This Week's This: Gary Brackett, writings

This is a bloglink from "THIS WEEK'S THIS", a website of a series of videos, a type of political and personal diary. (see links) On this page you'll find various writings of mine: reviews, essays, letters, articles, even a few plays and always some interesting images and suggestions.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A chapter closing on Centro Living Europa?

Note: this is a letter, published in various local and regional newspapers, about The Living Theatre’s Italian home and our life and work there, and the problems we encountered.

Rocchetta Ligure, Italy

An open letter to the residents of Rocchetta Ligure, citizens of Italy, my New York friends and my mother (2004):

It is often said that small towns suffer from a certain type of provincialism. But as a famous theatre director once said: generalisations are never true, they are too simple. I do agree but perhaps small towns can be a microcosm of a larger city, of a country, of the world.


So it is that I try to reflect on the last five years of the Centro Living Europa and our experience in Rocchetta Ligure in Val Borbera (Provincia di Alessandria), Italy. A story that is not yet over, whose end is still being written. We, The Living Theatre have been asked, rather told, that we will have to leave our beautiful residence here, that this "experiment' that we have been living these last 5 years must come to an end, sometime next spring.

The experiment: a world famous avant-garde theatre company; a diverse group of artists, pacifists, anarchists, single women and men, married couples and couples unmarried, hippies, gays, vegetarians, old people, young people, blacks, Italians, Germans, Americans and 'outsiders" are suddenly transplanted to the hills of Piemonte (northwestern Italy), to a small village town of a hundred persons. A town we would come to know for its own unity and divisions, its friendliness and coldness, its tolerances and intolerances, its human successes and failures, basically all that humanity can offer in its beauty and human shortcomings. In this experiment two different and unfamiliar worlds collide. Thus began a long process of strangers getting to know each other. We made some friends very easily and quickly. Some of us were reserved and shy, some making contacts easily, some less easily. And the same for the villagers; for me it was OK and "normal” that some people have yet to approach us and vice versa.

Perhaps it was easier on our part to “see” and comprehend the “others” of the village. I think it was more difficult for the villagers to understand us. My own mother thinks that as an artist I live on permanent vacation! We do not have regular 9 to 5, Monday to Friday hours; we do not live quite like other people. The mysterious and difficult process of art creation is perhaps a vague and cloudy process to the average 'non-artist'. It is this we have been trying also to shed light on; this has been the experiment.

Paradise Now

Some of us work late into the small hours of the night; some of us don't show themselves outside of the house for days; others like myself come and go like a travelling salesman; strange friends in strange dress, piercings or tattoos come and go. For sure the people of the village felt somehow invaded, and perhaps they were not exactly consulted on the decision that we were to be inserted into their lives. Even in a small town the workings of the modern state can seem distant and less than participatory.

Antigone

Shortly after our arrival we immediately began work on a new play on the experience of the local population of Rocchetta during WW II and the partisan resistance to fascism, the nazi occupation of the village and a famous battle against the Germans. Little did I understand that this was such a sensitive issue. History is often recorded through the lenses of the storyteller and just as families were often divided in those war years between difficult choices of survival, we see today varying interpretations of what happened to Italy during that violent and turbulent period. For us as pacifist and political artists it was a challenge to frame an armed struggle as pacifists; how could we interpret those events? Would I have picked up a gun and killed, if only to defend myself? So it was that we gathered material from the living sources we found at hand, for example a partisan commander, turned historian of that epoch, G.B. Lazagna. So we created the play, Resistenza, presented and refined it here in Rocchetta with open invitations to rehearsals to the villagers, and then we took it all over the world; to the outlying province, beyond into Italy, further afield to Germany itself, to Lebanon even, and then to New York. We were so proud to take the name of Rocchetta Ligure and its story to the world. Our home here and the contributions and generosity of the town made that possible.

(photos above and below: Judith Malina and Julian Beck)

But to give a fuller picture of the nature of the complexity of this story: in the local tobacco and sundry store you can buy calendars with a photo of Mussolini displayed each month. What might the consumers of those calendars think about our partisan play? Who are they who still love Mussolini? (This is no judgement on the vendors of the calendar; they just perhaps sell what sells).

