ps/o4.i. f15
ps/o4 public trading | value system | anti-imperialism and boombox politics

value system dispatch number 9

In one of the largest protests in Los Angeles history, over 500,000 people made their way along a five-mile route through Hollywood. With millions protesting in nearly every major city around the globe, F15 marked the largest day of protest the world has ever seen.

Cynics may call it the day the anti-corporate globalization movement died in North America. As numbers poured into the streets ten times that of any WTO or World Bank protest, the streets became safe even for Hollywood celebrities eager to hitch their prospects on Democratic Party politics.

Who would Hitchcock bomb?

Fifteen years ago the AIDS activist movement leveled a critique of traditional leftist protest tactics with their pacifying rallies and cathartic marches. Infamous AIDS activist actions like Stop the Church confronted anti-democratic power on its own terrain. What are our targets in marching down Hollywood Boulevard?

The global justice movement has walked a delicate balance between wearying mass politics and direct action. Occasionally, even the latter succumbs to its own idiocies. As we absorb the implications of this proto-fascist moment, our tactics must become commensurate to the age.

"Communists, when they are Marxists, and Marxists when they are Communists, never cry in the wilderness. Even when they are practically alone" (Louis Althusser in a letter to John Lewis).
Cerca del Otro Lado (F15)

Released on the compilation, "Remixes and Collaborations" (Static Discos, 2005). Original track written and produced by Ruben Tamayo. Remixed by Ultra-red.

Sounds from Fax’s track "Cerca" have been mixed with and filtered through recordings made at the Hollywood demonstration against the imminent invasion of Iraq. The parenthetical "F15" refers to the date of the global protests against war, February 15, 2003. Ninth in a series of sound reflections on the opposition to corporate globalization, Ultra-red’s "Cerca del Otro Lado (F15)" (trans. "Close to the Other Side") concludes the Value System series.

Leave it to the historians to determine the exact date when the barons of neo-liberalism bowed to the generals of neo-conservativism. Historians of the elite will name the events of September 11, 2001. Others will date the turning point the day shock and awe of imperial aggression rained on Baghdad. The more liberal-minded annalist – should any still remain in the hind-sight-impaired future – may say it was the High Court appointment of the US President over popular will when the muzzle of social democracy fell from fangs of first-world capital. For our lot, we put our chips on February 15, 2003. The massive global-wide outpouring of street protests in opposition to US pre-emptive strikes against Iraq, warranted the appellate of "the other super-power" by the corporate media. More than the protests of 1968, more than any coordinated mobilization against corporate-driven global capital, F15 marked the day the world said no to imperial aggression. The chicken-hawks of neo-conservatism showed their true colors in their response.

Progressive intellectuals have described the war of occupation in Iraq as a exercise in disciplining the American imagination. The spiraling costs of war demand austerity in the social contract, stripping a legal system of Bill of Rights protections, and depending isolation. In other words, war occasions the sort of dismantling of social democracy neo-liberals previously reserved for the poorest of the poor and developing world client states.

The shift toward neo-conservative hegemony demands a thorough evaluation of the analyses and plans for action that fueled the global justice movement to emerge in the West after the World Trade Organization protests of November 30, 1999 (N30). The war economy has given vigor to an ascendant coalition of corporate and cultural fascists. It is no longer enough to appeal to democratic ideals when power structures flaunt their disregard from those democratic institutions that no longer serve their ambitions. Collective outcries of shame hold no sway over the shameless. Number counting the masses no longer holds the hand of powerful. If we reject the reasonable options of anesthesia and exile, then our actions must be clever and collective. Neither staging our rage for the cameras nor marching in thousands before an apathetic elite will serve our desires to reverse this proto-fascist moment. In other words, our struggle increasingly resembles that of the united front against fascism of eighty years before. As we wake to that realization, what actions, what art do we design from our desires for change?