Socialist Worker

A chance to spit at Bush

Alex Callinicos previews the protest planned soon in Evian

Issue No. 1848

THREE CHEERS for the protesters who gave Tony Blair and the other pro-war prime ministers such a hot time when they visited Athens for the European Union summit last week. At the beginning of June George Bush will attend the Group of Eight (G8) meeting in the French city of Evian, just over the border from Geneva in Switzerland.

This will be an important event for various reasons. First, and most obviously, it brings the conqueror of Iraq to Europe, the continent that saw the largest demonstrations against his war.

The summit will be attended by Blair, Bush's leading European toady, as well as the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who despite his noisy pro-Americanism kept remarkably quiet in the face of massive opposition to the war in Italy.

But also present will be the leaders of the three most important governments which opposed war in Iraq - Jacques Chirac of France, the host country, Gerhard Schröder of Germany, and Vladimir Putin of Russia. In the past ten days all three have been manoeuvring their way towards an accommodation with the victors in the Iraq war.

There may still be flashpoints over the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq. The Bush administration wants to get sanctions lifted off Iraq and start the oil revenues flowing without allowing United Nations inspectors back. They can't be relied on to find those mysterious missing weapons of mass destruction.

All the same, Chirac has proclaimed the summit the 'G8 of Peace'. It's hard to fathom how this is supposed to work given the presence of Bush and Blair, who have just waged a war of aggression against Iraq - particularly given the threats that Washington has directed towards Syria and Iran since the fall of Baghdad. This hypocrisy will sicken and anger the millions who have taken part in the great anti-war demonstrations of the past few months.

Evian will be the first time the G8 has met in Europe since the summit at Genoa in July 2001. The huge protests there and the police brutality that led to the murder of a young demonstrator, Carlo Giuliani, were a landmark in the development of the movement against capitalist globalisation.

Since then the movement in Europe has developed considerably, in particular by connecting its opposition to neo-liberal economic policies and the domination of the multinationals to resistance to war and imperialism.

The G8 summit will be a further opportunity for the movement to bring all these issues together. Anti-capitalist networks in both France and Switzerland have been meeting for months to plan protests.

Evian itself has been declared a red zone and will be closed to demonstrators. The focus of the protests will be the Swiss city of Geneva and the French town of Annemasse.

Bush arrives in Geneva on Sunday 1 June - snubbing Chirac, he will be staying in Switzerland. That same day a massive demonstration will be organised between Annemasse and Geneva. Prior to the protests, an 'anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian and anti-war village' and an 'intergalactic village' are planned at Annemasse, where there will also be a 'summit for another world' on 29 May.

Non-violent direct action of various forms will take place while the G8 meets between 1 and 3 June. Switzerland has seen, proportionately, some of the largest anti-war protests in the past few months.

Demonstrators there have had to face brutal tactics by the police, who shot and badly injured a leading woman trade unionist with a plastic bullet at a protest in Geneva on 29 March. As a result, a senior police official had to resign.

After a slow start, the anti-war movement in France took off with the demonstrations on 15 February. The organisers of the protests are insisting on a demonstration that takes place on both sides of the frontier, and are demanding that the authorities don't use border controls to block the entry of protesters.

A consensus is developing that the protests should focus on opposing the colonial occupation of Iraq. This is an issue that brings together all the concerns of the movement - opposition to the imperialist war machine and to the multinational corporations that are carving up the world and its resources.

It's clear, then, that Evian is set to become the next great rendezvous in the development of the anti-capitalist movement - joining such great names as Seattle and Prague, Genoa and Florence.

For those who have been active against the war here in Britain it will be an opportunity to pursue the butchers and occupiers wherever they gather. Along with protesters from the rest of Europe, we can show that every step they take will face massive resistance.

New from Alex Callinicos

An Anti-Capitalist Manifesto
Available from Bookmarks for the special price of £12.50 (normally £13.99). Phone 020 7637 1848 or buy on-line at

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Sat 26 Apr 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1848
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