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World Economic Forum 2015: Global Governance In a World of Resistance

World Economic Forum 2015: Global Governance In a World of Resistance

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

26 January 2015

Originally posted at Occupy.com and the Transnational Institute

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This article and its accompanying infographic have been jointly published by the Transnational Institute and Occupy.com.

The annual meetings of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, bring together thousands of the world’s top corporate executives, bankers and financiers with leading heads of state, finance and trade ministers, central bankers and policymakers from dozens of the world’s largest economies; the heads of all major international organizations including the IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organization, Bank for International Settlements, UN, OECD and others, as well as hundreds of academics, economists, political scientists, journalists, cultural elites and occasional celebrities.

The WEF states that it is “committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation,” collaborating with corporate, political, academic and other influential groups and sectors “to shape global, regional and industry agendas” and to “define challenges, solutions and actions.” Apart from the annual forum meeting in Davos, the WEF hosts regional and sometimes even country-specific meetings multiple times a year in Asia, Latin America, Africa and elsewhere. The Forum is host to dozens of different projects bringing together academics with corporate representatives and policy-makers to promote particular issues and positions on a wide array of subjects, from investment to the environment, employment, technology and inequality. From these projects and others, the Forum publishes dozens of reports annually, identifying key issues of importance, risks, opportunities, investments and reforms.

The WEF has survived by adapting to the times. Following the surge of so-called anti-globalization protests in 1999, the Forum began to invite non-governmental organizations representing constituencies that were more frequently found in the streets protesting against meetings of the WTO, IMF and Group of Seven. In the 2000 meeting at Davos, the Forum invited leaders from 15 NGOs to debate the heads of the WTO and the President of Mexico on the subject of globalization. The participation of NGOs and non-profit organizations has increased over time, and not without reason. According to a poll conducted on behalf of the WEF just prior to the 2011 meeting, while global trust in bankers, governments and business was significantly low, NGOs had the highest rate of trust among the public.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last September, the founder and executive chairman of the WEF, Klaus Schwab, was asked about the prospects of “youth frustration over high levels of underemployment and unemployment” as expressed in the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements, noting that the Forum was frequently criticized for promoting policies and ideologies that contribute to those very problems. Schwab replied that the Forum tries “to have everybody in the boat.” Davos, he explained, “is about heads of state and big corporations, but it’s also civil society – so all of the heads of the major NGOs are at the table in Davos.” In reaction to the Occupy Wall Street movement, Schwab said, “We also try… to put more emphasis on integrating the youth into what we are doing.”

So, what exactly has the World Economic Forum been doing, and how did it emerge in the first place?

It began in 1971 as the European Management Forum, inviting roughly 400 of Europe’s top CEOs to promote American forms of business management. Created by Schwab, a Swiss national who studied in the U.S. and who still heads the event today, the Forum changed its name in 1987 to the World Economic Forum after growing into an annual get together of global elites who promoted and profited off of the expansion of “global markets.” It is the gathering place for the titans of corporate and financial power.

Despite the globalizing economy, politics at the Forum have remained surprisingly national. The annual meetings are a means to promote social connections between key global power players and national leaders along with the plutocratic class of corporate and financial oligarchs. The WEF has been a consistent forum for advanced “networking” and deal-making between companies, occasional geopolitical announcements and agreements, and for the promotion of “global governance” in a world governed of global markets.

Writing in the Financial Times, Gideon Rachman noted that more than anything else, “the true significance of the World Economic Forum lies in the realm of ideas and ideology,” noting that it was where the world’s leaders gathered “to set aside their differences and to speak a common language… they restate their commitment to a single, global economy and to the capitalist values that underpin it.” This reflected the “globalization consensus” which was embraced not simply by the powerful Group of Seven nations, but by many of the prominent emerging markets such as China, Russia, India and Brazil.

Indeed, the World Economic Forum’s main purpose is to function as a socializing institution for the emerging global elite, globalization’s “Mafiocracy” of bankers, industrialists, oligarchs, technocrats and politicians. They promote common ideas, and serve common interests: their own.

Geopolitics, Global Governance and the Arrival of the “Davos Class”

The World Economic Forum has been shaped by – and has in turn, shaped – the course and changes in geopolitics, or “world order,” over the past several decades. Created amidst the rise of West Germany and Japan as prominent economic powers competing with the United States, the oil shocks of the 1970s also produced immense new powers for the Arab oil dictatorships and the large global banks that recycled that oil money, loaning it to Third World countries.

New forums for “global governance” began to emerge, such as the meetings of the Group of Seven: the heads of state, finance ministers and central bank governors of the seven leading industrial powers including the U.S., West Germany, Japan, U.K., France, Italy and Canada, starting in 1975. When the debt crisis of the 1980s hit, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank achieved immense new powers over entire economies and regions, reshaping the structure of societies to promote “market economies” and advance the interests of domestic and international corporate and financial oligarchs.

Between 1989 and 1991, the global power structure changed dramatically with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. With that came President George H.W. Bush’s announcement of a “New World Order” in which America claimed “victory” in the Cold War, and a unipolar world took shape under the hegemony of the United States. The ideological war between the West and the Soviet Union was declared victorious in favor of Western Capitalist Democracy. The “market system” was to become globalized as never before, especially under the presidency of Bill Clinton who led the U.S. during its largest ever economic expansion between 1993 and 2001.

During this time, the annual meetings of the World Economic Forum became more important than ever, and the role of the WEF in establishing a “Davos Class” became widely acknowledged. At the 1990 meeting, the focus was on Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union’s transition to “market-oriented economies.” Political leaders from Eastern Europe and Western Europe met in private meetings, with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl articulating his desire to reunify Germany and cement Germany’s growing power within the European Community and NATO.

Helmut Kohl laid out his strategy for shaping the “security and economic structure of Europe” within a unified Germany. Kohl’s “grand design” for Europe envisioned a unified Germany as being “firmly anchored” in the expanding European Community, the main objective of which was to establish an “internal market” by 1992 and to advance toward an economic and monetary union, with potential to expand eastward. Kohl presented this as a peaceful way for German power to grow while assuaging fears of Eastern Europeans and others about the economically resurgent country at the heart of Europe.

At the 1992 WEF meeting, the United States and reunified Germany encouraged “drastic steps to insure a liberalization of world trade,” and furthered efforts to support the growth of market economies in Eastern Europe. The German Economics Minister called for the Group of Seven to meet and restart global trade talks through the 105-nation General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). At that same meeting, the Chinese delegation included Prime Minister Li Peng, who was the highest-level Chinese official to travel internationally since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Of great significance also was the attendance of Nelson Mandela, the new president of South Africa. When Mandela was released from prison in 1990, he declared the policy of the African National Congress (ANC) was to implement “the nationalization of the mines, banks and monopoly industries.” When Mandela attended the January 1992 meeting of the WEF just after becoming president, he changed his views and embraced “capitalism and globalization.” Mandela attended the meeting alongside the governor of the central bank of South Africa, Tito Mboweni, who explained that Mandela arrived with a speech written by ANC officials focusing on nationalization. As the week’s meetings continued, Mandela met with leaders from Communist Parties in China and Vietnam, who told him, “We are currently striving to privatize state enterprises and invite private enterprise into our economies. We are Communist Party governments, and you are a leader of a national liberation movement. Why are you talking about nationalization?”

As a result, Mandela changed his views, telling the Davos crowd that he would open South Africa up as a market economy and encourage investment. South Africa subsequently became the continent’s fastest growing economy, though inequality today is greater than it was during apartheid. As Mandela explained to his official biographer, he came home from the 1992 WEF meeting and told other top officials that they had to choose: “We either keep nationalization and get no investment, or we modify our own attitude and get investment.”

At the 1993 meeting, the main consensus that had emerged called for the U.S. to maintain its position as a global economic and military power, and for it to take the lead encouraging greater “co-operation” between powerful nations. The major fear among Davos participants was that while economies were becoming globalized, politics was turning inward and becoming “renationalized.”

Later that year, Anthony Lake, Bill Clinton’s National Security Adviser, articulated the “Clinton Doctrine” for the world, explaining: “The successor to a doctrine of containment must be a strategy of enlargement – enlargement of the world’s free community of market democracies.” Lake explained that the United States “must combine our broad goals of fostering democracy and markets with our more traditional geostrategic interests.” No doubt, the Davos crowd welcomed such news.

At the 1994 meeting, the director-general of GATT, Peter D. Sutherland, declared that world leaders needed to establish “a new high-level forum for international economic co-operation,” moving beyond the Group of Seven to become more inclusive of the major “emerging market” economies. Sutherland told the assembled plutocrats that “we cannot continue with the majority of the world’s people excluded from participation in global economic management.” Eventually, the organization Sutherland described was formed, as the Group of 20, bringing the leading 20 industrial and economic powers together in one setting. Formed in 1999, the G20 didn’t become a major forum for global governance until the 2008 financial crisis.

In 1995, the Financial Times noted that the new “buzzword” for international policymakers was “global governance,” articulating a desire and strategy for updating and expanding the institutions and efforts of international co-operation. The January 1995 World Economic Forum meeting was the venue for the presentation of an official UN report on global governance. President Clinton addressed the Davos crowd by satellite, stressing that he would continue to push for the construction of a new “economic architecture,” notably at meetings of the Group of Seven.

In 1997, the highly influential U.S. political scientist Samuel Huntington coined the term “Davos Man,” which he described as a group of elite individuals who “have little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that are thankfully vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite’s global operations.” An article that year in The Economist came to the defense of the “Davos Man,” declaring that he was replacing traditional diplomacy which was “more likely to bring peoples together than to force them apart,” noting that the WEF was “paid for by companies and run in their interests.”

Samuel Huntington presented a thesis, summarized in a 1997 Financial Times article, that outlined a world that “would be divided into spheres of influence,” within which “one or two core states would rule the roost.” Huntington noted that the “Davos culture people,” while extremely powerful, were only a tiny fraction of the world’s population, and the leaders of this faction “do not necessarily have a secure grip on power in their own societies.” The Financial Times, however, noted that while the “Davos culture people” did not constitute a “universal civilization” being such a tiny minority of the world’s population, “they could be the vanguard of one.”

Russian Oligarchs and the Rise of China

In fact, at the previous year’s meeting in Davos, the World Economic Forum functioned precisely as the vanguard for seven Russian oligarchs to take control of Russia and shape its future. At the 1996 meeting of the WEF, the Russian delegation was made up largely of the country’s new oligarchs who had amassed great fortunes in the transition to a market economy. Their great worry was that Russian President Boris Yeltsin would lose his re-election later that year to the resurgence of the Communists. At the WEF meeting, seven Russian oligarchs, led by Boris Berezovsky, formed an alliance during private meetings, where they decided to fund Yeltsin’s re-election and work together to “reshape their country’s future.” This alliance (or cartel, as some may refer to it), was the key to Yeltsin’s re-election victory later that year, as they held weekly meetings with Yeltsin’s chief of staff, Anatoly Chubais, the architect of Russia’s privatization program that made them all so rich.

Berezovsky explained that if the oligarchs did not work together to promote common ends, it would be impossible to have a transition to a market economy “automatically.” Instead, he explained, “We need to use all our power to realize this transformation.” As the Financial Times noted, the oligarchs “assembled a remarkable political machine to entrench and promote the market economy – as well as their own financial interests,” as the seven men collectively controlled roughly half the entire Russian economy.

Anatoly Chubais commented on this development and the role of the oligarchs, saying: “They steal and steal and steal. They are stealing absolutely everything and it is impossible to stop them… But let them steal and take their property. They will then become owners and decent administrators of this property.”

In the 1990s, with the spread of global markets came the spread of major financial crises: in Mexico, across Africa, East Asia, Russia and then back to Latin America. At the WEF meeting in 1999, the key issue was “reform of the international financial system.” As the economic crises spread, the Group of Seven nations, and the Davos Class, told the countries in crisis that in order “to restore confidence [of the markets], they should adopt politically unpopular policies of radical structural reform,” promoting further liberalization and deregulation of markets to open themselves up to Western corporate and financial interests and ‘investment.’

The major emerging markets have been frequent participants in annual Davos meetings, providing a forum in which national elites may become acquainted with the global ruling class, with whom they then cooperate and do business. China has been a major feature at Davos meetings. China started sending more high-level delegations to the WEF in the mid-1980s. During the 2009 meeting, two prominent speakers were President Putin of Russia and the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. Both leaders painted a picture of the crisis as emanating from the centers of finance and globalization in the United States and elsewhere, with the “blind pursuit of profit” and “the failure of financial supervision” – in Wen’s words – and bringing about what Putin described as a “perfect storm.” Both Wen and Putin, however, declared their intentions to work with the major industrial powers “on solving common economic problems.”

In 2010, China’s presence at Davos was a significant one. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who attended the previous year, was not to return. In his stead, his chosen successor, Li Keqiang, attended. China’s economy was performing better than expected as its government was coming under increases pressure from major global corporations.

Kristin Forbes, a former member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and an attendee at Davos, commented, “China is the West’s greatest hope and greatest fear… No one was quite ready for how fast China has emerged… Now everyone is trying to understand what sort of China they will be dealing with.” China sent its largest delegation to date to the World Economic Forum, with a total of 54 executives and government officials, many of whom were intending to “go shopping” for clients among the world’s elite.

