This past april, environmentalists, anarchists, labor organizers, students, and people with nothing better to do gathered at the nations Capitol to shout, dance, sing, deface, clash, play, and be counted. As part of a polyphonic refusal of globalization without representation, no fewer than 10,000 people took to the streets on the morning of April 16th (A16) to disrupt the meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Like Seattle and the recent actions at the political conventions in Philadelphia (RNC) and Los Angeles (DNC), respectively, the amalgam of activists, artists, and dancers on the streets of downtown DC signaled a vibrant domestic link to a long-standing if disparate international struggle over the merits of development1 and technoscience, the future of urbanization and public goods, and the manifold struggles in the new economy over bodies, space, and time.
Following an account of A16 events from ground zero2, we address the elusive political projects converging and emerging via permit-less public assemblies that produce social spaces for indeterminate ends. We also consider the implications of the Direct Action Networks mode of organization on global politics and local social life, and we reflect upon the street as economy and political stage; the impact of anarchism on philosophy and praxis; and the necessity for a carnivalesque social imagination. To conclude, we suggest possible ties between domestic actions and extant global movements, as well as articulate how a radical urban ecology might enable this political amalgamation to persist and proliferate.3
A Sunday stroll in the streets
On the eve of A16, members of our New York City affinity group met at a Middle Eastern diner in downtown Washington to make the final arrangements for the next days action. Greenhorns sat wide-eyed as more experienced activists explained the variety of possible police force tactics. Standard fare could include pepper spray and tear gas and, as Christie4 noted, we did have counter options in the event of a tear gas attack: "The canisters are really hot, but you can use a shirt or a rag to pick them up and toss them back towards the cops. Not at the cops, but certainly away from the crowds." Earlier that week, ten people had designated themselves for street lock-down and arrest, but, by eleven oclock that night, the number had slimmed to six. The flying squadron was still fourteen strong, and its tasks included dragging stuff into the street, delaying the cops from breaking up the lock-down, engaging in street theater, and, in the case of emergency, providing minor medical support. Steve cell-phoned Peter, our contact at DAN, to make alternate arrangements for the lock-down and, as we stepped out into the street, we were confronted with the ear-piercing whir of motorcycle engines.
As we looked on, police cars shut down the intersection of 11th Street and K, and DC motorcycle cops in twin columns of twelve poured through with high beams flashing and sirens blaring. Ostensibly, they were escorting a school bus of protesters arrested that afternoon at a demonstration against the American prison industry. During this action, peaceful protesters and tourist bystanders were cornered and detained by the cops, then kept handcuffed in the busses all night. They were never charged with a crime. We huddled into the vans, awestruck by this display of power and hysteria, and we couldnt help but wonder: Who was more nervous about tomorrow? Us or them?
Many of us fell into bed around two a.m. and by four a.m. we were back on our feet, having swallowed what we expected might be our last civilian meal of the day, in order to assemble on the street by five a.m. Our affinity group met on the south side of the Watergate Hotel, where buses for the delegates were already waiting. Dogs sniffed the buses for bombs, while Secret Service men checked the axles for signs of tampering. We were afraid to stand still and run the risk of a loitering charge (and just plain afraid, too), so we walked the perimeter of the hotel, taking pause to exchange nods with the cops in their cars, keeping an eye out for a sign of other protesters. A young guy with blonde hair and baggy clothes approached us and said, "Everybodys over there. On the other side of the Potomac Parkway." We followed him up the hill and there they were, two hundred strong, quietly waiting for the lock-down supplies to arrive and making last-minute assignments. The two hundred pounds of chains and padlocks for our group never arrived, and we marched forth, wondering how we might find the rest of our group.
As we headed toward the nexus of the DC radius, thousands of activists met thousands more, all pushing toward downtown. In the search for other activists, members of our group split up and failed to rendezvous; as a result, we simply joined in with the aggregate of other marchers, shouting in call and response"Whose streets!?! Our streets!" "What do we want? Our surplus value!!! When do we want it? Now!!!"
Around 23rd and H streets, a lock-down began close to six a.m. Several cops on motorcycles moved in close, circling the lock-down, revving their engines, dangerously brushing up against the knees and feet of the squatting protesters. A stocky, bespectacled activist stepped into the path of the motorcycles, pressed his shoulder against the windshield of the second bike, and yelled "Stop!" Another protester did the same with a different motorcycle cop and, while the first officer grew flustered and continued to rev the engine, he refrained from advancing against the protesters. From the side, another activist, whose face was hidden behind a bandana, cocked his fist and lunged at the motorcycle cop. The first activist intercepted the blow with his hand and pulled him back, patted him on the chest, and said, "Relax, were good, were good, dont escalate."
Other protesters surrounded the three remaining motorcycle cops in full riot gear and started chanting, "Whose streets!?" The police were effectively trapped and, instead of trying to remove the protesters, they withdrew. In a odd fit of jealousy, the cops proceeded to form a line of their own, which people were allowed to cross! The standoff gave way to a mere display of power on one side and further festival on the other with the arrival of the puppets. For the moment, the mood was relaxedpolice redeploying or feigning movement occasionallyuntil the sounds of drums drew near. Over the hill, at 22nd and H streets, two thousand bandana-masked marchers advanced, carrying large red and black banners. "A hundred to one, you better fucking run!"
At 21st Street and G, and at other key intersections of the DC radius, affinity groups from across the nation managed to block some of the delegate bus routes and turned some away (if only temporarily) by the oddest of tactics. Many affinity group members at 20th Street and Connecticut were clearly prepared for a tear gas attack: they dressed in water-resistant clothing from head to toe and carried gas masks or vinegar-soaked rags. They also packed in chains, duct tape, and PVC pipingjust some of the materials necessary for a proper lock-down. However, it was clear as early as daybreak, that many of the 10,000 protesters engaging in direct action had limited knowledge of the basic tenets of the new civil disobedience. Many young men and women5 wore necklaces and nose rings, leaving themselves vulnerable to facial injury in the event of police conflict; others donned little more than cotton t-shirts, faded jeans, and flowing skirts. They came armed with bongos, guitars, and bucket percussion, and, amid the mix of polyrhythms and improvised dance steps, their political platform was elusive, but not intangible: these folks were here to affirm their right to play. Indeed, while much of the early morning activity focused on the often confrontational disruption of the flow of delegates, the conversion of the street itself into a social space set the milieu for this mode of opposition and for various modes of ludic expressivity.
