Mong Palatino

Blogging about the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific since 2004


@mongster is a Manila-based activist, former Philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of Asia-Pacific affairs.

Written for Bulatlat

Because of varying time zones, it is almost impossible to organize synchronized global protests. Realtime uprisings in the global village are actually done in a continuum.

Let us assume for example that today is the Global Day of Action Against Evil. It is 12 noon in Manila and 1pm in Tokyo but it is still 12 midnight in New York and 1am in Rio de Jainero. East Asian protesters are already unfurling banners in freedom parks while their counterparts in London are still preparing for the early morning activities. By the time Istanbul activists have started gathering for the lunch time protest, the Mumbai rally is already dispersing.

In other words, an international day of protest is staged repeatedly in the so-called flat world; and each act is relentlessly performed as if it is the only political intervention that matters in the world. This is the reason why protests are always localized and globalized at the same time.

When activists march in the streets, they also inevitably link arms with global allies and comrades. And what unites them is the shared belief in a particular cause or issue on one hand, and the strong commitment to claim the future by correcting the wrongs of the present on the other. But this solidarity is initially in the realm of symbolic because activists around the world cannot physically assemble at once, they cannot hold banners and clinch fists side by side, and they cannot hug one another no matter how much they are passionately involved in the same movement. Even virtual rallies cannot easily smash the time and space barriers.

In fact, protesters are often unaware that their imagined brothers and sisters in the struggle are still probably sleeping in the other side of the world while they on the other hand are already about to finish their protest program. While Cairo is burning, San Francisco is sleeping. Later, as Cairo prepares to sleep, San Francisco is already roaring with anger over the bloodbath in Egypt. As activists pause to rest, the fight is briefly taken over by their friends in other continents and time zones. Time disparity does not obliterate global solidarity.

Globalization is not just about the dizzying spread of Capital, the ultimate non-object which is able to seamlessly cross boundaries and time differentials. More importantly, it is also about the fantastic building of coalitions and networks to create a better world. The message of the anti-globalization movement is quite simple: Stop privileging Capital as the all-encompassing value that determines how life should be organized in this planet. The International is a reminder that the proper response to the violent outbursts of Capital is to mount a more militant form of resistance.

Popular struggles organized in multiple time zones are concrete alternatives to the dehumanizing impact of Capital. They are aggressively pursued to reject the persuasive appeal of sameness (profitability) in favor of a more egalitarian standard in organizing our societies. They seek to undermine the influence of agents and apologists of Capital who are needlessly glorified everywhere despite their notorious record of bringing preventable famines, endless wars, and cheap entertainment in all corners of the world.

Thus, support for a local struggle is part of the global fight against the tyranny of Capital. Fortunately, there are warriors and activists in the world who are ready to cross borders and time zones so that they can immerse themselves in various people’s movements. Their solidarity ceases to be symbolic and becomes a more genuine display of radical love. They are living and walking proofs that the cause of humanity is not lost. They are one of the reasons why the idea of globalization is worth fighting for.

Unfortunately for Thomas van Beersum, the Dutch activist who was ‘deported’ for joining a rally in Manila, he is neither a sweatshop investor nor a drone specialist which made him an undesirable alien in the eyes of the Philippine authorities. Something is fundamentally wrong in our priorities when we kick out a foreigner for speaking truth to power while we are generous in welcoming the so-called poverty experts whose ‘shock and awe’ solutions have only brought more miseries to our people. But political partisanship aside, what happened to democracy?

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