Yesterday, The Atlantic published an article that declared “Seattle’s 1999 Protesters Were Right.” Author Noah Smith correctly explained that they were mocked and maligned. He writes “the Seattle protests came to seem as not only silly, but also misguided.”
But Smith explains that nonetheless history has shown the WTO protesters were “mostly right.” “Almost everything the Seattle protesters have warned us about has come to pass, much of it a direct result of the WTO’s actions in 2000,” he writes.
So what are the reasons we didn’t succeed and they did?
We didn’t get the message right?
We didn’t speak to the people?
Our study of radical political theory wasn’t sufficiently rigorous?
We didn’t know our history?
We didn’t have any history?
We didn’t forge a mass movement?
We didn’t have social media soon enough?
We broke too many store windows?
We didn’t break enough store windows?
We weren’t well-funded?
We weren’t sufficiently connected with large established political action organizations and unions?
We weren’t connected to elected officials?
We didn’t have a party?
We didn’t have an agenda easily transformed into legislation and other policy?
We were intensively targeted by a coast-to-coast, local to Federal policing campaign to squash radical political organizing?
The chilling effect on radical politics caused by 9/11?
The rise of post-9/11 patriotism sapped our base and politically isolated us?
Capitalisms is total, yeah?
The end of the world is more imaginable than the end if capitalism?
The only force strong enough to combat something the scale of climate collapse is the same global institutions we opposed?
Because responsible capitalism grew since then?
Because the poor in the underdeveloped world would die without the institutions we were combatting and we had no alternative to offer them?
Because we didn’t listen to the pacifists?
Because we didn’t make total war?
Because they had all the guns and we didn’t have enough?
Because many of us realized we like Nike shoes more than breaking Nike’s windows?
Weed legalization means more to many of us?
Weed is legal for many of us?
Too many of us smoked too much weed despite its legal status?
We didn’t smoke enough weed?
Obama offered us hope and delivered it?
Obama offered us false hope and we are now hopeless?
Listening to George W Bush caused a reduction in intelligence equal to collective lobotomization?
Because of the rightward surge in American political culture?
Because capitalism, duh?
The protest wasn’t big enough?
The protesters were permitted?
The protesters violated the permit?
Political protest is infantile and obnoxious?
Political protest is a mode of politics unsuited for this era?
We didn’t start occupying soon enough?
We started occupying?
Not enough people dressed in business casual for the protest?
Too many liberals?
Too many nutty commie parties selling papers?
There was too strong an anarchist element that won’t commit to the discipline of the party or recognize the necessity of the state?
The anarchist needed to bathe?
There weren’t enough women in leadership positions?
There were leadership positions?
There weren’t enough topless radical feminists?
There weren’t enough topless hotties?
Because we didn’t set the terms for success in advance, reach agreement on these and together assess our progress?
There are no terms by which to measure success?
We never wanted to win?
We wanted to win too badly?
There was no way to win?
The very idea of winning is nonsensical?
Because we did win?
This blog exemplifies a cynicism that pervades the radical left, and this cynicism has crushed our ability to think the problem and adequately respond to it?