Anyway life continued here in Rocchetta. Many of us were coming and going between New York, Berlin, Rome, (what a contrast of environments!) only returning for projects; other 'full-timers' staying, whose only residence was here in the village. Those like me who made their permanent home here had new challenges; trying to stay busy as artists; finding work as artists with little or no resources; feeling somehow guilty living in such a large and wonderful house with high expenses. (It is a large palazzo from the 1600’s. We live on the top two floors.) The problem of utilities surfaced here as the building is not adept for the cold months of winter and soon we were being confronted by the worries of the mayor's office over the heating bills even though the Provincial government was paying the bill.

Here were the beginnings of the future conflict we would have with the Comune. In the strange and often incomprehensible relation of the state bureaucracy in Italy; in the power struggle of partisan politics (the left versus right kind); in the struggle of control of resources between national, regional, provincial and local levels of government, we suddenly found ourselves in the unfortunate position of being a football in the power games of finance between the interested parties. At present this conflict has gone to court and provided the Comune the first “reason" for wanting us to vacate our home. (Last year we were issued various eviction orders.)

It is warranted to give some idea of our life and work in these years for I think it is not clear to many just how much has been possible for us to accomplish by the simple fact that we had a base of operations. In addition to creating the partisan resistance play, we created a street theatre version Resist Now for the crazy and intense days of G8 in Genova where we carried forth with some 30 artists and activists the message of non-violent resistance. We rehearsed and toured other plays from our repertory: Not In My Name (against the death penalty), Capital Changes, Mysteries and Smaller pieces, and recently, a new work has premiered, Enigmas, created here this last summer. It should be noted that all of these plays were done with little or virtually no financial support. Moneys came only from the actual performances of the shows. We were always rehearsing without regular salaries.


Genoa, Resist Now

Workshops are also a major part of our work. In these last five years we have met, studied and worked with literally thousands of students in some 30 workshops here at Centro Living, in the Provincia, greater Italy, Portugal, Greece, New York and Lebanon. We have also worked in the middle school every year here in Rocchetta creating with the students 'avant-garde' plays which they performed for the village. (Not always well received!) Outside the Living, yet always under its umbrella, our artists have continued to work and create, often making use of Centro Living for rehearsals and workshops. Several original productions, historic Living Theatre plays, and some 20 other workshops have been the fruit of this work. Fausto Cerboni of the Living has launched an annual festival of art, performance, cultural and organic food events at nearby Roccaforte. His "Campo Carlo" (named after G.B. Lazagna) is sure to be a permanent fixture of the Val Borbera cultural environment. We also initiated a clean up of the river campaign 'in our own backyard'. And just recently a documentary "Resist, To be with the Living" on the last ten years of our work, produced and directed by former Living actor Dirk Szuszies, has been playing in major film festivals the world over, winning first place at Viareggio, Italy. It is Rocchetta Ligure and Centro Living that provide the idyllic backdrop for our work and travels across Europe, the Mid-east and New York.


Lebanon, rehersal

Now we have to ask ourselves: does all of this end here with a forced eviction? Certainly the Living will continue, it always does. As I write, work goes on in New York on a new building which will house the new Living Theatre. Yet for the ten core members of the European branch of the Living who make their home here, for our supporters, fans and colleagues, for our new friends in Rocchetta and the Provincia, the closing of Centro Living Europa will be a great loss. The Living has always found fertile ground and support in Italy, yet there seems to be much secret and behind door manoeuvring which could be interpreted as lack of respect for us as artists and a certain presumptuousness of policy decisions on the part of elected officials.

We have not been immune to mistakes; at times tempers have been lost under the stress of the confusion and subtle, or less than subtle, tactics of those who control our fate. Even amongst our friends, for example the 'people of the water', the local populist environmentalists, we found ourselves stuck in the middle between giving support and a voice where support was due and the difficulty of maintaining a comfortable relationship with the Provincia who happens to make it possible for us to be here. (Anarchists supported by the state; we have our contradictions!) And we were rightly accused of censoring.



