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category national | summit mobilisations | opinion/analysis author Tuesday April 20, 2004 20:45author by Mark Paul - not affiliatedauthor phone 086 3426630 Report this post to the editors

As a freelance journalist with an interest in anti-globalisation issues, I wrote an article about the tabloid coverage and hype in the run-up to Mayday. Two of the Sunday broadsheets initially showed interest in it, but then rejected it upon reading it.

I don't subscribe to the idea that all journalists are spineless etc. etc. etc.......... However, I do feel that it was a balanced article. Yet the media still wouldn't touch it.

As a part of the media, I feel that there is the need for reasonable, sensible debate on the role the mainstream media plays, how it can be improved, and comments from other sections of the media would be a good start.

Recent tabloid headlines such as ‘ABSOLUTE MAY-HEM’ have heightened speculation that Dublin anti-globalisation protests will turn violent on May 1st. Mark Paul looks at whether these stories are justified, or whether they are actually helping to increase tensions.

Laurence Cox doesn’t appear to be a violent person. He is softly spoken and mild mannered. But the organisation that he is a spokesperson for, Dublin Grassroots, has been accused by the tabloid media of encouraging ultra-violent demonstrations. It is one of a number of groups organising Mayday protests on the EU ‘Day of Welcomes’ for the accession states.

The recent news stories have centred on tabloid claims that a group of British anarchists, known as the ‘Wombles’, have been invited to Dublin by protest organisers to wreak havoc on the authorities. Following violent clashes in recent years in Seattle, Prague, London and Genoa, the stories have predicted that the same will happen in Dublin this year.

“Violence is a risk with any public event when you have large groups of people in any one place”, Mr Cox says, “but I am not deeply worried about the possibility of violence from protestors this Mayday”. He is more worried about what he believes will be provocation from the Garda Siochana on the day. “None of the groups organising the protests are planning violence. However, the police and the army are planning for violence against the protestors.”

An Ireland on Sunday story in February of this year claimed that its reporters had ‘infiltrated’ a secret meeting of Irish anarchists in a Dublin pub. The organisers, however, claim that it was a public meeting open to all and that those attending were well aware of the presence of the journalists. The same article also claimed that the British ‘Wombles’ have close links to the Kurdish communist group, the PKK, who themselves have links to terrorism. However, it is unclear where the justification for this claim lies.

The Wombles’ website says: "We promote anarchist ideas, libertarian solidarity, autonomous self-organisation and humour". They are widely known for bizarrely wearing oversized padding, helmets and white overalls at demonstrations. They do advocate the use of “direct action”, but their links to violence remain unclear. What is clear is that, as an anarchist organisation, to actually plan violence in advance of a demonstration would be against their autonomous nature.

Over the last two weeks, both the Irish edition of the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday edition of the Irish Star have carried similar stories warning of what they say will be an invasion of thousands of militant protestors for the Mayday demonstrations.

The Sunday Mirror and the Ireland on Sunday stories quote anonymous government and security sources as saying that they expect the situation to become extremely violent. However, the protestors claim that the media is being drip-fed these quotes in order to undermine their right to a peaceful protest.

Mr Cox says “the motivation of the sources behind these scare-stories is to instil panic amongst the public, to turn them against us. They are creating a climate of fear that is totally unnecessary”. He continued: “Everybody has the fundamental right to protest, even those of us who disagree with the current shape of the EU”.

Although he seems genuine in his assertions that he doesn’t want violence, it is worth noting that anarchists, who it is expected will make up the bulk of the protestors, are not fundamentally opposed to the use of what they call ‘direct action’. This is a loose term used to describe forms of protest that are usually illegal, but not necessarily violent. ‘Direct action’ could, for example, take the form of traffic disruption or a sit-down protest.

Mr Cox says that the tactic will be employed in Dublin in the form of a noisy protest outside Farmleigh House, where the heads of the existing EU member states, together with the heads of the ten accession states, will be having a gala dinner. Other demonstrations not organised by anarchist groups will also take place on Mayday, including the Socialist Workers Party’s ‘Another Europe is Possible’ demonstration.

But it is the vague meaning of the term ‘direct action’ that, according to the Star on Sunday, can lead to it being used as a justification for violence by some protestors. In the past, there have been clashes between small, breakaway groups of protestors and the authorities at anti-globalisation demonstrations, such as that seen in London on Mayday, 2001. On that occasion, millions of pounds worth of damage was done to business premises on the protestor’s route.

“We will try to ensure that no members of our group will be involved in violence”, says Mr Cox, “it is the Gardai who are the biggest threat to a peaceful protest”. At a Reclaim the Streets demonstration on Dame Street in 2002, gardai were filmed beating protestors, and were accused by many, including the National Union of Journalists, of using unnecessary force and inflaming the situation.

