>The Christian Science Monitor >September 28, 2000, Thursday > >Looking for substance behind the protest >by Laurent Belsie >ASPEN, COLO. > >After nearly a year of protests, the signs and chants are familiar: >"Dump the Debt." "Worker Rights, Not Corporate Rights." "World Bank, >what are you for? You feed the rich and starve the poor." > >Never mind that this isn't Seattle, Philadelphia, or San Francisco. >The police here sport bicycles, not riot gear, and the biggest >business around these parts is tourism. Nevertheless, at the gravel >entrance to the Aspen Institute, a nonprofit ideas forum, some 75 men >and women have come to protest a conference on globalization. > >Not since the Vietnam era has an issue so galvanized people. Old-line >hippies rub elbows with Gen-Xers. Women nearly outnumber the men. And >the movement is gaining momentum. > >If protesters can organize an alternative conference and a credible >street protest in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, they can make >their presence felt in any major American city. Just like the antiwar >movement - except it's different. > >"In the '60s, you still had a hierarchical structure," says Stan >Wilson, a Vietnam era protester who saw the war end before he got >drafted. "It was very male dominated. The women of the '60s never got >the ink that the men did." > >"Now the movement is more honest," he adds. "It's really a leaderless >revolution." > >He is seated with some 30 other anarchists (the more extreme part of >the protest movement) in an apartment rented for the weekend. Over a >lunch of vegetarian soup from Styrofoam trays, the group gets down to >business. One woman serves as facilitator, handling the "stack" (the >order of people who want to speak). The mood is upbeat because the >Aspen Institute allowed the group to send four representatives to ask >questions of the conferees. > >"We have learned a lot from the '60s," explains Mark Cohen after the >meeting. But "in a lot of ways, people are more sophisticated today. >Sixties people were still trying to work through the Democratic >Party." > >The protest movement has its own internal divisions. Some want to >reform the capitalist system; others, including these anarchists, want >to replace it. But even these anarchists don't oppose globalization; >they merely want to guide it in a new direction. > >And because of that, they have made a big impact on the elite whom >they criticize. > >"When thousands of young Americans and people around the world gather >in the streets, it's an enormous mistake to dismiss them as a group of >overindulgent, dissatisfied technological Luddites who ought to be >disregarded," Bruce Babbitt, US Secretary of the Interior and a >civil-rights activist in his own day, warned conferees. "That cry is a >voice of skepticism about the hubris of modern technology, about >science, and other forms of globalization."
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