This is the speech I gave on Monday this week, at the forum ‘IRAQ 10 years on: Remembering when the world said NO to war’ — organised by the Sydney Stop the War Coalition.
Soon after the fall of the Berlin wall, American political scientist Francis Fukuyama declared that the moment signalled ‘the end of history’ and the absence of alternatives to the neoliberal hegemony. For ruling elites, Margaret Thatcher’s assertion ‘there is no alternative’ was unquestioned. The next decade in Australia saw John Howard in office continuing to roll out the ‘economic rationalism’ first introduced by Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, in addition to dog whistling to his Right – taking up the policies of Pauline Hanson and regaining much of the constituency he’d lost to One Nation. Politics seemed grim, and many on the left were despondent. But in November 1999, a watershed moment occurred in the heart of world capitalism – on the streets of Seattle, in the United States – when Teamster unionists, environmentalists dressed as Turtles and many others joined forces to dispute that there was no alternative. Their target was the World Trade Organisation meeting, which was negotiating a new round of free trade agreements, and their blockades of the venue and mass rallies shut it down.
That story of dissent against multinational corporations, and the government structures that facilitate them, was not just to be the story of the US however; or only the story of Prague, Davos, Genoa or Gleneagles. It is our story too. Thirteen years ago we saw magnificent protests in Australia that both criticised the way the world was, as well as imagined a different future. ‘Another World Is Possible’ was the slogan of the World Social Forum, and it reflected sentiment around the globe. In Australia the Global Justice Movement exploded at the s11 protests, when we blockaded the Asia-Pacific Summit of the World Economic Forum at Crown Casino in Melbourne – and 20,000 people shut it down. It was a protest that said no to the ruling class agenda of prioritising profits above people and the planet, and it was a celebration of the diversity of those who imagined a different world. Similar events and movements across the globe questioned the structures and the priorities of capitalism – if in confused ways at times – and it was the formation of a global anti-systemic movement.
Golden Dawn’s MPs in the Greek parliament
by KEVIN OVENDEN
Below are the points, updated and a little amplified, I made in a contribution to the highly successful Unite Against Fascism conference in London on 2 March. The speech (and I’ve incorporated my summing up) was in a workshop with Petros Constantinou from Greece, Marwan Mohammed from France and Glyn Ford MEP from Britain, who all made extremely clear and thought-provoking contributions.
Egyptians protest against Israel’s assault on Gaza
Left Flank is very pleased to be able to post this extended analysis of Israel’s war on Gaza by British-based socialist Kevin Ovenden, set in its regional and international context. Kevin has been a leading activist in Viva Palestina and narrowly escaped death at the hands of the IDF as part of the first Gaza Flotilla. We previously published his analysis of the UK riots here last year.
What means this war?
By KEVIN OVENDEN
The response from Western capitals and their allies to Israel’s latest war on Gaza was as expected.
There was no hand-wringing about a “no-fly zone” to protect civilians; no clichéd demarche from Paris calling for “humanitarian corridors”; no emergency London or Doha conference to agree “non-lethal” defence supplies to the people of Gaza; no total or even token sanctions on Israel; no calls for Binyamin Netanyahu to step down; no media castigation of the “regime” in Tel Aviv; no arms or billions in largesse flowing from Western allies in the Persian Gulf and Turkey to those fighting an illegitimate, murderous aggressor.
Instead, there was full-throated support for Israel. Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague led the pack in laying “principal responsibility” for the aggression on its victims — the Hamas government in Gaza and those who elected it. His subsequent advice that Israel risked “losing international support” through a ground invasion merely indicated the West’s preferred parameters for this bout of slaughter.
All predictable, perhaps wearily so. Why then rehearse this litany of hypocrisy? Because if we become inured to it, let it stand as a harsh fact of life in a cynical world, then unwittingly we allow the West and its allies to shift the narrative in the Middle East, to frame events and to determine which questions will be asked and which buried. And not just there.
Yesterday was ten years since thousands of Australian blockaded the Asia Pacific Summit of the World Economic Forum at Crown Casino in Melbourne. You can read my blog post about our s11 and the impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the Overland Journal Blog (and reprinted below).