Li Keqiang, the future Chinese prime minister, told the Davos audience that China was going to shift from its previous focus on exports and turn to “boosting domestic demand,” which would “not only drive growth in China but also provide greater markets for the world.” Li explained that China would “allow the market to play a primary role in the allocation of resources.”

In 2011, The New York Times declared that the World Economic Forum represented “the emergence of an international economic elite” that took place at the same time as unprecedented increases in inequality between the rich and poor, particularly in the powerful countries but also in the fast-emerging economies. Chrystia Freeland wrote that “the rise of government-connected plutocrats is not just a phenomenon in places like Russia, India and China,” but that the major Western bailouts reflected what the former chief economist at the IMF, Simon Johnson, referred to as a “quiet coup” by bankers in the United States and elsewhere.

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Davos and the Financial Oligarchy

The power of global finance – and in particular, banks and oligarchs – has grown with each successive financial crisis. As the financial crisis tore through the world in 2008, the January 2009 meeting of the World Economic Forum featured less of the Wall Street titans and more top politicians. Schwab declared, “The pendulum has swung and power has moved back to governments,” adding that “this is the biggest economic crisis since Davos began.” Goldman Sachs, which in past years was “renowned for hosting one of the hottest parties at the World Economic Forum’s glittering annual meeting in Davos,” had cancelled its 2009 party. Nonetheless, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, decided to continue with his plans to host a Davos party.

In 2010, thousands of delegates assembled to discuss the “important’ issues of the day. And despite the reputation of banks and bankers being at all-time lows, top executives of the world’s largest financial institutions showed up in full force. The week before the meeting, President Obama called for the establishment of laws to deal with the “too big to fail” banks, and European leaders were responding to the anger of their domestic populations for having to pay for the massive bailouts of financial institutions during the financial crisis.

Britain and France were discussing the prospect of taxing banker bonuses, and Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, suggested the possibility of breaking up the big banks. Several panels at the WEF meeting were devoted to discussing the financial system and its possible regulation, as bankers like Josef Ackermann of Deutsche Bank suggested that they would agree to limited regulations (at least on “capital requirements”).

More important, however, were plans for a series of private meetings of government representatives and bank chiefs, who would meet separately, and then together, in Davos. Roughly 235 bankers were to attend the summit – a 23% increase from the previous year. Global bankers and other corporate leaders were worried, and warned the major governments in attendance against the financial repercussions of pursuing “a populist crackdown” against banks and financial markets. French President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke to the Forum’s guests about a need for a “revolution” in global financial regulation, and for “reform of the international monetary system.”

The heads of roughly 30 of the world’s largest banks held a private meeting at Davos “to plot how to reassert their influence with regulators and governments,” noted a report on Bloomberg. The “private meeting” was a precursor to a later meeting at Davos involving top policymakers and regulators. Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, said of the assembled bankers, “We’re trying to figure out ways that we can be more engaged.” According to Moynihan, a good deal of the closed-door discussion “was about tactics, such as who the executives should approach and when.” The CEO of UBS, a major Swiss bank, commented that “it was a positive meeting, we’re in consensus.” The bankers said they were aware that some new rules were inevitable, but they wanted to encourage regulators and countries to coordinate the rules through the Group of 20, revived in 2009 as the premier forum for international cooperation and “global governance.”

Josef Ackermann, CEO of Deutsche Bank, suggested that “we should stop the bank bashing,” and affirmed that banks had a “noble role” to play in managing the economic recovery. Christine Lagarde, France’s Finance Minister and current Managing Director of the IMF, encouraged a “dialogue” between governments and banks, saying, “That’s the only way we’re going to get out of it.” Later that week, the bankers met “behind closed doors with finance ministers, central bankers and regulators from major economies.”

The key message from finance ministers, regulators and central bankers was a political one: “They [the banks] should accept more stringent regulation, or face more draconian curbs from politicians responding to an angry public.” Guillermo Ortiz, who had just left his post as governor of the central bank of Mexico, said, “I think banks have misjudged the deep feelings of the public regarding the devastating effects of the crisis.” French President Sarkozy stated that “there is indecent behavior that will no longer be tolerated by public opinion in any country of the world,” and that bankers giving themselves excessive bonuses as they were “destroying jobs and wealth” was “morally indefensible.”

As the 2011 Davos meeting began, Edelman, a major communications consultancy, released a report that revealed a poll conducted among 5,000 wealthy and educated individuals in 23 countries, considered to be “well-informed.” The results of the poll showed there to be a massive decline in trust for major institutions, with banks taking the biggest hit. Prior to the financial crisis in 2007, 71% of those polled expressed trust in banks compared with a new low of 25 percent in 2011.

Despite the lack of public trust in banks and financial institutions, Davos remains devoted to protecting and expanding the interests of the financial elite. In fact, the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum (its top governing body) includes many representatives of the world of finance and global financial governance. Among them are Mukesh Ambani, who sits on advisory boards to Citigroup, Bank of America and the National Bank of Kuwait; and Herman Gref, the CEO of Sberbank, a large Russian bank. Ernesto Zedillo, the former President of Mexico who is also a member of the board, currently serves as a director on the boards of Rolls Royce and JPMorgan Chase, international advisory boards to BP and Credit Suisse, an adviser to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and is a member of the Group of Thirty and the Trilateral Commission as well as sitting on the board of one of the world’s most influential economic think tanks, the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Also notable, Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, is a member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum. Carney started his career working for Goldman Sachs for 13 years, after which he was appointed as Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada. After a subsequent stint in Canada’s Ministry of Finance, Carney returned to the Bank of Canada as governor from 2008 to 2013, when he became the first non-Briton to be appointed as head of the Bank of England in its 330-year history. From 2011 to present, Carney has also been the Chairman of the Financial Stability Board, run out of the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland.

Apart from heading the FSB, Mark Carney is also a board member of the BIS, which serves as the central bank for the world’s major central banks. He is also a member of the Group of Thirty, a private and highly influential think tank and lobby group that brings together dozens of the most influential economists, central bankers, commercial bankers and finance ministers. Carney has also been a regular attendee at annual meetings of the Bilderberg Group, an even more-exclusive “invite only” global conference than the WEF.

Though there are few women among the WEF’s membership – let alone its leadership – Christine Lagarde has made the list, while simultaneously serving as the managing director of the IMF. She previously served as the French finance minister throughout the course of the financial crisis. Lagarde also attends occasional Bilderberg meetings, and is one of the most powerful technocrats in the world. Min Zhu, the deputy managing director of the IMF, also sits on the WEF’s board.

Further, the World Economic Forum has another governing body, the International Business Council, first established in 2002 and composed of 100 “highly respected and influential chief executives from all industries,” which “acts as an advisory body providing intellectual stewardship to the World Economic Forum and makes active contributions to the Annual Meeting agenda.”

The membership of the WEF is divided into three categories: Regional Partners, Industry Partner Groups, and the most esteemed, the Strategic Partners. Membership fees paid by corporations and industry groups finance the Forum and its activities and provide the member company with extra access to meet delegates, hold private meetings and set the agenda. In 2015, the cost of an annual Strategic Partner status with the WEF had increased to nearly $700,000. Among the WEF’s current strategic partners are Bank of America, Barclays, BlackRock, BP, Chevron, Citi, Coca-Cola, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Dow Chemical, Facebook, GE, Goldman Sachs, Google, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, PepsiCo, Siemens, Total, and UBS, among others.

Depending on its finances from these sources, as well as being governed by individuals from these and others institutions, it is no surprise that Davos promotes the interests of financial and corporate power above all else. This is further evident on matters related to trade.

Davos and “Trade”

Trade has been another consistent, major issue at Davos meetings – which is to say, the promotion of powerful corporate and financial interests has been central to the functions of the WEF. As the Wall Street Journal noted, “it is pretty much a tradition that trade ministers meet at Davos with an informal meeting.” At the 2013 meeting, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk explained at Davos that the Obama administration was “committed to reaching an agreement to smooth trade with the European Union,” saying in an interview that “we greatly value the trans-Atlantic relationship.” The week’s meetings suggested that there “were signs of progress toward a trade accord.” Thomas J. Donohue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who was present at Davos, commented that “half a dozen senior leaders in Europe are ready to move forward.”

In fact, at the previous Davos meeting in January 2012, high level U.S. and EU officials met behind closed doors with the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD), a major corporate grouping that promotes a U.S.-E.U. “free trade” agreement. The TABD was represented at the meeting by 21 top corporate executives, and was attended by U.S. Trade Representative Kirk, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, the European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, other top technocrats, and Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs, Michael Froman (who is now the U.S. Trade Representative). The result of the meeting was the release of a report on a “Vision for the Future of EU-US Economic Relations,” which called “to press for urgent action on a visionary and ambitious agenda.” The meeting also recommended the establishment of a “CEO Task Force” to work directly with the “High Level Working Group” of trade ministers and technocrats to chart a way forward.

Just prior to the 2013 meeting in Davos, the TABD corporate group merged with another corporate network to form the Transatlantic Business Council (TBC), a group of top CEOs and chairmen of major corporations, representing roughly 70 major corporations. The purpose of the TBC was to hold “semi-annual meetings with U.S. Cabinet Secretaries and European Commissioners (in Davos and elsewhere).” At the Davos 2013 meeting, the TBC met behind closed doors with high level officials from the U.S. and EU. Michael Froman, who would replace Ron Kirk as the U.S. Trade Rep, spoke at the meeting, declaring that “the transatlantic economy is to become the global benchmark for standards in a globalized world.”

The following month, the U.S. and EU “High Level Working Group” released its final report in which it recommended “a comprehensive trade and investment agreement” between the two regions. Two days after the publication of this report, President Obama issued a joint statement with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, in which they announced that “the United States and the European Union will each initiate the internal procedures necessary to launch negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” or TTIP. At the announcement, Kirk declared the sectors that will fall under the proposed agreement, stating that, “for us, everything is on the table, across all sectors, including the agricultural sector.”

The World Economic Forum in a World of Unrest

Perhaps most interestingly, the World Economic Forum has been consistently interested in the prospects of social unrest, protests and resistance movements, particularly those that directly confront the interests of corporate and financial power. This became particularly true following the mass protests in 1999 against the World Trade Organization, which disrupted the major trade talks taking place in Seattle and marked the ascendency of what Davos called the “anti-globalization movement.”

These issues were foremost on the minds of the Davos Class as they met less than two months later in Switzerland for the annual WEF meeting in 2000. The New York Times noted that as President Clinton attempted to address the issue of restoring “confidence in trade and globalization” at the WEF, global leaders – particularly those assembled at Davos – were increasingly aware of the new reality that “popular impressions of globalization seem to have shifted” with growing numbers of people, including the protesters in Seattle, voicing criticism of the growing inequality between rich and poor, environmental degradation and financial instability. The head of the WTO declared that “globalism is the new ‘ism’ that everyone loves to hate… There is nothing that our critics will not blame on globalization and, yes, it is hurting us.”

The guests included President Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, along with the leaders of South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia and Finland, among others. The head of the WTO and many of the world’s trade ministers were also set to attend, hoping to try to re-start negotiations, though protesters were also declaring their intention to disrupt the Forum’s meeting. With these worries in mind, the Swiss Army was deployed to protect the 2,000 members of the Davos Class from being confronted by protesters.

As the World Economic Forum met again in January of 2001 in Davos, “unprecedented security measures” were taken to prevent “hooligans” from disrupting the meeting. On the other side of the world, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, roughly 10,000 activists were expected to converge for the newly-formed World Social Forum, a counter-forum to Davos that represented the interests of activist groups and the Third World. As the Davos Class met quietly behind closed doors, comforted by the concrete blocks and razor wire that surrounded the small town, police on the other side of the fence beat back protesters.

In the wake of the financial crisis, the WEF meeting in 2009 drew hundreds of protesters to Davos and Geneva where they were met by riot police using tear gas and water cannons. Inside the Forum meeting, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde warned the assembled leaders, “We’re facing two major risks: one is social unrest and the second is protectionism.” She noted that the task before the Davos Class was “to restore confidence in the systems and confidence at large.” Protesters assembled outside held signs reading, “You are the Crisis.”

The January 2012 WEF meeting took place following a year of tumultuous and violent upheavals across the Arab world, large anti-austerity movements across much of Europe, notably with the Indignados in Spain, and the Occupy Wall Street movement just months prior in the United States and across much of the world. As the meeting approached, the WEF announced in a report that the top two risks facing business leaders and policy makers were “severe income disparity and chronic fiscal imbalances.” The report warned that if these issues were not addressed it could result in a “dystopian future for much of humanity.” The Occupy Movement had taken the issue of inequality directly to Davos, and there was even a small Occupy protest camp constructed at Davos.

As the Financial Times noted, “Until this year [2012] the issue of inequality never appeared on the risk list at all, let alone topped it.” At the heart of it was “the question of social stability,” with many Davos attendees wondering “where else unrest might appear.” Beth Brooke, the global vice chair of Ernst & Young, noted that “countries which have disappearing middle classes face risks – history shows that.”

