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Hi, my name is Jim Macdonald, and I have an odd assortment of interests. In no particular order, I love Yellowstone, I am an anti-authoritarian activist and organizer, and I have a background in philosophy, having taught at the college level. My blog has a lot more links to my writing and my other Web sites. In Jim's Eclectic World, I try to give a holistic view of my many interests. Often, all three passions show themselves interweaving in the very same blog. Anyhow, I think it's a little different. But, that's me. I'm not so much out there, but taken together, I'm a little unusual.

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    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    The Power of Direct Action: A summary of actions against the World Bank and the IMF

    I just posted this to a thread on a blog site called "The Smirking Chimp," on a discussion lamenting the lack of effective opposition in the United States. The problem as I see it, though, is that people are needlessly disempowering themselves. They can and should do more, especially people of privilege, who can afford to take these kinds of actions like the ones described here. Many white middle class people are perpetuating the system of oppression that alienates us all by doing nothing. While they do nothing, many die by their complacency. If I stay away from the streets or take noneffective actions like voting or writing members of Congress, then I still take home a pay check and survive. But, in doing so, I continue to help perpetuate the millions of deaths worldwide directly attributable to our way of life.

    Anyhow...
    ****
    In terms of action taken by never more than 75 or 80 people in any one action and as few as 3 in others in a city of millions of people, here is the power of direct action for a few people taken at the World Bank/IMF this weekend.

    Thursday - a group drops a banner at Paul Wolfowitz's press conference, disrupting it and drawing away the media.

    Friday - outside the IMF, a group takes action in an educational media stunt highlighting World Bank/IMF abuses in the field of health

    Friday - Activists determined to draw the connection between the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the private institutions it funds, enter the offices of Halliburton, Bechtel, and Shell and create a big disturbance while at the same time showering each office with flyers showing the abuses. One activist is injured during the protests at Halliburton as a guard trips him trying to prevent him from leaving. Other activists stumble into meeting of G8 delegates and confront them less than 8 feet away for half an hour.

    Friday - 45 activists in the dark go to Wolfowitz's Maryland home and serve him with an eviction notice while chanting for half an hour outside his home. This comes on the heals of several similar actions - neighbors have told activists that Wolfowitz has been looking to sell his home because of the protests.

    Saturday - While many activists are in various direct action trainings, a few activists go to the World Bank and dump 5 pounds of birdseed on a delegate's SUV and then films birds feasting nearby on the seed and the reaction of the driver.

    Saturday - following a day of trainings, 75-80 activists (the largest action of the week) including dag take the streets of downtown DC and disrupt the parties and the hotels housing delegates to the World Bank/IMF meetings. Activists enter the St. Gregory hotel and almost make it up the elevator before police intervene. Activists go to 5 hotels, 4 confirmed to be housing delegates, some repeatedly. One activist is arrested while several managed to avoid arrest thanks in large part to affinity group solidarity. Traffic is snarled on downtown streets for more than 90 minutes.

    Sunday 3AM - 9AM: Activists take part in what is called the IMF Soccer Riot by playing soccer in streets in front of Fairmont Hotel, housing many delegates to World Bank/IMF meetings. Activists blast music and air horns while chanting for many hours. Police decide only to harrass but not dislodge activists who stay until morning to harrass delegates going on shuttles to meetings. Activists suffer one arrest (charges later dismissed). Other activists break off in the morning to the Washington Marriott and block delegate van for more than 10 minutes while harrassing many other delegates. A police captain finally shows up and personally forces activists away from delegate van. Activists later return to repeat the process, then go to the IMF where they (only 3 of them) confront hundreds of IMF delegates inches away. Police react by moving half of the delegates to another security check point. Activists remain harrassing delegates for more than half an hour before tiring from the all nighter.

    This is the power of direct action. If you all would see how much power there is in it, you could truly begin to change the evils of the system of oppression that has always been practiced in this country. With more people doing the same things, we could have shut the meetings down. I bet we could have done so with less than 1,000 people despite the fact there were 5,000 delegates.

