I remember it like it was yesterday. The flush feeling of joy and progress as thousands upon thousands of concerned activists, labor organizers and students shut down the powerful WTO warmed me in the cold Seattle air. And then, a couple of pieces of broken glass later, the Seattle police and the Mayor made it clear that in the face of profits the people were of secondary concern.
It was a watershed week. Activists globally had been fighting in Mexico, Korea and many other places against the IMF and other corporate masters for years. Finally, it seemed, the people of this nation were waking up. People were taking notice. A new wave of energy permeated the movement. It was an exciting time that seemed so promising. All too soon, of course, came the mockery of an election in 2000 and the ascension of Bush II. Not long afterwards, September 11 ushered in a new age of advanced American imperialism. From the Patriot Act to the endless war in Iraq, I wonder how many miles I have marched in protest since November 30, 1999.
I can't help but wonder about the relative gains and losses of our movement in the last five years. I wonder how other people feel. Certainly I realize our struggles echo the courageous actions of social justice advocates that have fought oppression since our nation's inception. I know there have been periods of gains and losses. But this new American era seems so dark. So foreboding.
And so I'll toast the 50,000 who made a powerful statement that week in Seattle. And wonder once more where we go from here.