Spectators, Khiam Prison, Lebanon



Khiam Prison, A Day in the Life

We do not know what will happen in the Spring when the law says we must vacate our home when our contract expires. We have some support here in Rocchetta; there seems equally to be a fair amount of indifference to our presence here. Members of the ruling Giunta (ruling committee) have expressed in no uncompromising words that "we do not want you here anymore!", taking it upon themselves to speak for all community members. It seems to have gone beyond an economic problem (if indeed there ever was one: the Provincia has continued to guarantee payment for any and all of our expenses.) It now seems to be an issue of ideology, of our "comportamento"(behaviour) (as was expressed recently in private); of tolerance and intolerance; of affinity of feeling. The most frustrating part of this is the difficulty of our understanding what is really behind our eviction and how can we stop something that seems to have been already decided. Neither the Provincia of Alessandria, the Comune of Rocchetta nor the citizens of Rocchetta and us, The Living seem to be able to bring into the open the process of decision making. Our time is running out.

The Herzbollah committee checks out the show


Postscript: we lost the battle and maybe the war as well. A new Giunta was elected and began re-negotiating with us: “starting over from the beginning as friends”. After much waiting, talking, promise making, the emptying out of our beautiful home proceeded and it seems we are out of Rocchetta Ligure. Culture in Italy has paid a heavy price from the political agenda of Berlusconi and his right-wing (and fascist rooted) government. Without financing the comune of Roccheta (rightly so ) sees no reasons for us to live there, much less work there even in an intermittent basis as had been proposed. The Campo Carlo festival proceeded at a new location (Cantalupo) but they also lost financing this year and had a much reduced program.Here in Italy there is little work for Anarchist experiment theatre yet we continue her the best we can.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I woke up early today (journal entry)

My heart chakra mandala

Rocchetta Ligure, Italy



Poster "Resistenza"
I woke up early today with the horses, and sun just coming up over the hills. Sometimes it can be terribly beautiful here. Today there is a great light and no wind, which has been blowing constantly these last days. I have been cleaning up my room- “spring cleaning”. I have occupied another room- Fausto’s ex- and made it a temporary office. I have papers, and pieces of paper, pictures, folders, posters, thousand of things I have accumulated these last- what, 10 years?- of work here in Italy. All of this was making my room impossible to breath in, so now it seems to be even more like a hotel, although there are still those paintings (unfinished) on the walls. Like this I thought to be organized to move out of here quickly: where to take all of my things though is a big question.


From "The Handless Maiden"
I had a “big” dream this night where there was also a protagonist, a co-star. It seems we were in New York, doing some performance, for women it seems. Afterwards she was leaving me on her grand, black bicycle built for two, plus a child’s seat! Naturally I wanted to go home with her- it was six in the morning- but alas I was left to wander strange neighborhoods of New York- New York as I have never seen it: clean with large parks coming to the cliffs of a great river (the Hudson). I imagined the Indians there and how we had destroyed the views, “tied it down” with walls and fences. It seems I was just walking to be walking- “walking the earth”- as Samuel Jackson says in “Pulp Fiction”. Eventually I was having breakfast with a typical Hollywood actor with his wig. Suddenly he was putting in his false teeth at the table. We discovered we were in the same (“entertainment”) business, and I woke up clear, so lucid and wide awake.

So this was my “mortality dream”; so many familiar themes.

The Body Pile, "Mysteres and Smaller Pieces"


I can’t seem to do anything these days. I clean and organize like some servant and watch too much T.V. The house is more beautiful than ever, and it all leaves me sad this morning. The light, the birds, the greenery, the silence and stillness of Rocchetta, of the house, the horses so regular in their breakfasting. Some thoughts come to me automatically and again I am crying, not knowing for what or for whom…and it is only 7.00 a.m.
"Police Theatre"

I suppose that is the “nut” of this entry, of this dream-
that something is missing.

And like this I was watching this show on the Spartan Wars, on Ghengis Khan (the great Mongol warrior) and the Chinese Great wall, and all the wars, all the centuries of men killing men, of plundering and destruction, of rape, of male loneliness. What else but that could explain this one great law of “mankind”: creation and total destruction. So many ingenious and cruel and tyrannical methods of pain, such evolution of cruelty- but no evolution of loving.

