WHAT HAVE WE DEMONSTRATED? The events that occurred during the anti-WTO demonstrations last year caught nearly everyone by surprise surprise. The forty to fifty thousand participants, the ability of demonstrators to significantly delay the proceedings,the extent of the propertydamage and the severity of the police response were all unexpected and seemed to leave many in a haze. Unfortunately this limited the level of real significant critical discussion about the event. The months that have followed have seen several attempts to repeat "Seattle"--in Washington D.C., in Philadelphia, in Los Angeles (I choose to write about events in the United States, because the "movement" here is the one I understand most clearly). In light of this, I think it is time to raise deeper questions about these events and their usefulness to an insurrectional anarchist project.

Unquestionably, during the demonstrations in Seattle, real acts of revolt occurred. Rage against domination expressed itself frequently and fiercely enough to cause significant damage. On the other hand, it must be recognized that the demonstrations in Seattle were essntially part of a political movement of dissent aimed at reforming capital, not a social movement of revolt. Were there ways to transform these events, to take them out of the hands of leftist politicians and out of the submissive logic of reform? Arguably, those who attacked property did transform things to limited extent and in a haphazard manner, but the shrewder of the leftist and labor movement leaders were quick to recuperate this for the political realm by pointing out that without these attacks the media would have paid scant attention to the protest and their own political message would not have gotten out. However, the best opportunities for opening things up into social revolt came when property destruction attracted people from poor, black neighborhoods. Anarchists were not really prepared for this and lost the opportunity for communication with others of the exploited. On the other hand, the activist politicians were prepared, and recognizing people who did not share their political agenda, they responded accordingly. They banded together to block access to a Nike store to these local black youth, thus blocking any potential for breaking out of the limits of politics, thus further indicating how little the left has in common with the exploited in this country In the large demonstrations since Seattle, the political organizers have attempted to better coordinate events with the authorities in order to keep everything under control, to maintain social peace against both anarchists and unruly "outside elements"--angry local exploited youth for example.

The "anti-globalization" movement in the United States is not a social movement. It is a political movement, a movement of ideologues and activists, not of the exploited. There is no large-scale visible social movement of revolt in this country right now. Where such movements have existed, demonstrations have always played a part in the ongoing struggle, but as an outgrowth of that struggle, not as a political imposition upon it. The demonstrations of Seattle, D.C., Philadelphia and Los Angeles, being essentially political, were intended to demand that power act in a certain way. They were not--except in those specific incidents when some individuals broke out of the official framework--expressions of our ability to act for ourselves.

So questions remain. Since an insurrectional anarchist project involves the refusal of politics, since one of its central aims and methods is self-activity, since our strength is that of the exploited and not that of "radical" politicians, is it really in our interest to keep putting so much energy into and emphasis on these political demonstrations with times and locations determined power? Though there is not a large-scale, visible social movement here, mostly invisible and often unconscious revolt does exist. So then, wouldn't we do well to develop our own daily struggles against the exploitation we experience and, in the process, maybe discover other hidden wells of revolt among the exploited who are being excluded from this society and its political games? Clarifying our anarchist projects in this way, we can consider whether there are ways that we can intervene in these demonstrations that will open the situation up to revolt and the destruction of politics, to the self-activity of the exploited rising up against their exploitation and beginning to take back their lives. There are many questions to be discussed and explored along these lines. But this much is certain: anarchists cannot continue to simply tag along in the leftist politicians' spectacular displays; otherwise, we will become nothing more than the most inept of the politicians. Instead, however we choose to act, we must act projectually, with purpose, fully aware that the schemes of the left are sad and pathetic compared to the dreams of the exploited when they rise up in revolt discovering their most dangerous passions.