Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Naomi Klein - G20 - We Need Global Justice.

In late June, there was a meeting in Toronto of a group of nations which call themselves the G20. The streets in Toronto were filled with people protesting the G20, being chased, beaten, jailed by the police, amid scenes of general chaos.

What is the G20? It is a group of people, leaders of certain nations and their representatives, plus the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) who meet regularly and agree about how to control the economy of the world. When unemployment benefits in the U.S. are not extended despite double-digit unemployment and no jobs, you can look to groups like the G20, IMF and WB who, through the World Trade Organization (WTO) have taken over the control of the entire economy of the world. Who do they represent and in whose interests do they act? They represent rich people and corporations, and act in their interests. They do not represent the citizens of any nation. That's why they are so unpopular.

What did the G20 say after their little summer get-together in the beautiful city of Toronto? They said of the citizens, the poor, the unemployed, the children, the old, they said the same thing: "Let them eat cake." Or today's version of it, which is "We must pay down deficits."

What does that mean? Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine (if you never read another book in your life, you've still got to read this one) explains how the system works. First the wealthy loan money, cheap, to a country, inflate the value of assets (like they did to housing in this country), then pull all their money out and watch the market crash and, as it does, create massive widespread unemployment. People lose their jobs, homes, savings, and pensions. Then they lose hope.

Once the people are broken, then the wealthy, through their corporate ownership and control of the governments of the major nations, move back in and take over everything. They have the government tell the citizens that the country can no longer afford public education, so the schools must be closed. That's happening right now. They say that we cannot afford cops, so they are laid off. They say that we cannot afford Medicare and Social Security, so those programs will be eliminated (and the money which was paid into those programs for decades by working people will be stolen by the rich). They say that the nation must sell off its assets to private investors (the rich) -- sell the lakes, sell the oceans, sell all the water to corporations who will turn around and sell it back to us for a lot more money. Sell the freeways and the ports and the airports to foreign investors who will charge each of us a bundle every time we drive our car, or need to fly somewhere.

That is the role of the G20: to work on behalf of the rich and powerful to bust the people of the world, take away everything they have and crush them into submission.

The G20 and the IMF and the World Bank all work together as representatives of corporations. They make decisions that help corporations maximize their theft and minimize their liability. For example, the "free" trade agreements this country has signed often include provisions that would prevent our country from imposing restrictions on businesses operating inside our country. We lose the ability to control our own nation. The citizens have no say, because the government signed a treaty and took away our rights. That's why we need to demand that all trade treaties be rescinded.

Here are some brief comments from Naomi Klein about the G20.

Here's the link to the Toronto Globe & Mail article that Naomi Klein is discussing, about the origins of the G-20.

There is a link below to another article about the G20, this one posted at Counterpunch, excerpts below:

The Toronto Sixteen
Supporting the Prisoners of the G20 Police State

This week, my mind is with the sixteen Canadians who will be transported between their maximum security jail cells and the court to determine whether they will be held in prison until trial or released on extremely restrictive bail conditions. They are accused of organizing the protests against the elite G20 summit of world leaders that took place in Toronto at the end of June. At these protests, thousands of people took to the streets in opposition to specific policies of these twenty leading world governments or in negation of the global political and economic system in its entirety. ...

In all, over 1000 people were arrested during three days of protest, many of them detained based on their appearance, put in cages, sexually harassed or assaulted, injured, denied food, water, legal and medical attention, and otherwise abused. ...

Some of them were arrested in early morning raids, forced half-naked out of bed at gunpoint, assembled on their lawns and handcuffed in the pre-dawn darkness, and hauled off to jail. Others were picked up while biking or walking around town, sometimes by plainclothes cops making lightning grabs, a tactic perfected by the Stalinist police (the cops are internationalists, you see, and their methods for control travel across borders with much greater ease than they allow the rest of us).

None of this should be surprising. Powerful men in suits convening to discuss world problems; heavily armed police kicking down a door and sticking a gun in your face—this is the most ordinary juxtaposition imaginable in a democratic society.

The G20, just like the G8 and just like the International Monetary Fund or World Trade Organization and just like capitalism as a whole, is an act of exclusion, and when the stakes are this high, exclusion is always a violent thing. The governments that compose the G20, like all governments everywhere, base their power on forcibly excluding anyone else from making decisions that affect their lives. When the G20 convene to talk about global warming or financial crises—problems which they largely created, which they profit from immensely, and which they will escape the worst effects of—they are not making decisions in any positive sense, so much as preventing all the rest of us from addressing teose problems....

The fact that the global economy functions simply to keep capital moving, regardless of who is harmed in the process, the fact that elite institutions and politicians can respond to capitalist crisis by funneling billions to the banks and kicking normal people out of their houses, and the fact that people who protest this are surveilled and brutalized through a program of counterterrorism, are all aspects of the same truth: being robbed of our ability to live with health and dignity and being prohibited from intervening in our own lives are the same thing. The gun in the face and the televised speech are two motions in the same process....

British Petroleum can kill their workers and destroy the Gulf of Mexico, ... but if protestors smash a bank window or light a cop car on fire, they are denounced as violent. ...

What matters is that when all those workers died, when all those people were evicted, when all that money was taken from us by the banks, when all those bombs fell, when all that air and water were poisoned, no one in power was punished and it didn't matter whether rules were broken or followed. To speak of rules and laws is to perpetuate one of the greatest lies of our society.

This is their vision of the future: cops and security cameras everywhere, preemptive arrests for simply planning or talking about resistance, people with masks or spraypaint or eye wash for the teargas being treated as terrorists.

Peter Gelderloos is the author of How Nonviolence Protects the State.

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