2014 G-20 Summit

Like millions of people, I was blissfully unaware that the G-20 summit had taken place in Brisbane on November 15th and 16th because no one in my neck of the woods was talking about it.  Since the policies made by these 20 oligarchies affect the entire world, I'm posting this in case anyone was also asleep during last weekend's conference.

Incidentally, if you read the lamestream media coverage of this event, you'll come away with the impression that they talked about little more than Putin's involvement in the Ukraine.



Free Trade, Inequality & the Environment

In official discourse the G20 is presented as a critical global meeting “to develop comprehensive growth strategies,” to break down “barriers to trade,” while pushing national economies to become “more competitive.” In reality the G20 text – outlining major agenda points for the 2014 Brisbane summit – articulates a free market vision for international economic policy.
In reality this text translates into violent policies on the ground worldwide, from increasing attacks on environmental standards, to moves that undercut legal infrastructures supporting workers rights, to the heightened commodification of public institutions (i.e. healthcare and education) with the goal of remaking public infrastructure into for-profit corporate systems driven by corporate elites.  
Brisbane’s upcoming G20 summit occurs at a time when the richest 1% literally control half of global wealth, a stark fact that clearly illustrates the deep failure of this “free market” world vision to bring any real “development” for the vast majority.  In fact, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is closely ideologically aligned to Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa, pushed climate change off the G20 agenda altogether, describing the issue as “clutter,” while also stating recently that climate action is “socialism masquerading as environmentalism”.

In the summer of 2010, Conservative Prime Minister Harper similarly rejected calls, including an open appeal by the UN secretary general, to place climate change as an important agenda item at the G20 summit in Toronto. In fact, a public anti-environment, pro-oil/extractive industry expansion political alliance between Harper and Abbott has been asserted publicly. In Ottawa this past summer, the two conservative politicians held a joint press conference to assert their anti-environment united front, essentially arguing that short term “economic growth” was more important than the health of the planet and by extension our collective long term survival. Clearly this free market fundamentalist vision, pushing us all toward the destruction of life supporting systems on earth, needs to be confronted and stopped, a dystopian vision so clearly embraced and pursued by the G20 process.
Police powers.

As Australian state security forces and police prepare networks of repression against the planned protests against the G20, including blocking off large parts of downtown Brisbane as “security zones,” where free expression and non-state sanctioned protest are essentially banned, recalling similarly draconian moves taken by the Canadian government in 2010 is important. 
Toronto’s downtown core was completely fenced off during the G20, as part of an unprecedented security operation costing over $1 billion, involving an estimated 20,000 law enforcement officials, over 1,000 private security guards, closed circuit TV cameras, military-style checkpoints, surveillance aircrafts, along with sound and water cannons. A three-metre high and six-kilometre long $5.5 million dollar concrete and metal security fence snaked throughout downtown Toronto, constructed by Canadian international engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, a corporation with long ties to western military neo-colonial interventions, particularly NATO’s violent occupation of Afghanistan. 
Like Australia’s recently passed “anti-terror” laws, allowing the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) to secretly detain Australians without charge and conduct “coercive questioning,” while also spy on the entire Australian internet with just one warrant, Canada moved to enforce unprecedented “security” oriented legal and physical infrastructure leading up to the G20 summit, while mobilizing domestic surveillance operations as part of the infrastructure of G20 repression. 
The Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) as well as national police forces applied intrusive surveillance and also infiltrated activist networks organizing to protest the G20. Moves that lead to highly mediatized police raids on community activists in the days leading up to the Toronto protests, while on the streets police forces utilized major tactics of repression, like indiscriminate mass arrests and kettling tactics, both strongly condemned by organizations like Amnesty International and human rights officials at the UN. Police forces in London also deployed similarly violent tactics of police repression against anti-G20 protests in 2009, while in Pittsburgh police deployed and used an ear damaging sonic cannon against summit protesters.
Similarly to the upcoming G20 Brisbane summit, most major media outlets and government officials openly collaborated in the lead-up to the summit in Toronto, embracing the very similar language and political framing around the G20 summit and the corresponding demonstrations, creating a political atmosphere that criminalized the grassroots protest mobilization and critique of the G20, particularly groups working on direct action challenges to the summit. 
Deep political contradictions between the expressed ideals of both the G20 and the political forces backing it, claiming to respect democratic ideals and personal liberty, were clear in Toronto and are clear today in Australia. 
Indigenous solidarity

