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Action on the streets?

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Mark Easton | 12:29 UK time, Monday, 23 February 2009

The anti-globalisation movement may well be hoping the cracks in the capitalist edifice exposed by the downturn will prompt a renaissance for the philosophies which fuelled violent protests for a few years around the millennium (Police fear UK 'summer of rage').

However, activity on websites does not necessarily translate into action on the streets. With the entire economy at grave risk, it is unclear whether anger at the failures of banks, other financial institutions and governments will translate into support for action designed to topple those same bodies.

Last year a meeting of "People's Global Action", the umbrella organisation which claims credit for the wave of international protest against the G8, the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF, said that "groups close to the PGA are now looking for new drives to challenge stagnation".

Certainly, a 'movement' with multiple and often contradictory aims saw its momentum fade after the ugly scenes of J18 in the City of London in 1999 and subsequent Mayday protests in Britain. The 'foot-soldiers' shifted their focus on to the anti-war demonstrations following the invasion of Iraq.

That police have identified attempts to exploit the current economic downturn is not a surprise and they will undoubtedly be arguing for greater resources to counter a potential threat to public order. The upcoming meeting of the G20 in London in April has been selected by some activists as a focus for anger. Whether economic anxiety translates into a real desire to destroy capitalism may become evident in the shadow of Canary Wharf this Spring.


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