An article from Do or Die Issue 10. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 310-317.
The Battle of Seattle: The New Challenge to Capitalist Globalization
Edited by Eddie Yuen, George Katsiaficas and Daniel Burton Rose
(Soft Skull Press, 2001)
Paperback/394pp/£11.99/ISBN 1 887128 66 2
Do we need more prattle about Seattle? While the British media have taken to writing us off as an extremist clique, in America (at least up to September 11th) there's been a mountain of books all clamouring to explain the significance of Seattle, reveal to its participants why they did it and tell them where they should go from here. Deluged by praise, buried under condemnation, what's the difference? Either way you're buried under words not your own.
This book's an exception because it's written by some activists themselves. Opposition to the World Trade Organisation (if not always capital itself) is largely assumed; the battle of the title is more between the adherents of different tactics. Like an American Reflections on Mayday or On Fire, it's an open mike discussion which tries to embrace as many perspectives and look at as many aspects of the movement as it can. It crams in a frankly scary fifty-one contributors. Like a continent-spanning facilitator, Eddie Yuen then gets the unenviable task of trying to sum up.
For that reason alone, this book would matter even if every single participant talked total crap. (Thankfully not the case.) Activists, even when they make bad points, are still part of a real conversation, and need answering. Journalists and academics, conversely, can be left to prattle.
There's more afoot, however. People often seem keen to emphasise the similarities between different regional movements, smoothing over any differences in the name of some superficial 'internationalism', proudly proclaiming our resistance to be as homogenous as capital. (Part, of course, of seeing our movement purely quantitatively - how many cities came 'out' for the last international day of activism etc.) Or if regional differences are admitted, they're but steps on a linear path to some universal truth, on which America is either 'ahead' or 'behind' us in the UK. As the apparently popular slogan seems to go, "Act anti-globally, don't think locally". Meanwhile, a genuine anti-capitalist globalisation would counterpose capitalist globalisation, not mirror it.
This book, with emphasis both on Seattle's predecessors and on the differing strands which make up the American movement, can help to recapture the local context. Even supposing our American comrades were doing things wrongly, we should be asking what has led them down that path. We should also be asking if our 'wrongly' isn't actually 'rightly' for the particular circumstances that they're in.
Finally, the light shone by books such as these could help to dissolve the fetishistic importance which America is often awarded by activists. It may well be true that America has a larger influence upon world events than, say, Estonia. However, many activists seem to regard America in much the same way as Bush regards Iraq, as the place in the world where evil is manufactured, as if 'American' and 'capitalist' were interchangeable terms.
This attitude can easily flip back on itself, where any opposition going on within America is assumed to have an apocalyptic importance, to be wondered at rather than considered or critiqued. While mainstream America is met with unthinking condemnation, any American opposition is met with mindless acclaim. If we have American comrades they deserve better than mere cheerleading, and books such as this give us the opportunity of support through criticism.
(And just in case this needs spelling out to the cheaper seats, if we quote someone favourably we're not agreeing with every other thing they say or might say sometime in the future. Similarly, those we criticise might well say some good stuff somewhere else. Okay?)
Let's start at the most obvious place and work upwards. When Seattle happened it was the black bloc vs. peace police battle that we all fixated on, wasn't it? This debate unsurprisingly reappears here. Just feel the width, with 'black bloc' running up the highest score on index refs! Yuen's central contention is that, prior to Seattle, two 'strands' defined the movement - commitments to Non Violent Direct Action (NVDA) and to direct democracy as a way of working. Seattle snapped the NVDA strand but, through its very success, re-emphasised direct democracy as our real self-defining principle. This can seem convincing. After all, both sides of this big debate seem happy to march behind the slogan; "This is what democracy looks like."
Of course we have no wish to march behind 'leaders', getting our chance to join in on pre-arranged slogans, or follow 'gurus' who explain the workings of our lives to us. Direct democracy may be an improvement on all of that, but it has its own limits which means it must itself be surpassed. (Yuen does make some cricticisms of this principle himself, at one point warning to, "beware the fetishization of process." However these criticisms aren't really taken far enough.)
Strangely, once stripped of the democratic fixations of its adherents, Seattle in practice was a fine example of this surpassing. Let's say what is unarguable, but is always glossed over. No aspect of the Seattle protests was democratic. Obviously, had its participants stayed at home on N30 and awaited their opportunity to elect more benign leaders, none of us would even be talking about this now. But we mean more than that. The Seattle protests did not embody Yuen's principle of direct democracy. And that's how come they're so cool.