    Economic imperialism, military imperialism, internal colonialism are the American way of life. The lie is that we live or have ever lived in a democracy; the electoral system, which has never been representative and always oppressive to large numbers who have never been truly a part of the system, has been the great defuser of any grassroots bomb that might go off.

    There's no need to be defused. People of all ages can take action or SUPPORT those taking action. In fact, we need more support networks than anything else. We need homes to sleep, we need legal support, medical support, we need people to cooperate on juries. We need organizational support. We need everyone willing to work together as equals, starting in our own home communities. That's where this begins. Everyone has institutions of power; when we go after them locally, we can figure out later how to connect them nationally and globally. But, it doesn't come from a national or international savior (an MLK or a Cindy Sheehan). It comes from us sitting down in our neighborhoods, talking about the issues that face us, and working together to take action to stop them.

    What happened this weekend is a good example of how a few can do a lot. We know that those delegates at the Fairmont were not able to sleep, and many were shocked by the disruption. You can read it on their faces. But, it won't mean anything if we don't follow through and build on these very modest successes. So, we'll be back out there this week, in my case taking on the warmongers, the immigrant-haters, and the economic imperialists, all of whom might as well be one and the same.

    Sunday, April 23, 2006

    IMF Soccer Riot - all too brief a report

    another report of my experiences...

    Just some very basic info: (even for this length, there were a lot more newsworthy items of interest)

    IMF Soccer Riot targeted the Fairmont Hotel with activists showing up around 3 AM and converging at the 24th and M Street location at about 3:30
    AM.

    Activists blocked off both ends of the block on 24th Street in front of the hotel and played soccer in the streets for more than 10 minutes before police finally arrived and then at first did little to stop anything. There were also a large number of air horns and chants and some very angry and aggressive security at the Fairmont. People woke up and looked outside their windows. It was extremely loud.

    Based on a list obtained from police themselves, we knew they were at the Fairmont; we had further confirmed that by the action the night before where delegates had actually been seen.

    All the ins and outs and ups and downs with police will have to wait for a full report; so much happened on that account. I know of only one arrest for an activist who was holding a broom, and the police arrested him for not wanting to give up that broom.

    Police were very aggressive and did a lot of illegal things, everything from shoving activists and throwing them to the ground without provocation to simple things like refusing to give badge numbers repeatedly to forcing activists standing around doing nothing to move at random for no reason. It is not lawful for the police to force people to obey orders when they themselves are not doing anything unlawful. Police went at times from threatening to sedate to aggressive to disciplined to out-of-control. At points, hundreds of police converged.

    But, this is not about the police; this is about the delegates, whom we were able to disturb and in some cases disrupt in multiple ways.

    The action outside the Fairmont continued nonstop with energy until after 7AM. This gave activists a chance to confront very tired delegates directly entering their vans. (Again, I've left out an awful lot of great action).

    Another very small group broke off after most had dispersed and went to the Washington Marriott. There they stopped a delegate van from leaving for over 10 minutes as they screamed at delegates who were clearly disturbed by their inability to get to the meetings. The bus was wedged in to a parking spot sticking into the road.

    After facing near arrest there, those activists left for another hotel to find another small group facing police harrassment being followed by motorcycle police who were within inches of them trying to force them along a sidewalk. The original set of activists at the Marriott returned
    to the Marriott and confronted other car and bus loads of delegates, often getting right into the door and screaming at the delegates who were feet and if outside inches away. Some other people at the Marriott got very upset with the activists but were ignored. Security called in police and again several dozen police on motorcycles surrounded these activists and forced them from positions on the public sidewalk. Along the road, another had offered activists 3 warnings for something that was inaudible. The activists left safely; however, and within a block, the police left
    them all to themselves.

    So, they went to the Lombardy, another scene of action from last night, and screamed some more at the hotel before heading toward the new IMF building at 19th and Pennsylvania. There, hundreds of delegates waited in line to go through security. This group descended on their line and were standing right next to them and yelled things like, "Murderers not welcome here!" Police quickly acted to move the delegates inside their barriers, rushing about half of them to another security checkpoint. Police (here MPD and Secret Service) did nothing to stop the activists who continued screaming at hundreds of IMF delegates for the next 20-30 minutes, mere feet away.