Another political reality that binds together the contexts of current mobilization in Australia and the protest organizing in Canada, are the persisting colonial realities that drive conservative politics in both countries, a political force that also pushes the larger neoliberal ideology behind the G20 institution globally. Grassroots forces on the day-to-day front-lines combating contemporary neoliberalism in both countries, best illustrated by resource industry expansion, are indigenous land defenders, First Nations communities in Canada and Aboriginal movements in Australia. 
Meaningful grassroots critiques and protests against the G20, that fully address colonial realities, place anti-G20 organizing on the stolen lands of Australia and Canada in a broader and long-term context. 
In this context highlighting the fact that Canadian politicians, specifically former Liberal finance minister Paul Martin, was a key player in pushing the formation of the G20, a move to bind the growing economies of the global south to the western-driven neoliberal economic order. One of the first G20 summits took place in downtown Montréal in 2000, also faced by a grassroots protest mobilization that linked the neoliberal vision of the G20 to the political and economic process of colonization, globally but also locally in the Americas. 
The G20 process clearly is a contemporary extension of a colonial framework, an extension of the western European capitalist worldview that sees people and lands as territories and networks to conquer. Similarly to colonialism in early inceptions, like the contemporary manifestations represented by processes like the World Trade Organization (WTO) or the G20, do not accept contradicting systems. As indigenous systems of governance and social organization were actively confronted by colonialism in both Australia and Canada, pushing communities toward genocide, today global economic power refuses space for alternative economic models on a large scale, a fact illuminated by the constant interventions by western powers against living alternatives, as seen in Latin America over the past couple generations. Although social movements both locally and globally have won some important space for people outside of the halls of power today, referenced in symbolic documents like the the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the reality is that active dissent against dominant systems of power and economics, represented by organizations like the G20 is not tolerated. 
In highlighting this colonial context and also past mobilizations against the G20 followed by systems of repression invoked by state power to protect the undemocratic international summits, points to a continuity between the current organizing in Brisbane and past grassroots efforts internationally. Activists in Brisbane working to confront the economic and environmental violence represented by the G20 is inspiring for activists in Canada that have been organizing against the G20 over the past decade. Specifically the diversity of protest tactics that have emerged to oppose the G20 summit, from the broad demonstrations being planned, to the Plan B action page that has come up encouraging direct action and “decentralized resistance” to the summit. As the Brisbane summit fast approaches, let us find voice in our common struggle across borders to oppose the violent, neoliberal vision represented by the G20 and express our support for the grassroots protests being planned to oppose it.
Stefan Christoff is a writer, community activist and musician living in Montreal @spirodon this text was originally written for Seeing Through the G20: A Peoples' Zine, a project created by media activists in Brisbane.

Source: http://www.mediacoop.ca/fr/story/canada-australia-solidarity-resistance-g20-neocolo/32145

Noa's picture

On a related note, the remaining 99% of us are fast becoming impoverished at the hands of the global elite.  Iinstead of looking at each of these issues separately, e.g. "free trade", "quantitative easing", the carbon tax, increased surveillance and oppression, etc. we should be connecting the dots.  These are all parts within the whole (global domination agenda).

What can we do about?  First, we need to stop hiding our heads in the sand and labeling anyone who talks about these things as fear mongers or conspiracy theorists.  Then, we need to tell people what we know (within our personal comfort zones).  More and more people are waking up thanks to the internet and independent journalists, and as more of us do so we are taking back our power. ~ Noa



Oxfam: World's Richest 1 Percent Control Half Of Global Wealth

January 20, 2014 3:04 PM ET
Local villagers scavenging  coal illegally from an open-cast mine in a village near Jharia, India, in 2012.

Local villagers scavenging coal illegally from an open-cast mine in a village near Jharia, India, in 2012.

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Just 1 percent of the world's population controls nearly half of the planet's wealth, according to a new study published by Oxfam ahead of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting.

The study says this tiny slice of humanity controls $110 trillion, or 65 times the total wealth of the poorest 3.5 billion people.

Other key findings in the report:

The world's 85 richest people own as much as the poorest 50 percent of humanity.

70 percent of the world's people live in a country where income inequality has increased in the past three decades.

In the U.S., where the gap between rich and poor has grown at a faster rate than any other developed country, the top 1 percent captured 95 percent of post-recession growth (since 2009), while 90 percent of Americans became poorer.

"Oxfam is concerned that, left unchecked, the effects are potentially immutable, and will lead to 'opportunity capture' — in which the lowest tax rates, the best education, and the best healthcare are claimed by the children of the rich," the relief agency writes. "This creates dynamic and mutually reinforcing cycles of advantage that are transmitted across generations."

In other words, Oxfam says that if trends continue, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.

"[People] are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown," the report says.

The World Economic Forum is scheduled to hold its annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, beginning Jan. 22.

The Oxfam report largely mirrors findings of several other studies in recent years that have documented growing income inequality in the U.S. and across the globe.

In September, a University of California, Berkeley study found that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans saw their incomes grow by 31.4 percent over the period 2009 to 2012, while the other 99 percent experienced just 0.4 percent growth. Last month, the Pew Research Center published a study that found income inequality in the U.S. was at its highest since 1928, the year before the start of the Great Depression.