First the blockade; in an attempt to cosy up to some liberal Non-Governmental Organisations, the Direct Action Network (DAN) tried to impose the now infamous four principles of non-violence on any wanting to take part. As one British participant put it, "Many activists felt angry that they were expected to comply with guidelines they had not participated in creating" (from the We Are Winning! pamphlet). But also the black bloc did not try to formally challenge these principles by forcing a vote or discussion. They merely voted with their feet (and some handy rocks) by openly flouting them.
It's clear we're talking two different types of anti-democracy here. The four principles were intended to impose themselves on all participants. The black bloc, conversely, were only acting for themselves. They did not attempt to pass themselves off as 'the real movement', even at a rhetorical level.
This is important, but again insufficient. The most common defence of the blockers, it often portrays them as the true democrats, rebelling against autocratic rules. Yet the blockers did have other options, spelt out ad nauseaum by many in this book. They could have tried to formally challenge these rules, boycotted proceedings, done their damage 'some other day' etc. etc.
More importantly, it seems few actually focused on the imposed nature of the four principles until it became a convenient argument afterwards. Those (the majority) who agreed with them didn't worry overmuch that they were never given the chance to vote for them - they just went along with them. Those (the minority) who disagreed with them just broke them. NVDA runs deep in American activism, and probably ran deeper then. It may well be that had there been a popular vote those exact same rules would have been passed. And the blockers might still have broken them. And they'd have been just as right.
Thus, the black bloc at Seattle was an exemplary example of anti-democracy translating into effective practice. Though small in number (estimates vary, but 50 black bloc to 50,000 blockaders is possible), by turning their critique into radical practice they shattered a consciousness about strict NVDA rules and kick-started a debate. It's unlikely a stiff letter to Z Magazine would have achieved the same. Moreover, while some in the European bloc can be elitistly dismissive of those outside their clique as worthless liberals, many blockers were at pains to defend their actions. The book reprints the ACME collective's communiqué, which doesn't slag off the main action but cogently explains why they chose to take the course they did. (There's problems with some of the stuff in the communiqué too, of course, but let's leave that for another day.)
Though they only formally challenged one of DAN's four principles, against property damage, their success is that they generated a wider critique than getting the odd bit of window smashing 'allowed'. Tacitly, they challenged a whole tendency in American activism, where protests are professionalised and tactics must be decided beforehand, then stuck to rigidly. As many contributors point out, on previous actions certain kinds of property damage were permitted under NVDA rules - but in the same strictly defined way. Barbera Eherenreich writes of having "almost being turned away from an antinuclear action until one of my companions had the wit to lie and claim we had indeed gone through extensive training."
Among the many reasons to oppose democracy is its fetishisation of decision-making and internal group order over and above anything the action is trying to achieve. Classic is the charge, oft repeated through this book, that the blockers were needlessly divisive because they could always have broke property 'some other day'. Excuse us? Some other day when the police weren't preoccupied in dealing with a mass blockade of virtually unprecedented size, that would be a good day to go in for extensive downtown property damage?
By bypassing democracy, the few can sometimes achieve much. This book itself is testament to the view that things have shifted significantly since. (Of course it may be another small group, the peace police, who by acting so spectacularly dumbly and indefensibly in physically attacking some black blockers, really forced a debate that went beyond the knee-jerk. Significantly, 'peace police and proud' pieces are few and far between here. History often shows the daftest liberal to be the radical's best friend.)
However, we can't go too far on the blockers' achievements. Few blockers seem to have followed up their anti-democratic practice with the realisation of what they've done, let alone grasped that opposition to democracy is an essential part of opposition to capitalism. Indeed, their point made, many now seem content to retreat back to the cosy world of consensus decision-making. Worryingly, many anti-blockists in this book note how well-behaved the bad kids have been lately. None here put it with as much unintended irony, however, as an activist called 'Starhawk' (no comment!) writing in the book On Fire; "In Seattle I was royally pissed off at the Black Block for what I saw as their unilateral decision to violate agreements everyone else accepted. In Washington in 2000, I saw that they abided by guidelines they disagreed with and had no part in making, and I respected them for it."
Need we point out to Starbu... sorry, Starhawk that most of us spend every day of our lives abiding by guidelines we disagree with and have no part in making - going to work, obeying cops and officials, paying for food and shelter and all the rest of it. This is called life under capitalism, and is what makes us want to resist in the first place!
