The world is still a system of nations and governments, dominated by imperialism and with contradictions between these governments. The history of the G8 is the history of the most powerful nations trying to come to common solutions to problems-but also a history of tensions between them. The G8 was created in 1975 -f irst as G5 and growing to G8. It was set up at the start of a global recession and just after the US lost the Vietnam War. There are four periods in the development of the G8. The years 1975 to 1977 were the period of looking for Keynesian solutions-looking for new areas in which to invest. The G8 countries invested large amounts of capital in the south. At the end of the 1970s we had a neo-liberal, free market turn in the US and Britain.
For them it was successful. They managed to restore their profits and, through the World Bank and the IMF, to coordinate their attacks against the south and the populations in the north.
The third period starts with the fall of the Berlin Wall – when the US began to regain its confidence as an imperialist power. It was the period of the 1991 Gulf War. The US imposed their model of economic development on the world. Now, in the fourth period, the supremacy of US imperialism is more and more evident. The US government is asking openly whether it needs to talk to the smaller powers and whether they need international institutions.
Protests against the G8 started in the mid-1980s with counter-summits, mainly over the debt issue. The first mass demonstration was in 1996 in Lyons. This was the first time that these new forces joined with the trade unions – it was a year after the huge public sector strikes in France.
The mass demonstrations grew bigger. In 2001 you had the biggest ever protest against the G8 in Genoa with 300,000 on the street. Last year's Geneva mobilisation was after the war in Iraq. It was a period of a high level of struggle around Europe over pensions and other issues. We wanted to keep up the pressure against the war and bring this together with social issues. The movement was beginning to become more political and more socially rooted, which led to big arguments.
Some said that because Chirac opposed the war we shouldn't protest against the G8 he was hosting. It was a success that we managed a demonstration of 100,000 people-the biggest ever demonstration in Switzerland.
For the G8 in Britain in 2005 we have to look at the weakening of the US in the face of the Iraqi resistance, the new contradictions between the US and other imperialist powers, and the role we play as a movement against occupation and corporate globalisation.
I think that you have the chance and the responsibility with the G8 in Britain next year to build the radical opposition to injustices implemented by the G8.