Starhawk, a self-proclaimed witch from San Francisco, is looking forward to a repeat performance here over the next week of the December demonstrations that hobbled the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle.
“Seattle was only a beginning. We have before us the task of building a global movement to overthrow corporate control and create a new economy based on fairness and justice, on a sound ecology and a healthy environment, one that protects human rights and serves freedom,” said the founder of the Reclaiming Pagan witch group.
Starhawk is in Washington with thousands of other demonstrators, mostly from the left of the political spectrum including labor activists, anarchists, environmentalists, human rights activists, ecumenical groups, socialists, communists, students and a smattering of fringe groups from witches to pie-throwing radicals.
What binds these groups is a common hatred of large, international corporations and organizations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which are holding their annual spring meetings April 16 and 17. Their common goal is to radically change or abolish the organizations.
The agenda of the dozens of groups that have signed up with the “Mobilization for Global Justice” and “50 Years Is Enough” coalitions sponsoring the demonstrations is to capitalize on the momentum and publicity they created in Seattle and generate the same kind of publicity here for their causes.
Besides parades of sign carriers, musicians and dancers will troop through the streets. Many of the demonstrators have been training to commit acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. That includes blocking traffic around the IMF and World Bank buildings, State Department and White House, and thwarting officials trying to attend meetings there.
As in Seattle, such actions could land them in jail. The Metropolitan Police have been preparing for months for what they expect to be extensive confrontations.
“The World Bank and the IMF, along with the WTO, are the major organs of globalization, the economic system that allows corporations to evade responsibility to communities and workers by moving their operations around the globe,” said Starhawk in a note to fans and recruits on her Web site (www.reclaiming.org).
“I can’t stand by complacently and watch the destruction of our lands, the pollution of our waters, and the impoverishment of the earth’s peoples without doing something about it. These ideals have gotten me in trouble before and are likely to do so again.”
Starhawk is organizing a cluster of witches and holding teach-ins on nonviolence and “magical activism training.” She is planning to conduct a witch “ritual” before the April 16 demonstration.
Other demonstrators have more modest goals with mainstream backing. Jubilee 2000/USA is pushing for deeper debt relief for poor nations than the $27 billion in debt forgiveness already planned by the IMF and World Bank. It wants to eradicate the debt of 52 poor countries totaling $350 billion by the end of the year.
The Jubilee coalition, whose goals have been endorsed by religious leaders from Pope John Paul II to the Rev. Billy Graham, helped push through legislation in Congress last year to forgive U.S. loans to poor countries. It sponsored a kickoff rally for the demonstrations on the Mall yesterday.
Debt forgiveness is key
Rallying against free trade
Secrecy, elitism questioned