Writing History in the Streets: Berlin, Seattle, Copenhagen, and Beyond

, by SOLNIT Rebecca, Tomdispatch.com

Next month, at the climate change summit in Copenhagen, the wealthy nations that produce most of the excess carbon in our atmosphere will almost certainly fail to embrace measures adequate to ward off the devastation of our planet by heat and chaotic weather. Their leaders will probably promise us teaspoons with which to put out the firestorm and insist that springing for fire hoses would be far too onerous a burden for business to bear. They have already backed off from any binding deals at this global summit. There will be a lot of wrangling about who should cut what when, and how, with a lot of nations claiming that they would act if others would act first. Activists — farmers, environmentalists, island-dwellers — around the world will try to write a different future, a bolder one, and if anniversaries are an omen, then they have history on their side.

A decade ago, and a decade before that, popular power turned the tide of history. November 30, 1999, was the day that activists shut down a World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Seattle and started to chart another course for the planet than the one that corporations and their servant nation-states had presumed they’d execute without impediment. Since then, events have strayed increasingly far from the WTO’s road map for global domination and the financial scenarios that captains of industry once liked to entertain. Read more

(Also read Naomi Klein on the parallel between Seattle 1999 and Copenhaguen 2009)