With citizens taking to city streets and protesting in public squares from Cairo to Athens and New York, the Financial Times noted that discontent was “rampant,” and that “the only consistent messages seem to be that leaders around the world are failing to deliver on their citizens’ expectations and that Facebook and Twitter allows crowds to coalesce in an instant to let them know it.” For the 40 government leaders assembling in Davos, “this is not a comforting picture.”

In Europe, democratically elected leaders in Italy and Greece had been removed and replaced with economists and central bankers in a technocratic coup only months earlier, largely at the behest of Germany. Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank (ECB), was perhaps “the most powerful leader in Europe,” though an Occupy movement had sprung up at the headquarters of the ECB in Frankfurt as well.

During the Forum, Occupy protesters outside clashed with police. Stephen Roach, a member of the faculty at Yale University and a chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, wrote an article in the Financial Times describing his experiences as a panelist at the “Open Forum,” held on the last day of the Davos gathering, in which citizens from the local community could participate along with students and Occupy protesters. The topic he discussed was “remodeling capitalism,” which, Roach wrote, “was a chance to open up this debate to the seething masses.” But the results were “disturbing” as “chaos erupted immediately” with chants from Occupy protesters denouncing the forum and calling for more to join them. Roach wrote that it was “unruly and unsettling” and he “started thinking more about an escape route than opening comments.”

Once the discussions began, Roach found himself listening to the first panelist, a 24-year-old Occupy protester named Maria who expressed anger at “the system” and that there was a “need to construct a new one based on equality, dignity and respect.” Other panelists from the WEF included Ed Miliband from the U.K., a UN Commissioner, a Czech academic and a minister from the Jordanian dictatorship. Roach noted that compared to Maria from Occupy, “the rest of us on the panel spoke a different language.”

Having spent decades as a banker on Wall Street, Roach confessed that “it as unsettling to engage a hostile crowd whose main complaint is rooted in Occupy Wall Street,” explaining that he attempted to focus on his expertise as an economist, “speaking over hisses.” He explained that all of his “expert” insights on economics “hardly moved this crowd.” Maria from Occupy, Roach wrote, got the last word as she stated, “The aim of Occupy is to think for yourself. We don’t focus on solutions. We want to change the process of finding solutions.” As “the crowd roared its approval,” Roach “made a hasty exit through a secret door in the kitchen and out into the night.” Davos, he wrote, “will never again be the same for me. There can be no retreat in the battle for big ideas.”

In October of 2013, The Economist reported that “from anti-austerity movements to middle-class revolts, in rich countries and in poor, social unrest has been on the rise around the world.” A World Economic Forum report from November 2013 warned of the dangers of a “lost generation” that would “be more prone to populist politics,” and that “we will see an escalation in social unrest.” Over the course of 2013, major financial institutions such as JPMorgan Chase, UBS, HSBC, AXA and others were issuing reports warning of the dangers of social unrest and rebellion. JPMorgan Chase, in its May 2013 report, stated that Europe’s “adjustment” to its new economic order was only “halfway done on average,” warning of major challenges ahead. The report complained about laws hindering the advancement of its agenda, such as “constitutional protection of labor rights… and the right to protest if unwelcome changes are made to the political status quo.”

The 2014 meeting of the World Economic Forum drew more than 40 heads of state, including then-president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, as well as Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Brazilian Presient Dilma Rousseff, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and prominent central bankers such as Mario Draghi and Mark Carney also attended alongside IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.

As the meeting began, a major report by the World Economic Forum was published, declaring that the “single biggest risk to the world in 2014” was the widening “gap between rich and poor.” Thus, income inequality and “social unrest are the issue[s] most likely to have a big impact on the world economy in the next decade.” The report warned that the world was witnessing the “lost generation” of youth around the world who lack jobs and opportunities, which “could easily boil over into social upheaval,” citing recent examples in Brazil and Thailand.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is due to attend the annual Davos meeting this week. But just prior to that meeting, violent protests erupted in the streets of Brazil in opposition to austerity measures imposed by President Rousseff, recalling “the beginnings of the mass street demonstrations that rocked Brazil in June 2013.” One wonders whether Rousseff will be attending next year’s meeting of the WEF, or whether she will still even be president.

Indeed, the growth and power of the Davos Class has grown with – and spurred – the development of global unrest, protests, resistance movements and revolution. As Davos welcomes the global plutocrats to 2015, no doubt they’ll be reminded of the repercussions of the “market system” as populations around the world remind their leaders of the power of people.

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World of Resistance Report: Davos Class Jittery Amid Growing Warnings of Global Unrest

 World of Resistance Report: Davos Class Jittery Amid Growing Warnings of Global Unrest

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

Originally posted on 4 July 2014 at Occupy.com

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In Part 1 of the WoR Report, I examined the “global political awakening” as articulated by arch-imperial strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski. In Part 2 published last week I took a more detailed look at the ways global inequality and injustice relate to the coming era of instability and social unrest. Here, in Part 3, I explore the warnings on inequality and revolt now coming from one of the premier institutions of the global oligarchy: the World Economic Forum.

As an annual gathering of thousands of leading financial, corporate, political and social oligarchs in Davos, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has taken a keen interest in recent years discussing the potential for social upheaval as a result of mass inequality and poverty. A WEF report released in November of 2013 warned that a “lost generation” of unemployed youth in Europe could potentially pull the Eurozone apart. One of the report’s authors, the CEO of Infosys, commented that “unless we address chronic joblessness we will see an escalation in social unrest,” noting that youth especially “need to be productively employed, or we will witness rising crime rates, stagnating economies and the deterioration of our social fabric.” The report added: “A generation that starts its career in complete hopelessness will be more prone to populist politics and will lack the fundamental skills that one develops early on in their career.”

In short, if the global ruling class – known affectionately as the Davos Class – doesn’t quickly find ways to accommodate the continent’s increasingly unemployed and “lost” youth, those people will potentially turn to “populist politics” of resistance that directly challenge the global political and economic order. For the individuals and interests represented at the World Social Forum, this poses a monumental and, increasingly, an existential threat.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2013-2014, entitled “Assessing the Sustainable Competitiveness of Nations,” noted that the global financial crisis and its aftermath “brought social tensions to light” as economic growth was not translated into positive benefits for much or most of the planet’s population. Citing the Arab Spring, growing unemployment in Western economies and increasing income inequality, there was growing recognition that dangerous upheaval could be on the way. The report noted: “Diminishing economic prospects, sometimes combined with demand for more political participation, have also sparked protests in several countries including, for example, the recent events in Brazil and Turkey.”

The WEF report wrote that “if economic benefits are perceived to be unevenly redistributed within a society,” this could frequently result in “riots or social discontent” such as the Arab Spring revolts, protests in Brazil, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and other recent examples. The report concluded that numerous nations were at especially high risk of social unrest, including China, Indonesia, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, India, Peru and Russia, among others.

Phila Unemployment Project

In early 2014, the World Economic Forum released the 9th edition of its Global Risks report, published to inform the debate, discussion and planning of attendees and guests at the annual WEF meeting in Davos. The report was produced with the active cooperation of major universities and financial corporations, including Marsh & McLennan Companies, Swiss Re, Zurich Insurance Group, National University of Singapore, University of Oxford, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center. It included a large survey conducted in an effort to assess the major perceived risks to the global order atop which the Davos Class sits.

The report noted that the “most interconnected” risks were fiscal crises, structural unemployment and underemployment, all of which link to “rising income inequality and political and social instability.” The young generation now coming of age globally, noted the WEF, “faces high unemployment and precarious job situations, hampering their efforts to build a future and raising the risk of social unrest.” This “lost generation” faces not only high unemployment and underemployment, but also major educational challenges since “traditional higher education is ever more expensive and its payoff more doubtful.”

Perceiving the innovations and skills of today’s generation which are enabling the growing foment, the Forum noted:

“In general, the mentality of this generation is realistic, adaptive and versatile. Smart technology and social media provide new ways to quickly connect, build communities, voice opinion and exert political pressure… [youth are] full of ambition to make the world a better place, yet feel disconnected from traditional politics and government – a combination which presents both a challenge and an opportunity in addressing global risks.”

The Global Risks 2014 report cited a global opinion survey on the “awareness, priorities and values of global youth,” which the authors refer to as “generation lost.” This generation, noted the survey, “think independently of this basic fallback system of the older generation – governments providing a safety net,” which “points to a wider distrust of authorities and institutions.” The “mindset” of today’s youth has been additionally shaped by the repercussions and apparent failures to deal with the global financial crisis, as well as increasing revelations about U.S. intelligence agencies engaging in massive digital spying. For a generation largely mobilized through social media, online spying has held particular relevance, as “the digital revolution gave them unprecedented access to knowledge and information worldwide.”

Protests and anti-austerity movements were able to “give voice to an increasing distrust in current socio-economic and political systems,” with youth making up significant portions of “the general disappointment felt in many nations with regional and global governance bodies such as the EU and the International Monetary Fund.” The youth “place less importance on traditionally organized political parties and leadership,” which creates a major “challenge for those in positions of authority in existing institutions” as they try “to find ways to engage the young generation,” adds the report.

According to the World Bank, more than 25% of the world’s youth, or some 300 million people, “have no productive work.” On top of this, “an unprecedented demographic ‘youth bulge’ is bringing more than 120 million new young people on to the job market each year, mostly in the developing world.” This fact “threatens to halt economic progress, creating a vicious cycle of less economic activity and more unemployment,” which “raises the risk of social unrest by creating a disaffected ‘lost generation’ who are vulnerable to being sucked into criminal or extremist movements.”

Noting that more than 1 billion people currently live in slums – a number that has been steadily increasing as income inequality rises – the report stated that “this growing population of urban poor is vulnerable to rising food prices and economic crises, posing significant risks of chronic social instability.” Growing income inequality is now being termed a “systemic risk,” according to the WEF. And in a stark admission from that institution representing the world’s major profiteers of global capitalism, the report acknowledged that globalization “has been associated with rising inequality between and within countries” and that “these factors render poor people and poor countries vulnerable to systemic risks.”

The four major “emerging market” BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China “now rank among the 10 largest economies worldwide.” But slow political reforms within these countries, coupled with external economic shocks (like financial crises caused by Western nations and their corporate institutions) could aggravate the “existing undertones of social unrest.” Within the BRIC nations and other emerging market economies, “popular discontent with the status quo is already apparent among rising middle classes, digitally connected youths and marginalized groups,” the report went on. Collectively, these groups “want better services (such as healthcare), infrastructure, employment and working conditions,” as well as “greater accountability of public officials, better protected civil liberties and more equitable judicial systems.” Further, a “greater public awareness of widespread corruption have sharpened popular complaints.”

Both Brazil and Turkey have made universal healthcare systems a constitutional obligation, which was a stated ambition of other emerging market nations such as India, Indonesia and South Africa. The failure to create these healthcare systems “may arouse social unrest,” warned the WEF. The World Economic Forum’s chief economist, Jennifer Blanke, stated: “The message from the Arab Spring, and from countries such as Brazil and South Africa is that people are not going to stand for it any more.” David Cole, the group chief risk officer of Swiss Re (one of the contributing companies to the WEF report) commented: “The members of generation lost are not lost because they have tuned out. They are highly tuned in. They are lost because they are being left out or they are deciding to leave.” http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/16/income-gap-biggest-risk-global-community-world-economic-forum

The World Economic Forum’s Risk report for 2014 was primarily concerned with “the breakdown of social structures” and “the decline of trust in institutions.” It warned of risks of “ideological polarization, extremism – in particular those of a religious or political nature – and intra-state conflicts such as civil wars.” All of these issues relate directly “to the future of the youth.”

It’s an interesting paradox for an organization to see the greatest threat to its ideological and social power being “the future of the youth” when it has already written off the present generation as “lost.” However, this is a view shared not only by the World Economic Forum but, increasingly, by other powerful institutions creating something of an echo chamber through the mainstream media. The head of the IMF has warned that youth unemployment in poor nations was “a kind of time bomb,” and the head of the International Labor Organization (ILO) warned in 2011 that the “world economy” was unable “to secure a future for all youth,” thus undermining “families, social cohesion and the credibility of policies.” While there was “already revolution in the air in some countries,” as reported in the Globe and Mail, the dual crises of unemployment and poverty were “fuel for the fire.”

In April of 2014, the World Economic Forum on Latin America reported that the primary challenge for the region was “to reduce inequality,” noting that between 70 and 90 million people in Latin America had entered what were referred to as the “consuming classes,” or “middle classes,” over the previous decade. However, Marcelo Cortes Neri, Brazil’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, explained, “When we talk about middle class we think of the U.S. middle class, with two cars and two dogs and a swimming pool. That is not Latin American middle class or the world middle class.”

He added that the emerging so-called “middle class” in Latin America and elsewhere “could become a problem for governance,” commenting: “They are the ones that put pressure for better levels of education and healthcare; they are the ones that go to the streets to demand rights.” Neri then posed the question: “How prepared is Latin America to have a robust middle class?” In particular, youth between the ages of 15 and 29 raised specific concerns for Latin America’s elite, with Neri warning: “This is the group I am most worried about. They have very high expectations and so the probability they will get frustrated is enormous.”

