The Guardian. G8. Genoa.

The Guardian has published a series of articles on the anti-G8 protests in Genoa in July 2001, the seventh anniversary of which is now upon us…

Behind the bloodbath in Genoa
July 19 2008
Letters: Thanks for running Nick Davies’ excellent piece on the battle of Genoa, in which Italian police severely beat anti-globalisation protesters at the 2001 G8 summit

Mark Covell on his treatment at the hands of Italian police
July 17 2008
Audio (2min 56sec), Jon Dennis speaks with the British journalist, Mark Covell, a victim of police violence at the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa

The bloody battle of Genoa
July 17 2008
Nick Davies: Will the victims of police brutality at the G8 summit in 2001 ever see proper justice?

Genoa riots: 15 guilty of G8 brutality will not go to jail
July 16 2008
Police officers and doctors convicted of gross mistreatment of detainees at holding camp freed

Police and doctors convicted of Genoa G8 brutality avoid jail
July 15 2008
Fifteen Italian police officers and doctors sentenced to jail for brutally mistreating detainees after the 2001 G8 riots in Genoa were today celebrating their freedom after it became clear none of them would actually serve prison terms

Rape threats, beatings and racist chants: 15 Italians jailed for abuse of G8 Genoa protesters
July 15 2008
Sentences of up to five years for police officers and doctors found guilty of mistreatment in 2001

See also : ‘I lost the best years of my life’, BBC, July 15, 2008: “Mark Covell was one of five British anti-globalisation protesters who was injured and has been seeking justice ever since. “This was not just giving a few hippies a slap around, this was systematic,” Mr Covell said. A journalist with alternative media organisation Indymedia at the time, he was present when police raided a high school where protesters were camping during the summit. He was left with eight broken ribs, a shredded lung, a broken hand, 16 missing teeth and was in a coma for two days. While he was on a life-support machine in hospital, 81 others were arrested and taken to a temporary prison camp outside Genoa, at Bolzaneto. The police chief tried, and failed, to take him too.”

At the time, the SWP blamed the violence on the anarchists (‘the black bloc’); a story which one of their local former franchises continues to circulate. In reacting to the latest trial verdicts, however, the SWP have dropped their attack on the black bloc, and instead bemoan the heavy-handedness of the Italian police, whose crimes they now describe as “terrible”. Apparently, no one is expected to remember their slurs from seven years ago — and who knows, the SWP may be right. In any case, speaking of fiction, that of Michael Moorcock features in the following article from the NYT:

Across the Universe: Amorality Tales
Dave Itzkoff
The New York Times
July 20, 2008

…Since this is a science fiction column, perhaps the best way to understand Moorcock’s past is to peer farther into his future. In the late 1970s, with the Tories preparing to take power and George Lucas’s “Star Wars” saga in ascendancy, he published his pioneering essay “Starship Stormtroopers,” a brilliant, bench-clearing diatribe that ought to be required reading for any speculative-fiction fan who is ready to put down his 20-sided dice and become an adult.

In “Starship Stormtroopers,” Moorcock takes a one-man stand against what he perceives as widespread reactionary politics in genre fiction, railing against not only monolithic science fiction writers like Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and A. E. van Vogt (“wild-eyed paternalists to a man,” he declares them), but also C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien — titans of fantasy who seemed to be obvious influences on him.

Wielding his pen like Stormbringer, Moorcock writes, “If I were sitting in a Tube train and all the people opposite me were reading ‘Mein Kampf’ with obvious enjoyment and approval it probably wouldn’t disturb me much more than if they were reading Heinlein, Tolkien or Richard Adams.” And then he takes off the kid gloves.

What the “utopian fiction” of such authors teaches its readers, Moorcock argues, is blind obedience to a romantic hero whose motives may be just as ambiguous or pernicious as those of his enemies. “Heroes betray us,” he writes. “By having them, in real life, we betray ourselves.” Left unchecked and unexamined, our desire to believe in these infallible father figures yields Ronald Reagan, George Wallace and Joe McCarthy. And, Moorcock says, “At its most spectacular it gives us Charlie Manson and Scientology.”

Moorcock writes that the only true alternative to such figures is the anarchist: “a mature, realistic adult imposing laws upon the self and modifying them according to an experience of life, an interpretation of the world.”

Whether or not one fully buys into this line of thinking, it’s not hard to see how Elric was, for Moorcock, a formative attempt at a character who would transcend the problems the author saw in genre fiction and exist within this new framework — a hero who rarely won the treasure or the girl, and sometimes encouraged the girl to leap into a yawning chasm to her doom.

Moorcock’s essay first appeared in the Cienfuegos Press Review, No.4, 1978.

See also : Anarchism and science fiction: A reading list

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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