Attacking the roots at the G8/20 summit this summer
To tell you the truth, I think I’d be a little disappointed in the market if it wasn’t already covered with posters calling for protest at the G8/G20 summit this summer. It’s only been a few days since the decision to move the meetings to Toronto was announced; at the time of this writing, even the government’s official summit website still has “Muskoka” written all over it. Say what you will about the rabble rousers, but damned if they’re not on their game.
“The G8/20 Meetings are rooted in capitalism, in war, in greed, in patriarchy, in imperialism, in racism and in neo-colonialism,” according to the impassioned people at the Toronto Community Mobilization Network. “We need to Attack the Roots of the problem and in their place plant our own seeds of resistance.” Supposedly, this will be done through a series of days of action organized by a network of Toronto-based organizations.
Frankly, I think it’s a bummer that the summit’s coming to Toronto at all. In fact, I think I’d rather make plans not to be in town that weekend. Although Ottawa has pledged to foot the bill, it’s still going to take a substantial toll on the city, with little to no possibility of any positive return. Miller has his concerns, Vaughan has his worries, and I don’t blame them. Not that I don’t have an almost knee-jerk confidence in our police service, but you know what I mean.
If I’m being totally honest, then yes, I might as well admit that I basically definitely won’t be taking any part in any of these protests. I don’t disagree with the sentiment, but I’m also not convinced that any of these demonstrations could possibly have a direct and significant impact on the proceedings. I’ve signed up for the TCMN mailing list, and I’ve joined their group on Facebook, so they’ve got plenty of time between now and the summit to argue against the many reasons I’ve got to stay out of it. If you’re on the fence and you want to learn more about their side of the story, then I encourage you to do the same.
But in the meantime, let me put it this way: I agree that democracy’s the tops, and I agree that the G-Whatever meetings haven’t traditionally been very democratic. But the rhetoric coming from the opponents of these summits tends to focus on shutting down the meetings – and if you want any more than that, then you’re usually out of luck. Now, I realize that asking for anything more isn’t very pragmatic, and I know that there’s a lot to be gained from speaking out in favour of your cause or issue with the summit as your backdrop, even if it doesn’t have any effect on the proceedings themselves. Hell, sometimes you just want to voice your opinion, and I think that’s a wonderful thing.
But there’s also a lot to be said for picking your battles. I think that protests of this sort tend to draw young people who are looking for their own Seattle, and I doubt they’re going to find it here. If they wind up proving me wrong, then I’ll gladly be the first to admit it, but I doubt the days of action are going to achieve anything more than preaching to the choir. Call me a cynic and a homeowner, but that’s the way I feel.
If you think I’m wrong or irrelevant, then I totally encourage you to get involved. Hell, if you want to yell at me in the comments, feel free to do so. I’d love to hear about some pragmatic new alternatives.
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