The empire strikes back? Scenes like this happened in real life last week at the meeting of the World Trade Organization, in the other Washington.
Photo courtesy of Associated Press, Copyright ©1999 all rights reserved.
Battle in Seattle
Quaking the World Trade Organization
The protesters faced the WTO, and the WTO faced the possibility that -- with all its power and secrecy -- it could be shut down cold by the super-consciousness of an awakening world.
Take a look at the lawman beating up the wrong guy.
Oh man, wonder if he'll ever know
he's in the best-selling show?
Is there life on Mars?
By Christopher Grosso
Planet Waves Digital Media
NO LIFE ON MARS; the Polar Lander was dead on arrival.
.......But there's life on Earth all right, if you look deeply enough, and if you're facing in the right direction. As in West, or as some would say, Out Left.
.......The curtain between a worldwide audience of billions and the brightly lit Seattle stage lifted last week, in what was undoubtedly the best selling show of the season. Dubbed "the Battle In Seattle" by the news media, the drama of the World Trade Organization ministerial conference was depicted by most news outlets with about as much journalistic depth as a wrasslin' promotion, and just as polarized. No offense intended to mainstream journalists and none to wrasslin' promoters.
.......Of course, there was a simple dramatic formula: "the villain," starring the all-powerful WTO, with the "henchmen," played by supporting actors-the armor-clad stormtrooping, nut kicking Seattle police department; and there was "the hero" played by leftist radical tree-hugging environmentalist-socialist-communists. Or was the hero played by President Clinton? And who was the "victim"? Was it the protesters? Was it the business people hung up at lunchtime, or inconvenienced holiday shoppers?
Or was it the WTO delegates who ended up accomplishing little other than getting some extra frequent flyer miles? Owners of Starbuck's franchises? Or was the victim the police?
.......There's a deeper story underneath the stereotypical roles of villain, hero and victim played out on television. And it's this "un-coverage" you must be interested in if you're reading Planet Waves.
.......First, what really happened?
.......Second, what is the WTO, what's its purpose and modus operandi?
.......Third, what are the real concerns that emerged, demanding they be addressed?
.......Fourth, what were the real forces at work, and what was the real outcome of the events in Seattle?
.......Let's take a look backstage...
Photo courtesy of AP, ©1999 all rights reserved.
SEATTLE HAD BEEN BRACING for the WTO summit for months, bringing in law enforcement consultants to train the police force in proper intimidation techniques to use on the thousands of protesters they expected from the environmental and labor rights sectors.
.......Seattle-based video-journalist John Bosch was on the street much of the week, and he says the protesters, upwards of 30,000, shut down downtown Seattle completely. He estimated that 99% of the protesters were peaceful, carrying signs, stringing banners, blocking traffic in the streets. A very small percentage of self-described anarchists were breaking windows at symbols of Western capitalism -- Starbuck's and Planet Hollywoods.
.......When delegates began arriving Tuesday, all hell began breaking loose between itchy-fingered riot police and passionately irritable activists but ironically, Bosch says, cops went after the peaceful protesters, rather than wind themselves chasing the vandals. Their purpose was to appear intimidating, to appear to be in control, rather than to actually restore peace. This much is clear, as you look at the endless reruns of the cop shooting a plastic (not "rubber") bullet at point-blank range toward the kid's face, maybe thinking somehow 3 billion people around the globe wouldn't see him.
.......He was mistaken. Bosch said overall the cops were somewhat restrained up until the last two nights of the convenition, when a greater show of force was unleashed. Police were nervous, and the protesters were high on their power by Tuesday evening when things started to escalate.
.......Other reports were less diplomatic, painting a bloodier, more brutal picture. Seattle emergency room Dr. Richard DeAndrea confirmed in web-interview that riot police's bullets were plastic, not rubber, and inflicted some serious penetration wounds. He said police were firing concussion grenades and tear-gas canisters at people's faces. A resident of downtown reported that a female office worker, who was four-months pregnant, lost her baby after a confrontation with police.
"It was martial law," DeAndrea said.
.......By the time the police and the activists had succeeded in escalating the face-off Tuesday night, the cops were pushing the protesters up Capital Hill with torrents of tear gas. Capital Hill, says Bosch, is a neighborhood populated mostly by counter-culture, alternative, progressive-type young people; punks and skaters, who got pissed about the tear gas. Of course,
this escalated things even more. You know how fearless skaters are.