Antecedents of A16
Though these events evoke in part the 1960s, the sociality and politics of A16 are more reminiscent of the 1930s and pre-Franco Spain, when the Iberian Anarchist Federation (IAF) developed an early model of affinity group praxis. DAN served as the non-hierarchical hub of the affinity group constellation in Seattle and DC, aiding the affinity groups as coordinator, rather than disciplinarian. To understand the importance of an organization like DAN, we refer to Murray Bookchin (1971, 221) and his characterization of the IAF tactics: "They provide initiation and consciousness, not a general staff and a source of command." Paraphrasing Bookchin, the task of standpoint critique, be it class, gender, race, or sexuality, has not yet been completed but must be transcended.
Circa 1967, in a now infamous interview, Stokeley Carmichael was asked: "What is the position of woman in the Black Power movement?" His reputed reply, uttered with equal measures of temperance and sarcasm: "Prone."6 The mostly white student movements of the 1960s faced the same dilemma: women were often disproportionately assigned clerical duties, while men did most of the public speaking.7 No such institutional sexism exists in DAN, and many of the most visible and vocal women, including Medea Benjamin from Global Exchange, are now running for US Senate on the Green Party ticket in California. Indeed, DAN largely avoids any such entrenched coercion or discrimination because there are no leaders with long-standing assignments. Some argue that there are in fact no leaders at all. Through affinity group praxis, autonomy and localism serve as the constitutive guidelines of a multi-faceted struggle. One groups needs are not deferred until victory is secured for another. Affinity group organization and praxis, in turn, resists the codification and compartmentalization that is part and parcel to the tactics of its adversary: neo-liberalism.
Neo-liberalism is governed by a particular logistics of rationality: all beingsnatural, artificial, cultural, technologicalare understood as resources to be managed in order to facilitate capital accumulation and further (anti-democratic) concentrations of power. The monocultural logic of capital manipulates living beings for profit and patents, annihilates ways of life that cannot or will not be "converted," and renders illegitimate any resistant body of knowledge. The function of neo-liberal politics is to secure the body politic for conversion into the planetary work machine: hence the WTO, NAFTA, corporate welfare, and forced workfare.8 Accordingly, the body politic is configured as an aggregate of "autonomous" citizen-consumers who, as rational agents, above all else want efficiency and protectionhence the push toward privatized democracy.
In contrast to A16, the Earth Day and Millennium March rallies in DC exemplified this corporate-political configuration: their ranks were largely dominated by liberal environmentalists and lesbian and gay rights advocates, respectively.9 A whos who of multinational corporations sponsored the events: United Airlines offered discounted fares to DC, and DuPont Pharmaceuticals, which has one of the worst environmental records on file and a history of conflict with gay activists, were one of the chief underwriters. Other sponsors with prominent banners included Abbot Laboratories, Ortho Biotech, Bell Atlantic, KY Lubricant, and America Online. As noted on the Web site for the Millennium March:
Corporate sponsorship of the Millennium March on Washington offers extraordinary visibility, promotional and brand-building opportunities to companies looking to reach the affluent and loyal gay/lesbian market. (http://www.millenniummarch.com)
Despite these groups ostensible protests against the state, these events demonstrate how individuals are transformed into identity-based niche markets for corporations that offer generous sponsorship, provided that their ranks remain affluent and maintain brand loyalty. In fact, outside of the vilification of a "radical right" caricature in the Millennium March, activists at both events neglected to identify their adversaries, and not a single speaker articulated the systemic relations that bind their causes with other forms of oppression. Furthermore, the mainstream environmentalist and gay rights groups that organized and attended Earth Day and the Millennium March exemplify how neo-liberalism has made its peace with institutions of American democracy. By soliciting corporate sponsorship and supporting traditional political activity, especially lobbying and voting, organizers and participants embrace these institutions as legitimate channels for political change. This stands in contradistinction to the intervention-oriented and often highly effective pro-queer activism of the past, which neither turned to corporations for legitimization nor relied on the money-dominated electoral process. Indeed, the radicality of ACT UP has been the modus operandi in which DAN-linked affinity groups have produced new social spaces in their transformation of the street into political theater.
The function of the street
In the neo-liberal paradigm, the street is an object of disdain. It is maligned as a habitat of violence, disorder, and auditory noise, awash with visual and olfactory offense, crime, trash, and pollution. The preferred spaces of neo-liberalism are more akin to the serene clean of cyberspace, the uninterrupted flow of interstate highways, and the security of commercially-owned pedestrian malls. At its rationalized best, the street is pure passageway, to be kept free of the interference of congestion and noise. In this vision, the roads are freshly paved and the sidewalks and parks are free from unpredictable crowds, panhandlers, loiterers, and unsanctioned vendors. All traffic, of goods and bodies, moves smoothly.
Now imagine a politics that neither casts the street as an aesthetic and economic offense, nor romanticizes its pathologies. This politics instead advocates the practice of A16-like festivals of resistance and, in their wake, employs these events as springboards or launching pads for like-minded discourse and ritual. But for what and for whom? Many know that the protests in Seattle and DC were in opposition to the global triumvirate of the WTO, IMF, and the World Bank, and in support of labor, the environment, and other perfectly decent liberal causes. Good politics, however, does not merely rally people around a particular issue, for issue-based politics has a short shelf-life.10 What is crucial to this movement is its mode of organization and the manner in which it not only occupies and transforms but produces space.
The roar of the crowd was deafening as the 25 police officers in full body armor clutching three foot billy clubs and riot shields turned around and disappeared down F street. The last few minutes had been some of the longest in my life. As 100 rag-tag activists occupying the intersection of 18th and E stood facing the heavily armed riot cops. As the cops turned tail, the band of activists spontaneously sang Twister Sisters 80s schlock anthem "Were Not Gonna Take It," and a dance party broke out (Punk Planet, 68).
At Seattle and DC, the street performed at least four different roles: the generation of media exposure; the (further) radicalization of participants; the organization of direct democracy; and, in a nod to the political group of the same name, it was the scene of the Reclaim the Streets (RTS) experience. First, activists presence in the streets resists the codes of national media, in particular, and attracts attention in productive ways. With the traffic update as a new staple of rush hour news, the street protest nearly ensures coverage as exemplary spectacle. In addition, activists performance of a Situationist inspired detournement reconfigures ideas about the purpose of streets. The slogan "Trade is a social issue!," for example, takes a traditionally economic term and frees it from its apolitical enclosure, re-territorializing it within the contours of everyday life.
Second, the street becomes the theater for the radicalization of police officers and activists alike. As feminist eco-philosopher Chaia Heller noted in an essay posted on the DAN list-serv:
On the streets, the real, yet more abstract fight against the WTO concretized itself into a struggle against the non-democracy of the state and capital. Activists found themselves beaten, injured by chemical weapons, jailed, tortured, and deprived of their civil rights in a "progressive First World" citymerely for engaging in peaceful protest and for taking to the streets as citizens to express their freedom of speech (Heller 2000).
