Before November 30, 1999, most people in the world had no idea what the World Trade Organization (WTO) was or did. The anti-globalization special forces changed all that. N30, the Battle in Seattle, and the WTO became part of history.
Had there been no special forces, however, no one would have known the devious plans of this secretive United Nations agency working in tandem with transnational corporations to enslave the world. The marchers in Seattle would have had their thirty-second news spot, and disappeared from public memory.
But as the world knows, even a mainstream media blackout and subsequent cover-up by government officials were not enough to prevent N30 from being the downfall of the Seattle Chief of Police, and the Battle in Seattle from becoming a badge of honor for the pro-democracy movement.
And that only happened because some of the anti-globalization activists were thinking strategically about communications in conflict, and adapted their tactics accordingly. Those engaged in conventional marches and seminars were minor news items, easily dismissed by media and officials alike. They would not change the world, the Independent Media Center images from the lockdown at 4th and Pike would.
By outflanking network news through use of live streaming on the Internet, anyone in the world could watch Seattle police beating seated young people singing freedom songs, while television talking heads claimed protestors were running amok. The age of netwar had arrived.
Last December, the United Nations met in Poznan, Poland to hatch a new scheme for transnational corporations and investment banks to control the world: it was called REDD, a Ponzi scheme for carbon-market trading that would make the Wall Street heist of today look like chicken feed. Indigenous nations sent delegates to protest this life-threatening fraud by the UN and its agencies like the IMF, World Bank, and WTO. Civil society groups spoke in support of the aboriginal peoples, UN officials closed them out, and the world never knew.
This December, 2009, ten years after the Battle in Seattle, the world’s first nations and Fourth World peoples will attend the UN Conference on Climate Change held in Copenhagen. Whether the carbon-market cartel will be allowed to take over the world, without a fight, depends on what happens there. Will the anti-globalization street-fighters be a no-show as in Poznan, or will they, once again, remind the planet’s netizens that, “another world is possible“?
Jay Taber is a writer and storyteller in San Francisco.