Saturday, August 21, 2004

August 21 one in the afternoon

Yesterday I discovered that the Indymedia people were handing out thecredentials for those who reserved space in their "alternative press room"on Church street, it was at their "infoshop" in a gigantic art space calledthe "Gigantic Art Space" (GAS). They were very nice, although they couldn’tget their machine to work. I plan to try again today. From there we tookthe #6 train up to Hunter college where the opening event of what the NewYork Post calls "the anarchists’ war council," the "Life After Capitalism"confrence.

The place was packed. It cost ten bucks to get in, which being part of the [non-corporate] press I didn’t have to pay. The reason forthe cost is because Hunter demanded they get three million in insurance incase the place was raided or something. They called it extortion, and itprobably was to some extent. These are dangerous times, after all.

SoI came down to the front of the theater and prepared to treat myself to a feast of interplanetary cosmic bullshit. I was not to be disappointed. Not in the least.

Webegan with our moderators giving an enthusiastic welcome to the audience.I never actually caught their names, but one was a really hot honey wearinga small slip of a dress and lots of hair and a fat black guy in a tee shirtand jeans. They gave a cute spiel quoting Zapatista leader "subcommandante Marcos" before our first speaker was to take the stage. actually, it wasn’ta speaker at all, but a trailer for a propaganda documentary called "The Fourth World War" which showed groups of demonstrators from all over theworld overwhelming the army of whatever country they were in at the time.This included a shot of the victorious Palestinians running for dear lifefrom an unseen Israeli army. Was it because the front lines had Arabs shooting first and ruining the message? Probably.

It also had some footageof the chaos that was Argentina when the economy collapsed and they had sixpresidents in two weeks. They said capitalism was finished there, but ofcourse it isn’t. Incompetence is incompetence. Be that as it may, this proved nothing.

But this false impression and it’s message of "if you dance enough, they will fold" was rather powerful. The audience ate it up.

Thenour hosts gave a poetry reading, followed by a commercial for one of theplanned marches, the person, a twenty something Asian lady, mentions something about this being war right here in New York City. This was to be the generalpattern of what can only be called a pep rally.

Our first real speakerwas an Indian American [as opposed to American Indian] named Varje Parshad,who is the first to use the f-word: fascism. He says that the American regimeis "friendly fascism" and called Kerry a fascist, but since he lives in aswing state, he’ll vote for anyway. He also advocates the s-word, socialism.The mask is off, although it never was really on. What he talks about strategyand why the movement should in the future begin to concentrate on taking over local governments before getting more ambitious. He was actually a pretty good speaker. I was surprized.

This was followed by another commercial,this time for United For Peace and Justice, who’s having that huge lawsuit over whether to use Central Park for their big rally A week from tomorrow.The world would be such a better place if we join them in front of my friggen’window.

The second featured speaker was one Michael Albert, one ofthe top honchos of "Z" magazine, one of the top ultra-lefty journals. NowHE was clueless. The speech began in a rather cute way, in which he describes a thing in which people wither and eventually die and calls for a movementto ban…aging! Of course he says, that’s ridiculous, as would a movement toban gravity. Then with the humor part over, he compares it with the problemsof AIDS and poverty, and goes on to describe his version of a socialist utopia.That was expected. But then he begins to wonder our loud why the movement isn’t what he calls "sticky." Complaining that if everybody who had flirted with the far left has "stayed the course" there would be a movement fifty million strong at least. He admits to being in his late fifties. Is he really THAT na├»ve after all these years? After giving it the old college try, heyields the floor to our hosts to give it to two rappers from "And still we rise" who are sponsoring the march on Monday.

Then the A21 committeemakes it’s pitch. They’re the ones who are going to try to "A radical 31st,two days before the renomination of George W. Bush, we are calling for aday of non-violent civil disobedience and direct action." If there’s goingto be a genuine riot, it’s going to be then. Then some organizers are givena chance to take a bow.

This is followed by a speech by Niomi Klein,who rote a book called "No Logo" which is considered to be a bible of the movement. She thanks everybody who deserved to be thanked and then goes onto the real business of the talk. She praises Mr. Sadr and he people in Iraq,denouncing the American soldiers for desecrating Moslem holy places" before obliquely coming out in favor of Saddam’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. She callsfor REVOLUTION both here and there.

I’m sure the undercover cops in the audience were taking copious notes at this point.

Aftershe was finished denouncing both Kerry and "those retired hippies who wantus to behave ourselves," our hosts introduced two kids who read an excerpt from a thing called the "Liberation Charter" which basically denounces everything the US stands for and calls for it’s destruction. This is followed by ourlast major speaker, one Robert Kelly.

Kelly’s thesis was that therewere too many whites in the movement and thus they couldn’t get enough solidarity for people of color and smaller projects that would allegedly help same."Protests alone can’t deliver…" he says. At least someone gets something right.

With the pep rally over, the conference will start today.I’m not going to today’s session as there’s too much else to do [laundry,anyone?] There’s some minor activities, like the Howl festival, which has nothing to do with the RNC and some anti-Bush art openings.

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