Although there were fewer beatings, gassings, and sprayings at A16 than in Seattle, as well as fewer participants, there were considerably more arrests. For those protesters detained, the deprivation bordered on torture: there was little initial access to lawyers, and toilets, food, water, and medical attention were severely restrictedand many were never arraigned. In DC, we met up with a young man who was arrested and forced to sit alone in a room, handcuffed for six hours without access to a toilet, or food and water. In addition, one of the 630 people arrested on April 15th was a tourist who reported being separated from his son, arrested, shackled, and forced to sit on a bus for over 12 hours; his ten-year-old son had no money or contacts in the area. As for the "radicalization" of the opposition (or is it the "defense"?), the DC police department spent over a million dollars on the latest models of riot-gear helmets, boots, leg protectors, and padded jackets. This equipment was deployed more often as display than in force, and its effect was both frightening and amusing.11 The cops were outnumbered more than two to one at A16, and the primary consequence of their gear was exhaustion: officers stood and marched for more than seven hours on a hot and sunny spring day.
Third, the occupation of the street produces the space for a particular mode of organization characteristic of direct democracy. DAN demonstrations are well-orchestrated events, involving pre-event training in nonviolence (which, as noted above, continues on the street itself) and a DAN-mediated radio network, which disseminates reports on police and delegate movements in order to facilitate the blocking of streets, intersections, and building entrances. During the DAN training session in early April, we were instructed in creative disobedience, and it was emphasized that during confrontations it was crucial to try to prevent any escalation. Physical contact with a police officer, even touching the hands of a motorcycle cop or protectively grabbing the end of a swinging baton, can result in a charge of felony assault (as happened at the RNC and DNC conventions). Although pre-event training is available for DAN events, it is not required for participation. No one who shows up is turned away. Some are trained and designated as peacekeepers and watch for others who might, in situations of police violence, understandably lose their cool. At critical moments, rookies work closely alongside veterans, and the cool head of one activist sometimes keeps a hotter one from getting knocked around. Here, nonviolence is not simply a matter of claiming a moral high ground; it is an intrinsic part of a liberatory social sphere that at the same time is oppositional, even if there is no overt target of protest.12 And this social space is not given: it is produced, often spontaneously, by those who participate (trained and untrained), and the mode of organization employed produces an event-scene of conviviality, circus, and protest that is neither bureaucratized through coercion or hierarchy. Nor is it violent.13 (More on this mode of organizing is in our section "Affinity Organizing and the Right to Assemble ")
Fourth, through the disruption of a specific set of dominating rhythms, the street becomes a space for encounter, contest, expression, and pleasurethe "reclaim the streets experience."14 It is not just the blocking or detour of the buses of delegates; its that and the seizing of streets for the carnivalesque. For example, at an RTS event in Manhattan in the Spring of 1998, the seemingly simple annexation of a couple of blocks of downtown Broadway as a space for dance, music, and play produced new and critical perspectives for a handful of urban dwellers. The RTS experience ruptures quotidian life: it recasts, for instance, the skateboarders of Astor Place as possible political stewards of the expressive, leisure possibilities of social space.
The Street is an intersection of possibilities whether you want to walk on the sidewalk and watch the commerce of cars and business as usual pass in front of you or whether you want to participate in your own commerce of bodies in motion I think those are important questions. If you dont drive because you dont believe in using up an inefficient fuel source then where are you in terms of the street? Theres all sorts of things you can do with the street besides have it be a way to work. Its a place for the imagination and thats what this group is all about" (Shepard 1999, 18).
The ways in which A16 itself operated mirrored these "functions of the street." First, at a discursive-philosophical level, activists mounted critiques, coordinated teach-ins, published essays, and assembled Situationist-style interruptions. Second, at a direct engagement level, there was the confrontational attempt to shut down the IMF and World Bank meetings; third, activists disrupted the auto-enabled travel of tourists and consumers; and fourth, at the carnivalesque level, in the production of a different kind of oppositional-festival space. The RTS experience involves the interconnections of levels three and four via the automobile, which often links and dominates the rhythms of urban and suburban life.
The street and the automobile assemblage
As a case study, the automobile-assemblage15 illustrates how DAN employs a multidimensional analytic in order to create the conditions for direct democracy and the re-enchantment of social life.16 Automobiles currently consume one third of the worlds oil output, and are responsible for 20-25% of greenhouse gas emissionsonly electric power and deforestation are as damaging (Hertsgaard 1999, 94).17 The car literally drives most IMF and World Bank programs that continue, with the support of their corporate partners, to fund and pursue oil exploration and drilling,18 perpetuate egregious forms of labor abuse, deforestation, ubiquitous pollution of air and waterways, and violent political destabilization of "third world" countries.19 Despite the dire need for alternative energy sources,20 the gas-guzzling automobile is not an endangered species. Car usage is expected to increase by 60% by 2025, which means that developing countries could be emitting four times as much greenhouse gasses than developed countries. Many multinational corporations and the trade agreements that support them are trying to ensure that the car continues to be the major driver of economic development in the 21st century, just as it was in the US and, to a certain extent, in Europe in the 20th century (Hertsgaard 1999, 90). This automobile-assemblage involves not just the oil, plastics, and steel industries,21 but fast food corporations as well, with their rainforest clear cutting and other forms of ecosystem degradation (Hertsgaard 1999, 83-118).
For millions of people, the cars desirability is unassailable. As Hertsgaard asserts: "[W]hen pollsters asked Americans which modern inventions they could not live without, the car surpassed both the light bulb and the telephone [It is] one of the true untouchables in American politics" (1999, 104). Indeed, this mobile technological appendage perhaps best encapsulates Western (and increasingly, non-Western) ideas about success and freedom. Not only is the car often the only means to access jobs, commerce and friends,22 it can also be a status symbol and an extension of ones self-image. The automobile thus fosters and/or links to a distinct sort of subjectivity. The driver/rider is positioned as a kind of neo-Cartesian cogito, transcendent and autonomous, able to overcome corporeal limitations through the wills manipulation of the car as a bodily extension.23 With the flick of a switch or push of a button, the worlds invasive qualities are dispensed by will: air-conditioners provide the climate, and audio equipment provides the soundtrack that muffles outside noises. Cell phones maintain the possibility of outside contact at all times, and now TVs, VCRs, and computers are abetting these extensions and linkages. The driver surveys the outside world from a privileged (and compromised) position of detachment, as if the topography were merely the flat screen of cinema or television.24 From this perspective, social life itself is seen as an obstacle (rather than an end), and spaces are produced to bypass it (rather than celebrate it).
