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GJM & Occupy for Macquarie SOC350

Lecture for the Department of Sociology

Elizabeth Humphrys

on 26 January 2016

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Transcript of GJM & Occupy for Macquarie SOC350

"The realistic course of action today is to demand what is seemingly impossible, that is, something new."
- Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt
Bolivian Water Wars
IMF Riots
On the one side is neoliberalism with all its repressive power and all its machinery of death; on the other side is the human being … Any man or woman, of whatever colour, in whatever tongue, speaks and says to himself, to herself: Enough is enough! Ya Basta!
Seattle n30 1999
50,000 people
I used to think these kids talking about the environment were just wingnuts. Now I think they are part of the big ‘us’, the us that’s going to have to change the world.
- Doug Sabin, Seattle Protester
Genoa j20 2001
What was new?
What was important?
End of Cold
War Binary
Melbourne s11 2000
20,000 people
Origins & Events of the GJM
The GJM in Australia
Anti-systemic movements today
What is a social movement?
300,000 people
It was a real coalition of trade unionists, students, environmentalists, other social justice campaigners…and we knew that...it was...cutting edge, what we were doing. It was an example of being involved in something that everyone always talks about but it’s...actually hard to have it happen.
Emerging anti-corporate & anti-neoliberal critiques
Jabiluka 1998
j18 1999
Community Alliance Building
MUA 1998
Jabiluka 1998
East Timor 1999
Trade and Globalisation
Anti MAI 1997-1999
Fairwear 1996-2000
s11 TO
s11 led to a clear self-awareness for the movement of a collective identity and a common project.

There was an immediate impact on public debate as a result of the success and spectacle of the blockades, in turn giving the movement confidence.

The movement came to view itself as one on the offence (for a better world), as opposed to defence (around particular issues or attacks from elites).
‘Fix it or nix it’ – whether bodies like the WTO should be reformed or abolished.

‘Summit Hopping’ – whether the movement’s protests should focus on large-scale mobilisations at meetings of the WTO, WEF and other global institutions.

‘Global versus Local’ – what should the balance or connection be between pursuing global issues and setting down roots in local communities and suburbs?

‘A movement of movements’ – whether the movement was, or should be, developing into a single movement, or a movement of movements.
Just before the WEF [World Economic Forum] happened, we had a meeting here in this room, like the day before it started and it was literally … there were 100 people in this room, believe it or not. It was hard to believe they fitted in and they were people from everywhere, from the Greens, from socialist groups, from the Left, from local conservation councils and it was this incredible feeling of – oh my God – like I have never seen this many people representing this many constituencies in the one place, focused on one issue ever before.
Interview with Paul.
Oh, it was terrible, terrible – and I think it had quite a significant impact on the Movement. I remember clearly two thoughts that I had when I saw the news footage of the 9/11 attacks. The first one was like one of awe really…and then almost instantly my thought was like you bastards, you fucked it up for us because very quickly from Seattle things went in Australia [from] zero to 100… The impact that Seattle had [as] a catalyst for a new confidence and optimism about change, which was taken up across the [Global North] in a pretty dramatic kind of way Australia included, that momentum was really sort of knocked out of us by those attacks. I think it had quite a disorientating effect and it made people confused.
Interview with Mark.
Remember the antitrade demonstrations? They were the top item in the news before terrorists attacked the World Trade Centre. Now they have receded to the netherworld where we have tucked all the things that seemed important then.

- Wall Street Journal editorial‘Adieu Seattle?’
- 24 September 2001
You can't really compare us to people who
were risking their lives by protesting. But yes,
you can say that we are inspired by the courage
of the Arab Spring.
-23 year-old computer engineer Jaime Viyuela, Spain
Social movements are: organised expressions of societal contradiction initiated by dominated actors concerning the endeavors of hegemonic actors, involving self-conscious and strategic activity, which alters (and in turn is altered by) society.

They arise out of the tensions of contemporary capitalism, presenting social conflict inherent to the economic and social system in a mediated form.
We need to avoid two issues in thinking about social movements:

1) thinking that everything that is new is unlike anything that has come before.

2) thinking that we know everything already, or that movements do not have to be understood on their own terms.
Artist: Zanny Begg
Naomi Klein & 'No Logo'
- Similar concerns
- Move from national to international and back
- Concerns with neoliberalism - nothing is settled
- Overlap of frames and slogans
- Occupy as global wave of protests; transfers of ideas and repertoires but nationally rooted movements
- Global Justice Movement as a 'movement', movement of movements
- Return of the state
- A decade of war
- Refusal rather than an affirmation
Photo: Kate Ausburn
Full transcript