    The actions, in the end, proved more disruptive than Adopt-an-Intersection in September with a similar number of people as those direct actions. This group of people was much better trained in affinity group behavior and were very committed to the goal of disruption of some of the delegates to inspire empowerment and to encourage the need for much better planning so that this kind of direct action can be more effective on a larger scale in the future.

    This is only the shadow of a report. I hope others can come from this and all the actions. There was a lot more to the street march and confrontation of hotels where delegates stayed.

    Again, there was one arrest, and hopefully people can share any jail support that can be done.

    Actions against the World Bank and IMF as well as the military industrial complex and economic system that glues it all together will be ongoing in Washington, DC this week and next week and beyond.

    We'll be back.

    Saturday, April 22, 2006

    Very quick report from Evening World Bank demos

    ***FYI, I wrote this report, the report from Wolfowitz's house, and the report about the Bechtel, Halliburton protests - so yes, I live and breathe these action reports.

    Activists took to the streets and into the lobbies of hotels housing World Bank delegates, in one case storming into the lobby of the St. Gregory Hotel. Activists directly confronted delegates at a party at the Fairmont Hotel.

    We know of one arrest.

    Police were aggressive, most especially a motorcycle police officer named Ferris, who was calling female participants "Baby" and blowing kisses at one of them and a bicycle police officer named Loy, #1761, who was pushing and shoving protesters. In many cases, police bicycles intentionally rammed into activists, who nevertheless kept marching.

    The day followed a day of trainings; much of the discipline in the street could be attributed to good training sessions and making sure that people understood and for the most part worked in affinity group formations as part of a cluster. The person arrested did not seem to be part of an affinity group.

    The rain was driving, but protesters did not seem to care. Traffic was snarled on the streets for more than 90 minutes.

    More reports are surely to come...

    Friday, April 21, 2006

    Report from Paul Wolfowtiz demo at his 7104 Pinehurst Pkwy, Chevy Chase home

    A significant and spirited group of protesters converged on World Bank President and Iraq War architect Paul Wolfowitz's home yet again at 7104 Pinehurst Parkway in Chevy Chase after 9PM on Friday night. Some came by bike, some by car for a spirited and raucous protest that ultimately spilled into Western Avenue after leaving the house. Police tailing the group blocked many cars from getting through.

    There were no arrests, and except for a few isolated incidents, no trouble from police. Unlike recent encounters, there were no private security, a sign that Wolfowitz was not home (though his car was in the driveway). In fact, for the first time in several encounters, his immediate neighbors seemed to be gone as well. This suggests that the neighbors are getting keyed in on the protests and are being affected by them. This is one of the aims of these protests. A mass murderer lives at 7104 Pinehurst Parkway, and it's our responsibility to do something about it, to confront any member of our community who is committing such crimes. In Paul's case, many thousands are dead, many thousands are displaced due to policies he's directly responsible for both when he was Deputy Secretary of Defense and now in his position as World Bank President. Many have no homes due to World Bank policies, due to Paul Wolfowitz; it's not illegitimate to stand in solidarity with these people at his home as we call on this murderer to resign.

    For the first time in any of these protests, DC police were there as well, joining Montgomery County Police.

    In and of itself, this protest was not much, but that's deceptive. When we organized this, we thought he would be at a hotel, but we knew it was important to go there anyhow. As part of a campaign that has already lead the neighbors to share rumors about Wolfowitz's supposed desire to move from the location, it is significant. Neighbors are reacting. Some in the past bring their children out to watch. Others get upset. All of them are beginning to realize that the protests are not going away. It's possible, even likely, that many will blame the protesters, but all must consider the issue of whether we are are brother's keeper, that is whether we are responsibile as a community for the crimes of our own neighbors and whether we should do something to stop them. That is one reason we chant, "World Bank shut it down! Paul Wolfowitz out of our town!"

