G8 summit, democracy and the right to protest

Over the last month we have seen how all the various ideological ‘arguments’ of capitalism have been used to stop people from protesting at the coming summit of the eight most important political representatives of capitalism in the world.

Over the last month we have seen how all the various ideological ‘arguments’ of capitalism have been used to stop people from protesting at the coming summit of the eight most important political representatives of capitalism in the world. An unholy alliance of the state apparatus and the mainstream media are using whatever arguments they can get hold of to portray protesters as violent, riot-loving people if not out and out criminals. When the threats and campaigns of slander do not work, Sir Geldof, Bono, Gordon Brown and the rest are making sure that the voices of anger and dissent against capitalism are well hidden behind some pop stars’ crocodile tears and the conscious inaction of the worlds superpowers over the humanitarian disaster that 2/3rds of the world population have to suffer – extreme poverty, hunger and avoidable death.

The worst case of slander has come from the local press in Edinburgh. For the last few weeks the Scotsman and Evening News have been publishing opinion columns and articles on how the anti-G8 protesters are going to wreck the city and how Edinburgh is going to virtually collapse because of the visit of hundreds of thousands of protesters. Yet, every year Edinburgh hosts one of the most popular artistic festivals in Europe. This event attracts hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world, yet the city has not collapsed even after many years of hosting this major festival. Not happy enough with organising a wave of hysteria, the bourgeois media campaign is now consciously whipping up the feelings of the locals against protesters.

However, the efforts of the establishment to stop people from protesting is not just limited to the bourgeois media. Everyday, figures appear in the media revealing the billions of pounds that are going to be squandered in “security” for the summit. The repressive measures intended to deter protesters go from the super-expensive fence that will surround Gleneagles Hotel (and the trees that will cover the fence in order not to spoil the nice scenic view from inside) to the thousands of policemen looking for people sporting political t-shirts who are therefore immediately deemed to be suspicious. Unfortunately, it looks like police officers have not been properly trained to make a distinction between different kinds of t-shirts. Today, I was stopped at Kings Cross (London) by two British Transport Police officers because I was wearing a football t-shirt! Once I answered a few questions regarding my motives in going to Edinburgh and showed my ID the policemen let me go, but not without first taking some unauthorised snapshots of me. Of course, all this security nonsense will be paid by taxpayers’ money.

The most worrying thing is that this orgy of public expenditure is aimed at protecting the most useless talking shop in the world, as far as working people are concerned. Despite all the hopes that Sir Bob Geldof and Bono have in the G8 summit being able sort out the problems of Africa and global warming, etc, everything points to this summit being as useless as the one held in Evian in 2003 or the one hosted in Genoa in 2001. With regards to global warming a national newspaper reported the following:

“Mr Blair said yesterday he had never been seeking emission cuts targets at the G8, and that attempts to persuade Mr Bush to rethink American opposition to the Kyoto treaty would be pointless.” (The Guardian, June 30, 2005)

As we can see, Tony Blair’s cheek has no end. However, the comments on aid to relieve Africa’s starvation problem are even more disgraceful. The same article goes on saying:

“Mr Bush himself reiterated a US commitment to increasing aid for Africa in an interview in today’s Times. However, he gave no firm details of the amount, sticking to the aspirational language used at the joint press conference with Tony Blair earlier this month in Washington.”

Again the top representatives of world capitalism openly state that they do not care about sorting out debt relief, climate change or starving children, while attacking the people who really care about these issues and want to do something about it. They, and the system they represent, are responsible for the extreme poverty which billions have to endure. It is not their task to solve the poverty issue, so far as they are concerned anyway!. Therefore it is completely false to put hopes in them to sort out this problem. In the same way that Tony Blair has realised that it is pointless to ask Bush to subscribe the Kyoto agreement on gas emissions, it is equally pointless for us to have any hopes in this summit or in any of the figures that are going to meet there.

The way to “Make poverty History” has been shown by the Bolivian masses who are struggling against the looting of their natural resources by multinational companies, by the Venezuelan people who are taking control of their fates while fighting against US intervention, by the fire-fighters and the nursery nurses who fought against the anti-working class policies of the Blair administration and by the thousands that are going to protest in Edinburgh and Gleneagles over the next week in spite of repression and attack from the might of the state – a state which cannot fund proper housing, welfare or education but always manages to find the money to ensure that our beloved leaders get a guilt-free nights sleep. A real summit of the organised working class needs to be called to set about the tasks that the G8 will not be looking at – abolishing poverty, exploitation and war. A task that demands the socialist transformation of the world – let’s make capitalism history and socialism our future!