Battle in Seattle Opens! - Critics Chatter!
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Use your Freedom of Choice: See Battle in Seattle

The Battle in Seattle goes live today. Here's a message I received from GTW director Lori Wallach:

Come to the Battle in Seattle!" The call spread nationwide. By November 1999, 50,000 people converged to protest the WTO summit. History was made when a devastating plan to expand the WTO's reign of corporate globalization was derailed. 

On September 19, an entertaining new film, Battle in Seattle, opens in select theaters. Starring Charlize Theron, Andre 3000, Michelle Rodriguez, Channing Tatum, Woody Harrelson, Ray Liotta, and others, Battle in Seattle is a full feature drama that tells the story of a dozen characters whose lives come together during the historic Seattle protests. One of the characters is an MSF doctor fighting the WTO rules that limit access to meds. Our story and our fight on the big screen where the whole country can get educated and activated!

This is the film Big Hollywood doesn't want us to see. Its being independently distributed -- starting in 15 cities. In 1999, folks took to the streets at the Seattle WTO protests. You can help deliver the Seattle Surprise Round II! Hit the seats!  If the opening theaters are packed for the film's first two weeks, the film will get a national distribution - turning on a new generation to the joy, fun and power of the Seattle Spirit and how we can win the better world we know is possible.

Here's how you can help:

  • Organize your local group or your friends to purchase a block of tickets to a screening. Visit to find theaters near you.
  • For discount tickets (including group), cool widgets for your website and email action alerts you can send your friends, contact Michael at
  • Forward this to your friends and allies.

Here's a highlight from the NYT review of the movie:

“Battle in Seattle” is a film that leaves bruises. A visceral fictionalized account of the 1999 demonstrations in Seattle against the World Trade Organization, it repeatedly plunges you into the kicking and screaming melee of peaceful protest gone awry. Cries rend the air and bodies crumple as police batons are swung and tear-gas canisters explode. This is what happens, the movie warns, when the powers that be are unprepared for the magnitude of organized opposition and impulsively lash back. Resistance gives way to fury, and fury incites chaos.

The filmmaking debut of Stuart Townsend, an Irish actor, “Battle in Seattle” makes no bones about where its sympathies lie. Except for the anarchistic fringe, it is wholeheartedly on the side of the demonstrators, a loose coalition of grass-roots activists from the environmental and labor movements joined by students and other groups who opposed globalization.

In related news, Theron's appearance on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, where Stewart jokes that - because the level of public awareness about the WTO is so low - the institution is "like the Freemasons", controlling everything from a hidden bunker. Elsewhere, director Stuart Townsend commented that the WTO "overturned" the U.S. clean water air act. This comment set off one of my all time favorites "anti-political", technocratic memes: that the WTO can't force a country to do anything.

Yes, the WTO doesn't directly overturn national laws: that would be illegal and Orwellian.

What it does is issue a panel report pointing out laws that are inconsistent with strict WTO rules, and then countries have the "choice" to change the law to secure compliance (which generally results in a change in a neoliberal direction), or they can "choose" to pay perpetual trade penalties (usually cash or trade sanctions in other sectors) until they do. Unlike penalties for labor violations in many NAFTA-style FTAs, these are not capped in dollar amount by an pact text.

To call this a choice? That's just regular ol' Orwellian.

This kind of "choice" is a lot like what workers face everyday in today's economy: you can choose to work at a job which does not adequately compensate you and which is demeaning, or you can choose to be fired. The option of raising standards is a quaint, folksy memory from the bad old days; best to forget about that. It's like Devo said,

A victim of collision on the open sea
Nobody ever said that life was free
Sink, swim, go down with the ship
But use your freedom of choice

And here's the song itself.

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