When one of the world’s most influential organizations representing the collective interests of the global oligarchy openly acknowledges that globalization has increased inequality, and in turn, that inequality is fueling social unrest around the world manifesting the greatest potential threat to those oligarchic interests, we can safely say we’re entering a new era of global instability and resistance.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is a researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada. He is project manager of The People’s Book Project, chair of the geopolitics division of The Hampton Institute, research director for Occupy.com’s Global Power Project and World of Resistance Report, and host of a weekly podcast show with BoilingFrogsPost.

Welcome to the World Revolution in the Global Age of Rage

Welcome to the World Revolution in the Global Age of Rage

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

Mass protest in Spain

 

I am currently writing a book on the global economic crisis and the global resistance, rebellious and revolutionary movements that have emerged in reaction to this crisis. Our world is in the midst of the greatest economic, social, and political crisis that humanity has ever collectively entered into. The scope is truly global in its context, and the effects are felt in every locality. The course of the global economic crisis is the direct and deliberate result of class warfare, waged by the political and economic elites against the people of the world. The objective is simple: all for them and none for you. At the moment, the crisis is particularly acute in Europe, as the European elites impose a coordinated strategy of class warfare against the people through “austerity” and “structural adjustment,” political euphemisms used to hide their true intention: poverty and exploitation.

The people of the world, however, are beginning to rise up, riot, resist, rebel and revolt. This brief article is an introduction to the protest movements and rebellions which have taken place around the world in the past few years against the entrenched systems and structures of power. This is but a small preview of the story that will be examined in my upcoming book. Please consider donating to The People’s Book Project in order to finance the completion of this volume.

Those who govern and rule over our world and its people have been aware of the structural and social changes which would result in bringing about social unrest and rebellion. In fact, they have been warning about the potential for such a circumstance of global revolutionary movements for a number of years. The elite are very worried, most especially at the prospect of revolutionary movements spreading beyond borders and the traditional confines of state structures. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s former National Security Adviser, co-founder with banker David Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission, and an arch-elitist strategic thinker for the American empire, has been warning of what he terms the ‘Global Political Awakening’ as the central challenge for elites in a changing world.

In June of 2010, I published an article entitled, “The Global Political Awakening and the New World Order,” in which I examined this changing reality and in particular, the words of Zbigniew Brzezinski in identifying it. In December of 2008, Brzezinski published an article for the New York Times in which he wrote: “For the first time in history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. Global activism is generating a surge in the quest for cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world scarred by memories of colonial or imperial domination.” This situation is made more precarious for elites as it takes place in a global transition in which the Atlantic powers – Western Europe and the United States – are experiencing a decline in their 500-year domination of the world. Brzezinski wrote that what is necessary to maintain control in this changing world is for the United States to spearhead “a collective effort for a more inclusive system of global management,” or in other words, more power for them. Brzezinski has suggested that, “the worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening.” In 2005, Brzezinski wrote:

It is no overstatement to assert that now in the 21st century the population of much of the developing world is politically stirring and in many places seething with unrest. It is a population acutely conscious of social injustice to an unprecedented degree, and often resentful of its perceived lack of political dignity. The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches…

The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well. With the exception of Europe, Japan and America, the rapidly expanding demographic bulge in the 25-year-old-and-under age bracket is creating a huge mass of impatient young people. Their minds have been stirred by sounds and images that emanate from afar and which intensify their disaffection with what is at hand. Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious “tertiary level” educational institutions of developing countries… Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred.

Important to note is that Brzezinski has not simply been writing abstractly about this concept, but has been for years traveling to and speaking at various conferences and think tanks of national and international elites, who together form policy for the powerful nations of the world. Speaking to the elite American think tank, the Carnegie Council, Brzezinski warned of “the unprecedented global challenge arising out of the unique phenomenon of a truly massive global political awakening of mankind,” as we now live “in an age in which mankind writ large is becoming politically conscious and politically activated to an unprecedented degree, and it is this condition which is producing a great deal of international turmoil.” Brzezinski noted that much of the ‘awakening’ was being spurred on by America’s role in the world, and the reality of globalization (which America projects across the globe as the single global hegemon), and that this awakening “is beginning to create something altogether new: namely, some new ideological or doctrinal challenge which might fill the void created by the disappearance of communism.” He wrote that he sees “the beginnings, in writings and stirrings, of the making of a doctrine which combines anti-Americanism with anti-globalization, and the two could become a powerful force in a world that is very unequal and turbulent.

 

 

In 2007, the British Ministry of Defence issued a report looking at global trends over the following three decades to better plan for the “future strategic context” of the British military. The report noted that: “The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx… The world’s middle classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest.” In my April 2010 article, “The Global Economic Crisis: Riots, Rebellion, and Revolution,” I quoted the official British Defence Ministry report, which read:

Absolute poverty and comparative disadvantage will fuel perceptions of injustice among those whose expectations are not met, increasing tension and instability, both within and between societies and resulting in expressions of violence such as disorder, criminality, terrorism and insurgency. They may also lead to the resurgence of not only anti-capitalist ideologies, possibly linked to religious, anarchist or nihilist movements, but also to populism and the revival of Marxism.

In December of 2008, the managing director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn warned that the economic crisis could lead to “violent unrest on the streets.” He stated that if the elite were not able to instill an economic recovery by 2010, “then social unrest may happen in many countries – including advanced economies,” meaning the Western and industrialized world. In February of 2009, the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, warned that the economic crisis “could trigger political unrest equal to that seen during the 1930s.” In May of 2009, the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, stated that if the economic crisis did not come to an end, “there is a risk of a serious human and social crisis with very serious political implications.”

In early 2009, the top intelligence official in the United States, Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence (who oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies), stated that the global economic crisis had become the primary threat to America’s “security” (meaning domination). He told the Senate Intelligence Committee: “I’d like to begin with the global economic crisis, because it already looms as the most serious one in decades, if not centuries… Economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they are prolonged for a one-or-two-year period… And instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.” He also noted that, “there could be a backlash against U.S. efforts to promote free markets because the crisis was triggered by the United States… We are generally held responsible for it.”

In December of 2008, police in Greece shot and killed a 15-year old student in Exarchia, a libertarian and anarchist stronghold in Athens. The murder resulted in thousands of protesters and riots erupting in the streets, in what the New York Times declared to be “the worst unrest in decades.” Triggered by the death of the young Greek student, the protests were the result of deeper, social and systemic issues, increasing poverty, economic stagnation and political corruption. Solidarity protests took place all over Europe, including Germany, France, and the U.K. But this was only a sample of what was to come over the following years.

In the early months of 2009, as the economic crisis was particularly blunt in the countries of Eastern Europe, with increased unemployment and inflation, the region was headed for a “spring of discontent,” as protests and riots took place in Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Latvia. In January of 2009, more than 10,000 people took to the streets in Latvia in one of the largest demonstrations since the end of Soviet rule. A demonstration of roughly 7,000 Lithuanians turned into a riot, and smaller clashes between police and protesters took place in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Hungary, while police in Iceland tear gassed a demonstration of roughly 2,000 people outside the parliament, leading to the resignation of the prime minister. The head of the IMF said that the economic crisis could cause more turmoil “almost everywhere,” adding: “The situation is really, really serious.” A mass strike took place in France, bringing hundreds of thousands of workers into the streets and pushing anti-capitalist activists and leaders to the front of a growing social movement.

May 1, 2009 – the labour activist day known as ‘May Day’ – saw protests and riots erupting across Europe, including Germany, Greece, Austria, Turkey and France. In Germany, banks were attacked by protesters, leading to many arrests; there were over 150,000 demonstrators in Ankara, Turkey; more than 10,000 people took to the streets in Madrid, Spain; thousands took to the streets in Italy and Russia and social unrest continued to spread through Eastern Europe. Results from a poll were released on early May 2009 reporting that in the United States, Italy, France, Spain, Britain and Germany, a majority of the populations felt that the economic crisis would lead to a rise in “political extremism.”

In April of 2009, the G20 met in London, and was met there with large protests, drawing tens of thousands of people into the streets. In London’s financial district, protesters smashed the windows of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which was the recipient of a massive government bailout during the early phases of the financial crisis. One man, Ian Tomlinson, dropped dead on the streets of London following an assault by a British police officer, who was later questioned under suspicion of manslaughter.

In November of 2011, a month of student protests and sit-ins erupted in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, triggered by budget cuts and tuition fees. The protests began in Austria, where students occupied the University of Vienna for over a month, quickly spreading to other cities and schools in Germany, where roughly 80,000 students took part in nationwide protests, with sit-ins taking place in 20 universities across the country, and the University of Basel in Switzerland was also occupied by students.

The small little island-country of Iceland has undergone what has been referred to as the “Kitchenware Revolution,” where the country had once been rated by the UN as the best country to live in as recently as 2007, and in late 2008, its banks collapsed and the government resigned amid the mass protests that took place. The banks were nationalized, Iceland got a new prime minister, a gay woman who brought into her cabinet a majority of women, fired bank CEOs; the constitution was re-written with significant citizen participation and the government took steps to write off debts and refused to bailout foreign investors. Now, the economy is doing much better, hence why no one is talking about Iceland in the media (woeful is power to the ‘tyranny’ of a good example). Iceland has even hired an ex-cop bounty hunter to track down and arrest the bankers that destroyed the country’s economy. As the debt burdens of a significant portion of the population of Iceland were eased, Iceland was projected in 2012 to have a faster growing economy than those in the euro area and the developed world. As reported by Bloomberg, the main difference between how Iceland has dealt with its massive economic crisis and how the rest of the ‘developed’ world has been dealing with it, is that Iceland “has put the needs of its population ahead of the markets at every turn.” Instead of rewarding bankers for causing the crisis, as we have done in Europe and North America, Icelanders have arrested them, and protected homeowners instead of evicting them.

As Greece came to dominate the news in early 2010, with talk of a bailout, protests began to erupt with more frequency in the small euro-zone country. In early May, a general strike was called in Greece against the austerity measures the government was imposing in order to get a bailout. Banks were set on fire, petrol bombs were thrown at riot police, who were pepper spraying, tear gassing, and beating protesters with batons, and three people died of suffocation in one of the bombed banks.

In May of 2010, British historian Simon Schama wrote an article for the Financial Times entitled, “The world teeters on the brink of a new age of rage,” in which he explained that historians “will tell you that there is often a time-lag between the onset of economic disaster and the accumulation of social fury.” In act one, he wrote, “the shock of a crisis initially triggers fearful disorientation” and a “rush for political saviours.” Act two witnesses “a dangerously alienated public” who “take stock of the brutal interruption of their rising expectations,” which leads to the grievance that someone “must have engineered the common misfortune,” which, I might add, is true (though Schama does not say so). To manage this situation, elites must engage in “damage-control” whereby perpetrators are brought to justice. Schama noted that, “the psychological impact of financial regulation is almost as critical as its institutional prophylactics,” or, in other words: the propaganda effect of so-called “financial regulation” on calming the angry plebs is as important (if not more so) as the financial regulations themselves. Thus, those who lobby against financial regulation, warned Scharma, “risk jeopardizing their own long-term interests.” If governments fail to “reassert the integrity of public stewardship,” then the public will come to perceive that “the perps and the new regime are cut from common cloth.” In the very least, wrote Scharma, elites attempting to implement austerity measures and other unpopular budget programs will need to “deliver a convincing story about the sharing of burdens,” for if they do not, it would “guarantee that a bad situation gets very ugly, very fast.”

As French President Nicolas Sarkozy began implementing austerity measures in France, particularly what is called “pension reform,” unions and supporters staged massive strikes in September of 2010, drawing up to three million people into the streets in over 230 demonstrations across the country. Soldiers armed with machine guns went on patrol at certain metro stations as government officials used the puffed up and conveniently-timed threat of a “terrorist attack” as being “high risk.” More strikes took place in October, with French students joining in the demonstrations, as students at roughly 400 high schools across the country built barricades of wheelie bins to prevent other students from attending classes, with reports of nearly 70% of French people supporting the strike. The reports of participants varied from the government figures of over 800,000 people to the union figures of 2-3 million people going out into the streets. The Wall Street Journal referred to the strikes as “an irrational answer” to Sarkozy’s “perfectly rational initiative” of reforms.

In November of 2010, Irish students in Dublin began protesting against university tuition increases, when peaceful sit-ins were met with violent riot police, and roughly 25,000 students took to the streets. This was the largest student protest in Ireland in a generation.

In Britain, where a new coalition government came to power – uniting the Conservatives (led by David Cameron, the Prime Minister) and the Liberal Democrats (led by Nick Clegg, Deputy PM) – tuition increases were announced, tripling the cost from 3 to 9,000 pounds. On November 10, as roughly 50,000 students took to the streets in London, the Conservative Party headquarters in central London had its windows smashed by students, who then entered the building and occupied it, even congregating up on the rooftop of the building. The police continued to ‘kettle’ protesters in the area, not allowing them to enter or leave a confined space, which of course results in violent reactions. Prime Minister David Cameron called the protest “unacceptable.” The Christian Science Monitor asked if British students were the “harbinger of future violence over austerity measures,” There were subsequent warnings that Britain was headed for a winter of unrest.