......."I realized during this whole thing that maybe anarchy is not a real good thing, " Bosch finally told me. "We need the cops. I mean, I need someone to call if someone breaks into my house!"
.......While tensions were escalating Wednesday night, I was in a discussion group online, and one of the participants, sitting at her computer in Seattle, was simultaneously monitoring the WTO situation. She said some of the protesters were chanting the "Om" mantra, the Sanskrit word for God. Here's what it looked like:
Naomi: Some protesters have just begun chanting OM and are saying they will leave as the curfew begins..
LaurieJoy: let us JOIN them here......
Debbye: Om Shanti Om
chris: how gorgeous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Zan: Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
hathor: shanti, shanti, shanti
Emissary: :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)
.......Some believe the vibration generated by Om is an open invitation for God to be present. The word "shanti," incidentally, means "peace which passeth understanding."
Photo courtesy of AP, ©1999 all rights reserved.
OFTEN CALLED "the most powerful institution on the planet," the World Trade Organization represents the "dark side" -- those forces secretively controlling the shadowy world of commerce -- material and service "goods," the commodities of the capitalist machinery, and telecommunication -- and even different dimensions of time, in the form of investment futures. All the things in the world we humans think we need to "connect" ourselves to life and with one another has been placed under the WTO's authority; the Rule-Maker and Rule-Breaker.
.......Established in 1995 as an expansion of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which was set in place after the Second World War, the WTO claims in its literature that its goal is "to improve the welfare of the peoples of the member countries," by way of ensuring "that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible." But its actions suggest that it's a mechanism for transnational corporations to eliminate restrictions that local and federal governments can place on them in the form of legislation. That's what the catch-phrase "free trade" means. Critics say you can accurately substitute the words "free trade" with "corporate managed trade," to get a clearer idea.
.......But GATT has been successful in increasing the total world trade volume to 14 times that of 1950. Impressive growth, indeed. So why an organization to free up trade growth even more? One reason is because we're, that is to say, you and I, are getting smarter. Greater numbers are beginning to understand the environmental and economic destructiveness of unchecked industry and development. Legislation aimed at slowing growth, or at least directing it more wisely, often appears as "trade barriers" to mega-corporations whose sole genetic purpose is to make profits and grow continually.
.......Most of the non-governmental organizations involved in the massive protests were taking issue not necessarily with the stated function or goals of the WTO as much as with the operating principal of the powerful governing body. Bosch, our video reporter on the scene in Seattle, said he felt a lot of voices shouting, "Fix it!" rather than "Dump it!"
.......The organization has enormous decision-making power in structuring the process of globalization which, as the word implies, affects everyone and everything on the planet, which in turn makes just about everyone on the outside of their heavy doors who knows what's happening just a little itchy. One major theme underlying the protests was the question of the WTO's "moral authority" in corporatizing the world, and how its power is to be checked and balanced.
.......The WTO puts commercial interests above any others, including the rights of workers and the health of the environment. The WTO itself argues that the environment is not its primary concern, nor should it be, and that such issues should be left to environmental agencies. This continues to develop a world structure in which business interests clash with planetary survival interests, rather than integrating the two into one growth process.
.......This raises valid questions as to whether such a disconnected mentality can accompany us into the new millennium, let alone lead the way. And make no mistake, with such immense power over the way money moves over the face of the planet, the WTO does lead. WorldWatch environmental researcher John Tuxill, says that reform is desperately needed in policies that work against plant diversity, the saving grace of the world's food supply. Although there are international bodies that require governments to develop policies for managing plant resources wisely, the overriding WTO deems the policies as trade barriers, and are demanding that such policies be dismantled.
.......The upsurge also has to do with the dangerously powerful influence the WTO has to establish laws for members; laws that can be short-sighted in their intended outcome, yet far-reaching in their actual impact. A case in point is the WTO's advancement of its "intellectual property" agenda, requiring members to establish a system for patenting plant varieties as a way of protecting breeders' rights. This is the hidden plate movement far beneath
the Monsanto Faultline, which sits atop another, deeper crack-the United States (global capitalist) society.
Photo courtesy of AP, ©1999 all rights reserved.