The privatisation of public space in the form of the car continues the erosion of neighbourhood and community that defines the metropolis. Road schemes, business "parks," shopping developments, all add to the disintegration of community and the flattening of a locality.25
Not only does the automobile-assemblage degrade ecological communities, it degrades the spatial dynamics of human communities and the amenities and virtues that the urban could (and should) embody (Mumford 1961, ch. 18). Within the RTS experience, the automobile-assemblage confronted not simply to oppose the ecological and economic ravages detailed above, but to produce social space. Direct action becomes space-production as opposition becomes festival. Through the blocking of traffic, the occupation of the street, and the occasional direct attack on a car or two, the automobile-assemblage is effectively disrupted. New spaces emerge as the components become part of a different assemblage: asphalt is used as a canvas for elaborate chalkings and scribed slogans, intersections are reconfigured as soccer fields, and sidewalks become lunch counters, where activists share stories, ideas, energy bars, and sandwiches.26
At A16, the puppets, musicians, singers, and dancers played critical roles as art, dance, music, and politics assembled in various and shifting combinations. The ensemble of pro-environment and pro-labor puppets, the shouting of anti-globalization slogans and dispensing of literature, the beats of hippie, punk, and Native American drummers, mixed with the pulsing melodies of anarchist trombone players, animated the atmosphere (See Appendix). Never mere spectacle,27 this political action mixed with street theater to inspire and educate: to enliven the passions and (a)rouse imaginations, and therefore enable the formation of different experiences and understandings of urban space. Radical (non-reformist) politics requires such imagination, diversely composed, and a drive of utopian impulses that embrace the counter-intuitive: "Be reasonable. Demand the impossible!" Direct action as interruption produces intervals in the rhythms of urban everyday life, within which the theatrical techniques of DAN and RTS aim to generate temporary zones of autonomy.28 These interventions are important even if temporary because within an everyday space that can be mundane and degrading, they provide a glimpse of an urban carnivalesque that is both joyful and oppositional.
In this context, space is better understood more as a matter of rhythm than substance and form.29 Thus, the nature of the space is changed not because its materiality is altered. Except for some minor destruction and rearrangement of objects, it isnt. The space is changed because the rhythms that define and sustain it (e.g., rush hour, holiday traffic) are interrupted. Rather than the endless waves of car-centered stopping and going that mars so many downtowns, all the minor motions of activists coalesce to produce a new urban rhythm of sociality.
Writer-musician Charles Keil argues that musicians too can help redefine this space (and themselves) both politically and spiritually. A "path band" is his attempt to articulate the project that Malcolm X undertook during the last years of his life: to develop two organizations with different orientations in order to deal with the multidimensional failure of American democracy. For Malcolm, one was religious, and the other was political. For Keil, "religious" becomes a decentralized, biocentric, animist, pagan operation crossed with the celebratory and ecstatic spirituality of Afro-West Indian and Latin "carnival." The humble agent provocateurs are musicians who break out of commercial enclosures, clubs and tours, in order to, as he puts it, "stroll" (Keil 2000, 13)just as visual artists move beyond the gallery and display mobile works in the street for truly public consumption rather than commercial success.
Keils path band would rely upon the trained to inclusively lead the passionate but young or unskilled or both. The aim is to pattern and connect
politics, paganism, pedagogy and poetry (or some other mandala of communitas) the quality of the politics, the deeper purpose of the paganism, the proper pedagogies, the poetic fruits of good musicking [sic] will define themselves in each locality (Keil 2000, 13).
As traffic and smog dissipate, activists breathe in the beat, become attuned and in-tune as the buzz of engines fade. A chorus of embodied voices emerges to compose melodies, both festive and resistant.
These riffs, and these politics, were mastered by the musicians at A16. While much of the early morning activity in DC focused on the confrontational disruption of the flow of delegates, the activists conversion of the street itself into social space constructed a communitas of opposition. The longer the cars stay out of the intersection, the more space imaginations have to dream, to generate urban visions not restricted by commercial traffic. When several activists came upon a construction site in the early morning, they disassembled its fence enclosure and scaffolding and spontaneously reassembled it to block off the street, reconstructing the rhythms of this rediscovered place with everyday materials.
As "street life" spills onto sidewalks, "pedestrian" is redefined. Many passersby became participants in these circumstances. In Seattle and DC some were even arrested; apparently just being in the street when the signal flashes "DONT WALK" is a political act, especially at this summers political conventions. In fact, if trade is a social act, then every transaction that is interrupted countsfrom a delegates meeting to a truck delivery to a corner store purchase. Public assembly disrupts and negates the flow of commerce as "natural" and, as legal and representative institutions fail, the right to assemble becomes paramountæit necessitates that citizens engage in the production of social space as a matter of producing their politics. The unpredictable nature of the inter-rupture, of the interval where place becomes event, produces political power. The exploitative elements of the assemblage are breached, and the conditions that sustain it are no longer seen as necessary or inevitable. Here, the collective imagination finds its place and is enlivened. And as cultural imaginations grow bolder, social and economic expectations begin to change.
The monoculture of politics/technology as assemblage
Entire sectors of middle and mainstream America are variously dissatisfied with federal institutions. Some of this dissatisfaction dates back to the Vietnam War and Watergate, but the most recent wave crested in the 1980s. Spurred on by the exaltation of the private sector by the Reagan (counter-) revolution, many Americans came to doubt the function and the efficacy of elected representatives. Public mistrust continued to grow in the 1990s, and ultimately squelched the conservative attempt at a radical makeover; Gingrichs "Contract with America" fell apart just two years after its mandate. More recently, debates over healthcare and social security are riddled with distrust and disdain.