Tens of thousands again took to the streets in London in late November, including teenage students walking with university students, again erupting in riots, with the media putting in a great deal of focus on the role of young girls taking part in the protests and riots. The protests had taken place in several cities across the United Kingdom, largely peaceful save the ‘riot’ in London, and with students even occupying various schools, including Oxford. The student protests brought ‘class’ back into the political discourse. In November, several universities were occupied by students, including the School of Oriental and African Studies, UWE Bristol and Manchester Metropolitan. Several of the school occupations went for days or even weeks. Universities were then threatening to evict the students. The school occupations were the representation of a new potential grass-roots social movement building in the UK. Some commentators portrayed it as a “defining political moment for a generation.”

 

 

In early December of 2010, as the British Parliament voted in favour of the tripling of tuition, thousands of students protested outside, leading to violent confrontations with police, who stormed into crowds of students on horseback, firing tear gas, beating the youth with batons, as per usual. While the overtly aggressive tactics of police to ‘kettle’ protesters always creates violent reactions, David Cameron was able to thereafter portray the student reactions to police tactics as a “feral mob.” One student was twice pulled out from his wheelchair by police, and another student who was struck on the head with a baton was left with a brain injury. As the protests erupted into riots against the police into the night, one infamous incident included a moment where Prince Charles and his wife Camilla were attacked by rioters as their car drove through the crowd in what was called the “worst royal security breach in a generation,” as the royal couple were confronted directly by the angry plebs who attacked the Rolls-Royce and Camilla was even ‘prodded’ by a stick, as some protesters yelled, “off with their heads!” while others chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets!” As more student protests were set to take place in January of 2011, Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command contacted university officials requesting “intelligence” as students increased their protest activities, as more occupations were expected to take place.

In December of 2010, a Spanish air traffic controller strike took place, grounding flights for 330,000 people and resulting in the government declaring a state of emergency, threatening the strikers with imprisonment if they did not return to work.

Part way through December, an uprising began in the North African country of Tunisia, and by January of 2011, the 23-year long dictatorship of a French and American-supported puppet, Ben Ali, had come to an end. This marked the first major spark of what has come to be known as the Arab Spring. Protests were simultaneously erupting in Algeria, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, and elsewhere. In late January of 2011, I wrote an article entitled, “Are we witnessing the start of a global revolution?,” noting that the protests in North Africa were beginning to boil up in Egypt most especially. Egypt entered its modern revolutionary period, resulting in ending the rule of the long-time dictator, Hosni Mubarak, and though the military has been attempting to stem the struggle of the people, the revolutionary struggle continues to this day, and yet the Obama administration continues to give $1.3 billion in military aid to support the violent repression of the democratic uprising. The small Arab Gulf island of Bahrain (which is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet) also experienced a large democratic uprising, which has been consistently and brutally crushed by the local monarchy and Saudi Arabia, with U.S. support, including the selling of arms to the dictatorship.

 

 

In early 2011, the British student protests joined forces with a wider anti-austerity social protest against the government. As protests continued over the following months all across the country, banks became a common target, noting the government’s efforts to spend taxpayer money to bailout corrupt banks and cut health, social services, welfare, pensions, and increase tuition. Several bank branches were occupied and others had protests – often very creatively imagined – organized outside closed bank branches. On March 26, roughly 500,000 protesters took to the streets of London against austerity measures. As late as July 2011, a student occupation of a school continued at Leeds.

Throughout 2011, protests in Greece picked up in size and rage. In February, roughly 100,000 people took to the streets in Athens against the government’s austerity measures, leading to clashes with riot police that lasted for three hours, with police using tear gas and flash bombs and some protesters reacting with rocks and petrol bombs. In June of 2011, Greece experienced major clashes between protesters and police, or what are often called “riots.” During a general strike in late June, police went to war against protesters assembled in central Athens. Protests continued throughout the summer and into the fall, and in November, roughly 50,000 Greeks took to the streets in Athens.

 

 

In March of 2011, as Portugal plunged forward into its own major crisis and closer to a European Union bailout, roughly 300,000 Portuguese took to the streets of Lisbon and other cities protesting against the government’s austerity measures. Driven by the youth, calling themselves Portugal’s “desperate generation,” in part inspired by the youth uprisings in North Africa, the Financial Times referred to it as “an unexpected protest movement that has tapped into some of Portugal’s deepest social grievances.”

The Portuguese protests in turn inspired the Spanish “Indignados” or 15-M movement (named after the 15th of May, when the protests began), as youth – the indignant ones – or the “lost generation,” occupied Madrid’s famous Puerta del Sol on May 15, 2011, protesting against high unemployment, the political establishment, and the government’s handling of the economic crisis. The authorities responded in the usual way: they attempted to ban the protests and then sent in riot police. Thousands of Spaniards – primarily youth – occupied the central square, setting up tents and building a small community engaging in debate, discussion and activism. In a massive protest in June of 2011, over 250,000 Spaniards took the streets in one of the largest protests in recent Spanish history. Over the summer, as the encampment was torn down, the Indignados refined their tactics, and began to engage in direct action by assembling outside homes and preventing evictions from taking place, having stopped over 200 evictions since May of 2011, creating organic vegetable gardens in empty spaces, supporting immigrant workers in poor communities, and creating “a new social climate.”

The Indignados spurred solidarity and similar protests across Europe, including Greece, Belgium, France, Germany, the U.K., and beyond. In fact, the protests even spread to Israel, where in July of 2011, thousands of young Israelis established tent cities in protest against the rising cost of living and decreasing social spending, establishing itself on Rothschild Boulevard, a wealthy avenue in Tel Aviv named after the exceedingly wealthy banking dynasty. The protest, organized through social media, quickly spread through other cities across Israel. In late July, over 150,000 Israelis took to the streets in 12 cities across the country in the largest demonstration the country had seen in decades, demonstrating against the “rising house prices and rents, low salaries, [and] the high cost of raising children and other social issues.” In early August, another protest drew 320,000 people into the streets, leading some commentators to state that the movement marked “a revolution from a generation we thought was unable to make a revolution.” In early September, roughly 430,000 Israelis took to the streets in the largest demonstration in Israeli history.

In May and June of 2011, a student movement began to erupt in Chile, fighting against the increased privatization of their school system and the debt-load that comes with it. The state – the remnants of the Pinochet dictatorship – responded in the usual fashion: state violence, mass arrests, attempting to make protesting illegal. In clashes between students and riot police that took place in August, students managed to occupy a television station demanding a live broadcast to express their demands, with the city of Santiago being converted into “a state of siege” against the students. The “Chilean Winter” – as it came to be known – expanded into a wider social movement, including labour and environmental and indigenous groups, and continues to this very day.

 

 

The Indignados further inspired the emergence of the Occupy Movement, which began with occupy Wall Street in New York City on 17 September of 2011, bringing the dialectic of the “99% versus the 1%” into the popular and political culture. The Occupy movement, which reflected the initial tactics of the Indignados in setting up tents to occupy public spaces, quickly spread across the United States, Canada, Europe, and far beyond. There were Occupy protests that took place as far away as South Africa, in dozens of cities across Canada, in countries and cities all across Latin America, in Israel, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and in hundreds of cities across the United States.

On October 15, 2011, a day of global protests took place, inspired by the Arab Spring, the Indignados, and the Occupy movement, when over 950 cities in 82 countries around the world experienced a global day of action originally planned for by the Spanish Indignados as a European-wide day of protest. In Italy, over 400,000 took to the streets; in Spain there were over 350,000, roughly 50,000 in New York City, with over 100,000 in both Portugal and Chile.

 

 

The Occupy movement was subsequently met with violent police repression and evictions from the encampments. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was busy spying on various Occupy groups around the country, and reportedly was involved in coordinating the crack-downs and evictions against dozens of Occupy encampments, as was later confirmed by declassified documents showing White House involvement in the repression. The FBI has also undertaken a “war of entrapment” against Occupy groups, attempting to discredit the movement and frame its participants as potential terrorists. Following the example of tactical change in the Indignados, the Occupy groups began refurbishing foreclosed homes for the homeless, helping families reclaim their homes, disrupting home foreclosure auctions, and even take on local community issues, such as issues of racism through the group, Occupy the Hood.

In late November of 2011, a public sector workers’ strike took place in the U.K., with tens of thousands of people marching in the streets across the country, as roughly two-thirds of schools shut and thousands of hospital operations postponed, while unions estimated that up to two million people went on strike. The host of a popular British television show, Jeremy Clarkson, said in a live interview that the striking workers should be taken out and shot in front of their families.

In January of 2012, protests erupted in Romania against the government’s austerity measures, leading to violent clashes with police, exchanging tear gas and firebombs. As the month continued, the protests grew larger, demanding the ouster of the government. The Economist referred to it as Romania’s “Winter of Discontent.” In early February, the Romanian Prime Minister resigned in the face of the protests.

In February of 2012, a student strike began in the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec against the provincial government’s plan to nearly double the cost of tuition, bringing hundreds of thousands of students into the streets, who were in turn met with consistent state repression and violence, in what became known as the ‘Maple Spring.’ Dealing with issues of debt, repression, and media propaganda, the Maple Spring presented an example for student organizing elsewhere in Canada and North America. The government of Quebec opposes organized students but works with organized crime – representing what can be called a ‘Mafiocracy’ – and even passed a law attempting to criminalize student demonstrations. The student movement received support and solidarity from around the world, including the Chilean student movement and even a group of nearly 150 Greek academics who proclaimed their support in the struggle against austerity for the “largest student strike in the history of North America.”

 

 

In the spring of 2012, Mexican students mobilized behind the Yo Soy 132 movement – or the “Mexican Spring” – struggling against media propaganda and the political establishment in the lead-up to national elections, and tens of thousands continued to march through the streets decrying the presidential elections as rigged and fraudulent. The Economist noted that Mexican students were beginning to “revolt.”

In May of 2012, both the Indignados and the Occupy Movement undertook a resurgence of their street activism, while the occupy protests in Seattle and Oakland resulting in violent clashes and police repression. The protests drew Occupy and labour groups closer together, and police also repressed a resurgent Occupy protest in London.

In one of the most interesting developments in recent months, we have witnessed the Spanish miners strike in the province of Asturias, having roughly 8,000 miners strike against planned austerity measures, resorting to constructing barricades and directly fighting riot police who arrived in their towns to crush the resistance of the workers. The miners have even been employing unique tactics, such as constructing make-shift missiles which they fire at the advancing forces of police repression. For all the tear gas, rubber bullets and batons being used by police to crush the strike, the miners remain resolved to continue their struggle against the state. Interestingly, it was in the very region of Asturias where miners rebelled against the right-wing Spanish government in 1934 in one of the major sparks of the Spanish Civil War which pitted socialists and anarchists against Franco and the fascists. After weeks of clashes with police in mining towns, the striking workers planned a march to Madrid to raise attention to the growing struggle. The miners arrived in Madrid in early July to cheering crowds, but were soon met with repressive police, resulting in clashes between the people and the servants of the state. As the Spanish government continued with deeper austerity measures, over one million people marched in the streets of over 80 cities across Spain, with violent clashes resulting between protesters and police in Madrid.

 

 

This brief look at the resistance, rebellious and revolutionary movements emerging and erupting around the world is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is it meant to be. It is merely a brief glimpse at the movements with which I intend to delve into detail in researching and writing about in my upcoming book, and to raise the question once again: Are we witnessing the start of a global revolution?

I would argue that, yes, indeed, we are. How long it takes, how it manifests and evolves, its failures and successes, the setbacks and leaps forward, and all the other details will be for posterity to acknowledge and examine. What is clear at present, however, is that no matter how much the media, governments and other institutions of power attempt to ignore, repress, divide and even destroy revolutionary social movements, they are increasingly evolving and emerging, in often surprising ways and with different triggering events and issues. There is, however, a commonality: where there is austerity in the world, where there is repression, where there is state, financial and corporate power taking all for themselves and leaving nothing for the rest, the rest are now rising up.

Welcome to the World Revolution.

 

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is also Project Manager of The People’s Book Project. He also hosts a weekly podcast show, “Empire, Power, and People,” on BoilingFrogsPost.com.

Please donate to The People’s Book Project to help this book come to completion.

French Translation: De l’anarchie: Une Interview

The following is a French translation of an interview I did on Anarchism, conducted by Devon D.B. See the original here: “On Anarchy: An Interview.

Translation by Résistance 71.

De l’anarchie: Une Interview

Sur l’anarchisme: une interview avec Andrew Gavin Marshall effectuée par Devon DB.

Ceci est la transcription d’une interview faire par courriel que j’ai faite d’Andrew Gavin Marshall, le directeur de projet du People’s Book Project. Dans cette interview nous discutons de l’anarchisme, remontons à ses origines, fouillons dans son histoire à la fois aux Etats-Unis et dans le monde et nous concluons sur une discussion sur le comment l’anarchisme affecte aujourd’hui le mouvement Occupy.

Devon DB: Pouvez-vous nous donner une définition de l’anarchisme?

