Ideas for an anti-WB demonstration
I am sick tired of demonstrations where the same old bunch, or their twins, wave banners nobody will read and shout, megaphone-directed, tired old slogans to sound of the clichè samba band. I am tired of variations of these, replacing banners with puppets or megaphones with songs. If these are the people who'll make "another world possible", they certainly don't show any promise of making an interesting difference.
An idea is forming about a possible action against the World Bank conference this summer. I call it "the mudmen", because of the New Guinea mudmen who inspired it, though they might as well be women and they need not necessarily be covered in mud. Any coarse earth-colored substance that can be smeared onto the skin will do. Preferrably one that can withstand rain. Mudmen were minimum clothing, are covered in this mud entirely from toes to hair. Mudmen do not speak. They shut up. They walk as robots, expressionless. The mudman appearance is tailored to express nakedness. Not an erotic nakedness, which is hard to associate with dried mud, neither the nakedness of a person bereft of clothing, humiliated in poverty. But the nakedness of honesty, the nakedness of truth. The nakedness that says "I need no clothes for I have nothing - no lies, no secret agendas - to hide". Contrast with the conference; the World Bank hostages, their physical and intellectual clothing and makeup, their tables and diagrams, their layers of lies to obscure the naked existence of the people they oppress. Force them to look in the eyes of their victims.
I have been speculating for a while on how to express the simple, naked power of that one man who stood before the tank on tienamnen square. Whenever the tank tried to change course to avoid him, he moved to block it. He was saying "Kill me, or turn around, but I will not be evaded." We admire him for his courage, yet we cannot stand in his place; as long as we cannot stop ourselves from running we have no right to do so. Instead, I search for the essence of that moment - to see where his attitude can be followed in honesty, though on a lesser scale. This is one application, or one extradition, of that idea.
Imagine just 5 mudmen, walking in unison, not speaking, through the streets of Oslo. Then imagine ten. Imagine twenty. Fifty. One hundred. At any scale, it would look impressive - even more so than the parades of tutè bianche or the black bloc or puppetistas.
Now rewind a few weeks, to a day we are planning the "mudman action". We huddle around a computer, and send of emails through our networks, to reach activists from the south, from the countries that suffer the most from world bank policy. We tell them our idea. We ask them to return to us : 1. A photography of themselves. and 2. an audio recording where they explain in their own language, their own words, what the Bank has done to their lives. Or anything else directed at the WB conference members. The translations of these texts are gathered, together with the pictures, into an infokit. The infokit can be distributed to press or other interested. It can be presented to the conference members in a ceremonial gesture. Following the mudmen on their trail, agitators can use quotes from the text to explain others why and what we are protesting.
Fastforward to Oslo, july. The mudmen enter. Each person carries only one object; a framed photography. To the back of each frame is attached an audio player of some kind - an old walkman, for instance, with a speaker screwed out of an old radio. From the pictures come the voices, in a multitude of languages, explaining the wrongs of the world bank. The mudmen themselves are silent, not marching but still walking in a steady pace, through the summer streets of Oslo, until they reach the conference.