The question therefore hangs - how far did the blockers succeed in pushing the envelope at Seattle? As much as they did succeed in challenging the notion that decision-making must always be formalised and tactics predefined, they've radicalised things. But if all they've done is add an item to the shopping list of 'allowable' tactics ("...and maybe a bit of rock throwing is cool, too.") they've merely made things more militant. Which isn't the same thing at all.
LA Kaufman writes how this issue was "foremost in many activists' minds at the time [but] now seems almost like a non-issue". We hope our comments have opened a new dimension in what for many quickly became a tired and sterile debate. However, one of the successes of this book is that it does not share this fascination for the pros and cons of redecorating Starbucks, but tries to locate Seattle in a wider social and political context.
In 'Seattle Was Not the Beginning', George Katsiaficas seeks to counter the event-based America-centred media model of history by citing prior international cases of anti-capitalist globalisation. However, while citing Germany, South Korea and other places he sees struggles "at the periphery of the world system" as the most significant if we are to turn upside down "the biases and distortions of the very system being opposed."
Others are more blatant in seeing N30 as the day Third World issues arose to bite back at the 'overdeveloped world'. As the official summer-upper, Yuen states boldly "the recent upsurge against capitalist globalisation has its origins in the countries of the Global South". We agree we do not want to see "the global majorities as mere passive victims", waiting for the nice Westerners to come rescue them from the bad ones. However, we would argue the true reversal of perspective is when you see yourself as the subject of capital, and reject your own role as a passive victim of its inalienable laws, and we find problematic this perverse desire to place the centre of struggle half a world away from where you are. What leads to it?
Perhaps due to its size and relative geographical isolation, America is one of the developed world's most inward-looking countries. Against this, internationalism of itself might seem 'the answer.' Indeed, much of the movements up to Seattle had a Third World focus, such as the widespread anti-sweatshop campaigns.
Admittedly, it may well be that exposure to Third World activists did much to radicalise things in America. Unsurprisingly, the world's poorest can often harbour the least illusions over what's going down. Jaggi Singh writes how Indian opposition largely goes beyond the WTO to global capital itself, and embraces a range of tactics from non-violence through to armed struggle. (While the official line of Seattle's organisers was narrowly anti-WTO, as the event unfolded it seems to have been the point where many attendees transcended this perspective.)
However, perhaps these insights came at a price. Ironically, this fetish made of Third World struggles often obscures those struggles themselves - making them seem homogenous. Many Western activists romantically fixate on images of peasants, poor but authentic, simple but wise. (Hakim Bey even finds a 'Fourth World' in "the world of tribes, forests and peasants, shamans and pagans.") Back in the real world, events often involve many different groups, including the urban poor and even striking workers. The growth of call centres in India, though probably more culturally significant than numerous, suggest once-easy east/west distinctions aren't where they were. Worse, if Western activists take the insights of Third World activists to uncritically endorse anything else they might say and (worse) transfer it whole to our own situation, riding roughshod over context, problems lie ahead.
Moreover, since Seattle, the mainstream media have taken to painting us as a gang of troublemaking trustafarians, rich kids playing at being naughty and spoiling it for the world's poor who actively covet free trade and long for nothing more than to be structurally readjusted.
Of course, this second clause quite literally stands the truth on its head. With recent events in Argentina, we might wonder why we even bother talking about Seattle. Yet the first clause can superficially appear correct - as a rule we activists are (comparatively) materially well off even compared to domestic workers. Lunging in where they seem wrong, hushing up our weakness where they seem part-right, this can add to the tendency to consume another's struggle rather than pursue your own.
Perhaps logically, the next major issue becomes domestic minorities, with the 'whiteness' of Seattle the self-criticism of choice for virtually everybody here. Yuan writes proudly how he has not 'ghettoised' this question into one section, but let it permeate the whole book. In other words, everybody gets a go with the whipping stick.
At its worst, this means little more than enlisting the black community into whatever your particular agenda was anyway, with much of this newfound conversion to anti-racism being but a roundabout way to reintroduce the NVDA debate all over again. 'People of colour' can seem quite a schizophrenic bunch in this collection, endorsing either strict non-violence or armed insurgency depending on which white person is talking about them at any one time - much like 'the workers' do among Trot groups over here. One side brings up King and the proud history of the civil rights movement. The other counters with Malcolm X, the LA riots and the black people at Seattle who joined in the looting in the black bloc's wake.
