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    What About the Anarchists?

         Much of the mainstream media's focus during the demonstrations and immediately afterwards has been on the anarchist groups present in Seattle who attacked downtown Seattle trashing the windows of banks and other corporate buildings. This media focus has caused many other folks in this movement to focus on the actions of these people as well. While I understand the concern of other organizers, I do not believe it is a major one. The reality of any type of massive nonviolent direct action is that every individual and group interprets direct action in their own way. The folks involved in the trashing did not harm anyone, nor did they hijack the demonstration. According to a variety of sources (including my viewing of a live feed the morning of November 30th and even the New York Times, who is not on the side of the anti-WTO folks), the first attack by the police was way before these folks showed up and was against nonviolent individuals who were preventing delegates from getting to the opening ceremonies through a variety of methods.

         When the anarchists intent on trashing corporate buildings did show up, they were joined by any number of other groups and individuals, not all anarchists. Additionally, there were many other anarchists present during the week who did not join in on the trashing. Anarchism, like any other established philosophy, has a number of strains, including the syndicalism of the IWW and the anarchists of the Spanish Revolution, the classic anarchism of Kropotkin and Proudhon, the anarchism of the Mexican revolution as esposed by the Flores Magón brothers, the communist anarchism of groups like the Anarchist Black Cross, and the anarchist primitivism of many current American anarchists, including a large percentage of those who base themselves in the Eugene, Oregon area. This strain sees most of industrial and post-industrial society as the problem, with the capitalist system at the root of that society and leftist ideologies as mere capitalist heresies. This does not mean that they have no critique. Indeed, in their journals, Marx is quoted in their attacks on capitalism and its alienating effects. However, they take the Marxist analysis in another direction and see production and technology as being equal to the inhumanity of the capitalist economy.

         The anger expressed in Seattle by these folks and others is the anger we all feel. It is wrong to consider them as an enemy and very important that, should the powers of the state come down on them, they get our support. I, for one, will not abandon them. After all, there is no way that the forces of capital will sit still after what they perceive to be the fiasco of Seattle. Already, the police are blaming the civilian government of Seattle for its handling of the protests, believing not that the police were too repressive, but that they were not repressive enough. The powers that be want to stifle this movement and will do whatever they can to do so--legally and illegally.

         One can bet that law enforcement agencies are watching film, reading leaflets, and reviewing photographs, internet posts, and police radio recordings in search of indictable criminal acts and possibly even conspiracy charges. We need to stand together or, as the saying goes, we will hang separately. This does not mean one must support actions s/he does not agree with, but when one needs to criticize, it should be done in the context of learning together and strengthening the movement birthed in Seattle. This movement has the potential to change the world we live in. We can't let that opportunity slip by.

    Meanwhile, Back on Wall Street

          While protestors clogged the streets of Seattle in opposition to the corporate cabal known as the WTO, another, even less democratic form of corporate control of our lives was approved in Washington. In what might be wrongly considered another Y2K glitch, the Federal trade Commission approved the merger of Exxon (formerly Standard Oil of New Jersey) and Mobil Oil. Now, for those of us who might need a refresher course in U.S. history, the original target of American antitrust laws was Standard Oil, which became the world's largest oil company by buying out or merging operations with other oil companies, including Mobil.

         According to the two companies' chairmen, the merger is necessary in order for them to compete with other nationally-owned oil companies. What they didn't say was that they already own a large percentage of these various national companies already in the countries that the United States purchases a good deal of its oil from--Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

          What this deal is really about is monopoly. As anyone who has played that game knows, the person who ends up with the most blocks of properties can then charge ever higher prices for people to land on them. In the long run, this is what will probably happen here. We will be paying higher prices for petroleum products. Additionally, this new corporation will be able to challenge the Venezuelan national oil company, especially as that country's new socialist-oriented government realigns its priorities to help its people instead of the profits of U.S. corporations.

         Despite the proclamations of various congresspeople who insist, as Rep. Joe Barton of Texas did, that "It is in the national interest of the USA to support this merger," it definitely is not. As the past several decades have shown us, doing the oil companies' beckoning is a certain path to further pollution, war, and eventual national bankruptcy. Their interest are not ours. It is time we let them know.

          Speaking of monopoly, recent occurrences in the ice cream market have some folks here in Vermont a little upset. Ben & Jerry's is selling out. Those good guys of corporate capitalism are thinking of selling their company to a new corporation that was formed last summer when Nestle's and Haagen-Dasz merged. If this deal goes through, Ben and Jerry stand to make a lot of money, and the ice cream with the good guys' names on it will be making profits for Nestle's, subject of a decade long boycott for its practice of forcing women in developing countries to feed their babies formula instead of breast milk. This practice continued even after the formula was proven to be less healthy than breastfeeding. While many Ben & Jerry's stockholders are upset at this potential move, one wonders how many will go crying to the bank. What further proof does one need that the pursuit of ever greater profit leads one to deny human values. Capitalism demands accumulation and expansion and has little room for compassion. Even Ben and Jerry can't hold out. The proof is in the ice cream. Northeast Research Associates Pie in the Sky Farm 93 Dwinell Road United States doing some building for the people, they Marshfield, Vermont