Trish's picture

Since Stephen Harper won a Conservative majority, he and his party have pushed many bills through parliament taking environmental and social progress and protection back decades, made several international treaties, including a disastrous one with China that we will not be able to back out of for about 30 years, muzzled scientists from being able to speak to anyone about their research, has limited debate and democratic process in Parliament and has been held in contempt by the House (twice, I believe).

It's hard to know what to do to help. LeadNow and OpenMedia allow for some online protest and the means to raise media attention and the attention of our elected MPs about issues, but generally the Conservatives will wait until some crisis happens to distract people and then quietly sneak in damaging policy change in some other bill.

I'm trying to do my small part - I helped start a local electoral district association for the Green Party of Canada. We have about 25 active members in my riding and our executive is 5 people. An election is coming soon, and we know we have no hope of winning in a Conservative stronghold riding, but we hope to give a voice to some people and raise issues for discussion during the campaign. Above all, we hope to model the integrity and genuine interest in the constituents that we feel is missing from politics.


Noa's picture

I applaud your efforts, Trish.  It's true, the task can seem daunting, but solidarity is where our power lies.  

Martin Luther King Jr. never lived to see desegregation, but without his efforts and those of his followers, who even thought civil rights for negroes was possible?   Heck, look what Rosa Parks accomplished simply by refusing to move to the back of the bus!

But maybe I should make a distinction where solidarity is concerned because everything we do (or don't do) makes up the collective fabric of the whole.  The thing is, most of us operate unconsciously within the collective because we're too busy coping with life to see past the headlines.  I'll call this type of group-think, "unconscious solidarity".   This is the herd mentality that is so easy to predict and control.  Few realize that even when we're walking around "mindlessly", we are still acting collectively, thereby paving humanity's future.

On the other hand, "conscious solidarity" is the antidote to the "divide and conquer" strategy.  This is when we see through the brainwashing and choose what supports life.  We stop believing the propaganda and the fear porn.  We see health and happiness as our birthright.  Because we understand our relationship within the earth, protecting our life-sustaining biosphere surpasses money, status, and power in importance.

Our strength comes from aligning ourselves with the Source of all that is.  We out-number the control junkies.  When we stop fearing other people's differences and realize that we have more in common with one another than we do with the people who govern us, we'll stop willingly wearing the shackles.


Our silence protects them.  Our compliance supports them.  Our protest exposes them.  Our collective resolve will stop them.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."  Margaret Mead

Wendy's picture

I want to find a bumper sticker that simply says:

I do not comply.

ChrisBowers's picture


Noa's picture

Here you go, Wendy:




Good idea.  You'll reach hundreds of people a day.

Wendy's picture

I like how the libertarian bumper stickers are right next to the green party bumper stickers. That says a lot about the phony right / left divide.

Trish's picture

I find it ironic that there's an animal rights bumper sticker with a quote from Thomas Edison on it, because he electrocuted multiple animals, including elephants, in front of audiences with DC in an effort to prove how dangerous it is and to discredit Nikola Tesla, so that AC electricity would be adopted instead.

Out of curiosity, I looked at the platform pages of the Libertarian Party of Canada and the Green Party of Canada and I didn't see a lot of differences there. Some people peg the GPC as being left-wing (especially the Conservative Party, because they don't want right-wing competition). But the GPC platform is fiscally conservative, and has its budget regularly ratified (I think that's the term). I agree, the whole left wing / right wing polarization is completely unnecessary and it causes people to ignore the similarities of their common values.

Noa's picture

I used to call myself a "died in the wool Democrat" because I identified with the idea of government's role  as service provider to those people least able to help themselves.  Afterall, we can't call a society civilized if it allows its poor, aged, and infirm to suffer and die.  However, within the last half dozen years or so, the lines between the two parties have become so blurred that I can't distinguish between them.  I think that's a good thing.

That's because the two party system has been an illusion from the get go.   When enough of us recognize our interconnectiveness to each other, the smoke and mirrors will shatter and dissipate into the ethers.

As we recognize the lies, we take back our power and reclaim our freedom.

Bob07's picture


Excuse me for exercising a little of my OCD:  It was Edison who was invested in DC (his whole power network ran on DC).  But DC needed stations along the line to boost the current because it would lose power over distances.  Tesla solved that problem by inventing AC, which didn't need any boosting.  So you're right, Edison worked hard to discredit Tesla, but AC won out in the end.  (What end?  I'm told that "cold electricity", also invented by Tesla, is the next thing -- when they stop suppressing it.  It's impossible to be electrocuted by it.)

Trish's picture

Haha, thanks for the correction, Bob, I couldn't remember which one it was that Edison had invented (DC or AC).

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