    In a day of action that included office demos that startled workers in their workplaces and for a moment could not be invisible, a direct confrontation with G7 delegates, the Wolfowitz action capped off a productive day. People in the protests felt empowered, and that's the most important thing of all. That empowerment will only energize more actions.

    Some may think the action was meaningless because he wasn't home, but these demonstrations this week are merely part of an ongoing campaign, a tactical and strategic shift, away from the mass mobilization and toward sustained direct action that personalizes the crimes of systemic institutions. People commit these crimes; the World Bank is people.

    We are all responsible, and we must all be touched by it.

    Tomorrow, the actions continue.

    World Bank / IMF Protests Begin - 3 report backs

    Halliburton, Bechtel office demos follow MGJ media stunt

    Following MGJ's media stunt in front of the IMF, protesters followed through on their promise to go after offices related to capitalist institutions working hand-in-hand with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    These protests are ongoing this afternoon, but we can report from the first two at Halliburton and Bechtel.

    A lot of people know about the loans that the World Bank hands out to nations; what a lot of people don't realize is that there's an arm of the World Bank known as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) that gives money out directly to private corporations. If you search the IFC website, you will have trouble finding projects directly tied to Halliburton, and yet an IPS study has shown that Halliburton is a huge beneficiary of IFC money through roles as contractor, developer, or investor, especially – as should be obvious – in the oil industry.

    So, we went to Halliburton with flyers intending on educating the public and Halliburton's own employees. More than that, we went to confront Halliburton directly. Protesters entered Halliburton's offices on 18th Street between L and M and began shouting chants. Halliburton employees looked very disturbed inside their 2nd floor offices as the sound reverberated throughout the building. Flyers about the connections were scattered throughout.

    Outside, security immediately tried to lock the doors. One protester ready for that possibility kept the door open. When security tried to close the door, that protester held ground and refused to let him lock the protesters in. Another came to this person's aid. When the protest was ending, another protester seeing the situation at the door tried to run out. The security guard stuck his leg out successfully tripping the protester who fell out of the building hard onto the sidewalk. An onlooker who was shouting support for the protesters chastised the security guard for his violence. While the guard continued to try to keep people in the building, all protesters safely were able to leave. The onlooker approved and told us that we needed to come back very soon.

    We will be back.

    Successful, the protesters went on to Bechtel at 15th and K Street, across from McPherson Square. Bechtel is much more overt about its IFC money than is Halliburton. Ask the people of Bolivia about Bechtel's involvement in that country. A lot of people simply think of Halliburton and Bechtel as war profiteers, but the fact is they are simply profiteers who work with governments to produce profits for the rich in first world countries, sometimes helping to enrich corrupt puppet rulers in the Global South.

    At Bechtel, proesters took elevators up to the 7th floor without difficulty. The people inside Bechtel's offices were stunned to see protesters outside their offices. Protesters littered their floor with flyers explaining the corporate abuses of their corporate employers.

    Protesters left the building without facing difficulty.

    As mentioned, these protests are ongoing.

    In conjunction with MGJ's action citing the World Bank and IMF for health violations, and yesterday's disruption of Wolfowitz's press conference, they begin a weekend of direct action that will continue to grow in intensity. Protesters tonight, rain or shine, will be taking part in a critical mass at 6PM from Murrow Park across the street from the World Bank and then at 8PM will be departing for 7104 Pinehurst Parkway in Chevy Chase on the DC border at Western Avenue for a protest outside of Wolfowitz's home. Previous protests have led to reports that Wolfowitz was trying to sell his home BECAUSE of the protests. No one knows whether this is true, but regardless, the demand is for Paul Wolfowitz to resign immediately. We don't care where he lives so long as he stops displacing and killing thousands across the Global South.

    For more, see worldbank.activeresistance.org . See the full schedule of events at breakthebank.wordpress.com/2006/04/16/final-schedule-of-events/ .

    Report from sHell demo(#3)

    After Bechtel, our next target was Shell's corporate office at 1401 I st NW. By thgis time, things were getting pretty crazy. We saw a large convoy of cops go by without stopping a block away, and received an interesting report courtesy of bike messenger dispatch radio.