On the subject of the media speculation, he is unequivocal in his condemnation of the recent tabloid stories. “The media hype undermines the right to protest”, he says. “I would like to think that the newspapers involved are serious about not wanting violence. But they are winding people up and creating a situation where the Gardai will overreact. It would be great to see them discussing the real issues instead of making up scare stories.”

A recent Grassroots press release denouncing the tabloid media coverage went practically unnoticed last week. In it, the group says that the stories are false and challenges the anonymous sources to publicly debate their claims about the possibility of extreme violence. So far, this has not happened.

If Mr Cox is typical of the protestors on Mayday and it passes off relatively peacefully then one might assume that the tabloid hype has been at best, unfair and at worst, inflammatory. If their headline predictions come true and Dublin becomes the scene for violent clashes between demonstrators and police, then the image of the anti-globalisation movement will be badly damaged in the eyes of the Irish people. Either way, the role of the tabloids in creating the now inevitable tense atmosphere on Mayday still needs to be examined.

author by redflaremistpublication date Tue Apr 20, 2004 22:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

very good article, well done

author by paul markpublication date Wed Apr 21, 2004 14:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"anarchists...are not fundamentally opposed to the use of what they call ‘direct action’"

Actually, anarchists are, by definition, absolutely in favour of 'what we call direct action'

Direct action means sidestepping the medium of representative "democracy" and taking ction which has an immediate, practical result which benefits the community etc.

This could be running a food-not-bombs table for the homeless/hungry, opening a squatted social centre, or disarming a military plane

Technically, blockading/disrupting a summit is not direct action. Preventing the G8 from meeting, for example, will not directly stop the destruction they cause around the world. Really, it is an extreme form of lobbying/pr work.

I'm not, however, criticising these actions, just pointing something out. I'll be on the street on Mayday, and at Shannon in June, and i believe we should continue to disrupt the summits of the elite, where-ever they may be, until they realise they can't go ANYWHERE without us hounding them.

Well done Laurence btw

author by Mark Paul - (the author)publication date Wed Apr 21, 2004 16:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What i actually said was

"anarchists.......... are not fundamentally opposed to the use of what they call ‘direct action’. This is a loose term used to describe forms of protest that are usually illegal, but not necessarily violent. ‘Direct action’ could, for example, take the form of traffic disruption or a sit-down protest."

Yes, I agree that direct action can take a myriad of forms. I was being careful not to say that direct action just meant violence. However, as you well know, the wide scope of 'direct action' lends itself to misinterpretation by the mainstream media, and is usually misconstrued as violence.

The bottom line is that, yes, the media has been unfair. But anarchists don't exactly help the matter by allowing the misconstruals to go on without challenging them enough. If you really want to achieve anything substantial or meaningful, like it or not, you will need popular support.

The question remains as to whether your methods have become the golden calf, are you all just content to sit back an be seen as radicals, or are you interested in engaging with the Irish people on a more accessible level?

That's a straightforward question and not an insult.

How can you get your message out there on Mayday without turning people off? The fact remains that most of the ordinary people, whose best interests you have at heart, read the mainstream media. How can you improve how the Irish people view you?

author by pcpublication date Wed Apr 21, 2004 22:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

it was interesting that in another thread that a journo said "hey we're the small man too, we get overridden by our bosses/editors ya know"

which one has to except is true and maybe we don't recognise that enough but then if your talking about ireland on sunday the claim will fall on deaf ears? well even the broadsheets are full of lies but put on veneer of intelligence...

i don't thikn anybody has any ideas how to reform the mass media other then to create their own... like this unfortunately the papers are still _purposefully_ misquoting and misnaming indymedia in stories like saying the other day the indmedia was calling for a padded block....

author by dunkpublication date Thu Apr 22, 2004 14:49author email fuspey at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

"are you all just content to sit back an be seen as radicals, or are you interested in engaging with the Irish people on a more accessible level?"

"How can you get your message out there on Mayday without turning people off? "

mark, these quesions are the fundamental issue. how to get more people aware of issues and how that moves to more people activley working to improve things in this world

in my opinion, most people my age (@27) are apathetic to politics and the state of the world. whether this is because they feel they cant do anything or whether they just dont care? i feel the latter

so what can be done?

in your article there is no mention of the first INDYMEDIA FESTIVAL AND EXHIBITION, which starts this friday and lasts for 10 days- where there will be screenings, an exhibition, forums, workshops, and a cafe- which will also serve as a media centre for rapidly dispatching information from the protests as it happens throughout the global indymedia network

in my opinion again, i view most modern art gallerys and the stuff they house as dead- usually rubbish that says or means little- i go into gallerys in the hope that the excite and inspire me- or at least make me question things. unfortunatelythey very rarely does this happen.

this exhibition is different though- the space itself has been transformed from a closed warehouse to an open and cosy gallery, open to all.
and more importantly the exhibiton itslef has got something to say- something simple and powerful:

the world and the majority of its people are not been treated in a decent and fair way,
some people are starting to realise this and starting to do something about it.
this is some of the stuff thats happening
now, do you want to get involved

im involved because its exciting
i am informing people about this-
before responses from my peers were: "no im not interested in whats happening to people in palestine" now its "wow, getting involved with making films and turning buildings into gallerys, yes im on for that"

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=64293
author by Mark Paulpublication date Thu Apr 22, 2004 17:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well articulated, dunk. However, I didn't mention the INDYMEDIA FESTIVAL when writing it for a couple of reasons.

