Cincinnati TABD November 2000

Amory on Cincinnati for the Snout, UpRoot Newsletter

While the Continental Direct Action Network exhorts us to do anti-oppression organizing on local issues in lieu of mass direct actions, it is clear that we can in fact do both. We have done a lot of local organizing lately and we were able (with the aid of our financial supporters) to participate in the Cincinnati mass action. DAN-C is obsessed with a false dichotomy. We are needed and can be in both places.

In Cincinnati at first I was concerned that the anarchist look wasn’t a real effective organizing tool. But then I became aware that only that bloc grew in its commitment to dogging secret corporate meetings since the April IMF/WB meetings. Where was labor? Where was big environment? Where was that big consumer rights group — the one that taught me about the TABD? Props to anarchists for being better organizers than they sometimes seem…

Overall, I found the actions in Cincinnati unsatisfying in that we didn’t mount direct action to blockade or disrupt the meetings. I understand that other kinds of things happened which were empowering and meaningful to various people in various ways. Although I was disappointed in the overall actions, I felt that UpRoot gained some new skills and also got closer to dealing with issues of dependency, division of labor, and sharing responsibility. Our experience is beginning to show relative to other groups, which feels good. At the same time, even we are finally getting fed up with the things that don’t work about us, and I hope that this will lead to some new ways of working together. Also I learned something about actions that turn me on when Birch & I shopped our way right into the hotel bar and then cased the conference, whispering comments of global solidarity to the TABD members. I wished I had started shopping earlier in the weekend…

One thing that’s definitely difficult vis-à-vis the movement is the whole issue of how much affinity groups are supposed to prepare in advance. If each group just did their own thing, the movement would be creative and awesome and nearly uninfiltratable but it would make coordinated actions, like blockades, difficult. If, as UpRoot has always done, groups wait until we get there to sort of plug in to a plan, then we’re totally dependent on the quality of that plan and the infrastructure (if any). In Cincinnati there was no direct action plan to plug in to and there was little infrastructure, but it took 24 hours to learn that was the case and on our own we only managed to pull together one effective direct action and just barely had the equipment to do that. (We also participated in pre-arranged marches, rallies, and community activities.)

I left Cincinnati early (on Saturday) to speak at an anti-corporate conference in Canada and had the opportunity to meet a lot of Canadian activists of all ages, including the Raging Grannies. Canadian resistance to privatization, globalization, and corporate hegemony is strong and growing. They just had a tremendous protest of the June World Petroleum Conference in Calgary and they defeated a bill in the Province of Alberta which would have privatized healthcare. They protested every night for six weeks, occupying the legislative chambers, noisemaking outside, and humiliating the sponsor of Bill 11!