frontline 9

Editorial - Think Globally Act Locally

Something has changed. The world is witnessing the biggest anti war movement in history, before war is even launched. On February 15, millions of people across 5 continents marched simultaneously against an Imperialist war on Iraq. The scale and international scope of this movement is breathtaking.

Two factors internationally have helped create such a mass movement. The already existing anti-globalisation movement and the use of the internet to undermine the propaganda war of Blair and Bush and co-ordinate the movement.

In the past few years the anti globalisation movement has gone through a number of phases. The headline grabbing strategy of staging one-off protests outside meetings of the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF was a success. The demonstrations in Seattle, closed down the WTO conference and inspired many world-wide. Similar demonstrations were called, all having an impact, but there was also a realisation of the limitations of following the institutions of capitalism around the world to stand out-side and protest.


The World Social Forum (WSF) at Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2000 was a turning point. It widened the scope of the movement, here different sections of the movement began a discussion about how to achieve a better world. Hundreds of meetings seminars and workshops took place. This signalled a new phase in the movement. The third WSF at Porto Alegre has just ended with 100,000 activists participating. The youth camp hosted 25,000 young people.

After 11 September events, the anti globalisation movement did falter. Planned demonstrations against the World Bank and the IMF in Washington weeks after 11 September were called off. But, in the past year the movement has re-emerged with even more vigour and activity. The decision to hold regional social forums has meant many more people can participate in the debates and discussions which surround the movement.

The European Social Forum in Florence attracted 60,000 participants, organised a one million strong demonstration against the war, and launched February 15 as an all European anti war protest day, which then took on global signifi- cance. This ability to co-ordinate mass action not just in one country but worldwide is a significant development for the movement. In the aftermath of 11 September, the capitalist press, internationally, were writing the obituary of the anti globali- sation movement. However reports of its death were highly exaggerated.


It is extremely doubtful whether we would see the current scale of anti war activity without the existence of the anti globalisation movement. The anti war movement has grown out of the anti globalisation movement.

Given it's diversity and the fact that many non-governmental organisations owe their funding to government bodies, it was a possibility that the war could have split the movement, but it has come down firmly in the camp of opposition to an Imperialist war. The opposition to capitalist economic organisations such as the World Bank and IMF, is being transferred to political organisations and representatives. Millions of people, especially in the advanced capitalist countries do not trust Blair and Bush or their own governments.

The incredible action of the US in removing the Iraqi Weapons Report to the UN, which was 12,200 words long and returning an edited version of only 4,000 words, left every sane person asking "what are they trying to hide?" Control of information and propaganda has always been a central plank of war strategy. It is a completely conscious plan by governments that "truth becomes the first casualty of war."

The ruling class may own the print and broadcast media and governments may attempt to keep their plans secret but in the 21st Century the World Wide Web is proving an asset to those opposing war. Governments cannot isolate anti war protestors to the extent that they have achieved in the past, smothering their voice and preventing them from organising with others.

Instant access to facts, figures and information, challenging the war propaganda, showing Blair, Bush and the US as liars is a huge resource for the anti war movement. Hundreds of thousands of people are accessing web sites such as Znet and Zmag, marshalling the arguments in opposition to the war, presented by Noam Chomsky, John Pilger and many, many others.

A completely alternative set of ideas are taking on mass support. By the time we go to print, Bush and Blair may have gone to war despite mass protest internationally. They may win a war against a crushed and disarmed Saddam Hussein.

But, they are taking a huge political gamble. This global movement, which is becoming more politicised as it develops, makes it much easier for us to promote socialist ideas. There will be many more phases of the movement as it evolves, but its existence, its opposition to global capital and its opposition to war is an important gain for the left. It is asking all the right questions and we have to be an integral part of the movement as it looks for answers.

On February 15 this movement put into practice one of the key slogans, "think globally act locally". Our struggle for socialism in Scotland will have to ask for solidarity from socialists worldwide, we will consciously seek international support, the ability of the movement to co-ordinate simultaneous action on a world wide scale through the anti-war movement should give us confidence.