    The report was that a Black Bloc was going "from place to place" trying to lose the cops! We had not had any trouble with real cops, however private security goons were behaving.

    We decided to continue in action, and proceeded to sHell's office on I st. In remembrance of the Ogoni activists who were hanged in Nigeria for protesting sHell's destruction of their land, we entered the building. We intended to go up to protest in Shell's office itself, and decided to use a new strategy. We went to the guard desk posing as people who had business with sHell,but one mention of that company seemed to raise alarms.

    Sehe said someone from sHell would come down to speak with us, but we'd have to wait outside. Half believing her, we headed out-and then stormed back in!

    When the lobby guard said we needed to show ID if we wanted to go up to sHell's office, we started chanting and banging pots and pans. She was yelling franticly into the cellphone(as usual) while tryign to force us out. We continued for a few minutes, then exited sHell's building and escaped into the street.

    G7 protested!

    Today, after the Office Demos, a small contingent continued the protest after stumbling upon the G7 meetings at the St. Regis Hotel. After reassembling, activists stood on the sidewalk chanting as people exited their limos. Getting less than 8 feet away from the ministers, we made our point, loud and clear. After a few minutes of yelling a motorcycle cop tried to intervene, but without adequate knowledge of the law, he stepped down. He put up a fight, wouldn't give out his badge and accused us of breaking laws that don't exist, but in the end, we prevailed.

    Wednesday, April 19, 2006

    I was on the radio tonight with Ruby Sales

    I had the honor of being on the radio in the middle of the night on WPFW, DC's 89.3FM with longtime civil rights activist Ruby Sales http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/biography.asp?bioindex=607. We talked about war, the World Bank, the IMF, immigration, and especially racism and all the connections of these issues with each other. We talked about colonialism and patriarchy. She had an awful lot of fascinating things to say, and it was wonderful to listen and be able to participate. It was a very good experience and an enlightening conversation. It's probably too bad that not that many people heard it.

    I won't soon forget our conversation with each other and with host Stephen Gregory.

    A couple of my friends will be on the same radio station at 11AM EDT (Thursday, April 20, 2006). You can check it out via the internet. They are talking about the World Bank and IMF protests this weekend in Washington, DC.

    Sunday, April 16, 2006

    T-minus 5 days to the World Bank and IMF spring meetings

    It's T minus 5 days to the World Bank and IMF Spring meetings and the Farragut Squares Collective has been busy little elves finalizing a schedule of counter Bank and Fund events. What follows is the fruits of our labor. We hope to see y'all in the streets of Washington, DC, in the driveways and at the parties of the men and women who turn Earth into fields of profit, instead of fields of green. Come to one event, or come to all. Be there, and be Farragut Square.

    Calendar of Events:

    THURSDAY:
    5pm: Mass Housing opens at St. Stephen's Church at 16th and Newton


    FRIDAY:
    12PM: MGJ media stunt at IMF
    1pm: Office Demos at WB/IMF/IFC affiliates - leave from the Park at 20th and Pennsylvania Ave. NW, near the IMF
    7pm: General Open Scenario Meeting at St. Stephen's Church
    7pm: Dinner served at St. Stephen's
    8pm: Leave from St. Stephen's for Home Demo at Paul Wolfowitz's house in Chevy Chase.

    SATURDAY:
    8:30-9:30AM: Breakfast at St. Stephen's
    9:30-10:30: DC issues Teach-in (all trainings at St. Stephen's)
    10:30-12:30: Medic training (safety in the streets)
    12:30-1pm: Lunch
    1-2pm: Legal training (know your rights in DC)
    2-Dinner: Affinity Group training, formation and SPOKESCOUNCIL
    7:30PM: Meet at Farragut Square for Night March and actions to capitalist points of interest

    SUNDAY:
    Time/Place TBA: IMF Soccer Riot...bring your old spare balls

    For more from my friends in the Farragut Squares, go to http://worldbank.activeresistance.org or write an email to farragutsquares@gmail.com.

