8,000. They plan to construct a nine-foot-high metal fence to shut off large parts of the city to the people. The 2 1/2-mile fence will close off 27 streets and surround the White House, the IMF and World Bank headquarters, and other sites. (See "Up Against the Capital Police" in RW #1116, also available online at rwor.org.)

Fearing the difficulty of protecting their meeting from protests for an extended period of time, IMF and World Bank officials decided to cut their planned meetings from almost a week down to two days after consulting U.S. authorities. Still, by holding this meeting right in the heart of the U.S. capital, the powers hope to make a point: They will decide when and where they hold their official summits.

Washington, D.C. was the scene of major protests against the IMF and World Bank in April 2000. Police arrested 1,300 people during those protests. They conducted mass sweeps of marches, shut down the activist convergence center, attacked non-violent blockaders with clubs and pepper spray, brutalized people in jail, and tried to intimidate other people from joining or giving support to the activists. Of the 1,300 arrests, city officials reportedly didn't get a single conviction--revealing that the mass arrests were a blatantly political tactic aimed at stopping the protests.

In the face of the mass arrests and other outrageous police actions, the movement against capitalist globalization accomplished much in the April 2000 protests. The protesters exposed the brutal realities of U.S. democracy and the misery caused by the IMF and World Bank around the world. And the movement continued to grow and spread in the wake of last year's D.C. actions.

Broad Forces and Diverse Actions

A broad array of political forces is uniting for a diverse spectrum of activities at the end of September--from teach-ins and forums to mass legal protests and direct actions sustained by a diversity of forms. People will be coming to D.C. from all over the U.S., from Canada, and from a number of other countries. Buses are being organized from 100 cities.

The largest coalition of forces sponsoring actions is the Mobilization for Global Justice (MGJ), made up of groups such as 50 Years is Enough (a group dedicated to opposing the policies of the IMF and World Bank--itself a coalition of 200 groups), Essential Action, Jobs with Justice, Global Exchange, Alliance for Global Justice, Mexico Solidarity Network, and a number of other social justice, debt cancellation and environmental organizations. This coalition has been endorsed by dozens of other student, labor, social justice, women's, anti-intervention, revolutionary anarchist, food, gay rights and environmental activist groups.

The MGJ's call to action states: "If you are dismayed with a system that brings untold wealth to the doorsteps of a few by stealing bread from the tables of many, then please join us.... We call upon all people of clear mind and wise heart to join us in solidarity. We stand for the globalization of our rights to life, to speech, to thought, to religion, to assembly, to a clean environment, to freedom from fear and freedom from poverty. We stand for the rights of women, affordable health care, strong labor rights and social and economic policies that put people before profits. This is not the globalization being forced upon us. To that other globalization--the globalization of greed--we stand chanting: Another World Is Possible."

MGJ is demanding the opening of World Bank and IMF meetings to the media and public, the cancellation of the debt that impoverished countries owe to the WB/IMF, a stop to WB/IMF policies that "hinder people's access to food, clean water, shelter, health care, education, and right to organize," and an end to destructive WB development projects.

The MGJ has called for nonviolent direct actions in the days before and during the IMF/WB meeting, a mass protest on Sunday, Sept. 30, several days of teach-ins, solidarity actions at jails (in anticipation of mass arrests).

Another coalition--called the Anti-Capitalist Convergence (ACC)--is organizing for radical direct actions to stop the IMF/WB meetings. The ACC was inspired by a similar group--called the CLAC (Convergence des Luttes Anti-Capitalistes)--that organized mass actions in Quebec City earlier this year against the Summit of the Americas. The ACC has adopted the CLAC principles of unity against capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy and "all forms of exploitation and oppression." ACC supports using a "diversity of tactics" for the protests and says, "We assert a worldview based on the respect of our differences and the autonomy of groups, individuals, and peoples. Our objective is to globalize our networks of resistance to corporate rule."

The ACC is organizing for direct actions on Sept. 29 and 30 and jail solidarity actions in the wake of the IMF/WB meeting. They're also organizing a welcome center to host and orient activists, holding mass planning meetings, and co-hosting teach-ins. It's important that radical and revolutionary politics, which were widespread in the Battle of Quebec City, have been adopted for mass actions in the D.C. protests.

Activists from the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade (RCYB) and supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) are also mobilizing for the D.C. protests. We will be in the streets participating in these important actions, joining with all those who want to stop the crimes of the IMF/WB against the world's people and their rape of the world's ecosystems. We have much unity with those who see the system of capitalism as the source of the many problems confronting the world's people and understand the necessity for determined, radical resistance. As Marxist-Leninist-Maoists, we see that our common hope lies in making revolution--proletarian revolution--in every country, and taking the first historic steps toward a liberated global society, where the masses of people work in common for the common good of all. The RCP is dedicated to working and organizing for revolution here--in the belly of the imperialist beast--including by uniting with and building the resistance of the people.

Many other important actions are planned in connection with the D.C. protests. A group called Homes Not Jails/DC is organizing "The People's Repo" actions focusing on urban squatting and the widespread homelessness in the U.S. Immigrant rights groups are planning a rally for the defense of the rights of immigrants on the Capitol grounds. There will be a rally against CITIGROUP--one of the world's largest capitalist financial institutions--by anti-corporate and environmental groups. And a day for action for Global Justice for Garment Workers, aimed at retailers involved in profiting from sweatshops around the world. The AFL-CIO has also put out a call to action for what they're calling "Global Justice Week, and is supporting the main mass march and rally and other related events.

On Sept. 29 there will be an International Day of Action Against U.S. Military and Economic Intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean. The day of action is sponsored by a number of anti-intervention forces, including the School of Americas Watch and Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES). Also on the 29th a number of organizations, including the International Action Center and the Latin American Solidarity Conference, are calling for a "Beat Back the Bush Attack" protest at the White House in opposition to Bush's foreign policy, U.S. intervention in Latin America, and the IMF/WB.

The mass protests in D.C. are shaping up to be an important moment for the people and the movement against capitalist globalization. The actions of the masses can once again affect history. The eyes of the world will be focused on the U.S. capital on September 29-30. All out for D.C.!

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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