“The terrible has already happened”.

And we can’t, us men, get any closer to the essential problem and we create a world where our women suffer untold sadness and loneliness as well, except they, even in their despair, remain connected to something we men can never touch. But their love binds us (legare), entraps us, and sons go of to war to sever, to break, the ties. But we only find greater isolation, greater loneliness, especially the torturers (who have also taught well their women to enjoy doing it), and our hearts cry out- but only silence reigns…….
If it only were enough to admit: I am lonely. And Love is killing me.
So how to stop a love that kills?


Self-portrait

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Living Theatre and G8 Genova (Genoa)

note: these are two essays presented during the days of the G8 meeting in Genoa 2001. For a beautiful video, Genova Citta' Aperta, presenting myself and others with varying points of view, click: Real Player; Media Player.

Hard Lessons from Genoa and a proposal for the Tute Bianche (written after Genoa)

There was a telling scene Friday, July 20 (The Day of Action) in Piazza Dante, Genoa along side the Red Zone (a barricaded safe-zone for the G8 summit). This particular piazza, as a designated "non-violent" theme piazza, nonetheless was witness to water cannons and tear gas in use against the pacifist protesters. Protest actions here varied from the more creative artistic singing, music and balloon launching to the less-pacifistic actions of banging on the steel barrier, throwing of water bottles and shouting of epithets at the police. At a certain moment organisers, sensing that things were getting too tense felt it was the right moment to present The Living Theatre's show Resist Now. Sure enough as the show started all eyes and ears were focused on the performance circle and there was an intense, profoundly attentive silence. The contrast from the immediately proceeding noise, confusion and the potential for violence was portentously dramatic, for the demonstrators and perhaps police as well. (From around the city there were reports of street scuffles, burning trash bins, and police offensives).


Unfortunately a lapse in organisation interrupted this change of atmosphere as a group of marching old style communists, the SWP, suddenly arrived on the scene, slogans chanting, banging and screaming after which a general climate of hatred and abuse toward the police ensued. (The Living's show continued unimpeded, yet the complete focus and fullness of the potentiality of a new mental and physical state that only theatre can give was compromised.) Thus, where the Living's show may have opened up new forms of participation and communication among the demonstrators (and possibly police), what resulted instead, as in many other piazzas in Genova that day, was an attack by the forces of order with tear gas, water cannon, and often clubs. Later we were to learn of the now-famous street battles, blood, and death which once again, and still continues to monopolise all discussion of the anti-globalization movement, that is, the theme of violence, be it state organised, or of the self-styled guerrilla tactics of the hit-and-run (the so called Black Block), or of "defensive" actions of the Tute Bianche.

Now the important issues of the anti-G8, of debt relief, environment, global capitalisation, 3rd World development, etc. have all but faded amongst the hype, distortions and exaggerations of the (left or right, politically) media; amongst official statements, inquiries and government investigations, and of the sadness, anger and feelings of righting wrongs among the protesters and some individual police persons.

What is clear is that the anti-global movement has thus far tried to capitalise on pre-planned organised events by the concerned powerful organisations. It is like a private exclusive party being crashed by "undesirables". After Seattle these party organisers wanted no repeat of those events thus the arsenal, talent, and expertise of the ruling 8 was (and will be) made available to combat any attempt toward disruption. Thus prepared, in Genoa for example, defensive strategies of red zoning, manipulation and broken deals, mis-information and withholding of information, all the possible means of making protest ineffective were utilised. And as we saw in Genoa (and as we say in American football) the best defence is a good offence. So it was that the forces of order were often first to attack protesters- quicker to the punch, as in the break-up of the 200,000-strong march. The fact that the police used excessive force, as at the Diaz School, is a logical extension and punitive reaction of what police do best. Especially if certain elements of the protesters were able to cause destruction to property and remain violently defiant and disorderly.

Given the general climate of hatred and disrespect toward the police from a large part (the majority?) of the protesters, together with the loss of complete order and obedience, the more sadistic traits of the individual police were brought out.



