This should be seen as a victory for Occupy and the growing Left in the United States. And inasmuch as that is true, it should be seen as a serious defeat for Mayor 1% here in Chicago.
Rahm worked all of his Washington connections to bring NATO and the G8 to Chicago this Spring. At some point or other, it's likely that he used his leverage as former White House Chief of Staff to make a pitch to Obama something like the following: "Hey, trust me... bring the G8 to Chicago and I promise there won't be any fucking protests. And I'll find a way to raid the public purse to buy a bunch of riot cops and all the rest. Maybe I'll have to close a couple of libraries, schools and health clinics, along the way, but fuck 'em. So, what do you say?"
Obama, of course, said yes. And ever since Rahm public announced his plan to bring the G8 to town, he's been hammering away at anyone who's dared to question his decision. Of course, he never asked any actual Chicagoans whether they actually wanted to shell it out to throw a big party for the global 1%. But anyone who knows the Democrat Machine in Chicago knows that the Boss (whether its Daley or Rahm) simply does what the Boss wants around here. Asking the population what they need or prefer is not what the city government does in Chicago.
So, this time, Boss Emanuel decided that he wanted to throw a big party for the G8 on our dime. And he dug in his heels and used his command over the obedient City Council to force through anti-protest ordinances as well as measures that give him carte blanche to spend as much as he likes.
What's more, I think it would be fair to say that Rahm was excited about the whole thing. How could he not be? He and his minions planned and enthusiastically plugged it for months. He alone probably invested countless hours schmoozing with elites, chatting with millionaires, etc. to bring the representatives of the global 1% to town. Rahm recently said that "from city perspective, this will be an opportunity to showcase what is great about the greatest city in the greatest country." He was pumped.
But he didn't get his way. He lost. The G8 will not be coming to Chicago. Rahm's got to be pissed.
Of course, the ruling class politicians who organize these sorts of summits have an interest in concealing the nature of their decision to move the Summit. But try as they might, they can't fully conceal their intentions since circumstances make it so obvious that they're trying to avoid facing any public resistance to their agenda. Take, for example, the following statement from the White House:
"To facilitate a free-flowing discussion with our close G-8 partners, the President is inviting his fellow G-8 leaders to Camp David on May 18-19 for the G-8 Summit, which will address a broad range of economic, political and security issues," the White House announced this afternoon.Yes, they moved it to facilitate a "free-flowing discussion". Translation: they realized that if they held the protest in the second largest city in the US, a city with a growing Occupy movement, that there would be massive public protests decrying the presence of a small clique of elites making decisions behind closed doors that will have grave consequences for the global 99%. This kind of mass showing of grass-roots resistance to the domination of the 1% in global affairs would, of course, disrupt their capacity to have a smooth, "free-flowing discussion." Better, then, to have it out in the middle of nowhere (see below).
That way there will far less public resistance to what is, quite obviously, a democratically illegitimate global organization.
But there's another dimension here is unlikely to be publicly addressed by Obama's White House. Let's not forget that it's an election year. Obama and the Democrats will be doing their best to try to rhetorically lull those sympathetic to the Occupy movement into voting for them. They will try to pose as the "party of the people", as the party that stands for taxing the rich and fighting for the 99%. But it's rather hard to do this effectively if there are massive protests underway in the President's hometown, especially since the very people on the streets will be the target of Democrat campaigning. A massive grass-roots confrontation has the potential to look rather bad for the man who desperately wants to position himself as the "President of the people" despite all of the evidence to the contrary.
So, once it became clear that the organizing efforts underway meant massive, large protests against the G8, Obama decided to renege on his decision.
Whatever he says publicly, we know that Rahm can't be pleased with this decision. Even the Boss of the Chicago Machine can be forced to relent when enough pressure is generated from below. We can take him on and win. He's not invincible. When we stand together and threaten to build mass movements that draw the majority of the population into active resistance, our leaders cannot fail to take notice.
This should be a lesson to everyone in Chicago fighting back against injustice and domination from above. We can stand together and defeat Rahm. We can challenge him and force him to back down. Because when the 99% stands together, it has a social power like no other. We--the 99%--do the work, we make this society run. When we are mobilized and organized, we have the ability knock our leaders off their thrones and force them to take notice.
Of course, in the midst of our victory celebrations, we have to be well aware of the challenges ahead. NATO, for the time being at least, is still scheduled to come to town. And, for all intents and purposes, NATO represents the exact same interests as the G8 (even the interests of French capitalists are served by NATO and they would be generally hard pressed to say otherwise). Still, we have a lot of work to do, probably no more or less than we had before us when both the G8 and NATO were slated to come.
But this victory has the potential to be a galvanizing factor as we move closer to May. It shows that we can win, it shows that what we do matters. Activists far and wide should seize upon the recent news to build the self-confidence of the movement and push participants to be even more ambitious in their demands. If we can win on this issue and force the President to relent, we can win on many others. We're just getting started.