It was written over a month ago when details of the festival were sketchy.

The article was more about the tabloid media's editorialising of the facts, and media hype.

I certainly commend indymedia, both for the festival, but also for its very existence on the internet.

The point I was trying to make is that, as good as indymedia is, it still is just preaching to the converted, usually. I guess there are exceptions, but in general, most apolitical people read mainstream stuff.

Now, I'm not for one minute suggesting that people should stop contributing to indymedia and focus instead on the mainstream. On the contrary, indymedia should continue to grow. What I am suggesting is that some effort should be made to counter the mainstream's obsession with anarcho-violence in the mainstream's own patch. Indymedia could do that by reaching out more to people who don't normally have leftist views. The festival is a brilliant start. But also consider trying to influence the mainstream media in a more positive fashion........ try to get them to change too, instead of telling people to ignore them...... because that just won't happen.

On the whole, Indymedia does great work. But it is bursting with resources that could also be chanelled towards ordinary people.

author by pcpublication date Fri Apr 23, 2004 03:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

from what there telling me about the the hits on this site alot more then just the usual few are reading this site good or bad?

author by dunkpublication date Fri Apr 23, 2004 12:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

perhaps most people who already look at or are part of indymedia and mayday have been labeled "anti globalisation" protestors

immediately this has stuck this movement into a little box- its negative- "anti and protestors"
in france i think the movement is named "autre mondialists" (other world-ists) that has a more positive ring to it

unfortunately the media has succeeded in creating a stereotype, which is hugely biased, about what kind of people we are.
most people that are not into this stuff see the average "anti globalisation" protestor as the petrol bomb throwing black clad anarchist or as one breaking in a window.

so lets say Jimmy, an "ordinary" lad in his mid 20`s who is not really too interested in the state of the world, works hard, enjoys his pints and the banter hears about these people coming to dublin "anti globalisation protestors to cause riots and mayhem"
he ends up visiting the imc-centre, talks to friendly people there and becomes more informed about whats going on in the world, sees that the majority of this movements energy is put into communicating to more people just what is going on. and on top of this he does not see any violence on the streets, on the contrary- good natured humourous entertaining informative demos, events, street theatre.....
this is positive

when i try to engage in dialogue with people about this stuff i use the word fuspey (fun, sustainable, peaceful, existence) as surely everyone can and normally does agree with this sentiment- "of course, we all want that"
this allows me to at least begin to talk with people about some issues

"globalisation" is an inevitable process in the evolution of the world whereby stronger links are made between the peoples of the world- be that social, political, economic and understanding of one another
today the body that is governing or making the rules on how we live with one another is unfair.
ie WTO, IMF and trade rules in general

in seattle, 1999, this first came to public attention, when the trade talks collapsed due to massive protest- i think it is there the term "anti-globalisation" was used. this is also when and where INDYMEDIA was born

but since then
-"Globalization and its discontents"
Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz, one time chief economist to the world bank, which he has now left, as he feels those “anti-globalisation” people are right to say the WTO, IMF and the world bank are unjust

-genoa- july 2001
we heard about the violence but the fact that trocaire, such a well respected irish group, encouraged all irish people to go to genoa to protest against the unfairness of G8 shows that there is a far wider group that are part of this movement

-mary robinson, past president of ireland, and acting president for oxfam in cancun, mexico, last year stated that one sees the rules of the game (imf, wto...) one sees they are completely unfair

so instead of "anti globalisation"
how about "pro fair world"

along with being pro something comes the creativity- the need to create new ways
sometimes this catches on

berlin mid 1980`s, a few heads fed up with the boring old anti this anti that, get together and decide to make a protest FOR something
FOR tolerance, understanding and respect between nations
then make their protest EXCITING
1989- 150 people dance on the streets
that grows
1999- 1.5 million people dance in the berlin LOVE parade

Related Link: http://easa.antville.org/stories/508330/
author by dunkpublication date Thu Apr 12, 2007 19:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

found the old paul van dyk video on you tube which shows the love parade and the madness on the streets of Berlin from so many years back

Related Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uP6kHoKwp_c
author by peterpublication date Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well written and interesting.

Now, if only somebody could cover the topic of Wolfowitz's favourtism in giving his girlfriend a top job at the World Bank. This is the top topic which anarchists and libertarians should sieze upon today.

I know; it's not as sexy as bombs going off in Iraq or sticking to home news but it's a HUGE display of the corruption rife in worldwide capitalist institutions.

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