Despite record highs of the Dow Jones and NASDAQ, many Americans are also dissatisfied with the new economy. Potential sources of freedom, such as job mobility and schedule flexibility, have been transformed into new modes of exploitation. The number of people engaged in low-wage and part time-work with no benefits is on the rise, and technological "advances" often further degrade the conditions of the workplace and work itself.30 For those laboring in communications, management, and research, the length of the workday and workweek has steadily increased, especially in new media, and technological innovation is more closely tethering employees to the workplace. The realm of freedomi.e., spaces in life in which we are free from workis increasingly compromised by the presence of cell phones and palm pilots. These two devices are likely just the first steps of a technological cartography of the body, under the guise of novelty and connectedness, for the expansive extraction of surplus value.31
Are criticisms of these technological configurations necessarily neo-Luddite in spirit? The actual details of the Luddites32 reveals how technology equals neither exploitation nor alienation. The 18th century weavers of Nottinghamshire, England, did not argue that technology in itself was essentially exploitative (unlike many Heideggerians and some "anarcho-primitivists").33 They argued instead that the power loom increased the quantity and speed of production, decreased the quality of the product (stockings, lace),34 and for the importance and power of the weavers in the production process. What the Luddites opposed was not "innovation" as such; they opposed an assemblage that transformed the capacities and activities of human bodies along with the labor process. As the latter became further automated, skills literally migrated from the weavers bodies to the punch-card operated power looms (DeLanda 1991, 155-169). This migration was not the product of some detached yearning for progress. It was the confrontational consequence of the introduction of a technological innovation protected by a Tory-led government, with the British military at its disposal, within a colonial economy. Eventually, Parliament called in the troops against the Luddites and the goods were exported to the coloniesnot sold on some "free market."35
The assemblage analysis employed above and in the case of the car is important for the politics of A16 and DAN for two reasons. First, it avoids treating technological development as inhuman evil or transhuman salvation. Technologies have no distinct essence unto themselves. Rather, they are components of concrete assemblages involving humans and nonhumans, cultures and ecosystems, driven and shaped by specific sets of forces and desireswhether geological or economicand are geographically and temporally located within and/or across particular territories.36 Second, the ability to recognize the particular complexityas opposed to the general contextof these configurations and the range of actors involved is essential for choosing the best sites for intervention, articulating programs, building alliances, and further developing strategies. In the cases above, the assemblage mode of analysis directly informs the political practices employed.
Affinity organizing and the right to assemble: anarchism, governance, space
In the case of A16, the complexity of the objects opposedfrom the aforementioned car to free trade to biotechnologywas matched by the complexity of the coalitions that comprised the opposition. After decades of shortsighted fragmentation or outright silence, many of these diverse groups were united not by a specific political program, but by a desire to transform what counts as "public." When elections fail to represent public sentiment and institutions are unevenly accessible and only sporadically serve the needs of the people, then the public can only produce itself through public confrontation. A16, like Seattle, sought to assert this new public into the democratic process. Even in these times of cyberspace, when institutions fail, people take to the streets.
This failure highlights how pivotal the right to free assembly is in a democracy. So many of the other rights depend upon or pass through it. As the right to assemble is curtailed, so is the right to demonstrate or protest. What is at stake is the right of the public to come together to define itself publicly. If there is no right to assemble, then how can we even speak of a "public"37? The public produces itself in assembly. It defines and discovers itself, and makes evident the inherent spatiality of the social and political. As the activists insisted as they locked arms and blocked traffic, "This is what democracy looks like!"
Much of the current commercial and corporate production of space displaces the polis and changes the nature of politics according to the demands of neo-liberalism. The majority is then either silent or silenced. The "people" as a body never becomes public, and representation actually becomes disempowering. Insofar as the police are deployed to prevent the confrontation of productive presencings from happening, then, like the campaign finance system, policing becomes an obstacle to democracy. Put another way: policing in the broadest sense is unevenly deployed across the nation state. It is classist and racist in its tactics, and it focuses more on protecting private property than "the people." In DC, the police department partially thwarted protest activity by raiding the headquarters of the DAN Convergence Center, declaring the space a fire hazard. The police confiscated medical supplies for protesters and a propane tank for cooking, claiming it was an explosive device. When institutions themselves fail to be democratic or provide access to democracy, then democratic assemblages emerge to seize these institutions, or to configure them as obstacles, and reroute singular and social desires and energies accordingly. This practice, of course, takes place primarily in the street. During such events, the police as a rule are deployed not to ensure law or order (in Seattle, they incited the violence), but to preserve and protect the line between the governors and the governed.
We do not intend here to demonize the police. Our own New York City police officers are part of a diverse constituency of unionized city employees that need to take on a larger public role in national and international labor struggles, and in the local affairs and debates within the city and its neighborhoods. However, close consideration of these police-military organizations and their tactics illuminates the deep differences between the governors and the governed not only in terms of goals, but in regard to practices and modes of organization. The failures of the liberal state involve a crisis of representation at a material-political level, and thereby in part compel the rise of opposition and a turn to the philosophy and practice of anarchy.38
Anarchism has always regarded the state as essentially coercive and hierarchical and, therefore, not a proper vehicle for social and economic transformation.39 A16s favoring of non-state, non-corporate organization and on populist visions (rather than elections, representative democracy, and political parties), is consistent with anarchys deep distrust of the state. DAN, for example, does not look to "win" or to obtain a majority, nor does it measure its success by polls ("46% of Americans believe that DAN isnt clear enough on its position in regard to the Marx-Bakunin debate").40 It may link with those who do party politics, like the Green Party, but the action is in the linking, not in some subordination to party politics, nor to some Libertarian-type separation between the private and public sphere.41 The Direct Action Network is a mode of organization with its own particular agency and corresponding vices and virtues; it is neither a means nor a step on the ladder to some "real" political end.
The modus operandi of DAN is less evolution than involution. Evolution operates by filiation and, in the political sense, often connotes an enforced movement toward some ideal state of affairs. Involution is a crossing or linking between heterogeneous elements, such as between two groups with unique histories or origins (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 238-9). Involution produces symbioses:42 stable interactions in which disparate beings or groups enter into arrangements in which a basic need is fulfilled, and the relationship itselfæthe between-nessforms a kind of third being or complex in which the components still retain their respective identities, but their way of life or mode of being is "involved" with the relatively discrete other being or group. For example, in the wasp-orchid relation, the wasp is part of the orchids reproductive apparatus, and the orchid provides food for the wasp. DAN and its groups become involved with one another in a similar manner. The survival of affinity groups without the (partial) linkage to a larger social movement is particularly tenuous, especially in a political climateas noted by commentators from the religious right and the liberal leftthat too often erodes family and social life. The Direct Action Network as a distinct level of organization is in a sense powered and informed by the affinity groups, as it informs and partially aligns them. DAN no more commands the affinity groups than the orchid does the wasp. DANs mode of organization is one of partial association. Groups stay in contact and come together at certain times, but there are no restrictions upon the affinity groups outside of the direct actions. Again, as in the wasp-orchid relation, the identity of each is retained: there are interlockings and negotiations but never any overarching subordination. It is precisely because DAN itself is a distinct arrangement that acts on a different scale that affinity groups are better able to persist and proliferate.
As with many anarchist movements, the focus ranges broadly across the varied terrain of social life. Anarchism promotes autonomy via its fostering of freedom of assembly and association. As such, it has always opposed the states attempt to enforce a division of labor that facilitates the extraction of surplus value through a repressive judicial system and an oppressive police force.
