How and why to bring chaos in the streets to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions August 14-17 and July 31 – August 3
Massive militant protests at both the Democratic and Republican National conventions this summer are expected to raise a visible and fundamental challenge to the corrupt political system in the United States. Only a matter of months after the historic Battle of Seattle, which uncovered wide popular dissatisfaction over the increasing pace of corporate domination, global environmental devastation and gross income inequality, there is no discussion of the real issues in the Presidential race between the Democrats and the Republicans. Its up to direct action oriented youth, radical grannies, environmentalists, anarchists and militant labor to split the lie of the electoral system wide open for all to see.
Every presidential election year since the 1960s, the party conventions have been a gathering point for activists. In recent years, these protests have sometimes taken on a routine, predictable, formulaic feeling. They have been easily ignored by the media, who keep busy fitting protests into the comfortable mold of single issue politics, demanding reform or minor concessions-at cost, perhaps a third party alternative.
The summer of 2000 will be different because of our innovative, confrontational, disruptive tactics, increased willingness to take risks, focused and radical political critique and breathtaking daring. And, hopefully, a good measure of luck.
Shutting down or massively disrupting the Democratic and Republican conventions this summer and the successful shut down of the WTO last November are battles of a common struggle. The Democrats and Republicans represent corporate interests in the US government while the WTO represents corporate interests in trade rules that dominate all world governments. And its not just about voting for a third party that would claim to stand up for something different-the problem is about voting for one’s own rulers; about having rulers at all.
In essence, the Democrats, the Republicans, the US government, the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, Wall Street, the arms industry, factory farming, the mainstream media, etc. are all institutional expressions of a vast system of corporate domination in which powerful economic forces dominate the earth and its people. Decisions affecting everyone and everything are monopolized in a few private hands, and are made not in the interest of human happiness, beauty, sustainability or health, but in pursuit of short term accumulation of money for its own sake, divorced from any consideration of the real world effects of “economic progress”.
Somewhere in New York or London or Tokyo, a few men are deciding which species will survive, which children will starve, which will toil in factories, who will lose their land to cattle ranching or hydroelectric dams, whether the air will be clean, and what you will do, buy, and know. They meet in secret. Its not a conspiracy-its called private industry.
The US government is a focal point for global corporate domination. The US government has been one of the main proponents of the WTO. As the last remaining super-power, the US government and its military provide the might to back up the economic power of the WTO. Attacks on the Democrats and Republicans strike at the core, where corporations buy control of the US government for mere pennies.
Even a cursory examination of the Democrats and Republicans demonstrates that they are the same-one party with two names representing the interests of corporations. On any policy important to corporate expansion and control, they share one position and act in concert to promote “growth” and “jobs”. The tiny number of issues on which they differ only put in more stark relief the extent to which they share a single platform on the really important issues of economic power.
Neither ever takes any position hostile to ultimate corporate control, although many mainstream “labor” organizations foolishly fund their oppressors, the Democrats, with lavish campaign contributions. What has mainstream labor obtained for their largess? Nothing. Democrats have supported every move towards “free” (corporate dominated) trade and would never dare to take action seriously threatening corporate control.
The campaign money game makes it clear that corporations own both the Democrats and Republicans. The following corporations’ donations simultaneously put them in the top 20 contributors to the Democrats and the Republicans: Philip Morris, Atlantic Richfield (Arco), AT&T/TCI, MCI WorldCom and the Seagram Co. MCI gave almost precisely the same amount to each party $1,459,029 to the Democrats and $1,423,298 to the Republicans. Corporations give money to both parties simultaneously because they’re buying the same thing from both. Funding for both parties is a who’s who of corporate America. Walt Disney Co., Goldman Sachs, Mattell, Viacom, Citigroup, and BellSouth have provided major funding for the Democrats and Al Gore. Nabisco, Archer Daniels Midland, UST, Bell Atlantic/NYNEX, Pfizer, Enron, Chevron, and Merrill Lynch are major Republican contributors.
Disrupting the conventions isn’t about “protesting” the Republicrats-it’s about creating a crisis where it can’t be ignored-creating a visual inspiration towards an alternative to politics, corporations and government at all. During Seattle, the media didn’t accurately report the anti-globalization critique of the thousands in the streets, but it didn’t matter. Millions of people around the world intuitively understood the message conveyed by the chaos in the streets: the veneer of “satisfaction” with business as usual sold daily by the media is a lie. That simple realization, which rarely breaks through the sitcoms and talk shows and daily commute, was a wake-up call more powerful than a million flyers. The conventions represent another opportunity to expand the sense that something is very wrong, and you don’t have to just take it. Action towards a new world is possible-it’s happening right now.
Given the frustrating experience in DC, it may take an extra measure of creativity, bravery and spontaneous militancy to split the system wide open. You can bet there will be thousands of police trying to keep the streets cleared. Tame marches and scripted civil disobedience actions won’t be enough. Drumming and too many puppets, but not enough disruption, won’t cut it. Our advantage lies in being unpredictable, refusing to operate on their terms, speaking the truth in the face of corporate obfuscation, and having fun while doing all of it. Have you ever seen a cop smile?
A wide variety of marches, rallies, alternative conventions and conferences are scheduled to coincide with the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles 14-17 and the Republican Convention in Philadelphia July 31 – August 3. (See end of article for contact info.)
In Los Angeles, plans are underway for the North American Anarchist Conference from August 11-17 which will proceed and coincide with the Democratic Convention. Direct action is planned against the convention. (See separate article.) Leftists and Progressives are calling for a People’s Convention from August 10-17, including nominations for an independent national shadow cabinet to provide progressive political analysis throughout the next president’s administration, as well as a forum for third-party candidates.
In Philadelphia, marches or actions are planned for July 29, 30, 31 and August 1 and 2. The Philadelphia Direct Action Group is planning a series of direct actions against the US electoral system and for participatory democracy. PDAG is calling for a convergence July 24-30, followed by a March for Economic Human Rights July 31, and actions targeting the Convention August 2 and the Prison Industrial Complex August 1. Leftists are sponsoring a march and rally entitled “Unity 2000” on July 30: gather at JFK Blvd near the 30th St. train station for march to the rally.
Shutting down the Republicrats is about far more than promoting a third party alternative, or putting pressure on the parties or government. Ultimately, its up to people everywhere to build a new way of life apart from corporations, apart from governments and parties, and apart from coercion. Decisions should be made locally by all the people effected by the decision, not by distant rulers, either corporate or governmental.
Following is a far from extensive list of contacts organizing for the summer’s festivities (not including the cops, of course). Contact ‘em and see how you can get involved:
The August Collective (coordinating the North American Anarchist Conference in LA August 11-17)
PO Box 6188
Fullarton, CA 92834
LA People’s Convention
Philadelphia Direct Action Group