We believe once an environment of street battles began, all protesters were seen by the police as one, thus making it difficult or strategically unnecessary to separate Black Block from Grey anarchists to Tute Bianche (who were not in their usual white) to pacifists. And when both sides of the opposing camps utilise masks, helmets, shields, and defensive padding- creating a sense of general anonymity- the dehumanising and depersonalising behaviour of all players is even more easily understood.

So given the situation of a government which at all costs sees the necessity of neutralising disorder and has at disposal a large force of police trained and obedient and prepared for battle, we turn to the strategy of the Genoa Social Forum (GSF) as representative of the largest block of demonstrators, and of the Tute Bianche, who could be described as the avant-guard of the activist youth movement. There are of course other just as important players such as the pacifist Lilliput, the more militant COBAS, and a very large contingent of communists. (See below.) Indeed it seems the GSF made every attempt to present a unified group of protest, thus perhaps producing a rather militant tone, strategy and tactic that would appeal to more militant elements of the movement. In this manner of presenting a strong force and to encompass diverse groups to oppose the G8, the strategy of various theme-piazzas to accommodate the diverse levels of militancy was realised. This made it all the easier for the police to identify, separate, and neutralise the more violent groups on the Day of Action. This strategy was repeated at the large march the next day as the police easily separated the diverse tendencies among the demonstrators.

The Tute Bianche, as well as GSF and others outside of this block intended its proposals to attack the red zone, that is to exercise its right to an open city. In a previous letter we spelled out the likely problems and limitations of this tactic and other more strongly worded goals of disrupting the G8 summit. It must be said that it seems much of the 90% of the peaceful organisations turned a blind eye even to the openly violent - so called Black Block - contingent who had openly expressed their tactics. Was it not to be expected that other dark forces of police provocateurs, fascists, hooligans, and others marginalized by society might take the opportunity to express their rage and discontent towards society? As far as the Tute Bianche their decision not to identify themselves by their white "uniform" was disappointing. We must say their discourse on "defensive protection" is unclear, even vague and not in the true spirit of non-violent resistance, and their use of helmets, shields, covered faces, tear gas masks, rolling barricades -a uniform as it were that mirrors that of the police/soldier - seems to be an expectation of (and invitation to?) violence, and this visual aspect was taken in turn as a style of more violent elements of protesters - all of this minimalized the effectiveness of the Tute Bianche. (See below for some other suggestions and strategies we hope the Tute Bianche will consider).


To sum up: a partially unified protest presence (as far as the question of violence and non-violence); a strategy to divide the varying groups into separate playing fields; the known presence of pro violent so called "anarchists"; an expressed strategy to enter the red zone on the part of some players; a large contingent of "red" communists and others who are not completely pacifists, who may in their philosophy even support violent insurrection to seize power; the known possibility of hooligans, nihilists, and other known gratuitous violence makers - this said, together with an equally militant leader and government with a well-prepared police force, I think it is to the GSF's credit and to the larger part of peace loving demonstrators, that injuries and deaths were not more prevalent. Even though the anti-global movement already agrees on most issues, it seems to be that the salient question concerning the strategy we choose is how to neutralise violence in our movement, and which playing fields, what arena of action, we choose.





It is beyond the scope of these words to develop and strategies for the anti-global movement, yet perhaps we can allude to some tendencies and basic ideas that may serve it. The need for some unifying force to cross all religious, political, tactical, philosophical, and demographic lines is in order. And this principle can only be the commitment to non-violent resistance.
In the heat and passion of that last Sunday in Genoa of the G8 summit, after the facts of the brutal police raid on the Diaz School were apparent, among even the most outspoken young pacifists there was a justified cry of anger and appeal for retaliatory action. What action? To understand what type of action, indeed to realise the principle of non-violence, we must see, for example, the infallibility of this idea: to confront hate (violence) with hate (violence) can only bring forth more hate (violence). Of course we must and do condemn the brutal and excessive actions of police. We can even hate and be enraged about those actions. But to find the solution to violent actions by condemning and hating the individual policeman is not the solution. You cannot help by hating. As Ghandi said, "It is not non-violence if we love merely those that love us. It is non-violence only when we love those that hate us."

