Context

Up until the Edinburgh and Gleneagles mobilizations in 2005, supranational political institutions and multinational corporations had been foci for AGM protesters since they perceived them as orchestrating a harmful neoliberal economic orthodoxy. The dynamic between the protesters and elites was that they were very much opponents, on opposites sides of the debate concerning neoliberal globalization (Callinicos, 2003; Neale, 2002; Starr, 2000, 2005). In addition, some supporters of the AGM field established the World Social Forum, which offered a space for debate and discussion where social movements from around the globe could put forward arguments for 'another, better, world', one which was very much against neoliberalism (Fisher and Ponniah, 2003; Smith et al., 2007). It was the case that elites, at least during summit meetings, now had to meet in remote locations for fear of a repeat of Seattle, when the meeting was stalled, partly by the protesters. Elites were very much at a disadvantage, particularly a moral one: they had not answered the criticisms of the protesters and, at the same time, a very large and popular anti-systemic movement was growing (George et al., 2001). Moreover, even the reformist sections of the AGM field, particularly NGOs, were showing discontent with neoliberal policies and practices, which further undermined the legitimacy of political and economic elites. However, the AGM field was in flux, it was not stable, and in 2005 the then British New Labour government connected up with NGOs, including well-known and popular church and charity groups and rock stars who had a history of trying to tackle global poverty. It is at this point that the boundaries between those in the AGM field and elites from the political field started to blur. The involvement of elites with all their superior resources in the form of cultural, economic, social and symbolic capital launched a takeover of the AGM field; it soon became an AGM field which was no longer critical of neoliberalism, which only allowed a certain type of protest - a prearranged and agreed one.

It is arguable that, given the emergence of the AGM phenomenon against neoliberalism, elites perhaps felt pressure to tackle some of the issues that were politically important to citizens. The G8 summit meeting of 2005 was different from the others, therefore, because elites actually supported, sanctioned and encouraged one of the major mobilizations - the MPH coalition. Instead of all the mobilizations protesting against the G8, the MPH coalition (which was the largest mobilization, comprising over 460 NGOs and 250,000 people) was in support of the summit. The MPH coalition was the UK section of the wider international mobilization, which included the Global Call to Action (G-CAP), Oxfam International, Action Aid and Debt AIDS Trade Africa (DATA).1 The latter charity was set up by philanthropists and rock stars. To coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the original Live Aid event, the Live 8 pop concert was held in London, running alongside the MPH mobilization in Edinburgh during the G8 meeting. MPH and Live 8 were therefore closely connected: the organizers of both events had the support of the New Labour government, and certain public figures such as Bono, Bob Geldof and Richard Curtis were privy to government meetings (Hodkinson, 2005a). Moreover, the mobilization of this coalition had been officially sanctioned and endorsed by the UK Labour government.

However, they were not the only mobilization present, the more radical Dissent! network and the G8 Alternatives planned to demonstrate and carry out protests and direct action activities against the G8 during the week of the summit meeting (1-6 July). The Dissent! network was predominantly, but not exclusively, an anarchist network consisting of loosely connected semi-autonomous affinity groups.

This mobilization formed in 2003 and evolved out of previous networks such as Earth First! and Reclaim the Streets (Harvie et al., 2005). G8 Alternatives, ideologically speaking, was largely a socialist and social democratic coalition of political groups including the Scottish Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), Respect and Stop the War Coalition. As well as these groups, public intellectuals from other organizations were also involved, including George Monbiot, Susan George (Vice-President ATTAC France), Caroline Lucas (Green Party), Charles Abugre (Christian Aid), Dennis Brutus (a South African anti-apartheid activist) and Trevor Ngwanee (an antiprivatization activist from South Africa). Altogether there were over 200 speakers from this group during the week of mobilizations.

I observed parts of the three (MPH, G8 Alternatives and Dissent!) social movement mobilizations that took place between 1-6 July 2005. I consulted documents beforehand so I knew when and where to go. There were documents for all three mobilizations which included information on demonstrations, speeches, rallies and workshops. I tried to attend as much as was practically possible. This included the Long Walk to Justice march around the city and the broadcast of the Live 8 concert with speeches and stand-up comedians in the Meadows Park organized by MPH on 2 July. These two events were almost the total for the MPH coalition, although on 6 July some of the key figures of the coalition were invited to Gleneagles to discuss some of the issues that MPH was raising. I observed the G8 Alternatives rally, which was juxtaposed to the Live 8 broadcast on the other side of the park in Edinburgh, which included speeches by those opposing the MPH campaign, since Live 8 was regarded as a New Labour co-option tactic. I observed the impromptu demonstration by G8 Alternatives activists on Prince's Street on 6 July, which occurred because the coaches and trains which were to take demonstrators to Gleneagles had been cancelled. They were later reinstated but the demonstration had gained momentum by then, it ended at about 4 p.m. Finally, I observed some of the Dissent! network's Carnival for Full Enjoyment on Monday 4 July in Edinburgh. The Dissent! network was more difficult to observe as it consists of small affinity groups of friends who practise DIY politics and are not part of organizations, nor do they advertise their actions - rather, they use flashmobs and, as such, do not always publicly announce their intentions beyond those involved in the network.

Apart from the demonstration mentioned above, there were no set speeches or actions as such. Most of the data I have for this mobilization comes from published activist accounts of their experiences in the book Shut Them Down! (Harvie et al., 2005).

I purposively selected documents that would report on the actions of three mobilizations. Some of the data therefore came from leftwing magazines, for example, Red Pepper and the New Statesman, as the mainstream press tended to be either unaware of or ignore all but the MPH coalition mobilization.

 
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