Inspiring memories of M1

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M1: People Resist Corporate Globalisation
Actively Radical TV, Sydney
$30 individuals, $60 organisations
Send cheque to 73-75 Princes Highway, St Peters, NSW, 2044
Phone (02) 9565 5522

REVIEW BY LAUREN CARROLL HARRIS

Everyone who took part in this year's May 1 blockades of the stock exchanges remembers feeling: the buzz, the excitement, the unity between protesters, the exhaustion, the euphoria of knowing that what we achieved can never be taken away.

M1: People Resist Corporate Globalisation, produced by independent film-makers Jill Hickson and John Reynolds from Actively Radical TV, captures all the emotion of M1 and documents what happened. The video also explores the ins and outs of the international movement against corporate greed.

On May 1, we went on the offensive, carrying out eight actions simultaneously in different cities, involving more than 20,000 people. We showed the world what democracy looks like.

If you missed out on going to M1 in your city, then M1: People Resist Corporate Globalisation will give you the most honest account of what happened, and why the anti-corporate movement is so important.

The film opens with footage of a woman singing karaoke-style in the middle of the street at Melbourne M1, a reminder of the diversity of the action. M1 brought together greenies, socialists, refugees, unionists, high school students, anarchists and feminists, to name a few — all united to shut down the stock exchange.

Then comes a cascade of images of marches, blockades, chanting, drumming, burning effigies, singing, megaphones, banners, graffiti and flags.

The M1 film certainly brought back memories, and provided an inspiring insight into what is possible when we all unite in mass action.

The film depicts the Sydney Stock Exchange on Bridge Street early on the morning of M1. Hundreds of activists had already massed outside the entrance, not deterred by the cold, rainy weather. It was this determined spirit that stuck in my mind for the remainder of the day. Contingents from Sydney's western suburbs, Wollongong and the University of New South Wales were greeted with chants and cheers.

Another highlight of the film are the shots of the blockade points in both Melbourne and Sydney. This footage sparked memories of the solidarity between blockaders: each blockade was a mini-democracy, a symbol of the future society we were all fighting for. Blockaders passed around snacks and drinks, spruiked on the megaphone about a variety of different issues, chanted, clapped their hands and voted on what actions to take next.

Luckily, it is these kinds of images that feature more heavily in the film than the images of police violence and brutality. The film shows dozens of police horses and row upon row of cops in blue uniform making countless attempts to break up the various blockades. In response, protesters chant "We are peaceful, why aren't you?". After reliving M1 through this film, I thought of the endless discussions in the M1 Sydney organising collective around our tactics and strategy regarding the police.

In the days following M1, the bourgeois media ranted about the "angry mob of protesters" that swept the city streets and who "incited violence", "hooliganism" and "obstructed democracy".

My recollection of M1 is completely different.

I remember thousands of people uniting to put an end to neo-liberal globalisation, to cancel Third World debt and to shut down the symbol of global capitalism: the stock exchange. M1: People Resist Corporate Globalisation remains true to this.

The first part of the film draws to a close with footage from the inspirational march that toured corporate Sydney. A few weeks before, the M1 organising collective discussed the probability of mobilising 2000 people for the demonstration. More than 5000 people participated in the march.

The "unity march" showcased the diversity of the action. It was loud and militant, stretching five city blocks! Chants echoed off the grey office blocks, and bright red banners and flags splashed the city with colour. Finally the anti-corporate movement had come from Seattle, Washington, Davos and Prague to the streets of Sydney.

Part 2 of the film explores the question "Where to next for the anti-corporate movement?". It features interviews with Michelle O'Neal, Victorian secretary of the Textiles, Clothing, Footwear Union, Alison Stewart from International Socialist Organisation, and Zanny Begg from the Democratic Socialist Party.

Craig Johnston, secretary of the Victoria metalworkers union declares: "It's not my union's official policy, but my view is there is no other solution but socialism. If socialism came about, we wouldn't have all these problems."

The power of this film lies in its contrast between it and the corporate media's representation of the M1 demonstrations. It gives the protesters a voice.

M1: People Resist Corporate Globalisation is the perfect anti-corporate activist's tool, as it assesses the current situation of the movement against corporate globalisation, and looks forward to future demonstrations like CHOGM in Brisbane in October.

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