Who are we to judge another human being if we cannot know all the million and myriad causes that bring forth the individual course of the destiny of one person who for himself must decide for example, to be a policemen? If the measure of a person's life were judged by the degree of service to humanity, then to serve those who we are against, whose actions we oppose with our innermost being, should be our first order. Thus, hate can play no part in that service.

We believe that there is no problem in the world that cannot be resolved through active non-violent resistance. From Palestine, to Africa, to the environment, to third world development. Simply stated, it is the "soul-force" (satyagraha) of all individuals past and present that has created the world in which we live today. Not the force of money and banking, of war and power, of exploitation and violence - but rather it is the simple pacifist co-operation and imagination that is inherent in our species that builds the hospitals and homes, develops medicine, manages the technology, creates new methods of organising and surviving. As a worker may and can unto death (the ultimate sacrifice) refuse to obey, to work, until demands are met, so it is that a people or minority resolutely prepared to suffer the consequences of non-compliance can bring to a standstill any government, police or economy, however powerful it might be (because of our indomitable power as producers and consumers to refuse and resist). Yet the moment violence is met with violence, all solidarity with peace-loving supporters (for example the citizens of Genoa) is compromised, and the possibility of winning the hearts of our opponents (enemies?) is lost.

To bring the argument closer to home, if in Genoa there had been a truly united force of satyagraha activists prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice as pacifists - if tens of thousands of artists, nurses, workers, poets, activists, mothers, etc. had created a peace zone of respect, love, and non-violence between any potentially violent forces - if this intention had been made known to the government, the police, the demonstrators, and the media, then history may have taken a more positive direction.
In the same spirit we challenge the Tute Bianche to shelve their bandannas, shields, helmets, and protection, to become a true truth force of non-violent resistance - to go between both sides of any confrontation on behalf of both warring parties; to put their own defenceless bodies at stake in the defence of peace; and to drop feelings of hate and revenge towards the police. Like this, a movement of young people could be inspired, and the intensity and commitment that we saw in the Genoa street fighters could be channelled and transformed into a force that, using the imagination could create new forms of protest. (This could be a model of a new activism - instead of governments spending billions of dollars for bombs, soldiers, tanks, etc. in regional conflicts, a better alternative would be that peace activists organise and go to these trouble spots to teach, heal, perform, talk, to share.)

For the anti-globalization movement and the GSF we must for ourselves determine our playing field- to not wait for another summit meeting where we can be at risk of another siege situation. To seize the initiative, to organise our own global summits, to develop our own forms and tactics, to make clear that we are seeking any and all alternatives to violence, to make it simply obvious that violence will play no role in our events. Even perhaps in a year's time to reconvene in Genova on the 20th of July for a summit of peace and remembrance of the first victim of the people of Seattle - to underscore the wish that he be the last sacrifice to violence, but perhaps not the last sacrifice for peace. The path to a more just and egalitarian world cannot be created with the separations that an "us and them" paradigm creates. The question is do we want to create enemies in our inevitable confrontations with our opponents, or, do we want, with peaceful ways and the imagination, to win the hearts and minds of the masses - from which the forces of order recruit their soldiers. One road eventually leads to civil war, the other, to new possibilities.



_________________________________________

There is not just one choice.

(written just before G8)

“Only an alternative that is more effective than violence can achieve what the revolution is really about”. Julian Beck

What is the force behind this alternative?
From Seattle to Prague to Gothenburg the issue of violence has often, if not completely, over-shadowed all discourse of the merits of the anti-globalization movement. From out of the street battles, in this age of sound-bytes and images, protesters seemingly play into the hands of broadcasters, editors and officials who easily grab and divert the public from the important issues.And in Genoa much public debate seems to be already focused, and almost exclusively, on the imminent confrontation of the diverse groups of antagonists.

Thus the most important question for the anti-globalization movement is how best to enter into the streets of Genova and not risk again losing its voice among the clouds of tear gas, water cannon and as in Gothenburg, blood and even possibly deaths. What tactics, therefore, can best serve the protesters? What can best address the urgency and sincerity of the many rightly outraged youth and others wishing to express their human imperative to protest?
The Genova Social Forum, the Tutte Bianche and others have openly declared a strategy of entering the Red Zone. Many voices also call for the outright disruption and shutting down of the G8 summit. Yet, no matter how much emphasis on non-violence is voiced, given the volatile nature of the situation - the division into two large camps of protesters, many of whom are convinced of the necessity of stronger, violent action and the forces of order of the police, soldiers and the government of Berlusconi - taken together it seems inevitably simple that the movement will be marred by violence.

