Article written for the French magazine Alternative Libertaire October 2000 and published as Le mouvement anti-capitaliste le 26 Sept. a Prague
Prague S26 proved that ordinary people can take on rulers of this world and especially that a lot can be achieved even by few organised people. The mobilisation for S26 and the organisation of the Prague 2000 counter-summit and protests themselves were done by some 100 people involved in INPEG or independent of INPEG.
Anarchists played a very significant role in the S26 mobilisation. When Czech anarchists organised solidarity actions for Seattle protests in 1999, they were able to bring together only some 50 people. Nevertheless, thanks to our involvement in working class struggles and our direct actions, we had been able to raise workers attention to the problems of global capitalism. So eventually, all various groups involved in the mobilisation got some 28% of the entire population to support S26 protests and bring about 2,000 young Czech workers, unemployed and students at the demos in Prague.
As for the Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists - SOLIDARITA we were deeply involved in all these activities. We co-organised solidarity demos for Seattle and Washington and May Day 2000. Our members egged US state secretary Madeleine Albright to protest against American imperialism in Yugoslavia as well as in institutions of global capitalism such as IMF and World Bank. In this way we popularised S26 protests.
Some of our members joined INPEG to open a space for revolutinoary anarchist ideas at the counter-summit. They also co-organised street medical groups for the Prague demos. But ORA-SOLIDARITA itself was organising an independent anarchist mobilisation for S26 among working class people. This mobilisation was on clearly anti-capitalist and revolutionary anarchist lines. Localy we were able to join forces with other Czech anarchists and libertarian anti-fascists and our infostalls, leafleting and posters were receiving a pretty positive response from many workers.
In the meantime ORA-SOLIDARITA with its 12 members incited through a relentless agitation a one day occupation of a factory and a subsequent general assembly of 1,000 workers of this factory and their attempt at a formation of a strike committee independent of the union bureaucracy. In another factory we instigated a self-organised demo of 300 workers at which local union leaders got under attack from rank & file.
Thanks to this involvement we have been also able to familiarise workers with anti-capitalist ideas of S26 protests. At least in two factories rank & file unionists demanded a collective participation at Prague demos.
Anti-globalisation or anti-capitalism? People who took part in S26 Global Day of Actions had varying ideas about, what we should fight for. Many green, left and union liberals of different shades desperately try to make this new global movement a movement "against (economic) globalisation" and propose a reformed version of the current capitalist exploitation. Unfortunately, a lot of sincere activists fall for this trap, even if they consider themselves as anti-capitalists.
The reason is simple: they do not have any broader vision of an anti-capitalist strategy and because they are so enthusiastic about the new movement, which is to a significant extent based on direct federalist democracy and direct action, anti-capitalism can easily shrink for them to a focus on shutting down particular capitalist conferences.
But what we need is to shut down all the capitalist system and replace it with something better. This goal can be achieved only through a self-organised social revolution. And according to revolutionary anarchists it follows, that towards this libertarian revolution we need to spread anarchist ideas within the working class and encourage in it self-organisation through persuation and example of a collective direct action.
It means we do not cry together with liberal pacifists in horror about "violence" if it is productive. At the end of the day what counts is not the number of injured policemen and smashed McDonalds, but the number of working class people at least partially won to our cause.
Future for the movement To pursue a real anti-capitalist spirit in the movement, we need to continue to involve ourselves localy in day to day struggles around various issues concerning working class people and really try to imbue them with anarchist ideas. And of course we must again and again use global mobilisations as an oportunity to link all these social struggles and movements into a mighty internationalist movement. And everywhere we must agitate for the anarchist alternative of Freedom, Self-Management and Socialism.
If anarchist or truly anti-capitalist ideas and practice will come to a next Global Day of Actions as well established in local social struggles and movements, we will have a good chance to take on various liberals and decaying leninist sects, whom we have already totally overwhelmed in Prague S26. But for this end anarchists definitely need national as well as international organisations with agreed politics and strategies and co-ordinated networks to make their interventions more effective through agreed joint strategy, tactics, solidarity and resistance. We need greater anarchist unity.
After S26 Czech revolutionary anarchists find themselves in a very difficult position. The State and capitalist media are doing their best to stir up mass hysteria aimed against anarchism. Using anarchist clashes with the police and damage to bourgeois property they try to discredit anti-IMF/World Bank protests and anarchism and hide the real criminals who were sitting in the Conference Palace protected by police violence.
The social democratic government would like to introduce more authoritarian laws bringing our country a bit closer to the totalitarian police state of the pre-1989 period. Laws which would allow Czech police to use rubber bullets against demonstrators and which would forbid demonstrators wearing scarfs and masks on their faces. Rightwing politicians call for zero tolerance of anarchism, which they consider to be a new bolshevism, for an open fire into anarchist demonstrations and prosecution of people for spreading "class hatred".
Nevertheless, a certain percentage of those 28% of Czech people we had been able to get to support S26 prior to the demos, can see beyond all those police and media mystifications and to some extent still supports us and the protests. In relation to the police attack on Wenceslaw square on S26 in the evening, when the police was firing tear gas granades against people gathered in front of the National Museum building, relatively many older working class people from Prague have recalled the memories of 1968, when Soviet tanks were firing against National Museum. Just this time we have been experiencing Western imperialism and not a stalinist one, defended by Czech police and not by foreign armies.
ORA-SOLIDARITA will not give up! We are returning back to our activity on workplaces and in communities to tell people the truth about what was going on in Prague and to build up on this and on our former successes.