Movement Reflections

Organizers reflect on lessons from the shutdown

by David Solnit

There is actually no global justice movement. "Global justice" instead is a common space of convergence – a framework where everyone who fights against the system we call corporate globalization (or capitalism, empire, imperialism, neoliberalism, etc) and its impacts on our communities can make common cause and make our efforts cumulative. This anti-systemic framework helps diverse groups and movements to come together for mobilizations or to support each other. This is the movement of movements that fights for global justice, often winning, and has become stronger over the last nine years.

by Stephanie Guilloud

That’s a taste of movement building – How do you move consistently through multiple reactions from the state and opposing forces while constantly mobilizing and expanding your base? How do you shift and readjust when met with the possibility of victory? And significantly (because it was lacking on a mass scale following the demonstrations) how do you expand the momentum of victory with strategic, intentional plans to continue what you started? And finally, how do you evaluate the mis-steps and mistakes after such a significant and widespread experience? How do you receive and understand criticism as well as accolade without losing momentum or integrity?

by Sonja Sivesind

Much has been written about the successes of the WTO actions. As well, there has been a great deal written by activists of color about the problems of the WTO organizing, the exclusion and racism within the movement. The purpose of this article is to name racist actions that occurred during WTO organizing with the intention of stopping such supremacy and creating a stronger movement, to show that these are not isolated incidences, and to name the precedent that we have set, while learning from our mistakes.

by gabriel sayegh, 2001

People of color have been mobilizing resistance since the first days of colonization, and that history of resistance continues strongly today. Unfortunately, white activists in the U.S. often ignore this history or are completely ignorant of it. And in turn, we often frame ourselves as the ‘leaders’ along a path of struggle that has been forged by people of color. Such a contradiction makes liberation impossible, and needs to be seriously examined by white people.

by Indigenous Environmental Network

We know that the forces that control the WTO will not stop themselves—we must be the ones to stop them! We have blocked the WTO’s progress at every stage over the past 14 years, and we can do it again in Bali. Over 1,000 farmers, trade unions, students, women and youth from more than 30 countries protested in Bali on December 3 to show their total rejection of the WTO and the free trade regime.

by Jennifer Whitney

Though I believe that it is clear that some of the tactics which exploded onto the US (and global) activist scene in Seattle have outlived their usefulness, I think there are still important lessons not yet learned from those actions, and I believe that the popular dismissal of Seattle-as-success solely because of the surprise element is fallacious.

Interview published in Upping the Anti

Seattle led to new understandings of the impacts of trade policy on regular people’s lives. The movement better understood its strengths, such as innovative mass organizing, and its weaknesses, such as underdeveloped leadership and lack of connection to long-term transformative practices.

by David Solnit

On November 30, 2009, the World Trade Organization (WTO) met in Geneva, ten years to the day of the shutdown of the WTO in the streets of Seattle, still reeling from a decade of global organizing and mobilizations against it. On that same day, November 30, 2009, President Obama announced orders to send 30,000 additional US troops to Afghanistan. Two weeks later, from December 7 to 18, the United Nations Copenhagen climate summit took place, paralleled by street mobilizations, mass direct actions, and counter-summits of global social movements.

Interview with Paul deArmond, author of "Black Flag Over Seattle"

You wrote ten years Ago in Black Flag Over Seattle: “governmental authorities may have learned more from the Battle of Seattle than the activists did. Law enforcement, government authorities, and even the American Civil Liberties Union have conducted instructive after-action analyses of the Battle of Seattle. By way of contrast, none of the protest organizations has rendered an after-action analysis of the strategies and tactics used in Seattle, even though the Internet teems with eyewitness accounts. In all forms of protracted conflict, early confrontations are seedbeds of doctrinal innovation—on all sides.”