While we wouldn't want to argue that the cops were particularly soft on blockaders at Seattle, NVDA as a tactic does rely on the bad guys seeing you as someone not absolutely disposable. As Justin Higgins puts it, "if there had been black students at Seattle, there would have been real bullets." (And of course this is just what happens in most parts of the world.)
However, this is to demonstrate a cop-like desire to cordon debate within the crash barriers of acceptable topics and to assume new people will be happy to insert themselves inside our pre-decided, already-complete frameworks. Stephanie Guilloud reports a DAN meeting where someone suggests "everybody call one person of colour and invite them to the group." Somewhat thankfully, "rage and hard words met this tokenising proposal." Van Jones puts it succinctly: "Outreach is a false issue. The point isn't to make the movement look like a Benetton ad. The question is: How will this convergence actually change the movement?"
We do not share the politically correct notion that anyone who belongs to an underprivileged group cannot be criticised. When Juan Gonzales, for example, claims it's racist to harangue cops who are black he's simply being a pratt. Nevertheless, it is often the writers 'of colour' who can be more interesting, bringing fresh perspectives and new criticisms.
Kristine Wong, for example, comments that "the great majority of anti-WTO forces were not addressing the connections between WTO policies and the daily lives of the working class and communities of colour, much less recognising or including grassroots movements." She gives an illuminating account of her attempts to get such movements recognised by activists seemingly more concerned by communities of sea turtles than communities of people living just down the road. Similarly, Andrew Hsiao describes a "hip-hop generation" of new black activists "connecting the corporate agenda to local battles" such as the double whammy of cop oppression and the prison-industrial complex, as yet unallied to the Seattle-centred movement.
However, there can come with this perspective a tendency to see 'communities of colour' as the real working class rather than a large component of it, or (worse) as honorary members of the 'Global South'. (Significantly, Gonzales says "Third World youth" when he means "working class Americans of colour".) There's a short ride from here to seeing white workers as intrinsically suspect, hopelessly riddled with racism, homophobia and the rest. (An attitude common among 'radical' groups in parts of Europe.) Of course we are not arguing that such petty nationalist prejudices can be ignored, nor that those at the receiving end shouldn't be at the centre of struggle against them. But such divisions are best opposed by being transcended, by realising who stands to benefit from them the most.
Take the anti-sweatshop movement. The rhetorical focus for this was Third World sweatshops but the practical arena of struggle was students' own campuses - typically going into occupation to oppose sweated labour for their clothing, coffee etc. (This is very different to here, where many students may have participated in our actions - but rarely as students, rarely on their own campuses. UK equivalents to this movement are small by comparison.) True, there were also community focused groups such as Food Not Bombs. But these groups often worked directly with the homeless rather than the labouring poor. Doubtless, some see the homeless as a section of the peasantry somehow transplanted to US soil.
Or is this to be too dismissive of our Stateside comrades? We're talking about a country with less black men in higher education than in prison (read forced labour camps), with levels of everyday racism eclipsing even Europe. Compounded with a virtual cultural taboo on talking in class terms, this can lead to progressive activists often using 'people of colour' as a code for 'people of class'. Wong, for example, subheads her piece 'Race, Class and the Framing of a Movement' while Yuen uses the phrase 'working class people of colour'. In this context we shouldn't fail to mark the clear difference between such pragmatic calls for resistance at a grassroots level and Gonzales's politically correct claptrap.
Nevertheless, codes have a tendency to get confused with the real thing. And ultimately racism is not integral to capitalism the way class is. While at times racism provides a useful means for capital to divide its adversaries, at others racism's very archaic irrationalism can hinder capital's progress. Like Bernard Manning, capital has no prejudices - it seeks to exploit us all. Yet the lumpenly racist cop who stops the black youth on the street, harasses the middle class black on his way to work as much as he hinders the suspect gang member.
(Needless to say, this is not to resurrect the tired leftist argument that racism will magically disappear 'after the revolution', so it doesn't need to be worried about at all. An argument akin to saying cops won't be around either, so it doesn't matter if one hits you.)
In this context we should also talk about the workers who supported Seattle. In defiance of the simple-minded notion that American capital is always 'ahead' in the march of neo-liberalism, strike levels in the US actually exceed the UK and militant workers do exist in places outside of museums. The longshoremen shutting down the entire West Coast of North America in solidarity with Seattle is an inspiring and exemplary action, and one that went almost as unnoticed in our media as in the mainstream. Perhaps more importantly for us, more radical workers actually broke from an official union march to join in the blockade. (Peace policers boast how some of these then joined them in assaulting black blockers. Life is rarely simple.)
While (rightly) concerned about important groups largely absent from Seattle, most seem happy to neglect alliances actually forged there. Only two contributors, Barbara Epstein and Stanley Aronowitz, chiefly focus upon worker groups. And, while the writers 'of colour' made some of the more interesting points in that debate, there is not one piece in this thick collection actually from a striking longshoreman or blockade-joining worker - a major omission.
Worse, even among contributors willing to talk about workers, there seems little separation of workers from 'their' unions. (Yuen even blithely talks of "representative organisations of the working class i.e. unions"). This seems somewhat worrying from self-professed anarchists who presumably do not identify much with 'their' elected officials, and positively dismiss the idea of the direct action movement as 'represented' by liberal NGOs, or activists 'of colour' by hierarchical bodies such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or personality cults like the Nation of Islam. Only one piece, by Cockburn and St. Clair, makes this (rather obvious) comparison, or reminds us that workers who joined the blockade at Seattle had to push their way past union goons to get there.
It's true that most workers marching at Seattle came from skilled, relatively privileged groups. (Cockburn and St. Clair list "steelworkers, longshoremen, electrical workers and teamsters.") In America, these are the jobs that normally go to white folks. It's also true these are the workers most at risk from foreign imports brought in by trade liberalisation. And Yuen rightly cautions against infection from an insidious far right agenda which "advocates for the working class, as long as it is white, male and American."
However, there is nothing automatic about these workers accepting this narrow, nationalist agenda. (We encounter the same logic the other way up, of course, every time we're told environmentalists cannot be concerned by social issues.) As Epstein points out, many of these workers "though often thought of as resistant to social change, have come to see the need to ally with workers in the South and with the environmental and human rights movement."
Of course, some scream "Trot!" as soon as the 'w' word is mentioned. Let us make clear we are not pointing to some abstract, homogenised group called 'the workers' who require the gift of being 'educated' by us clever types in order to turn their lives of dreary toil into ones of nicer toil. We are pointing to actual concrete events which seem positive, and alliances which could be developed.
Though, worryingly, perhaps the opposite is actually happening. News of worker support at later actions seems scant. This may not just be down to activists choosing to concentrate on the colour issue. Perhaps many of the later actions lacked the officially approved union march, which the more radical workers needed in order to break away from. Whatever, the development is far from positive.
We cannot leave this point without emphasising that a truly radical anti-capitalism is based around your own liberation. To misquote Marx, they who spend all their time trying to liberate others cannot themselves be free - and having to listen to them continually whinge on about it isn't very liberating either. We are motivated to join an anti-capitalist movement by the presence of alarm clocks, shouting supervisors and harassing dole officers in our own lives. We want to work with others, sure. But we want to express our desires alongside them, neither on behalf of them nor cheering them on from the sidelines.
Many here talk like marketing consultants chasing the most likely demographic to buy into anti-capitalism. Take the 'Seven Ways to Make Our Protests More Powerful' by George Lakey of 'Training for Change'; "2) Decide specifically who we're trying to influence... 3) Become proactive rather than reactive... 6) Take a positive attitude toward the prospect of state repression" etc. etc. You can almost picture the accompanying slideshow full of endless pie charts and interminable bullet points, as you wait hopefully for the promised break for fags and biscuits.
More sinister still is the (unnamed) Direct Action Network organiser who brushed off criticism of their working methods with the argument, "DAN is a brand name with a high market value." This is worse than a penchant for irritating phraseology (though that would be bad enough in itself). Our supposed friends see radical change as a product, which we sell to selected groups by prearranged and cleverly marketed campaigns. As an alternative to capital, it isn't one.
Ultimately, we can only scratch the surface here. There's the almost complete absence of anarcho-primitivism, from a scene it once dominated if not defined. There's the features on jail solidarity (something we rarely practice in the UK in any organised way), which probably deserve a book to themselves. There's the pieces which attempt to focus on globalisation itself, to see beyond both their lies and our slogans. If jail solidarity deserves a book, this issue perhaps deserves a library.
However, that's not to say every alley from here leads somewhere worth going. This is a tale that grew and sprawled in the telling, and in the process lost much of its focus. Like a pencil point, it loses its sharpness the longer it writes. As it progresses to later American actions, which produced less heated debate, it reads more and more like mere reportage. And the weakest section is the one given to European movements, geographically (and culturally?) distant from the compilers, which often descend into reactionary rubbish. (The one British piece, 'Mayday Diary' by mainstream journalist Jay Griffiths, is downright risible.) Perhaps significantly, the whole list of 'information resources' at the back is American. (And yes, before smart alecs fill our postbox, we are aware this criticism could easily twist back on ourselves, criticising a movement from an ocean away.)
The book is at its weakest when it tries to paint a broad, sweeping canvas, taking several years of global struggle into its cinemascope. This leads to eyestrain more often than insight. Conversely, it's at its best when it takes a jerky snapshot of a moment; a moment just after Seattle, when the still-fresh tear gas had burnt away ideology and factionalism and where to go next seemed inviting and open. If the snapshot can look blurry, then maybe the moment was.
As a barometer of how Seattle pushed American activism forwards, the assembled voices here are fascinating. While to some extent it took things in a more militant direction, it might be more accurate to say it threw things into a state of flux and blurred once-easy polarities, until the unquestioned and the unthinkable were no longer in the places they used to be. Many are the articles here which abandon old fixed positions for the unknown. As one black blocker writes, "the ground between violence and pacifism is wide, much wider than the ivory tower of either. Meet me there."
This contrasts to the UK where the 'big event' (June 18th) merely nailed the lid on a pacifist hegemony which was already in decline. Many over here then acted as though, now out of our non-violent straight-jacket, capital would lie helpless at our feet. Against this somewhat misplaced confidence, the American is of course the more radical shift. But it's also a more tentative, a more fragile one, and where it heads is far from certain.
And perhaps even that is the glass half-full version of events. It could equally be argued that this book's great weakness is just that - it's just a book, an assemblage of fine-sounding words. It could be argued that, despite all this talk of re-evaluation, what people have actually done in practice is to have another one like the last one (Washington, Philadelphia etc.) with the predictable diminishing returns.
The reconciling of non-violent blockading with black blockism can even serve to obscure that both are merely tactics, with their own limited usefulness, not universal statements of our identity or panaceas to all our ills. This point is made by many of the later pieces, whatever their other weaknesses. Silvia Frederici and George Caffentzis, for example, say "the limits of Seattle's tactics are not the limits of the movement", but perhaps they write more in hope than expectation. Naomi Klein is blunter: "Seattle's tactics worked because they took the police by surprise. That won't happen again." She's already been proved right, of course. We do not need, despite Yuen's cry, "Two, Three, Many Seattles". In the Chinese proverb the hand points at the moon, but the fool looks at the finger. Seattle was just the finger.
Similarly, here in Britain, J18 was surrounded by a spate of attempts to break down factional divisions and ideological ruts in order to think up something new. In this new hothouse atmosphere, texts such as 'Give Up Activism' gained a wide currency. (See Do or Die No. 9, pp. 160-170.) However, did this quantitative readership translate into any qualitative change in what we actually did? Or did we carry on in just the same way as before, inhabiting just the same roles and identities, only being a bit more self-critical while we were doing it? (We will be happy to be proved wrong on this point!)
Either way, the last of the book's topics could make the whole debate redundant. September 11th happened so close to publication it only appears in the prologue, but from there it hangs over everything that follows like a shadow. The aftershock of this event even reached Britain, an ocean away from the attack, allowing for another round of ever more repressive laws - with doubtless more to come. In Ground Zero, the situation was far worse. Yuen writes how, immediately afterwards, "the radical political space which has been opened up was instantly pulverised." If that pulverisation was (thankfully) not permanent, neither has it had no lasting effects. For much of the US public, failing to prevent a terrorist atrocity has transformed Bush from a vote-stealer and crony capitalist into a stately leader protecting them from the infidel hordes.
Conversely, of course, his adventurism in the Middle East could trip upon itself and push people towards more radical critiques. At the very least, as Aufheben have argued, it has shaken our perspective from a fixation with international talking shops as the supposed heart of capital into something wider. Whatever the long term effects upon us, it's unlikely they will be small.
J18, N30, S11... after those three dates our movement has fallen through the looking glass, to somewhere new and unfamiliar, home to a strange unsettling mixture of successes and setbacks. We haven't become the genuine threat to capital we'd so often boasted of, but neither are we pure and untainted by success any more. After bumping into this new, unfamiliar furniture a while, it's even tempting to want back into the old, comfy world where we were just marginal and knew it. But looking glasses are one way trips. Whatever the nature of this New World, it's the one we're now in and must make the best of.