Despite its occasional factionalism and internal conflicts over violence and destruction as political acts, anarchism has maintained its commitment to pluralism and experimentation in free social relations. Historically, with the formation of non-hierarchical collectives, this experimentation has challenged patriarchy and homophobia, as well as reconfigured architectural, home, and family structures.43 In critical challenges to forced labor, the extraction of surplus value, and the sanctity of private property, activists conceived anarcho-syndicalism and other modes of anarchism.44 Anarchy is not opposed to "order"what would that mean? nor is it the equivalent of chaos. Indeed, for us, the A in the O symbol means "autonomy in organization"; the imperative is to organize, associate, and develop so as to increase autonomy.
Much of the above is influenced by and relates to the works and followers of Charles Fourier, a significant forerunner to some of the more community-oriented variations of anarchist philosophy. Fourier is often ignored, criticized, or forgotten by anarchists because he does not dispense entirely with profit and property, and his fondness for orgies, opera, and good food has turned off some radicals. Yet, his critiques of family, church, state and capitalist institutions have influenced a range of socialists, anarchists, and feminists and have provided a context for thinking about and concretely constructing autonomy. His insistence that humans are fundamentally passionate, and that passions as forces of attraction are inherently social and spatial, is a forceful corrective to the strains of anarchism that pose rather bourgeois notions of the self that are atomistic, egocentric, and too often coincide with the principles of free market libertarians.45
In a capitalist liberal democracy, the base unit is the individual, endowed with certain unalienable rights and "free will." Individual sovereignty is contradicted, however, by the fundamental purpose of politics: the fulfillment of the needs of aggregates of individuals. As confirmed by recent overturnings of affirmative action legislation, the US Constitution does not acknowledge groups. By contrast, like DAN, Fouriers anarchist domestics46 take the group to be the base unit in society. It is critical to note: in Fouriers communal vision of the "Phalanx," each individual belongs to more than one group. This prevents social coercion since each individual has multiple group memberships and the right to leave a group at any time.
For this Fourierian anarchism, social life is both process and experimental struggle and celebration.47 Social movements such as DAN do not seek deliverance to or residence in some promised land. They choreograph a "dance through morphospace" (Brockman 1996, 97)48æa joyous search for encounters and partners to create linkages and interlockings for conducting, amplifying, and diversifying the passions. This dance is taken up by all forms of life according to each forms particular desires and capacities. Indeed, an ecosystem is the more or less stable interlocking of all these struggles, exchanges, symbioses, and playful, unpredictable explorations.
Social ecology49 recognizes the contributions of distinct organisms of varying complexity and novelty that come together to produce the conditions (ecosystems) by which humans beings have emerged and flourished, while still recognizing the uniqueness of human culture. Societies do not transcend ecosystemsæthey extend and modify them. Cities, then, are not a separate kingdom fashioned by human beings apart from nature. They are eco-technological mixes that occupy architectural exo-skeletons, born and sustained by massive mineralizations (stone, steel, coal), crisscrossed and networked by undersea cables, in-the-ground fiberoptic lines, and air, auto, and rail transport routes. Cities are just as much defined by their position relative to weather patterns, watersheds and geographical features, as well as the occasionally severe geological and meteorological conditions that can alter the dynamic of an entire region. For example, suburban development in NYCs Croton watershed threatens its water supply, and federal law mandates development of a filtration system if the integrity of the watershed is impinged upon. Initial estimates for a filtration system were in the range of $6.4 billionmore recent estimates hover near $8 billion. Cities, too, are part of nonhuman migrations: New York City occupies the Atlantic Flyway, across which monarch butterflies and hawks head south each September. The blanket spraying of New York with pesticides in its offense against West Nile mosquitoes also reveals the absence of a coherent, regional ecological strategy.
The politics of a radical urban/social ecology
In this next and last section, we place A16 in an interlinked domestic-international scene, and focus on modes of organization and institutions from the perspective of this political urban ecology. As noted above, a central element of a politics of civil society is the production of spaces and structures that give way to the passions, in order to enable the diversification of pleasures and the "multiplication of bonds" among persons, families, neighborhoods, and regions. Following Fourier, a space should both conduct and amplify a particular set of passions. The function of a given space is both subjective and social: to increase the (subjective) intensity of the passions experienced; to enable passions to spread from body to body; to increase pleasure for all involved; and to form what Fourier calls a "series" (a type of affinity group). For Fourier, human beings are fundamentally social, spatial, and passionate. The passions are intensive frequencies, means, and modes by which individuals interlock and enable bodies to reach a collective resonance (as with Keils "path band"). For Fourier, the passions are akin to musical notes, distinguished by particular vibrations (Wilson 1998, 7, 18, 27). The intimate social formations we referred to above are compositions: the "notes" meet to form a beautiful cacophony. When the players depart, the composite "being" ceases to existthat particular song is over. The composition lasts only as long as the passions that "play" and comprise it (Beecher 1986, 240).
Through these compositions, a multiplication of bonds50 produces affective spaces consistent with the ideals of decentralization and maximized autonomy. For Fourier, the best spaces are those that do not reduce or diminish the capacities of persons, but rather allow individuals to pursue and enjoy particular passions, and thereby increase their collective power and individual capacities. To share in the pursuit of a passion or enjoyment of some pleasure is literally to share a part of oneself: we are always sharing or shared. According to this logic, the legitimate paranoia and longing for security that characterizes contemporary US society is not a consequence of desires run amok, but largely emanates from the dissatisfaction and psychoses that result from the scarcity of such spaces. Like DAN, Reclaim the Streets directly engages in confrontational and productive struggle for democratic festival-spaces, which often give rise to an unpredictable exhibition of intimacy and solidarity.
These spatial productions are a direct consequence of these new modes of organization, which is an essential element for a radical urban/social ecology. In the political realm, anarchism may seem localist to such a degree that the need for global action and various levels of organization is inconceivable, if not outright forbidden.51 As a consequence, anarchist modes of organization at the regional or continental level require modes of intelligence and creativity that seem elusive to affinity groups within their present configurations. Put another way: it is critical for affinity groups to engage in thinking and activities that will sustain them beyond the next protest. This is perhaps a vice of decentralization, but it seems possible to maintain a structure that is continental or global and decentralized. (The Internet is of course such a system.) DAN certainly seeks to be this kind of structure, and with the variety of protests against globalization that have been going on for decades, there are indeed many links that can be formed via involution.52
Involution suggests a broader understanding of the importance of the political in social life. As we have stated, this essay is more than a critique of neo-liberalism or the left; it is a reaction to an apparent and widespread dissatisfaction with Western, capitalist institutions, and to the general alienation of individuals from contemporary political life. A key determinant that pervades these institutions and practices is the evolutionary logic of neo-liberal politics, which overcodes persons as "citizen," "parent," "academic," "gay," for instance, in order to reinforce power relations, in which the general public has increasingly less control over the conditions in which they live. These categories effectively act as containments; they deny and/or subjugate the complexity of individuals or groups and thereby curtail free and passionate association. This telos always already prescribes and limits modes of being and thereby diminishes individuals freedom to express, assemble, and produce, to become. Deleuze and Guattaris conceptualize this a priori shortcoming as a "plane of development":
A [plane of development] can be a hidden principle, which makes visible what is seen and audible and what is heard But the plane itself is not given. It is by nature hidden. It can only be inferred, induced, concluded from that to which it gives rise (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 287)
From Aristotelian teleology to Rousseaus social contract and Hegels Notion, Western philosophy is rife with instances of this plane of development; both the physical and the social sciences have been obsessed with its discovery and codification. It is no surprise that liberalism, with its debt to the Enlightenment philosophies of Locke and Rousseau, has always operated on a plane of development and, even before Darwin, incorporated an evolutionary logic.
