US: Washington IMF protests: Fighting war, poverty and exploitation

THOUSANDS OF demonstrators staged a spirited march and rally as part of a week of events against the IMF and World Bank in Washington DC last weekend – despite the arrest of 659 people by police.

Washington IMF protests

Fighting war, poverty and exploitation

While the rally was not as large as previous anti-globalisation events, the threat of disruptive protests as well as the slumping global economy led the IMF and World Bank officials to shorten the meeting from nearly a week (of parties and schmoozing for the global financial elite) to two days.

The issue of war against Iraq, the plight of the poor across the globe and the refusal of capitalism to deal with the global AIDS crisis were at the forefront of the rally with slogans such as "Quarantine corporate greed" being popular among the demonstrators.

Activists demanded poor country debt relief, the end of structural adjustment programs and more transparent decision-making at the World Bank and the IMF.

A separate Global AIDS March converged with the group near the lenders’ headquarters mid-afternoon.

Those wearing stickers saying: "IMF – cancel poor country debt, fight AIDS", mingled with others wearing bumper-stickers on their clothes that said simply: "Do not bomb Iraq".

Even the Washington Post had to admit on 30 September: "It is significant that due to the anaemic growth, economic crises and stubbornly high poverty rates in a number of countries that pursued IMF and World Bank-backed programmes, a sense of disillusionment is spreading with the ’Washington consensus’, the package of policies long touted by US policymakers and international lenders as keys to prosperity for the world’s poor. The main elements of the consensus include policies aimed at curbing inflation, opening markets, dismantling government controls and privatising state enterprises."

As protesters denounced the global economic regime, IMF and World Bank leaders agreed Saturday to pursue new ways of "resolving" the spreading financial crises, including a groundbreaking bankruptcy court process for insolvent governments. This is not particularly encouraging for the advocates of global capitalism.

Despite the massive propaganda drive of the Bush administration for war against Iraq as part of the ’war on terrorism’, and the failure of the organisers of the rally to link the issue of war against Iraq to the struggle against globalisation, the indications are that the anti-globalisation/anti-capitalist mood among a section of young people and workers will continue to exist in the US. They will be further radicalised by the prospect of war against Iraq, economic crisis and the threat of mass unemployment.

Members of Socialist Alternative from New York, Boston and Oberlin participated in the rally raising the need for socialist ideas and a programme to fight against war, poverty and exploitation. We sold over 400 newspapers.

There are already rallies and demonstrations planned against Wall Street and corruption and against war in New York and San Francisco in October.

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October 2002