    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    An interesting and somewhat strange piece featuring me and DAWN in the American University Observer

    Of course, we'd all like to come off as flattering; this one says things that made me cringe. It's an interesting perspective from an outsider who took some time to interview me and come to DAWN meetings.

    There's a lot to think about in terms of de facto leadership (which this article anoints me as being - something I certainly didn't say.) How does one take active and committed roles into a group and know how to step back so that every voice matters just as much. It's an issue I've personally struggled with, especially when you realize there is an inner circle that always develops. Over time, I will need to step away from DAWN so that all of us can remain fresh.

    I find it funny that the article quoted Free Republic's DC leader Kristinn Taylor on his perspective of DAWN and on DAWN's relationship to the larger movement. Without saying much about Taylor, the quote that we are "whack jobs" said plenty enough about the kind of insights that Taylor usually shares with us when I've seen him at counter-protests.

    With a laugh, I point you with apprehension toward Jonathan Williams' piece about DAWN and about me. It's certainly more biting than a fluffier piece in Mother Jones a couple years ago.

    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    Ward Churchill and the Movement

    I could write and say a lot about Ward Churchill's phenomenal talk tonight at St. Stephens Church here in DC in front of about 80 people, but I guess I lack the energy for that (at least by my standards; I guess this is still long). It was very rich and inspiring.

    One thing that struck me was that on very short notice, so many people will come to see a man who is bascially telling people to organize in your community and take action and fight systems of oppression. You can get 80 people in a room with virtually no notice if the person is as iconic as Ward Churchill, and yet to take action against the repression he writes about, to organize in a manner that aims to take action, you can build for weeks and get less than a third of that number. The very scene of Churchill in a room in front of a large group suggested much of the oppression he writes about, and what impressed me was that he KNEW IT and noticed it and was concerned that we think about ways to make the model more participatory.

    Another big thing that struck me was his discussion of colonialism and how it has become internalized. He writes about this a lot in his books, and so it was no surprise that he spoke about internal colonialism in the way that nations that have been de-colonized (like say, the United States), nevertheless practice colonialism on people who live within its borders (borders which are themselves colonial instruments). What's more, when we fight against any of these colonial powers, we ourselves have a tendency to re-create colonial structures. So, we talk about getting Bush out of office but think nothing of the colonial system currently in place. Or, we talk about taking over the state, but that very act props up the central mechanism of oppression. And, we organize this way, too. Some groups like ANSWER even defend that kind of organizing as necessary in order to fight the larger power of imperialism, which is the US government. Other groups pretend otherwise. All of them seem to think you can take on colonialism merely by taking on the colonial power, but all of them have a tendency to re-create colonialism in their own structures and thus can at best only morph colonialism into a new form.

    Have we changed anything if we do not challenge our own privilege? Our own sense of entitlement? Our own participation in colonial governing structures? He said that if he gave us a pill that got rid of war, racism, sexism, classism, and anything else that we consider unjust but have not understood and confronted the process that gives rise to all of these - namely colonialism - then we have not even begun to solve the problem. And, yet, too often we build social movements based on colonial models and as structures that mimic colonial institutions.

    So, he suggests community-based organizing and building networks of mutual solidarity free from a sense of moral purity because there is no such thing. I guess one could call it embracing what I'd call a deconstructive morality, one that's rooted in understanding the process of oppression, reacting against that, and taking action against the causes without any sense that we can control the ultimate outcome or without a vision of a better world. At the very least, we can work on stopping a history that has produced such unsustainable madness.

    At least, that's what I got out of it, in part. There was a lot more (especially about repression of movements and the idea that we are not being serious in our activism if we are not being repressed). All of it pointed to thinking about our actions and our dissent in terms of dismantling the cause of the injustice. Without understanding that, we won't get anywhere. I think that's why we who have been taking these weekly actions outside of people's homes are out there connecting dots and beginning to upset some people. Only now are we beginning to get serious. But, the fact that we have to hear the Gospel according to Ward, no matter how great that Gospel is, suggests to me that we've still got a very, very, very long ways to go.

    Jim Macdonald