Fwd: [gen-dist] UK Oil Protests

The Land Is Ours office at tlio.demon.co.uk
Fri Sep 29 17:20:22 BST 2000

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>Cc: office at tlio.demon.co.uk
>Subject: Fwd: [gen-dist] UK Oil Protests
>Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 09:59:51 GMT
>X-OriginalArrivalTime: 26 Sep 2000 09:59:52.0209 (UTC) 
>>From: "eyfa office amsterdam" <eyfa at eyfa.org>
>>Reply-To: eyfa at eyfa.org
>>To: gen-dist-l at eyfa.org
>>Subject: [gen-dist] UK Oil Protests
>>Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2000 13:45:30 +0200
>>***This is the eyfa general distribution list***
>> > The Globe and Mail, Wednesday, September 20, 2000
>> >
>> > Why Big Oil backed the fuel protests in Europe
>> >
>> > By Naomi Klein
>> >
>> >
>> > When I arrived in London on Sunday, the city was like a jittery
>> > heroin junkie who had just shot up. The panic that gripped Britain
>> > when a coalition of truckers and farmers blockaded the nation's oil
>> > refineries had been replaced with an unreal calm. The gas was
>> > flowing again and, at the stations, dazed customers injected their
>> > tanks with rivers of unleaded.
>> >
>> > As is the case with any powerful addiction, the fuel crisis hasn't
>> > disappeared; it has been, momentarily, sated. Protests against oil
>> > taxes are cropping up across Europe and they may well return to
>> > Britain after the moratorium called by the truck drivers expires in
>> > two months. Canadian truckers are even threatening to mount copycat
>> > actions.
>> >
>> > Watched from a distance, the oil blockades in Britain look like
>> > spontaneous popular uprisings: regular working folk, frightened for
>> > their livelihoods, getting together to say, "Enough's enough." But
>> > before this David and Goliath story goes any further, it deserves a
>> > closer reading.
>> >
>> > There's no doubt that the fuel protests began when a couple hundred
>> > farmers and truckers formed blockades outside the oil refineries.
>> > But the protests became effective only when the multinational oil
>> > companies that run those refineries decided to treat those rather
>> > small barricades as immovable obstacles, preventing them from
>> > delivering oil to gas stations.
>> >
>> > The companies -- Shell, BP, Texaco et al. -- claimed they wouldn't
>> > ask their tanker drivers to drive past the blockades because they
>> > feared for their "safety." The claim is bizarre. First, no violence
>> > was reported. Second, these oil companies have no problem drilling
>> > pipelines through contested lands in Colombia and political revolts
>> > directed against them in Nigeria. When it comes to extracting oil
>> > from the earth, there seems to be no danger, including warfare, that
>> > oil multinationals are unwilling to risk. Third, the truckers'
>> > "pickets" were illegal blockades since the protesters were not
>> > members of trade unions -- unlike the cases in which union members
>> > form legal pickets and companies hire scabs to cross them anyway.
>> >
>> > So why would the oil companies tacitly co-operate with anti-oil
>> > protesters? Easy. So long as attention is focused on high oil taxes,
>> > rather than on soaring oil prices, the pressure is off the
>> > multinationals and the OPEC cartel. The focus is also on access to
>> > oil -- as opposed to the more threatening issue of access to less
>> > polluting, more sustainable energy sources than oil.
>> >
>> > Furthermore, the oil companies know that, if the truckers get their
>> > tax cut, as they did in France, oil will be cheaper for consumers to
>> > buy, which will mean more oil will be sold. In other words, Big Oil
>> > stands to increase its profits by taking money out of the public
>> > purse -- money now spent, in part, on dealing with the problems
>> > created by Big Oil.
>> >
>> > More mysterious has been the government response to the illegal
>> > trucker protests. While Tony Blair has not caved in to demands for
>> > lower taxes (yet), he didn't clear the roads either, a fact all the
>> > more striking considering the swift police crackdowns against other
>> > direct-action protests in Britain and around the world.
>> >
>> > The oil blockades in Britain and France were enormously costly.
>> > Final figures aren't in, but the protests likely caused more real
>> > economic damage than every Earth First!, Greenpeace and anti-free
>> > trade protest combined. And yet, on Britain's roads last week, there
>> > was none of the pepper spray, batons or rubber bullets now used when
>> > labour, human-rights and environmental activists stage roadblocks
>> > that cause only a small fraction of the fuel protest's disruption.
>> > "We need to maintain the rule of law," the police invariably say as
>> > they clear the roadways, stifling the protesters' messages while
>> > painting them as threats to our collective safety.
>> >
>> > Not this time. William Hague, leader of Britain's Conservative
>> > Party, characterized the men who closed Britain's rural schools and
>> > partially immobilized its hospitals as "fine upstanding citizens."
>> > Perhaps the only "upstanding" way to protest these days is not out
>> > of concern for the broader good but out of pure self-interest.
>> >
>> > What happened last week was a tax revolt on the roadway. The
>> > participants wanted a break on
>> > their taxes and happened to park big pieces of machinery in the
>> > middle of the road. That's not political activism. It's vigilante
>> > capitalism.
>> >
>>------- End of forwarded message -------
>>------- End of forwarded message -------
>>------- End of forwarded message -------
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