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We Need Some Real Internationalism

In less than a week the G20 will come to Toronto. Perhaps I've turned into a grumpy and jaded activist hermit over the past few years, but it is difficult for me to feel any excitement for the possibility of confronting this massive manifestation of imperialism. To be fair, due to my past couple years of hermitage, I have not participated in any of the organizational meetings/activities leading up to this weekend's events. And though I will be marching with my former local, and fellow comrades, I am somewhat out of the loop.

I remember the anti-globalization excitement back in the late nineties. I remember going to Quebec City to confront, along with thousands of other outraged activists, the FTAA summit. I recall the adrenaline of police confrontation in these anti-globalization movements - the belief that, since you were actually confronting a physical manifestation of the state, there was a possibility of victory.

Except there was no victory and the movement - disorganized, anarchist-dominated, and theoretically disunified - temporarily collapsed following 9/11. The anti-war movement replaced the anti-globalization movement. No organized movement that could function and theoretically link globalization and war together (hello, imperialism the highest stage of capitalism?) really emerged.

This is not to say that the former days of anti-globalization did not make any gains. At the very least it contributed to the radicalization of so many of us. But it is very disheartening to discover that this generation of anti-globalization is still stuck in the same anarchist slough where structured organization is dismissed as "authoritarian" and people are still having debates over "diversity of tactics." One of the lessons I took from the anti-globalization movement of the past, and rediscovered over and over since then, was that there needed to be structure, organizational discipline, and theoretical unity. Later, after returning to that old authoritarian Marxist theory that my former anarchist self despised, I would come to understand these needs through Lenin's concept of the party, Gramsci's notion of party hegemony, and Mao's theory of the mass-line. Unfortunately, the vast majority of activists out there (since so many of them are always, always, a new generation of students and student-aged anarchists) think that the words "party" or "vanguard" are synonymous with state power. And most of those who don't think like this tend to belong to competing commie sects more interested in undermining each other, and each claiming that they're the "authentic" germ form of a radical party.

Although I believe it is important to confront the G20 here in Toronto, and will be marching and resisting, I am also wary of the machismo and petty-bourgeois heroism that will result from the upcoming weekend. And though we can obviously gender this "machismo" (because most of our so-called "heroes" will be male [and most likely white] organizers who think they're pretty radical and hardcore), it will affect males and females in the way they see themselves. I am not saying that we should not positively congratulate ourselves for confronting imperialism, I am just saying that at a certain point this congratulation becomes disingenuous. Capitalism is not going to fall or be harmed by this weekend's events, but I know some people will be going on and on about the G20 for a year and how awesome we were just for marching in the streets and getting tear-gassed.

Right now there are truly radical movements taking place around the world. In Nepal, for example, a communist revolution has reached a position of duel power and has been navigating this position wisely for the past several years. This is a victory and something we, as internationalists, should celebrate. Organizing marches, getting tear-gassed, and really doing nothing to stop global capitalism is not worthy of self-congratulation; we should not congratulate ourselves for doing what is simply the proper ethical choice in our context. There is nothing "hardcore" about speaking against, marching against, global capitalism - especially since we live in the capitalist centres: this is just what we should do because if we are against capitalism. And we should save our congratulation not for ourselves but for those who are making gains and victories around the world.

(My friend and comrade, whose blog is in the side bar, is currently in Nepal. Before he left he joked along these lines, laughing about how he would come back to Toronto and everyone would be going on and on about the demonstrations against the G20 for months and that no one would care that the revolutionaries in Nepal had taken over 80 per cent of the countryside and shut the cities down for truly revolutionary aims. And though he was joking I agreed with his point because I knew that this would be the case: a weekend of getting tear-gassed and arrested would create a false, inward-looking idea of heroism that would blot out the international movements of true resistance. Getting tear-gassed and arrested, after all, is nothing like getting filled with bullets or tortured, a common experience for revolutionaries the world over.)

This weekend the majority of the marchers will not be attempting to overthrow capitalism, nor is it even possible to do so in this context: there is no organized party, no theoretical unity, etc. And if we truly cared about rejecting what the G20 and G8 represents - global capitalism - then we should care more for those people in the global peripheries who are *actually* resisting capitalism rather than holding occasional demonstrations. So why are we so focused on our own local struggle, ignoring the most successful struggles in the peripheries, when we claim to be against global capitalism?

Yes, we need some real internationalism.