In contrast, 19th century visionaries such as Thoreau, Whitman, and Olmsted put forth philosophical programs that offered visions of an inclusive civil society, emphasized the importance of wilderness and wildness, and articulated connections between social and environmental justice.53 As Carl Anthony, director of the Urban Habitat program in San Francisco, insightfully recounts:
Thoreau opposed the Mexican-American War. He wrote his famous essay on civil disobedience in jail opposing this war. That essay inspired Tolstoy, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King. Olmsted, the founder of the national park idea, wrote three best-selling books about the ecology of the south and slavery. Karl Schultz, who was Secretary of the Interior during the Reconstruction era, was a German immigrant who rallied German communities in support of the Black people against slavery and was one of the first people to raise the cry about protecting the vast American forests (Interview with Anthony 1999, 14).
However, the social and environmental movements split and, for the most part, remained divided throughout the 20th century. This started to change in the 1960s and earlier with social ecology, but today the Sierra Club and World Wildlife Fund still neglect the environmental concerns of urban areas, despite glaring implications for urban and regional wildlife.54 In contrast, many local, often African-American, environmental groups have negotiated this divide with conceptual sophistication and savvy modes of organization, often within the framework of "environmental racism" (Grossman 1991, 554). These groups have had considerable success in their challenges against workplace and neighborhood environmental hazards, commercial and governmental placement of incinerators, and waste transport systems and dumping sites.55
Arenas for testing and developing this new urban ecology include education, public goods, and the accountability of city officials. To begin, DAN needs to involve itself on multiple scales with critical urban constituencies, for metropolitan areas host a unique constellation of agents and conditions. The critical nodes include ethnic, religious, and racial diversity, often in conjunction with continual waves of immigration; dense accumulations of industry and capital; and long-standing crises of environmental neglect. Environmental justice alone offers multiple sites and junctures. The questions arising for both labor and environmentalism provide rich possibilities for forging connections between the predominantly white national movement and the often politically, socially, and economically isolated communities of color, which cultivate potent political work and neighborhood organizing.
Above all, never make transportation an issue by itself. Always connect it to the problems of the city, of the social division of labour, and to the way this compartmentalises the many dimensions of life.56
In New York City, just one week after Seattle, there was a near strike by the Transit Workers Union (TWU), which represents subway, bus, and maintenance workers. Local media and politicians portrayed the conflict as a narrow labor issue over wages and working conditions. However, when viewed through the framework of A16, this allegedly bread-and-butter struggle lent itself to multiple connections on two different planes. The contract negotiation of the TWU necessitates a much-wider discussion about the immediate and long-term future of mass transit in the New York metropolitan area,57 since the Long Island Railroad, Metro North, and Amtrak all interlink with the Mass Transit Authority. Second, this conflict also affects the power and autonomy of city workers in other unions, including our own at the City University of New York, and it potentially connects with struggles over public health, the metropolis as bioregion, and new technological mediations of labor. These struggles, however, are often construed as conceptually and pragmatically distinct. Communities of color in New York City have effectively organized around increasing rates of respiratory illness and, in particular, asthma among children. Diesel fumes are a common trigger of asthma attacksif not the source of the disease itselfand MTA buses are among the most noxious offenders. Accordingly, public health concerns may be articulated as a node to form political connections between mass transit; people who use it and those who dont; the possibility of green urban space58; and the opportunity for the emergence of new coalitions.
The further extension and improvement of regional mass transit would help preserve existing non-urban wilderness areas from further automobile-related degradation. It could even free up some of the space currently occupied by roads, highways, garages, and parking lots and simply let it go wild. Following Gary Snyder, we oppose a civilization that requires the eradication or management of wilderness; instead, we advocate for a global civilization that can restore wilderness and endure wildness (Snyder 1990). Even wilderness on its own terms, unmanaged and difficult, and potentially dangerous, is a public good, if only because it is what generates and sustains us. The public of an urban ecology is comprised by the human, the nonhuman, and the social spheres that reside within and across the earths bioregions (Snyder 1990, 37-47). This is what Michel Serres has called "the natural contract."59 As Snyder argues, this contract used to take the form of the commons, which was "the contract a people make with their own natural system."60
Another possible alliance in the New York metropolitan area for DAN is with community-based organizations like Mothers on the Move. This Bronx-based group recognizes that confrontation will be required to transform the mostly nonwhite and poor public schools in New York City, which are under funded, overcrowded and, for the most part, staffed by the least qualified teachers. This group could bolster its critical power by aligning itself with critics of higher education, who recognize that teacher education has become the cash cow of the corporate university. Teacher education programs have, in many cases, become little more than factories for producing certified teachers. For Mothers-on-the-Move, "teacher quality" is the linchpin of their intervention.
The specialization and privatization of the American university has provoked debates not only about professionalization, but about its new bedfellow: the unaccountable, profit-seeking corporation. As state-funded research becomes scarcer, universities turn to private foundations and corporations for support. These alliances with capital shape the contours of research projects and influence the questions that researchers pursue. Studies in the biological sciences are one glaring example, in which researchers that deviate from the neo-idealist, genetic determinist paradigm often struggle to secure funding. In turn, these new forms of research seek "products" in the form of commodities and offer them to the market as they develop routes for "technology transfer."61 The impact of such practices and the configurations that sustain and proliferate them are immanently global.
