[sixties-l] Internet links anti-globalists

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Sat Apr 07 2001 - 14:32:00 EDT

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    Wednesday 28 March 2001

    Internet links anti-globalists

    Web sites, E-mail, chat rooms, news groups all abuzz with summit plans

    The Montreal Gazette

    In the 1960s, it was the music of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez
    that empowered the protesters who fought for civil rights,
    the banning of nuclear weapons and an end to the Vietnam

    Today, it's the Internet that powers the anti-globalization
    activists who descend on international summits to fight
    against what they see as corporate influence and the
    sacrifice of human rights for the sake of trade.

    For protesters preparing for the Summit of the Americas in
    Quebec City next month, the Internet - from Web sites to
    E-mail, to chat rooms, to news groups - is abuzz with plans
    for organizing and mobilizing hundreds of groups from dozens
    of countries.

    "It makes certain things possible that could never happen
    otherwise, mainly the co-ordination of information and ideas
    over long distances," said David Graeber of the New York
    City chapter of the protest group Ya Basta!.

    Many participant groups have posted long polemics outlining
    their reasons for opposing the Free Trade Area of the
    Americas, which is to be negotiated April 20-22 in Quebec by
    the leaders of 34 countries.

    Local groups are using the Web to co-ordinate activities
    with protesters coming from Latin America, the United States
    and Europe.

    One Quebec City group, Operation Quebec Printemps 2001, is
    taking requests for lodging via E-mail. "We have 10,000
    requests for housing," OQP2001 member Shawn Stensil said. "I
    had one call from Thunder Bay (Ont.) and another from South

    Public Citizen, a group founded by consumer activist Ralph
    Nader, has everything from what to expect from police to
    tips for driving in Quebec.

    "Turning right on a red light is illegal in the province of
    Quebec (except in a few trial cities,)" a link on Public
    Citizen's site advises. "Drivers are as bad as in Boston.
    ... In Quebec City, they have a specialty for ignoring
    pedestrian crossings."

    While the Internet is an essential organizational tool and
    useful for sharing ideas, anti-globalization activists say
    it has its limitations.

    "In a certain way the whole spirit of the movement is
    against what the Internet stands for," said Graeber of Ya

    He calls it a terrible medium for debate and decision-making
    because the leaderless groups that make up the
    anti-globalist movement tend to operate by consensus - a
    task that requires compromise and understanding.

    "The Internet tends to bring out macho posturing ... and
    create a contentious and competitive atmosphere," Graeber
    said. "Debate is still done face to face, mostly over beer."

    Philippe Duhamel, a member of the Montreal-based group
    SalAMI, said access to the Internet is an issue for those in
    the international movement.

    "Those who are plugged in tend to be middle-aged white men,"
    Duhamel said. "More than 50 per cent of the world population
    has never touched a phone."

    Still, outside observers see the Internet and anti-globalist
    forces as inextricably linked.

    "Like the Internet itself, the anti-globalist movement is a
    body that manages to survive and even thrive without a
    head," states a confidential Canadian Security Intelligence
    Service brief about the outlook for protests to be held in
    Canada. "The agile use of the Internet allows co-ordinated
    actions with minimal resources and bureaucracy."

    The documents also say CSIS needs to be on the alert for
    anarchist groups that might be hatching plans for
    politically motivated violence.

    "Encryption by some groups suggests that some of the
    activities planned could be illegal," a declassified
    document said.

    And, CSIS points out, the Internet itself has been used for
    protest: anti-globalization "hacktivists" launched attacks
    against corporations in conjunction with protests at the G8
    summit in Cologne, Germany, in 1999.

    One expert believes the Internet has been a major catalyst
    in the evolution of the present-day protest movement - which
    like the Web itself is international in character, global in
    outlook and immense in scale.

    "It can't be underestimated. It's absolutely huge," said Ron
    Deibert, a professor of political science at the University
    of Toronto. "It has boosted the organizational and
    intellectual capacity of civil society around the world."

    Deibert has traced the roots of the use of the Internet by
    the anti-globalist movement to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio
    de Janeiro.

    Though the technology was rudimentary, civil society groups
    used the Internet to draft an Earth Charter.

    The next landmark, he said, was the movement against the
    Multilateral Agreement on Investment, or MAI.

    Deibert said he was struck by the Internet's mobilization
    power when he learned that a motion adopted against the MAI
    by Mississauga, Ont., city council and one passed in
    Berkeley, Calif., were identical - both taken from a sample
    motion posted on the Web site of Public Citizen.

    "(The Internet) is fueling this revolution," Deibert said.

    "In the past, world politics was a game of states and
    citizens were spectators. It's very simple when you're
    only dealing with states, but what happens when you open the
    doors to other groups? How you include them and who gets to
    decide? That's the question of the 21st century."
    Some Web sites:

    - Public Citizen: http://www.citizen.org
    - OQP2001: http://www.oqp2001.org
    - SalAMI:

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