David Harvie, Keir Milburn, Ben Trott, David Watts (Eds), 'Shut Them Down: The G8, Gleneagles 2005 and the Movement of Movements'

IssueMay 2006
Review by Jess Orlik

Shut Them Down is a collection of reflections on the anti G8 mobilisation which took place in July 2005. It was created by activists whose stated aim was to “harness the energy created in Scotland to move in productive directions”. In the introduction the editors humbly deny speaking for the movement as a whole, and aim only to provide reflection on this particular instance of mobilisation within the wider “movement of movements”.

The book is extremely varied in content, ranging from personal diary-style accounts of road blockades to theoretical reflection on the destructive nature of capitalism. And the strength of the book lies precisely in this variety. It embodies many of the ideals of the anticapitalist movement by adopting a pluralist, non-hierarchical structure. The chapters are written by a wide range of activists and sympathisers and accounts of a single action are described from different points of view with none being elevated to the status of “fact”. The book seeks to add to the re-invention and improvement of the movement and indeed many of the accounts are reflective, outlining problems encountered and lessons to be learned. The chapters are illustrated with photographs of the various actions and of the Horizone eco village in Stirling, and this really adds to the narratives which can be very particular in their detail and so difficult to visualise. A map encompassing Edinburgh, Stirling, Glasgow and Gleneagles is also helpful in creating a mental picture of the event.

The overall feeling created by the book is one of hope and excitement about the future of the movement. It re-ignites the emotions and sense of urgency created by the G8 protests and in doing so provides a valuable service in combating the post-protest comedown that inevitably occurs after such an event. The book makes you feel like there is still a movement out there, that it didn't just melt away after 8 July and that the daily struggle is most definitely worth fighting.

The impressive range of stories, ideas and thoughts in the book reflects the diverse and innovative tactics adopted by activists at the G8 summit, and attacks the G8's dominant narrative of neo-liberalism with its own alternative story. Well worth a read.

Topics: Global justice
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