Mr. Marshall: L’anarchisme est difficile à définir simplement parce qu’il représente une philosophie très diverse, qui contient pas mal de variantes. Ainsi les définitions de l’anarchisme tendent à différer avec ses différentes branches. Quoi qu’il en soit, au cœur de l’affaire, l’anarchisme, par ses racines grecques, veut simplement dire “être sans chef” ; ceci allant à l’encontre de la pensée libérale traditionnelle, comme celle articulée par la notion de Hobbes qui veut que l’anarchie soit un “état naturel”, exemplifié dans les conflits et les guerres, justifiant la nécessité d’un état afin de maintenir l’ordre. Un des premiers penseurs anarchistes, Pierre Joseph Proudhon, contra cette notion en disant que “L’anarchie c’est l’ordre”. Malgré la connotation de “désordre” et de “chaos” qu’à le mot “anarchie”, l’anarchisme et la société anarchiste sont hautement organisées et ordonnées. La différence centrale entre la conception anarchiste de l’ordre et les autres, est que l’anarchie retire la notion de structures de l’autorité, de façon à ce que la société puisse être organisée par l’association libre et une organisation non-hiérarchique. Elle fait la promotion à la fois de l’individu et du collectif de manière simultanée. Ceci est en opposition avec la pensée libérale qui insiste presque exclusivement sur l’individu ou la pensée socialiste qui promeut le collectif par dessus tout. L’un des penseurs les plus influents de l’anarchisme, Michel Bakounine, a décrit la pensée anarchiste lorsqu’il écrivit: “Nous sommes convaincus que la liberté sans le socialisme n’est que privilège et injustice et que le socialisme sans liberté n’est qu’esclavage et brutalité.” Ceci a souvent mené l’anarchisme a être assimilé à ce qu’on appelle le “socialisme libertaire” ; ceci constituant la racine du libertaire, certaines branches s’en écartant néanmoins. Finalement, ce qui caractérise la pensée anarchiste et ce qui lui est sous-jacent, c’est une remise en question et une critique hautement formulée du pouvoir et de l’autorité : à savoir, si une source autoritaire ne peut pas légitimer son existence, elle ne devrait pas exister.

Devon DB: Qui est et de où est originaire la pensée anarchiste ? Quel était le contexte sociétaire d’où émergea originellement la pensée anarchiste ?

Mr. Marshall: L’anarchisme n’est pas comme le marxisme ou le libéralisme ou toute autre forme d’idée concrète dont on peut clairement identifier d’où elle provient. De la même manière que l’anarchisme épouse le concept de ne pas avoir de leader, une grande partie de son développement historique est demeurée “sans leader”.La pensée anarchiste s’est développée, à des degrés divers, à travers l’histoire de l’humanité, dans des temps et en des lieux différents, souvent sans contact entre les différentes civilisations. En ce sens, l’anarchisme est une idée organique qui peut avoir ses origines dans n’importe quel contexte. La première évolution des idées anarchistes a été identifiée comme provenant de la Chine ancienne, parmi les taoïstes. Peter Marshall a écrit dans son livre essentiel: “En demandant l’impossible : une histoire de l’Anarchie” que, “au travers de l’histoire répertoriée, l’esprit anarchiste peut être vu émerger du clan, de la tribu, de communautés villageoises, de villes indépendantes, des guildes et des syndicats”. L’anarchisme a émergé de façon différente dans la pensée de la Grèce antique, puis plus tard dans l’ère chrétienne, le plus spécifiquement avec les révoltes paysannes du Moyen-Age. Ceci s’est passé bien avant que l’anarchisme ne se définisse comme une idéologie ou une philosophie de ou par lui-même.

Ce processus s’est déroulé après la fin du féodalisme, avec la montée du capitalisme et mis en lumière largement à la fois dans la période de la Renaissance et la période des Lumières. La Renaissance a amené l’idée de l’individu et la période des Lumières a conceptualisé le progrès social. Ceci s’est ainsi développé en une philosophie distincte et cohérente en réaction au développement des états centralisés, du nationalisme, de l’industrialisation et du capitalisme de la fin du XVIII siècle. Peter Marshall a écrit: “L’anarchisme a ainsi relevé le double défi de renverser à la fois le capital et l’État”. William Godevin est souvent considéré comme “le père de l’anarchisme” en ayant articulé le désir de la fin de l’État, le philosophe allemand Max Stirner lui emboîta le pas, mais ce fut Pierre Joseph Proudhon qui depuis la France, fut le premier à se nommer un “anarchiste”. Proudhon développa un certain nombre d’idées anarchistes et de slogans qui ont toujours une très forte résonnance aujourd’hui, tel ce concept qui veut que “tout comme l’homme recherche la justice dans l’égalité, la société recherche l’ordre dans l’anarchie”, ainsi que ses slogans populaires : “L’anarchie c’est l’ordre” et “La propriété c’est le vol”.

Ensuite vint le révolutionnaire russe Michel Bakounine, le père du “socialisme libertaire” et l’homme qui devint l’opposant idéologique principal de Karl Marx. Un autre Russe, Pierre Kropotkine, fut un des philosophes les plus influents de l’anarchisme dans l’histoire, le developpant en une philosophie sociale plus systémique. Aux Etats-Unis, Benjamin Tucker fut parmi les premiers penseurs anarchistes, y ajoutant une dimension individualiste particulière. D’autres penseurs anarchistes importants incluent : Léon Tolstoï, qui y amena un élément religieux et Emma Goldman, qui développa la branche féministe de l’anarchisme. Tous ces penseurs ont collectivement façonné le développement de la pensée anarchiste au XIXème siècle et pavé la route pour son évolution au XXème siècle.

Devon DB : Quelle forme a d’abord pris l’anarchisme ? Comment l’État et la population y ont-ils réagi en premier lieu ?

Mr. Marshall: L’anarchisme a pri différentes formes selon les temps et les lieux. Dans l’histoire moderne, et ce manière indépendante de l’endroit, l’État a toujours réagi défensivement et souvent violemment. Comme l’un des tenants principaux de l’anarchisme est l’abolition de l’État, celui-ci a recherché à son tour (avec sans conteste plus de succès) l’abolition de l’anarchisme. Les anarchistes ont été diabolisés, infiltrés, espionnés, déportés, tués et ont eu des mouvements entiers complètement et violemment détruit. L’anarchisme a été plus représenté dans les mouvements ouvriers et immigrants et l’activisme au XIXème siècle et au début du XXème, fut particulièrement fort au sein des syndicats et des immigrants juifs d’Europe de l’Est. Des immigrants juifs pauvres, fuyant les pogroms russes de la fin du XIXème siècle importèrent avec eux une idéologie qui avait une profonde affinité avec le concept d’un peuple sans État, une philosophie qui reflétait une vison de solidarité mondiale sans État.. Beaucoup parmi les juifs qui s’échappèrent étaient des socialistes et des marxistes, et des radicaux de tout poil, mais la force prévalente était celle de l’anarchisme. Ces émigrants radicaux  aidèrent à divulguer les idées anarchistes en Europe de l’Ouest, à Londres, en France, en Espagne, aux Etats-Unis ainsi qu’à aider à créer un grand mouvement anarchiste en Argentine, bien plus grand que le mouvement communiste local.

Les émigrants juifs radicaux qui divulgaient les philosophies anarchistes produisirent généralement deux réaction de la part de leur nouveau pays de résidence : les pauvres et la classe laborieuse de ces pays accueillirent à bras ouverts ces radicaux, qui luttaient pour les droits de tous et qui étaient souvent en première ligne des mouvements pour la justice sociale, les droits du travail, les mouvements anti-guerre et le pouvoir du peuple ; d’un autre côté, l’État et les médias qui faisaient la critique et la promotion de l’idée de “dangereux étrangers” et qui souvent promouvaient des concepts antisémites afin de pousser cette idée. Ainsi, la réaction des populations en général, en tous cas des pauvres et des classes laborieuses, fut d’estomper l’antisémitisme et de promouvoir une solidarité à travers les différentes ethnies, alors que l’État et les pouvoirs établis eux, continuèrent à faire la promotion de l’antisémitisme, des lois anti-immigration et de développer une réponse policière au problème perçu. Ceci favorisa la coopération et la coordination des polices des différents états de l’europe de l’Ouest aux Etats-Unis en passant par l’Argentine.

Devon DB: Comment l’anarchisme a t’il évolué avec le temps et comment s’est-il propagé ?

Mr. Marshall: Comme mentionné précédemment, une grande partie de la diffusion des idées anarchistes fut facilitée par l’émigration de masse de juifs radicaux d’Europe de l’Est et de Russie à la fin du XIXème siècle et au début du XXème. L’histoire de l’anarchisme moderne est intrinsèquement liée à l’histoire juive moderne, à une histoire récente de l’antisémitisme et même à l’histoire du sionisme. Ceci a eu à la fois un effet positif et un effet négatif et  a promulgué deux stéréotypes majeur pour les juifs. D’un côté, cela a promu le stéréotype du juif émigrant radical, qui reçut un bon accueil au sein des population opprimées, mais aussi pas mal d’angoisse, de xénophobie, d’antisémitisme et de racisme parmi les classes dirigeantes. D’un autre côté, les juifs furent soumis au stéréotype du capitaliste rapace, souvent en faisant référence à la famille banquière Rothschild.

Bon nombre de ces stéréotypes existent toujours aujourd’hui, mais il leur manque leur contexte historique inhérent. Par exemple, les Rothschild de Londres furent très concernés par ces juifs immigrants qui arrivèrent en Angleterre et dans d’autres pays européens depuis l’Europe de l’Est. Ces juifs manifestaient dans les rues et organisaient des grèves à Londres et dans d’autres villes européennes, en cela menaçait les intérêts dans lesquels les Rothschilds avaient beaucoup investi. La première impulsion fut d’imposer des restrictions migratoires plus importantes, mais ceci serait perçu de la même manière que les expulsions d’Europe de l’Est, ainsi une nouvelle stratégie était nécessaire. Ce fut à cette époque que les Rothschild commencèrent à s’intéresser au sionisme Le sionisme lui-même a plusieurs courants de pensée et a évolué avec le temps. Il était à l’origine très radical et socaliste. Les idées de Tolstoï et de Kropotkine furent très influentes parmi les juifs émigrants en Palestine au début du XXème siècle, ceux-là même qui établirent le mouvement des kibboutzim, une communauté socialiste libertaire de Palestine, basée originellement sur l’agriculture, rejetant l’idée d’un état-nation juif et qui promulgait au contraire la solidarité arabo-juive.

Les Rotschilds avaient refusé pendant de nombreuses années de soutenir à la fois idéologiquement et financièrement, le mouvement sioniste et ce pour un bon nombre de raisons : les idées socialistes radicales développées par le mouvement étaient à l’opposé de la nature même du comment les Rothschild étaient devenus les Rothschilds et peut-être de manière plus importante, parce que les Rothschilds avaient peur que s’ils faisaient la promotion de l’idée d’une nation juive, ils seraient obligé de quitter l’Europe de l’Ouest et de s’installer dans cette nation. Comme les circonstances changèrent quoi qu’il en soit, les Rothschilds commencèrent à faire la promotion d’un sionisme à la vision non radicale, non socialiste et non anarchiste, mais très distinctement occidentale et capitaliste. Ceci devint une opportunité de pousser le radicalisme juif dans une idéologie plus contrôlable et au lieu de relocaliser les juifs radicaux, de soutenir une immigration dans un nouvel endroit (les Rotschild en furent les financiers principaux en pourvoyant personnellement les moyens de transport des juifs vers la Palestine).

Il y eut bien sûr d’autres représentations de l’anarchisme. En Russie, le mouvement anarchiste était très profond et avait une base de soutien très forte. Pendant la révolution russe, il y avait trois factions essentielles qui luttaient : Les “rouges” (communistes), les “blancs” (soutenus par l’occident comme étant des démocrates libéraux) et souvent oubliés de l’histoire : les anarchistes. A la fois les rouges et les blancs recherchèrent à attaquer et détruire les anarchistes pendant la révolution russe et la guerre civile. Trotsky lui-même mena les armées contre les factions anarchistes russes. Les blancs et les rouges se battaient pour le contrôle de l’état, tandis que les anarchistes eux, luttaient pour une société sans état. Ils furent ultimement détruit dans cette bataille.

La représentation la plus importante de l’anarchisme dans l’histoire moderne fut, et de loin, en Espagne. Comme Peter Marshall l’écrivit : “Jusqu’à aujourd’hui, l’Espagne est le seul pays de l’ère moderne où l’anarchisme peut être dit de manière crédible qu’il s’est développé en un mouvement social majeur et qui a sérieuse menacé l’existence mème de l’état.” L’Espagne était très propice à cette expérience dû à sa longue histoire datant du Moyen-Age, qui a vu les communes indépendantes avec leur propres lois locales. L’anarchisme en Espagne est devenu populaire au sein de la majorité paysanne pauvre du XIXème siècle, celle-ci incitant souvent à des insurrections locales contre le pouvoir. Avec le temps, la philosophie s’est répandue au sein de la communauté des mines et des communautés ouvrières de Barcelone et de Madrid. L’anarchisme devint populaire au sein des jeunes intellectuels radicaux et séduisirent également des gens comme Pablo Picasso. L’anarchisme espagnol était une lutte essentiellement contre l’église et l’état ; tout comme en France dans les années 1890, l’anarchisme espagnol a souvent eu une expression violente avec son lot d’attentats à la bombe et d’assassinats, ainsi qu’une réaction brutale du gouvernement sous la forme d’une répression sanglante.

