Over 3,000 demonstrators attended the main protest against the G20 in Melbourne on Saturday. The demonstration began at the State Library to hear a series of speeches and then marched through the city centre towards the Grand Hyatt Hotel where the G20 summit was being held.
Whilst the press coverage of the event was overwhelmingly negative the gathering at the State Library and the march were both peaceful and vibrant in character. Unfortunately due to the behavior of a small group of mostly anarchists, the media pounced on images of protesters in white jump suits smashing police vans and engaging in minor clashes with police.
The Socialist Party distances itself from this behavior. Our opinion is that this behavior does not take us forward in the struggle. In fact it takes us back as it plays into the hands of the ruling class and the media. The capitalist press will almost never give us favorable coverage but the footage that these fringe groups gave the press yesterday was a right wing editor’s dream.
These actions repel the mass of ordinary people still yet to be convinced and play into the hands of the state, justifying their security budget and anti-democratic laws; provoking sympathy for the police; and diverting attention away from the issues of world poverty and the system that creates it.
Treasurer Peter Costello could barely contain himself as he denounced the protesters as ‘crazy’. “Who knows what drives these people” he said. Other right wing commentators argued that the protesters were driven by hate and anger, not politics.
Due to the lack of trade union involvement in the anti globalisation movement the nature of these protests is very loose and lacked proper leadership and direction. It is a disgrace that the G20 forum was not even commented on by the trade union leadership. The policies that this forum pushes will have dire consequences for working people even in the advanced capitalist world.
The G20 delegates would not just of used this meeting to discuss the oil crisis and the World Bank but this would have been an opportunity for them to discuss all aspect of their neo-liberal agenda including further privatisations, free trade, and IR laws.
Apart from the negative effects of the clashes, we should take inspiration from the fact that thousands of people turned out for a demonstration that was clearly against the capitalist system. Also whilst on a much lower level 15,000 young people came out on the Friday night to the ‘Make Poverty History’ concert. It is this layer that we need to convince that it is the capitalist system that breeds poverty and it is in fact capitalism that needs to be made history.
If you already agree that capitalism is a system that does not serve the needs of the majority of the people, and that we need to change the system. The next question needs to be “which forces in society are going to do that”.
The Socialist Party believes that working people are the most powerful force in society. If workers don’t work society grinds to a halt. Therefore we try to draw in these powerful layers into the struggle against the system. Small actions by handfuls of individuals can never be a replacement for mass working class organisation and action.
The task for the anti globalisation movement is not to alienate working people from the struggle against the system but to find ways of drawing them in. This is the task the Socialist Party will take on in the next period.
By Socialist Party reporters