FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

G8: Who are the Hijackers?

by MIKE MARQUSEE

“FROM July 6 to 8, violent extremists will be converging on Scotland,” declares the Dissent Network, one of the groups planning militant opposition to the up-coming G8 summit, “They’ll be trying to meet at the Gleneagles hotel, and we’ll be trying to stop them.” A neat inversion of the mainstream media presentation of what promises to be a symbolic confrontation with worldwide resonance.

On one side, the world’s most elite club, the leaders of the “Group of Eight” (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Britain and the United States), whose economies account for two-thirds of global wealth, but currently pour more money into pet food than international development. On the other, a diverse grassroots global justice movement determined to “make poverty history” — by forcing the G8 to cancel debt, increase aid and end unfair trade practises.

Remarkably, since its emergence into western consciousness with the Seattle protest of 1999, this movement has succeeded in making its cause so fashionable, that pop stars queue up to join its ranks (or at least be seen to join its ranks) and corporations vie to sponsor its initiatives. Even the politicians at whom the protests are aimed seem eager to be associated with the movement, when they’re not busy trying to demonise, divide or protect themselves from it.

Gleneagles was chosen as the site for the summit because it combines luxury with security. The 80-year-old French chateau style golf resort is set in 850 private acres of stunning Perthshire scenery. It’s remote by British standards, but not nearly remote enough to deter large numbers of protesters — which is why the police have banned a march to the resort planned for July 6.

For decades, Gleneagles was a high society fixture. After the London “season”, it was yachting at Cowes, polo at Deauville and golf and grouse shooting at Gleneagles. These days the hotel relies on “Great Gatsby” discount packages to American tourists and the corporate conference business — of which the G8 gathering is the crème de la crème. Gleneagles is owned by Diageo plc, one of the planet’s biggest booze-merchants, whose brands include Johnnie Walker (over four bottles consumed worldwide every second), Guinness, Baileys, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan and Jose Cuervo. The company recently reported a half-year operating profit of £1.1 billion on a turnover of £4.98 billion — somewhat more than the United Kingdom will spend on aid for the whole of the current financial year.

Of course, the corporate connection, along with the expense (£150 million to the U.K. taxpayer) and five-star comforts, are being played down by the G8’s image-managers. Gleneagles is stocking up on fair trade coffee. The summit, we are told, is to be made “carbon neutral”, thanks to a £50,000 grant for green projects in Africa. More significantly, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown have sought to paint themselves as champions of global justice. Brown has presented a modest debt-relief initiative (with stringent conditions, including the requirement that countries eliminate “impediments to private investment, both domestic and foreign”) and Blair has donned the “Make Poverty History” wristband created by NGOs organising what promises to be a 2,00,000 strong demonstration in Edinburgh on July 2.

The wristbands have become symbols not only of the cause but of attempts to incorporate and exploit it. More than a million of them were produced in Chinese sweatshops shamed by some of the world’s worst labour practices. And shops in the U.K. are selling a version of the wristband — personally endorsed by Bob Geldof — branded with the logos of companies accused of violating workers’ rights in developing countries, including fashion empire Tommy Hilfiger. The “exclusive online partner” for Geldof’s “Live 8” pop concerts (timed to step up the pressure on G8 leaders) is America Online, part of the Time Warner media behemoth, a beneficiary and sponsor of the very policies the musicians hope to challenge.
So while politicians and editors fret about “anarchists” hijacking the protests, global justice activists are entitled to ask just who the real hijackers are.

When not being treated as a threat to law and order, a domestic Al-Qaeda, these activists are subject to mockery and condescension. They are told to leave the making of history to wiser heads, to be “realistic”, not to ask for too much. But despite the subtle and not so subtle attempts to blur the distinction between the agents of wealth and power and the agents of change, increasing numbers see through the public relations ruse. They compare the $50 billion increase in aid they’re calling for to the more than $150 billion cost of the U.S.’s war on Iraq, and they know that reality demands radicalism, not soft soap.

This essay originally appeared in the The Hindu.

MIKE MARQUSEE is the author of Chains of Freedom: the Politics of Bob Dylan’s Art and Redemption Song: Muhammed Ali and the Sixties. He can be reach through his website: www.mikemarqusee.com

 

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 22, 2017
Jason Hirthler
Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion
Ken Levy
Sorry, But It’s Entirely the Right’s Fault
John Laforge
Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds
Ann Garrison
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge
Phillip Doe
Big Oil in the Rocky Mountain State: the Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado
Howard Lisnoff
The Spiritual Death of Ongoing War
Stephen Cooper
Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Cuba Will Not Bow to Trump’s Threats
Ramzy Baroud
Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
Tyler Wilch
The Political Theology of US Drone Warfare
Colin Todhunter
A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture
Robert Koehler
When the Detainee is American…
Jeff Berg
Our No Trump Contract
Faiza Shaheen
London Fire Fuels Movement to Challenge Inequality in UK
Rob Seimetz
Sorry I Am Not Sorry: A Letter From Millennials to Baby Boomers
June 21, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
Resist This: the United States is at War With Syria
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9-11
Diana Johnstone
The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain
Ted Rall
Democrats Want to Lose the 2020 Election
Kathy Kelly
“Would You Like a Drink of Water?” Please Ask a Yemeni Child
Russell Mokhiber
Sen. Joe Manchin Says “No” to Single-Payer, While Lindsay Graham Floats Single-Payer for Sick People
Ralph Nader
Closing Democracy’s Doors Until the People Open Them
Binoy Kampmark
Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection
Jesse Jackson
Trump Ratchets Up the Use of Guns, Bombs, Troops, and Insults
N.D. Jayaprakash
No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Four)
David Busch
The Kingdom of Pence–and His League of Flaming Demons–is Upon Us
Stephen Cooper
How John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle” Helps Us Navigate Social Discord
Madis Senner
The Roots of America’s Identity and Our Political Divide are Buried Deep in the Land
June 20, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People
Gary Leupp
Russia’s Calm, But Firm, Response to the US Shooting Down a Syrian Fighter Jet
Maxim Nikolenko
Beating Oliver Stone: the Media’s Spin on the Putin Interviews
Michael J. Sainato
Philando Castile and the Self Righteous Cloak of White Privilege
John W. Whitehead
The Militarized Police State Opens Fire
Peter Crowley
The Groundhog Days of Terrorism
Norman Solomon
Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders
Pauline Murphy
Friedrich Engels: a Tourist In Ireland
David Swanson
The Unifying Force of War Abolition
Louisa Willcox
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
John Stanton
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
Robert Fisk
Did Trump Denounce Qatar Over Failed Business Deals?
Medea Benjamin
America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen
Brian Addison
Los Angeles County Data Shows Startling Surge in Youth, Latino Homelessness
Native News Online
Betraying Indian Country: How Grizzly Delisting Exposes Trump and Zinke’s Assault on Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights
Stephen Martin
A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market
Debadityo Sinha
Think Like a River
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail