Last year the World Economic Forum (WEF), which had been meeting in Davos in Switzerland for decades, declared that it would hold its next gathering in New York City between 31 January and 4 February at the posh Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. No one knows for sure the reasoning behind this sudden change of venue.
The official line from WEF organisers is that they were coming to show solidarity with New Yorkers after 11 September. It is more likely that the real reason for the move comes down to the growing protests the WEF was facing in Davos. However, the 3,000 business executives, politicians, and the sundry cream of the elite that gather at the WEF in New York can be reassured that there will be protests.
Organising against the WEF began almost immediately after the move was announced. Clearly, the repressive and patriotic atmosphere in the US after 11 September has rattled many sections of the anti-capitalist movement. A number of NGOs have tried, for example, to get reassurances - in some cases signed pledges - from the more radical elements in the movement that commit them to non-violence. It was left to direct action and independent activists working in the newly formed Another World Is Possible (AWIP) coalition to initiate and organise much of the activity.
The AFL-CIO trade union federation has plans for a forum on globalisation followed by a march against sweatshops two days before the 2 February day of action. Student activists, mainly from the anti-war movement on campuses like Berkeley and Columbia, are organising a major counter-conference that combines anti-capitalist and anti-war themes.
The WEF will focus on how it can continue to sell its increasingly bankrupt economic prescriptions to a dubious public and make sure that their investments and companies get through the coming recession unscathed. The protests will make sure that the WEF's plans for more devastation do not pass unopposed.