TO PUT A HUMAN FACE on the WTO, these are well-bred, classically trained elites. Classically trained to believe that if you were to reduce the atom of any element to its smallest divisible constituent, smaller than an electron, even smaller than a photon, you will get the most basic unit of energy: the gold standard. In other words the bottom line, in their logic, is money. No great miracle; we've known this about big business all along; but noting to ignore, either.
.......Spirit-babe philosopher Marianne Williamson says -- and I agree -- that a society built on a monetary bottom line faces imminent collapse because it places money above the welfare of its children. And when a society's children are made to surf atop the spikes and valleys of the stock market flow charts, they live in a society with no purpose or self-respect, let alone certainty.
.......The monetary bottom line is controlled by markets, when markets themselves are supposedly mere reflections of a society's priorities, really; priority mirrors. They paint an accurate picture of where we invest importance. Markets are servants -- to human consumption and greed, currently. So it follows that human consumption and greed control the markets, which in turn control the bottom line, which bleeds into the sense of what's gained and what's lost in all other transactions in life; what's valuable and what's not. Can you see that? But the question is, who teaches us our priorities? With a multizillion dollar advertising industry pumping its memes and messages into our heads by the minute, it is difficult to believe that obsession over Tommy Gofigure is some kind of natural phenomenon.
.......I also agree with the Pope when he said that market-controlled economics is "cold" because there's no love in it, no compassion. The machine isn't interested in compassion. It has a job to do. Compassion has to come from the onlooker.
.......The children of the society that replaces the current one must be the new bottom line because they are the force time and resources must be made to serve. And they will know it because they will have wise, loving elders who made sure such a system was set into place, regardless of the "cost." I can't wait.
Photo of M31 (Amdromeda Galaxy, the one next door), courtesy of Astronomy Picture of the Day.
SAYS ASTROLOGER MICHAEL WOLFSTAR, the World Trade Organization is natally set up to be a very practical organization, if nothing else. Born January 1, 1995 in Geneva, Switzerland, the WTO has five planets in Capricorn, indicating strong discipline when it comes to things like bureaucracy and chain of command. But with things like ethics, he interprets a weakness in the Jupiter-square-Saturn from Sagittarius to Pisces. This aspect was described by Dr. Marc Edmund Jones as representing a last chance situation; a desperate need to live real values and a real life in the legacy of many missed and lost opportunities. And Sagittarius and Pisces surely call attention to what one could reasonably deem spiritual issues. I do think that spiritual, which, on Earth, translates to ethical issues usually begin with questions about the perceived relationship between "ends" and "means." So let's follow this link for a moment.
.......Ethics can be seen as a process of bringing into alignment an appropriate destination (an "end") and an appropriate route (a "means"). The means always serves the end. This is a mechanical necessity, pretty much like wheels always need to be round. When the equation is turned the other way -- when the end serves the means -- you have a world like the one we're wandering through; idiot cops kicking kids in the 'nads in an effort to be respected. That kind of thing.
.......When you know your destination, and it's a "good" goal in the sense that it feels right for you, then the best route simply sort of unfolds before you, between you and your destination. It's that simple.
.......Of course, you need to be facing your destination.
.......And that's what I believe happened in Seattle. The protesters faced the WTO, and the WTO faced the possibility that -- with all their power and secrecy -- they could be shut down cold by the super-consciousness of an awakening world.
.......The WTO's real destination, which it clearly wasn't facing, is to oversee commerce on a global scale. They've been facing another direction altogether, where the destination is "to serve the people who have lots of money invested in clogging the commercial arteries of our living organic home." The protesters forced the WTO to turn -- if only for three days -- in the direction we all know we need to be headed.
.......Who knows how long the WTO will keep its eye on the correct goal?
.......But one thing is certain: they had more of a chance to catch a glimpse of it than if the beautiful protesters, peaceful and violent alike, would have been good little cattle and followed the cops into the coral, then into the slaughterhouse.
.......My hunch is that the major surge of conscious cosmic wavicles last summer, buffered by the solar eclips and focused by the Grand Fixed Cross directly to the rods and cones of the whole human species, opened our eyes to negative possibilities and, more importantly, opened our hearts to positive ones.++
Horoscopes | Contents Page
Background on World Trade Oranization
from Rachel's Health and Environment Weekly
International Forum On Globalization