For the scientist/activist Vandana Shiva, the assemblage of globalization and biopiracy marks the convergence of two traditions: colonialism and scientific and philosophical reductionism. In this assemblage, bioscientists modify crops genetically to improve their economic and nutritional worth, and thereby assume that genes are the essence or principal causal agents in the production of organisms (genetic reductionism). (More egregious, perhaps, is their assumption that plants exist solely for humans.) By altering this lower level component, humans have become the authors of these novel beings. This has led to the patenting of these living organisms, even though the US has laws in place to protect, in this case, humanity from itself (Shiva 1997, 10). Shiva, like many others, argues that genes are not the essence of life, and that the alteration of an organisms genetic code may have all sorts of repercussions. A chief function of "vector mediated horizontal gene transfer and recombination" is to legitimate the procurement of patents on living beings in order to facilitate market control, not to improve the nutritional value of the worlds food supply or alleviate world hunger.62
The privatization of the inner space of organisms conjoins nicely with the transformations of scientific research and the intellectual commons of civil society. Shiva writes,
[A]s the preamble of the [Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights]63 agreement states, intellectual property rights are recognized only as private rights. This excludes all kinds of knowledge, ideas, and innovations that take place in the "intellectual commons"in villages among farmers, in forests among tribespeople, and even in universities among scientists. TRIPS is therefore a mechanism for the privatization of the intellectual commons and a deintellectualization of civil society. The mind becomes a corporate monopoly (Shiva 1997, 10).
The assemblage is extensive, but Shiva does not reserve her criticism solely for practices that require genetic modification (GM): some pre-GM practices led to the homogenization of seed stocks and fostered the ecological degradation of mass agribusiness. Such agricultural systems date back at least to cotton harvesting of the antebellum South. Olmsted argues, in an approach as integrated as Shivas, that this system of production degraded both the ecosystem and slave laborers, as well as the owners and the economy (Roper 1973, chs. 2 and 3).
A pragmatic set of guidelines for technological utilization and development emerge from the ideas and questions raised by many of the figures already mentioned in this essay.64 Technologies and their systems should decrease working hours and the tedium of labor; diminish pollution and its social costs; reduce energy consumption; increase reliance on renewable resources, energies, and recycled goods; and, in general, be restructured according to the rhythms and modes of a passionate social life. These technosocial formations ought to adopt a bioregional perspective and promote political and economic decentralization, as well as diversity and spontaneity in cultural and ecological forms.65 This is our definition of "sustainability." A major challenge for this mode of politics would entail the reconstruction of large scale institutions for the delivery of electricity and water (the latest public goods to be privatized),66 and the multiregional development of communication networks and transportation systems.67
In Africa and India, Indonesia and South America, an analogous movement has been intermittently active for decades. Han Shan, program director of the Ruckus Society, offered an illustrative personal anecdote:
I rode in a cab the day before A16 talking on my cellphone [sic] like a dork. The cabdriver could tell by what I was talking about that I was a "protester," as he called me. [ ] He said, "Well, I just want you to know that I was in my first IMF riot 30 years ago in Nigeria. And Im really glad you guys are out there. But I have to say one thing: its about fucking time you woke up to whats happening in your own back yard and its about fucking time that Americans realize the privilege that you have and what goes on for your supposed benefit around the world." That was a very humbling experience (Punk Planet, 73).
Conclusion: What might democracy look like?
Seattle, DC, and Philadelphia provided fleeting tastes of what a recreation of social life might produce and sustain for new pleasures and new alliances. This mode of interruption creates spaces for the articulation of collective desires for organic produce, open and green spaces, job benefits and security, animal rights, and a post-national, direct democracy. These locally-based struggles interconnect with large-scale conflicts over the public goods of mass transit, public education (urban and rural), a parks service secure from oil and mining interests, national healthcare, and a university system that is "public" in access, practice, and products. Unlike earlier struggles for the liberal left (e.g., NAFTA, welfare reform), DAN delivers an oppositional stance and concepts, programs, and concrete proposals. And its constituency continues to widen. A16 confirmed that Seattle was not an anomalous insurrection. Festivals of opposition communed across the world, with equal or greater force, during the May Day celebrations.
DAN politics also has its proponents in civic centers across the globe. Analyses from the left, which suggest that A16 was a "failure" not only embrace a neo-liberal logic, they seemingly ignore one of its critical effects: an endorsement by the Group of 77, the largest coalition of developing countries in the United Nations. The Group of 77 now has 133 members and, with China and India within its ranks, represents 80% of the worlds population. The stated aims of the Group of 77 are exemplary:
To articulate and promote its collective economic interests and enhance its joint negotiating capacity on all major international economic issues in the United Nations system, and promote economic and technical cooperation among developing countries. (http://www.g77.org/index.html)
Their objectives combine a theoretical savviness and a comprehensive, detailed, and pragmatic plan of action. Their plan opposes monocultural globalization, advocates practices to develop economic and political autonomy for their constituencies, and focuses on the question of ecological sustainability.68 Just as DAN employs an assemblage style analysis to assert its non-hierarchical, coalition-based politics, the Group of 77 (G77) employs a similar technique, especially in its articulation of the role of technologies in international development. The G77 emphasizes that infrastructure development and technological transfer should increase the autonomy of the populations involved, rather than create "economic growth" that raises wages and, at the same time, increases pollution and increases the gap between the rich and poor (http://www.g77.org/index.html).
Along with the rising confidence of the Group of 77, a renewed sense of conviction and faith resonates within and between domestic affinity groups. Philadelphia didnt match the numbers of DC, but those assembled made considerable in-roads across divides that had been long left dormant. The major players in Philadelphia were from local communities of color, particularly the Kensington Welfare Rights Union. Philadelphia ACT UP struck a visible profile, as did the members of the Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM), from the City University of New York. As noted by writer and activist L. A. Kaufmann (2000):
[In] twenty years of activism, I've never seen a comparable effort: a decentralized direct action based on affinity groups and consensus decision-making process, that was substantially shaped by people of color. Throughout the last two decades, the movements that have used this structure and process have been overwhelmingly whiteincluding the Seattle and D.C. mobilizations. In Philly, the issues, priorities, and analysis of movements of color intersected an organizational style developing in predominantly white movements: The convergence was wonderful to see.
Certainly, the persistence and further proliferation of affinity groups is vital. The partial organization of daily life preserves the struggle as an intimate and pleasurable affair, as members explore and articulate new visions collectively. Han Shan put it this way:
I think if we use our coverage in the mainstream media as an index of success or failure, then were doomed. Its great to come together in these huge carnivals of resistance in Seattle and DC and come speak truth to power en masse. But in the end we really need to go back to our communities and talk to one another and talk about how were really going to work together. We need to make people understand that decisions being made on local levels are often far more influential in our lives and probably the only real wayunless were able to radically change the way our one-party Republican system worksto make change (Han Shan 2000, 73).
Across the country and across the globe, affinity groups and orchestrations of the DAN variety are beginning to establish links between urban politics, social ecology, international flows of capital, and the intimate arrangements of everyday life. Within its openness, theres an amalgam of spaces to produce confederationsin passionate discussions, in organic grocers, on public transportation, and on the barricades.
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