Thus is begged the question: what strategy can guarantee only peaceful protest and best push forward the desires, ideas, and dreams of the movement? How can we avoid the violence?

The only solution comes from a voice from the past in the frail body and often-lone presence of Gandhi. As he often proposed, if we look into the psychology, desires, and fears of our opponents (not “enemies”- he always tried to maintain a reciprocal respect in his struggles) we may discover an effective strategy.
Starting with Berlusconi who could be said to represent the G8, who most likely believe sincerely that they are following the right path, it seems he at all costs (greatest fear) must insure that the G8 summit goes forward and that his government maintain (his) order.


Of the police, soldiers, and forces of order above all they desire to follow orders (that is their job), not show fear or disobedience to their fellow workers/comrades, nor to the protesters, and perhaps only secondarily, we believe that they would prefer not to fight or enter into a violent confrontation - unless provoked.

On the other side of the Red Zone from the militant pro-violence activists to the pacifists, our fear is to be marginalized; to not have the right to express our outrage to a system that is causing untold suffering and destruction; and also the fear of remaining passive and ineffective.If this is a fair evaluation of the players and the situation, then to assuage all fears and realise the desires of all the participants, the logical solution is thus to avoid violence at all costs. It seems the Genoa Social Forum, the Tutte Bianche and others need a more powerful and effective strategy than entering the Red Zone, and also they (we) need to diffuse the violent tendencies of the protesters in general; and perhaps as unimaginable as it may seem, even to place ourselves between the front line of the police and the violence that may initiate from within our movement. Again, what force could lend itself to this strategy?


Behind the philosophy of Gandhi’s non-violence and non co-operation is the principle of self-sacrifice. Because we here in the West (the First World) are the beneficiaries of the “G8 system”- we use cell phones, computers, petroleum, etc. We are the rich even if we choose voluntary poverty; we share and use the resources and products which have been created at the expense of the Third World - the most effective tool we therefore have at our disposal is our power to withdraw our participation. Again Gandhi: “...a body not receiving the food it needs dies....the moment we cease to support the Government (Capitalism) it dies a natural death”. So for example, if here in the West on a mass level it was decided to each day from seven to ten in the evening to not use electricity, gas, cars, television, phones, to not shop or buy or consume, the shock waves from such an incredible scenario from Madison Avenue to Wall Street to Palestine would shake the system and voices would be heard! If we were to make that sacrifice...


To return to Genova, in this same spirit of personal sacrifice and non co-operation there emerges an effective strategy:

1. To form a Peace Zone: a 24-hour a day sit-in that forms along the line of the Red Zone; a buffer between the potentially violent forces.

2. Those among the participants of the sit-in are invited to enter into a three-day fast; to sacrifice our own nourishment and enter another “mental zone” of resistance, reflection and meditation on the violence in us, in others and of the system. What better way to highlight and show solidarity in this emergency of food distribution in which every 3.25 seconds someone in the world dies from hunger?

3. A University of the Street: at the Red Line Zone and in the parks, streets, and plazas to begin dialogues and teach-ins; to use the best the movement has to offer - poetry, music, ideas, dance, theatre, etc. to engage both ourselves, the public, the forces of order, and the media in a festive atmosphere of an exchange of ideas. (Much like this is already planned!)
This is a plan that can work. Of course if we were to be forbidden or physically hindered from this 3-point plan, to be joyfully and peacefully arrested and imprisoned would make more of an impact than any street battle could ever offer. Our central message must be that the anti-globalization movement has imagination and that non-violent resistance is a powerful (Love) force capable of inspiring the public and give them hope and confidence that change can happen peacefully. The other alternative of violence, conflict and confrontation with the forces of order cannot demonstrate this. We must ask ourselves which sound-bytes and what media images would best serve the people, the movement and us.

See: The Peace and Environment Resource Centre http://perc.ca/


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