CANADA: 'A strategy that can win'


The first issue of RESIST!, "North America's only independent Marxist-feminist magazine", was released on June 15. The Canadian magazine is the work of the Resistance Collective, which is seeking to build a new, revitalised socialist organisation in the country. Following is the editorial of RESIST!'s first issue, slightly abridged.

The worldwide movement against capitalist globalisation continues to grow. The indigenous Zapatistas in Chiapas were among the first to take action, in a 1994 uprising timed to coincide with Mexico's entry into the North American Free Trade Agreement. The next year, French workers and students followed their lead, launching a massive wave of strikes and protests, described by the French press as "the world's first strike against globalisation".

The latest wave of struggle began with a bang, in the "Battle in Seattle" at the end of 1999, when thousands and thousands of women, workers and students took action on a massive scale to protest the meetings of globalisation's flagship, the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The big success in Seattle was followed by another mass protest in Washington, D.C., on April 16-17, during a joint meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and most recently by yet another demonstration of thousands of people in Windsor [Ontario], directed against the Free Trade Area of the Americas talks being held there under the auspices of the Organization of American States.

But fighting back is one thing; winning the fight is something else. The next step for our movement is to develop a strategy that can win.

Individual demonstrations, no matter how large, no matter how confrontational, will not be enough to turn the tide against capitalist globalisation. There are too many millionaires with too much power, who have too much to gain from the misery and super-exploitation of women, workers and the natural world. These forces — the enemies of our movement — will not give up their course unless they are compelled to do so by the relentless pressure of a sustained and militant mass movement.

So confident and audacious are the rich and powerful men who run the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF that for years they had not even offered the "carrot" of compromise and symbolic half-measures calculated to appease many of the leading forces in our movement. As protests put them on the defensive, however, this is beginning to change.

The WTO, World Bank and IMF have already begun their counter-offensive. They are attempting to co-opt critics with promises of reform and offers of a "seat at the table."

This move on their side calls for a response from our side. But how will our movement respond? Here's where the differences come up.

The AFL-CIO, the main labour movement federation in the US, has insisted that all "labour" wants is a "place at the table" (in the words of Teamsters President James Hoffa, Jr). "In the short term we [at the AFL-CIO head office] hope to force the WTO to acknowledge that its actions have a bearing on labour standards and begin a conversation that will one day lead to a change in the rules [of international trade]", says AFL-CIO spokesperson Thea Lee.

Is that an adequate response? Or is it instead a complete and unqualified capitulation in the face of a fundamentally uncompromising enemy?! We believe it is the latter.

Fortunately, others agree. While attempts at coopting critics may be accelerating, it was the more radical attitude — calling not for the reform, but for the abolition of the WTO/IMF/World Bank — that has attracted the militant, and mainly young demonstrators in Seattle, Washington and Windsor, who have embraced slogans like "capitalism no thanks, we'll burn your fucking banks".

But a slogan is no substitute for a strategy. And it is a strategy — a winning strategy — that our movement urgently needs.

This publication — the first issue of RESIST!, North America's only independent Marxist-feminist magazine — devotes 11 pages to the sort of analysis and dialogue among activists that such a strategy should be based on. Obviously no magazine could hope to single-handedly generate an adequate strategy for a mass movement that is only in its initial stages. We have no delusions of grandeur.

Yet there are ideas in which we have great confidence, ideas that have led us to found this magazine as a conscious contribution to the movement against globalisation — which is necessarily a movement against sexism and environmental destruction, against racism and heterosexism and, make no mistake, a struggle which must inevitably develop into a movement against capitalism itself.

The recent "battles" in Seattle, Washington, Windsor and elsewhere have only reinforced our confidence in these ideas. Among them is our conviction that, if there is a winning strategy to be had, it will have to incorporate at least the following three elements:

1: Solidarity. Our movement is a movement against capitalist globalisation. But that means it is also a movement against environmental racism, sweatshops, rainforest clear-cutting, the erosion of trade union rights, and so on. The greatest strength of our movement has been its capacity to focus these diverse concerns around the common theme of resisting globalisation, and the neo-liberal agenda that drives it.

In the course of common struggle, organisations and movements that have often been falsely counterposed, such as the labour movement and the environmental movement, have begun to understand the full meaning of the old slogan of socialist workers, "An injury to one is an injury to all". It is this spirit of solidarity built through shared struggles that we need to build on if our movement is to grow.

2: Mass action. Our movement must be consciously built as a mass movement, where tens and hundreds of thousands of people participate in changing the world, and changing themselves in the process, learning about their capacity to transform society through the power of their own united action.

3: Militancy. One thing that makes the big demonstrations of this movement different from other big demonstrations over the past twenty years is their militancy — our uncompromising insistence on "shutting down" institutions whose sole function is to remove all barriers to the exploitation of human beings and "natural resources".

A winning strategy will be one that draws in a broad, diverse range of people, and inspires them to take militant action in the streets — through strikes, sit-ins, occupations, and loud, vibrant, empowering mass mobilisations. We are already hearing voices that speak against these ideas, not only from our opponents in the corporate media, but even from within our own movement.

RESIST! will be an unequivocal voice that speaks in favour of them — a magazine for solidarity, militancy and mass action.

[You can check out RESIST! at <> and contact the Resistance Collective at <>.]

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