Avec le temps, il devint clair que le terrorisme ne pouvait pas renverser l’état et au lieu de la violence, la propagande devint la tactique d’usage, celle de propager la philosophie au sein des paysans et des ouvriers. En 1907, au milieu de troubles sociaux industriels, les syndicats libertaires de Catalogne formèrent une organisation syndicaliste, Solidaridad Obrera (Solidarité Ouvrière) et appela à la grève générale en 1909. Des batailles de rue s’engagèrent au cours desquelles environ 200 ouvriers trouvèrent la mort ; suite à cela, les syndicats décidèrent de former une organisation plus grande, plus forte ; ainsi vit le jour la Confederacion Nacional del Trabajo (CNT), la Confédération Nationale du Travail, qui dès 1919 avait plus d’un million d’adhérents. Elle organisa entre 1917 et 1923 des grèves révolutionnaires à travers l’Espagne. En 1919, la CNT adopta les principes du “communismo libertario” ou communisme libertaire, comme son idéologie principale, unifiant beaucoup de syndicats et de travailleurs en opposition au socialisme autoritaire d’état.

La structure hautememt décentralisée de la CNT la rend plus imperméable à la répression, tout comme plusieurs groupes anarchistes durant la révolution russe et la guerre civile. A la fin des années 1920 et au début des années 1930, les modérés et les réformistes furent poussés hors de la CNT et la Federacion Anarquista Iberica (FAI), Fédération anarchiste Espagnole, plus radicale, pris plus d’importance. Les travaileurs et paysans anarchistes tentèrent de former des communes insurrectionnelles à travers le territoire espagnol au début des années 1930, ce qui mena souvent à une répression féroce de l’état. Plus de grèves et d’insurrections furent tentées, l’une d’entr’elles impliqua la grève de 70 000 mineurs en 1934, grève qui fut sévèrement réprimée (avec l’aide de troupes marocaines), des centaines perdirent la vie. Les deux années qui suivirent virent l’Espagne doucement glisser vers la guerre civile. En 1936, une vision pour une société nouvelle fut définie au congrès national de la CNT, qui représentait 500 000 ouvriers à cette époque, promouvant le communisme libertaire dans une société de communes, basée sur l’association libre syndicaliste, reliées entr’elles par des fédérations régionales et nationale, dénuées de hierarchie sociale.

L’individuel et le collectif étaient promus de la même manière, ainsi l’un ne pâtirait pas de l’autre, mais les deux se soutenaient l’un l’autre. La diversité était non seulement acceptée mais encouragée, avec la compréhension que les communes pourraient prendre différentes formes et représenter différentes façons de voir. L’éducation insisterait sur l’alphabétisme et la pensée de façon à ce que les gens puissent penser par eux-mêmes et il n’y avait plus de distinction entre le travail manuel et le travail intellectuel. Les cours de justice et les prisons étaient obsolètes. Ces résolutions, adoptées au congrès de 1936 ne furent pas un modèle mais au contraire “un point de départ pour l’humanité vers son émancipation intégrale”. Entre le temps du congrès et la fin de l’année, les membres de la CNT grossirent de 500 000 à 1,5 millions. Franco se rebella contre la république espagnole en Juillet 1936, mais ses forces furent rapidement désarmées par les milices populaires.

Franco parvint néanmoins à prendre le contrôle de la moitié du pays, bien que les anarcho-syndicalistes géraient Barcelone et toute la Catalogne était essentiellement une “république” indépendante. Ultimement, le concept de la révolution sociale fut peu à peu sacrifié afin de lutter contre Franco et ses factions fascistes. Les ouvriers et les paysans étaient toujours organisés afin de gérer leurs propres affaires et le communisme libertaire n’était pas seulement possible, il était devenu une réalité. Les anarchistes et d’autres groupes formèrent des milices pour combattre contre Franco. George Orwell, qui lutta en Espagne contre Franco (NdT: Avec le POUM, marxiste non stalinien), aida à rectifier les perceptions données à propos des anarchistes, expliquant les résultats incroyables de l’anarchisme espagnol.

En 1937, environ 3 millions de personnes vivaient dans des communes rurales collectives. Beaucoup de villages furent créés où l’argent fut aboli, la terre collectivisée, l’analphabétisme éliminé et où les assemblées populaires incluaient souvent les femmes et les enfants, responsables pour élire un comité administratif, qui rendait compte directement aux assemblées populaires. Il y avait aussi des communes “individualistes”, où des gens travaillaient leur lot de terre individuellement, tandis que Barcelone devenait le centre de la “collectivisation urbaine”. Les services publics et les industries étaient remarquablement autogérés dans une grande ville faite de diversité. Entre Juillet et Octobre 1936, “virtuellement toute la production et la distribution étaient sous contrôle ouvrier”. Mais la révolution sociale fut ternie par la lutte contre Franco, ainsi qu’avec la lutte grandissante avec d’autres factions  comme les communistes autoritaires d’état (NdT: marxistes, stalinistes ou non).

Quelques leaders anarchistes furent cooptés dans le gouvernement et la CNT devint inefficace de ce fait. Alors que les autres factions recevaient de l’aide étrangères, les communistes recevant de l’aide de l’URSS, Franco de Mussolini et Hitler et les autres factions des états libéraux occidentaux, la CNT pensa qu’elle devait s’incorporer avec l’état pour recevoir également une aide afin de pouvoir gagner la guerre. Ainsi, mi-1937, écrivit Peter Marshall : “La plus grande expérience anarchiste de l’histoire était virtuellement finie, elle dura près d’un an”. Les communistes avaient commencé à remplacer les anarchistes grâce à leur soutien de l’URSS, qui organisa également une police secrète et un règne de la terreur, le plus souvent contre les groupes anarchistes et éventuellement, le gouvernement lui-même écrasa la résistance anarchiste et imposa une censure sur la CNT.

Le conflit entre les anarchistes et les communistes fut sans doute la raison principale pour laquelle les républicains perdirent la guerre contre Franco, qui reconquît l’Espagne en 1939, établissant une dictature fasciste qui dura jusqu’en 1976 et qui causa le départ pour l’exil de plus d’un demi million d’Espagnols. Ainsi l’Espagne représente le meilleur et le pire résultat de l’anarchisme au XXème siècle.

Bien que le mouvement lui-même fut largement déraciné durant la guerre froide, les idées continuèrent à évoluer et de nouveaux mouvement émergèrent tel l’anarchisme écologique et mème l’anarcho-capitalisme (NdT: ce qui est nommé essentiellement en amérique du nord le mouvement “libertarien” à ne pas confondra avec libertaire, le mouvement “libertarien” est un mouvement ultralibéral sur un plan économique qui est certes contre l’état, mais ne voit de solution que dans le libre marché total, c’est un mouvement ultra capitaliste), qui devint une force derrière le mouvement américain libertarien.

Devon DB Quel rôle a joué l’anarchisme dans le mouvement ouvrier du XIXème siècle ? Comment fut reçu l’anarchisme dans le mouvement ouvrier de manière générale et par les peuples ?

Mr. Marshall: Au XIXème siècle aux Etats-Unis, les luttes sociales étaient un développement historique constant. Alors que l’anarchisme devint une idée et une philosophie, avec le marxisme et le socialisme, ces philosophies radicales devinrent de plus en plus associées avec les mouvements ouvriers, spécifiquement dans la formation et l’action des syndicats. Dans les années 1860, deux fédérations anarchistes se formèrent aux Etats-Unis, la New England Labor Reform League et l’American Labor Reform League, qui d’après William Reichert, “furent la source de la vitalité radicale en Amériqiue pour plusieurs décennies.” L’anarchiste américain le plus influent de son époque, Benjamin Tucker, traduisit les travaux de Proudhon en 1875 et commença ses propres publications anarchistes périodiques.

A partir des années 1880, beaucoup d’émigrants aux Etats-Unis, comme Emma Goldman, aidèrent à faciliter la popularité montante de l’anarchisme. Les idées anarchistes avaient une base dans le mouvement ouvrier révolutionnaire de Chicago dans la période des années 1870, 1880, avec spécifiquement l’affaire de Haymarket en 1886, qui fut connecté avec la lutte pour les huit heures de travail quotidien. Dans le pays, le 1er Mai 1886, environ un demi milion d’ouvriers manifestèrent pour soutenir cette idée ; le cas le plus extrème ayant eu lieu à Chicago où eurent lieu les grèves et les plus grosses manifestations. Trois jours plus tard le 4 Mai, une bombe fut lancée dans une manifestation qui eut lieu sur la place Haymarket à Chicago, tuant plusieurs policiers et menant à la mort par et à de nombreux blessés parmi les ouvriers manifestant, sous le feu des forces de police.

L’attentat, bien que son origine demeure un mystère, mena à une croisade de l’élite en place à Chicago contre les mouvements révolutionnaires ouvriers. Plus de 200 membres de l’International Working People’s Association (IWPA) arrêtés et plusieurs jugés avec le procureur déclarant : “c’est le procès de l’anarchie”. Après l’affaire du Haymarket, les organisations ouvrières et les syndicats devinrent de plus en plus radicaux, beaucoup d’entr’eux adoptant des principes distinctement anarchistes dans leur organisation et leur idéologie, en retour, la répression de l’état devint plus prononcée et violente. La raison pour laquelle les syndicats radicaux n’ont pas survécu la décennie qui suivit n’est pas dûe à quelque esprit américain “d’individualisme forcené” comme l’affirme la mythologie nationale, mais cela fut dû à la violence constante de la répression de l’état. Suite à cela, le 1er Mai a été célébré dans le monde entier comme la fête du travail et comme le jour international des travailleurs, sauf aux Etats-Unis et au Canada de manière ironique.

Ce mouvement radical qui émergea de Chicago à cette époque fut souvent référé comme étant un mélange de marxisme et d’anarchisme, comme étant “anarcho-syndicaliste”, “socialiste révolutionnaire” ou même “communiste-anarchiste”. Il eut un impact profond sur les luttes ouvrières dans la période qui s’ensuivit, à la fois sur l’organisation et les grèves, mais aussi sur l’organisation des syndicats et leur idéologie. Quoi qu’il en soit, au cours du XXème siècle, les syndicats ont été progressivement écrasés, cooptés, infiltrés, démembrés, ainsi, au lieu d’avoir des fédérations internationales unifiées, ils devinrent spécifiques à une industrie voire même à une entreprise, ils devinrent réformistes et non plus révolutionnaires et ils devintent même corporatistes, dans la mesure où ils essayèrent de travailler avec les grosses entreprises et le gouvernement au lieu  de lutter contre eux.

Ceci est le plus emblématique aujourd’hui dans l’organisation et l’idéologie de la plus grande fédération syndicale des Etats-Unis : l’AFL-CIO, dont les chefs sont membres de la… commission trilatérale et parlent régulièrement au CFR et son impliqués dans la politique impérialiste étrangère de l’Amérique, soutenant les Etats-Unis dans leur soudoyage financier en règle des nations pauvres afin d’organiser les travailleurs selon la ligne de conduite corporatiste, les écartant en cela de la ligne radicale et révolutionnaire tant dans leur organisation que leur idéologie.

Devon DB: Comment la philosophie anarchiste a t’elle été déformée avec le temps ?

Mr. Marshall:  Ceci est une question très importante. L’anarchisme est souvent considéré comme synonyme de violence et chaos, alors qu’en réalité, il a bien plus à faire avec l’ordre et le pacifisme. L’anarchisme a été très facile à décrier à cause de sa nature diverse. Il n’a pas eu de structure rigide de pensée et d’action, Oui, il y a eu des anarchistes violents, de l’agitation violente, du terrorisme, des assassinats et ceci a jeté pas mal de discrédit sur un monde incroyablement divers dans son mode de pensée philosophique, mais il y a bien plus aux idées et actions des anarchistes. L’histoire de l’anarchisme est souvent écrite en dehors des histoires officielles, comme par exemple durant les révolutions russe ou espagnole, tout comme en Argentine et la diffusion par les émigrants juifs. Même aujourd’hui, beaucoup de gens dans les médias “alternatifs” diabolisent les anarchistes.

Les groupes anarchistes étaient parmi les premiers cas documentés d’infiltration policière à Londres vers la fin du XIXème siècle. L’infiltration des groupes anarchistes continue le plus souvent à être effectuée, ou plus communément, des infiltrés dans les manifestations simplement paraissent être des “anarchistes”, qui sont souvent associés avec le Black Bloc, tout de noir vêtus, visages dissimulés derrière des balaclavas ou des bandanas. Beaucoup dans la presse alternative blâme la police et ses infiltrés pour la violence dans les manifestations, ce qui est une mauvaise représentation des faits, ils font également le portrait des anarchistes comme ceux du black bloc, comme n’étant constitués que d’infiltrés de la police, ce qui est également une mauvaise représentation des faits. A leur tour, l’état et les médias dressent un portrait de ces mêmes groupes anarchistes comme étant des voyous violents et des criminels, justifiant ainsi la répression d’état contre les manifestants.

