community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
Why I’m Going to the Pittsburgh G20 Summit
I. On Tuesday, September 22, Cleveland Plain Dealer ran an editorial by David M. Shribman, the executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, entitled, “High Stakes in Pittsburgh.” In this editorial, Shribman discusses the importance of the G20 summit meeting of the 20 world leaders as well as the heads of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)and the World Bank (representing 85% of the world’s economy), to restore the public’s faith in globalization:
“What the world yearns for is a sense of stability and confidence, two elements that have their utility in the emotional world but that also provide the oxygen for the commercial and investment worlds. Nothing moves in a positive direction- not the stock market, not consumer goods, not the overall economy- without those two things.”One of the key organizers of the G20’s opposition, the Pittsburgh G20 Resistance Project has a downloadable poster on their website that reads:
“Capitalism isn’t in Crisis- Capitalism is the Crisis.”
II. Ten years ago about 50,000 people from all walks of life gathered on the streets of Seattle to defy the meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO). There were unionists, environmentalists, students, musicians, farmers, immigrants, indigenous peoples, even the Raging Grannies showed up and shut down the meeting. The opposition’s message then in Seattle is the same today in Pittsburgh- corporate globalization ruins homes, communities, nations and the planet. Everything that the global justice movement was saying then and warning the world about in terms of corporate globalization- mass loss of jobs, weakening of environmental standards, weakening of unions, growing poverty, increased militarization and destruction of local economies has come to pass. None of the touted “benefits of globalization” those neoconservative pundits, bankers, and economists promised ever arrived. So, when Mr. Shribman says “High Stakes in Pittsburgh” he is indeed correct. There are high stakes for the global justice movement to remind America and the world that institutions like the G20, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization are not the solution- they are the problem. It is these organizations and trade policies which removed trade barriers, gutted our manufacturing sector, pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into speculative credit schemes and emasculated the American people into an economy of consumers of cheap plastic junk and expensive metal “toys.” As the global justice movement has now been loudly stating for over a decade- there is no solution to be found within the G20’s closed doors in Pittsburgh or wherever else they choose to hold their meetings. The solution to America’s and every nation’s problems lies within the communities who have to deal with them on a daily basis. Continued corporate globalization is only going to further hurt this country and others across the planet.
III. When these large international summit meetings happen, it also provides a summit meeting for the peoples on the streets. Pittsburgh provides a venue for us, the large and diverse mass which make up the global justice movement, to demonstrate to the world our dissent. At no point in the past decade has the time been more ripe to stage our grievances with corporate globalization. And the powers that be are well aware of this; the city if Pittsburgh has completely closed off a three block radius of downtown (surrounding the David L. Lawrence Convention Center), guarded by 2,000 National Guard troops, 4,000 Pennsylvania State Troopers, 1,000 Pittsburgh City Police and an undisclosed number of federal law enforcement agents. They clearly anticipate our public disagreement. Thus the “High Stakes” are even more so upon us. Groups including the Thomas Merton Center, Pittsburgh Indymedia, CODEPINK, Pittsburgh Organizing Group, Pittsburgh G20 Resistance Project, Amnesty International and a host of other clusters have been spreading the word and preparing actions for months. Will activists heed the call? Big marches and actions are planned all over the city Thursday, the 24th to coincide with the Summit’s opening and on Friday, the 25th. Soon enough, we’ll see the state of the global justice movement. Let’s pray we’re still singing loud with our fists raised.