By NAT WEINSTEIN
It’s no secret that the Mobilization for Global Justice, scheduled for Washington, D.C., April 16-17, is intended to be a bigger and better sequel to the Seattle anti-WTO demonstration at the end of last year.
The Washington event has received a fairly wide endorsement-including that of the AFL-CIO as well as the electrical workers, communication workers, steel workers, municipal workers, and other international unions. Several nationwide campus groups, such as the U.S. Student Association and Students Against Sweatshops, are also taking part.
These organizations, together with a number of environmental and social justice groups, are joining together-as they did in Seattle-around demands to “Defund the Fund, Break the Bank, and Dump the [Third World] Debt.”
Nevertheless, how much this month’s demonstration will contribute to the groundswell of mass consciousness resulting from the Seattle protest is difficult to predict. And a related question is how many more of the general public are likely to be inspired enough to join the Washington protest.
In fact, certain political factors may reduce the turnout in Washington, compared to the Seattle anti-WTO protest last year.
For instance, in December 1999, we reported that the environmental movement’s leading organizations had run three full-page ads in The New York Times, one of them headlined “Globalization vs. Nature.” The ads’ sponsor, the Turning Point Project, which is described as a coalition of more than 60 non-profit organizations, included 20 of the most prominent environmental organizations as its endorsers-including the Sierra Club, Greenpeace U.S., and Friends of the Earth.
But this time, there is little evidence that these environmental groups have made the same degree of commitment to this month’s action as they did to the events in Seattle.
We noted at the time that the political thrust of these Seattle demonstration ads was clearly designed to transmit a leftist anti-establishment message. And we noted then that while none of these environmentalist groups claims to be anticapitalist, the message they transmitted in the three ads was clearly intended to adapt to the radicalizing consciousness of today’s youth.
But, this time, barely a week before the Washington action, no such ads have appeared.
Last December we noted that even though the AFL-CIO at that time remained committed to its long-standing reactionary protectionist orientation, they had attempted to put on a more radical, rank-and-file-oriented stance. The labor officialdom was compelled to adapt somewhat to the sentiments of the mass of radicalizing young participants in Seattle.
But this time, the AFL-CIO officialdom has emphasized its protectionist orientation and has zeroed in on opposing China’s entry into the various world capitalist trade organizations, which is to be considered by these bodies meeting in Washington around the same time.
AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney is playing his assigned role as chief labor lieutenant of the capitalist class by demanding that the bipartisan Congress reject recognizing China’s status among the U.S. government-designated “most favored nations.”
All, of course, in the name of “protecting American jobs.”
If nothing else serves to expose the role assigned by American capitalism to the labor bureaucracy, the giveaway, if such is needed at this late stage of the game, is AFL-CIO headman Sweeney’s unremitting political support for Clinton and his hand-picked successor to the U.S. presidency, Vice President Albert Gore.
This support continues without even a murmur of complaint despite Clinton/Gore’s, bipartisan capitalist government’s failure to even so much as give lip-service support for the labor chief’s presumed (?) respectful request that capitalists lighten up on their antilabor policies.
Last but not least, the youth, the future working-class leaders of America, stand to be the biggest losers if the current trends are not altered. But history shows that for the very same reason the youth are an important source of the next generation of political leaders of the coming mass struggles by the exploited and oppressed victims of the profit system.
It has always been the young workers and their counterparts among students aspiring to be the future technical, scientific, medical and other professionals, from where the next generation of revolutionists have always emerged.
While it is difficult to predict how this upcoming, inherently progressive, demonstration in Washington on April 16-17 turns out, it is vital that as many as possible participate. The more the better.