Maintenant, bien que des infiltrations de ces groupes aient été documentées, nous ne pouvons pas pour autant en conclure que tout le groupe et tous ses membres sont des infiltrés. Ceci est particulièrement vrai pour les organisations anarchistes, qui rejettent toute organisation hiérarchique et sont de ce fait plus difficile à retourner et coopter et contrôler avec des moyens traditionnels. Alors qu’il se peut qu’il y ait des infiltrés, ceci ne veut pas dire que des groupes entiers sont menés par ces individus de plus ces groupes sont le plus souvent si peu hiérachisés qu’ils n’ont pas une organisation traditionnelle comme nous l’entendons de manière typique. Quoi qu’il en soit, ces groupes sont sujets à la propagande de tous les côtés et ceci a grandement participé à la diabolisation de l’anarchisme comme mouvement.

A Montréal par exemple, les anarchistes ont souvent été blâmés pour la plupart de la violence ou du vandalisme, alors qu’en fait c’est la police (en uniforme officiel), qui a été la plus violente et destructrice contre le mouvement étudiant bourgeonnant qui a commencé en Février de cette année. Si vous regardez la violence “anarchiste”, elle consiste essentiellement en des actes de vandalisme sur des banques, tels que casser des vitres, ou lancer des pierres à la police. D’autres parmi les manifestants ont aussi participé à ces actions, qui sont le plus souvent des réactions contre la brutalité policière qui a bien eu lieu. En lisant des déclarations d’étudiants manifestants qui étaient présents à la manifestation du 4 Mai à Victoriaville au Québec, où plusieurs étudiants ont été atteints au visage par des balles en caoutchouc tirées par la police et furent presque tués, nous pouvons voir un autre côté du Black Bloc. Des étudiants ont décrit avoir été gazés puis être tombés au sol alors que la police anti-émeute approchait. Ce furent ensuite des membres du Black Bloc (ou du moins identifiés comme faisant apparamment partie du mouvement, puisqu’il n’y a pas de liste des membres), leurs visages protégés par des lunettes spéciales qui assistèrent les étudiants tombés, les sortirent de l’endroit, ont soignés leurs yeux, ont renvoyés les containers de gaz vers les forces de police et emmenés les étudiants blessés vers des infirmiers. Dans beaucoup de manifestations, et devant les violences policières il apparaît que ce sont ces individus qui sont en première ligne ; et bien que leurs actions particulières ne peuvent pas être tolérées, force est de constater qu’elles représentent une colère qui monte à travers de larges segments de la population étudiante. Ainsi en termes de la diabolisation des anarchistes ou d’actions très spécifiques violentes des anarchistes, il y a une différence entre tolérer les actes et condamner la colère.

Simplement parce que l’acte lui-même n’est peut-être pas utile en termes de gagner un soutien populaire pour une cause, ou parce que cela “justifie” la répression policière en retour, cela ne veut pas dire, comme beaucoup dans la presse alternative le disent, que les anarchistes “travaillent pour l’état”, sont des agents provocateurs ou des  infiltrés. Bien que cela soit parfois le cas, c’est faire fausse-route que de dire que cela est systématiquement le cas et cela implique des situations, des circonstances et des réactions par ailleurs compliquées. Quand un fourgon de police roula dans un groupe d’étudiants à Victoraiville le 4 Mai, ce fut un petit groupe de manifesants usuels qui prirent des cailloux pour caillasser le fourgon.

La très grande majorité des étudiants fut pacifique devant la violence policière et la répression, mais le fait que certains vont réagir violemment n’est pas une raison pour renier, mais un point important à comprendre : cela nous informe que la situation est bien plus extrême, que la réaction est plus intense, que les circonstances sont plus difficiles. De la même façon que lorsque vous coincer un animal, il devient à la fois le plus vulnérable et le plus méchant ; nous voyons ceci émerger dans bien des mouvements de manifestations et parmi des manifestants à travers le monde. Le fait de simplement blâmer les “anarchistes” fait peu pour aténuer la violence et les troubles et fait égalememt beaucoup de tort à la bonne compréhension de ces situations et de la meilleure façon de les résoudre. De manière ironique, alors que les anarchistes de Montréal ont été accusés de la plupart des violences dans les manifestations qui se sont tenues ici ces 15 dernières semaines, l’évènement le plus organisé qui fut et le plus ouvertement admis anarchiste fut une foire aux livres.

L’anarchisme est toujours un but intellectuel et à cause de son refus de devenir une idéologie rigide, parce qu’il accepte la diversité, il y aura toujours des éléments plus radicaux et des tactiques plus violentes, mais au bout du compte, c’est une philosophie, construite autour du concept de solidarité et de coopération, de l’association libre, de la liberté et de la paix. L’argument le plus commun contre l’anarchisme pour ceux qui ne savent pas réellement ce qu’il est, est de dire que sans une forme “d’autorité”, le monde serait chaotique, les gens s’entretueraient et nous aurions le désordre et la destruction.

La réponse la plus simple à ceci est de demander à la personne ce que nous avons dans le monde aujourd’hui: nous vivons dans un monde d’extrême autorité, de plus d’autorité globale dans tout secteur d’action et d’interaction humaines que nous n’avons jamais eu dans l’histoire de l’humanité, et pourtant le monde vit dans le chaos, le désordre, la destruction, la guerre, la famine, la décimation, la division, la ségrégation, l’exploitation et la domination. Ce n’est pas un manque d’ordre et d’autorité qui a amené tout cela, mais plutôt l’exercice de l’autorité au nom de l’ordre. Les gens regardent l’anarchie comme un paradoxe sans même voir et reconnaître le paradoxe de l’idéologie envers la réalité du monde dans lequel nous vivons aujourd’hui. Ceci a été le plus grand succès à déformer la philosophie de l’anarchisme.

Devon DB: Comment l’anarchisme a t’il été utilisé dans d’autres endroits du monde comme moyen de résistance ?

Mr. Marshall: Historiquement, l’anarchisme est arrivé à Londres, en France, en Espagne, en Italie et aux Etats-Unis, et spécifiquement en Argentine et en Amérique latine, de façon exemplaire. Alors qu’il fut largement détruit en tant que mouvement puissant à la fin de deux guerres mondiales, Il a ré-émergé avec la montée de la nouvelle gauche des années 1960. La nouvelle gauche fut instrumentale dans l’agitation politique et les mouvements de protestation en Europe et aux Etats-unis à la fin des années 1960 et au début des années 1970. Elle aida à revigorer une idéologie anti-capitaliste, une pensée et dans certains cas, accoucha elle-même d’une idéologie anarcho-capitaliste. A;lors que le mouvement environnementaliste émergeait, ainsi émergeait également une branche anarchisme environnementaliste. Ainsi, quelques nouveaux mouvements et une agitation sociale émergèrent puis éruptèrent, de nouveaux modèles et de nouvelles idées sur l’anarchisme commencèrent à s’adapter et à évoluer selon les circonstances changeantes, tout comme cela s’était déjà produit au fil de l’histoire humaine.

Devon DB: Quelle est votre opinion sur l’anarchisme moderne, spécifiquement sur les anarchistes qui font partie du mouvement Occupy ?

Mr. Marshall: Les anarchistes modernes sont tout simplement trop divers pour les englober dans une seule opinion. Cela revient toujours au même point, la reconnaissance de la diversité et former une opinion sur les différents groupes et différentes tactiques. Comme je l’ai dit plus tôt, je ne tolérerais peut-être pas les actes, mais je ne pourrais pas condamner la colère. Il y a eu un temps ou moi aussi j’aurai décrit toute violence comme destructrice et sans fondement et aurai probablement pointé ceux qui la commettent comme des infiltrés ou des agents provocateurs. Mais après avoir été témoin et avoir été pris dans le feu de l’action d’une rebellion étudiante en éruption dans la province canadienne du Québec ces 15 dernières semaines, après avoir été le témoin de la campagne de propagande contre les étudiants et la répression violente étatique quotidienne, cela ne me surprends pas de voir des gens se résoudre à des actes de violence dans leur résistance. Cela n’aide pas le mouvement étudiant, alors que cela le diabolise et le coupe du soutien populaire. Mais ce que j’ai appris à comprendre, est que cela n’est qu’un symptôme d’une colère bien plus grande et qui monte, d’une frustration et d’un mécontentement.

La violence et la terreur sont des actions de désespérés, donc au lieu de diaboliser les actes eux-mêmes, nous devons comprendre le désespoir. Car si nous voulons des manifestations non-violentes, pacifiques, nous devons comprendre l’origine des réactons violentes. Les groupes anarchistes et les idées ré-émergent dans le monde à un degré de vitesse et d’importance qui était peut-être impensable. Nous voyons des anarchistes dans les mouvements de protestations en Grande-Bretagne, en Espagne, en Grèce, au Québec, aux Etats-Unis, dans le mouvement Occupy, en Islande, en Italie. Les tactiques et les spécifiques de mouvement variant d’un endroit à l’autre et de personne à personne bien sûr. Par exemple en Italie, il y a eu un cas récent d’un groupe anarchiste qui a pris la responsabilité d’estropier un dirigeant d’entreprise nucléaire italienne et a menacé de plus de flingages. Je pense que l’on peut s’attendre à une sorte de parallèle avec ce qu’il s’est passé dans les années 1880 dans bien des endroits du monde, où on a vu des actes de violence ou de terreur attribuées à des factions anarchistes et alors que ces tactiques sont présentées comme étant contre-productives et problématiques, il y aura peut-être une tendance à renoncer à toute forme de violence et à se concentrer sur l’éducatif et la “propagande”, ce qui est du reste ce que fait déjà la vaste majorité des anarchistes.

Par contraste, alors qu’il se pourrait qu’un groupe anarchiste ait blessé un industriel italien, par ailleurs, un intellectuel anarchiste, Noam Chomsky, a parlé éloquemment et de manière douce pendant des décennies, écrivant, lisant et en agitant non pas avec ses poings mais avec des mots. Au bout du compte, Chomsky a fait bien plus pour faire avancer des idées anarchistes ou l’anarchisme que n’importe quel acte de violence ne l’aurait pu. Ceci est la direction qui doit être prise au sein de l’organisation anarchiste. Si vous regardez le mouvement Occupy par lui-même il y a un grand nombre de structures anarchistes en son sein : pas de hiérarchie, les assemblées générales, les librairies publiques etc… Les librairies sont un cas fascinant, spécifiquement en ces temps d’austérité économique où les librairies ont une tendance à voir leurs fonds de soutien de l’état fondre comme neige au soleil.

Ce que les groupes du mouvement Occupy ont montré est que si l’état supprime les librairies, les gens peuvent tout simplement organiser les leurs. En Grèce, l’état a demandé qu’un hôpital ferme à cause de la coupure de budget. Les travaileurs de cet hôpital l’ont occupé et ont commencé à le faire tourner en autogestion. Il y a aussi certains rapports faisant état qu’en Grèce, quelques communautés sont en train de développer leur propre système d’échange et de commerce. Dans le monde, nous voyons de plus en plus d’ouvriers occuper les usines et s’occuper de les gérer collectivement, démontrant par là même l’inutilité de managers professonnels ou de patrons (qui prennent tout le profit) ainsi que la capacité extraordinaire des travailleurs à être à la fois des producteurs et des preneurs de décisions. Ces cas ne sont pas rapportés ou discutés souvent simplement parce qu’ils représentent le problème d’une trop bonne idée et d’autres personnes pourraient en prendre de la graine. En ce sens, nous ne devons pas stigmatiser les actions violentes du petit nombre, mais au lieu de cela, si nous examinons et comprenons l’anarchisme dans sa vaste diversité de philosophie et de tactiques qu’il représente vraiment, alors nous sommes capables de voir l’énorme degré d’espoir et de progrès que ce mouvement réserve pour le futur.

Là où l’État, les entreprises et les banques travaillent contre les peuples (ce qui est partout sur cette planète), là où ils ferment les usines, repossèdent les maisons, coupent les budgets de l’éducation et de sécurité sociale, demandent des coûts supplémentaires à faire payer aux gens tout en diminuant les impôts des riches, il y a toujours des réponses et des possibilités anarchistes. En ce qui concerne là où je vis au Québec, où un mouvement énorme d’étudiants s’est déclanché après une augmentation de 75% des frais  de scolarité, nous souffrons sous le joug d’un vieux paradigme éducatif, politique, social et économique qui bénéficie le plus petit nombre aux dépends de la vaste majorité. Alors que la première réaction est de défendre le système éducatif qui existe déjà, la solution sur le long terme est de complètement refonder et réorienter notre conception et l’organisation de l’éducation elle-même. Par exemple, lorsque le système universitaire débuta au Moyen-Age, il y avait deux modèles initiaux d’éducation universitaire: le modèle de Paris et le modèle de Bologne.

A Paris, l’école était gérée par des administrations et des élites culturelles régionales. Au fil du temps, alors que l’état-nation et le capitalisme se développaient, ceux-ci devinrent les patrons et administrateurs des universités. A Bologne en Italie, l’école était gérée par les étudiants et son personnel. Pour des raisons évidentes, le modèle de Paris gagna, mais devant la crise actuelle sociale, économique et politique, il serait grand temps pour que le modèle de Bologne gagne sa bataille historique de résurrection. La notion que les élèves et le personnel gèrent et dirigent eux-même l’école est distinctivement anarchiste, de la même manière que les ouvriers autogèrent leur usine. Comme Proudhon le déclara : “L’anarchie c’est l’ordre” et dans un monde où règne tant de chaos, de destruction et d’autorité, il est peut-être temps d’y mettre un peu d’anarchie et d’ordre.