(Fwd) [stop-imf] Naiman: Come to DC on A16

From litlehan$ <phidyas@yahoo.com>
Date Thu, 13 Apr 2000 14:18:55 -0300

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A16: Sweeney Crosses the Rubicon, and a New Movement Takes 
Its First Steps By Robert Naiman

As a participant in the planning for the April 16-17 mobilizations
against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, I have
this to say about all the hype around the April demonstrations and 
the "new movement for global economic and social justice": the 
hype is entirely justified. Occasionally in this life one is blessed to
observe and participate in truly historic events. The decision by the
AFL-CIO, the Steelworkers, other major unions and Jobs with 
Justice to participate in mass demonstrations attacking the 
destructive colonial power of the IMF and the Bank marks a 
decisive turning point. The participation of Rich Trumka of the AFL 
and George Becker of the Steelworkers gives the events a 
completely different, more powerful political character. The AFL-
CIO is being swept forward by the social forces that organized 
labor itself did so much to set in motion. Nothing will ever be the 

Recall that a mere two years ago, the AFL-CIO backed the
Administration's request for $18 billion in new funding for the
International Monetary Fund - a 50% increase in the IMF's 
resources, at a time when the IMF was under unprecedented 
political attack, and when opposition to the Administration's 
request for more money was a predominant vehicle for that attack. 
By supporting the Administration's request, the AFL provided key 
liberal political cover for the IMF and the Clinton Administration. 
They saved the IMF and the agenda of the US Treasury 

But now we can see that as a mere stumble on the long march of
organized labor to a leadership position in a new movement for 
global economic justice. As a Jobs with Justice activist put it: "After
Seattle, everyone knows that the World Trade Organization is bad.
After the demonstrations in Washington, everyone will know that the
IMF and the Bank are bad. It will be very hard for the AFL to justify
supporting giving these bad institutions more money." And this next
stage in the evolution of the AFL-CIO was made possible by the
involvement of rank and file unionists and students with good
relationships with organized labor in the Mobilization.

But more is true. It is increasingly apparent that some of the top
people at the AFL, including most especially John Sweeney 
himself, fervently believe in what they are doing. At the Jubilee 
2000 USA demonstration last Sunday, Sweeney gave the best 
speech of the American speakers. Unlike the leaders of Jubilee 
2000 USA, who refuse to discuss the role of the IMF, the World 
Bank, and U.S. Treasury in imposing anti-worker "structural 
adjustment" economic policies as part of the "debt relief" program 
currently before the U.S. Congress, Sweeney vigorously attacked 
the policies of the IMF and the World Bank, and their role in driving 
the global "race to the bottom" in living standards. He explicitly 
linked the destructive impacts of the IMF and the Bank in 
developing countries to declining living standards in the United 

The significance of such statements from the head of the AFL-CIO
cannot be overestimated. The IMF and the World Bank are the most
destructive institutions in the world today. But unlike the WTO, they
have no direct impact on working people in the United States. The
strong opposition of the AFL-CIO to anti-worker "free trade"
agreements, under strong pressure from the industrial unions that 
are being decimated by globalization, was already a big step 
forward. But organized labor opposition to the IMF and the Bank is 
a huge leap forward.

Recall that in the 1980's, many of us organizing against U.S. 
military interventions in Latin America and elsewhere tried to make 
the case that U.S. foreign policy was not in the economic interest 
of the majority of people in the U.S. Now we have AFL-CIO 
President John Sweeney saying what we were saying in the 1980s: 
that U.S. foreign economic and military policy is hurting workers 
abroad and workers at home.

The Mobilization for Global Justice has also been a learning
experience for non-labor groups. Many who were skeptical at first of
the AFL's focus on the U.S.-China trade deal have come to see its
importance. The AFL-CIO position is the progressive one: approval 
of the U.S.-China trade deal would be bad for workers in the U.S. 
and bad for workers in China. But it is also the strategically correct 
one - given the ironclad commitment of big business and their 
Republican and Democratic allies to the agenda of removing any 
restrictions on the flow of capital, nothing less than vigorous 
opposition to bad trade deals will have any impact.

The Mobilization has also been a learning experience of 
respectfulness about diversity of tactics. During and after Seattle, 
there was a fair bit of recrimination about window-smashing and 
other property destruction and whether it was morally reprehensible 
or politically counterproductive. Within the current Mobilization, 
however, there has been a respectful dialogue about different 
tactics among different camps. This led to the creation of a legally 
permitted demonstration, designed to facilitate the participation of 
organized labor, community people, and other groups not willing or 
able to risk confrontation with the police or association with militant 
tactics in the context of this particular action. It also led to a real 
dialogue with anarchist groups supportive of property destruction, 
not based on dogma, moral condemnation, or marginalization but a 
real dialogue based on shared values of political effectiveness and 
not undermining the political work of others; and even though 
property destruction is outside of the action guidelines for the 
Mobilization, we expect that if property destruction does take place 
in Washington, it will have a different political character than it did 
in Seattle.

We have already won major victories in building and sustaining our
movement and delegitimizing the policies and funding of the
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The boycott of 
World Bank bonds has been launched 
(www.worldbankboycott.org), and many other political initiatives 
have begun (see www.a16.org).

But of course, the more people come, the more history we will 
make. If you are reading this on April 13, there is still time for you 
to come. Join us. Make history. Come to Washington and help 
shut down the meetings of the IMF and the World Bank; or join us 
for the most massive legal demonstration against the IMF and the 
World Bank that has ever taken place in the U.S.; or both. Be able 
to tell the story of how you were there when students, 
environmentalists, trade unionists, and anarchists made history 
and took on the most powerful institutions in the world.

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-------------------The Fourth World War Has Beginned-------------------
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