Free Trade

The Return of the Thin White Anti-Capitalist

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In this week's (London) Spectator cover story, Ross Clark presages the return of the anti-globalization movement, which, as he notes, was quickly marginalized after the events of 9/11; the martyrdom of Carlo Giuliani, the anti-G8 protester killed by a Genoa Carabinari, was fast eclipsed by the "heroics" of Rudy Giuliani. But Clark argues that the capitalism-hating, balaclava-clad activists "are back on the march" and well-organized:

Anyone who imagines what happened [at the G-8 summit in] Rostock was caused by a small rabble disrupting a larger peaceful protest and being picked upon by over-reacting police, should have a look at the Dissent Network's website. For a self-professed anarchist group, it is remarkably well-organised. Long before the G8 summit it had set up two camps, one in Rostock and one outside, for a total of 11,000 protestors, complete with soup kitchens and medical tents. Prospective protestors were told that the object was to close all entry points to the G8 summit and were given detailed advice as to the most effective way of doing it: you might consider, for example, linking arms with the aid of metal pipes set into concrete blocks which you prepared earlier, and then lying down in the street. 'There is little you can do against armoured police vehicles,' it goes on to advise, 'but they do for example hate paint on their windscreens.'

G8 Clowns

The protesters, dressed as clowns and wielding blow-up dolphins, today "declared victory" against…well, who knows. The "movement" might be back on its feet, but it's still suffering a coherence deficit. In 1999, Wall Street Journal reporter Helene Cooper hit the streets of Seattle in an attempt to find the unifying theme amongst the anti-globalists; she found a burning desire for social change, though most were unsure of it's relationship to the WTO:

One day into the Woodstock of anti-globalization, Debbie Carlson, a bandanna-wearing member of a lesbian-activist group, can't get beyond a few sound bites to explain why she is out in the streets with thousands of other free-trade foes who are opposed to the World Trade Organization. "It's a general question of oppression," she says. But when asked, Ms. Carlson couldn't be more specific. Instead, she says: "The WTO doesn't care about women's rights.

In 2000, former Reason editor Virginia Postrel surveyed the anti-globalization movement, post-Seattle.

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  1. fast eclipsed by the “heroics” of Rudy Guiliani

    Mamma mia (smacks forehead for 1000th time)

    It’s Giuliani.

    In Italian, G has a J sound only if followed by an I or an E. Hence, “Giuliani” must begin “Giu-.” “Gui-” would be pronounced “Gwee,” as in “Guido.”

  2. Wow, they make it so easy not to take them seriously. I feel blessed.

  3. HAHAHAHAHA

    Now THAT’s a Friday Funny.

  4. Nothing more pathetic than a bunch of anarchists protesting for more taxes, more spending and more gub’ment. No wonder everyone thinks they’re incoherent.

  5. Friday Contest: Come up with a humorous caption for that photo with the clowns.

    I’ll start.

    Mexico: even the dolphins want out.

  6. So, uh, what’s happening in that photo? 🙁

  7. Of course I disagree with the anti-globalization crowd, but anybody with clown paint and whitey tighties on, giving a blow-up dolphin the ol’ rear- admiral into a chain link fence gets some props in my book.

  8. I would also like to ask the lesbian activist Debbie what she thinks of the fundementalist Islamics who show up to protest at these things. I wonder if she has an opinion on whether it is proper to stone homosexuals to death or to dig a trend and collapse a stone wall on them.

    Back in the cold war, the Soviet Union at least gave these clowns a home and some kind of a coherent ideology. Since the Soviets aren’t around anymore, they are like children wondering the wilderness. They really don’t know what they believe in but whatever it is the U.S. and capitalism is at fault.

  9. Whacko protesters aside, I don’t think being opposed to the the WTO necessarily means being against free markets considering that the aforementioned has nothing to do with actual free trade.

  10. Asharak,

    Being opposed to WTO doesn’t mean being anti-free trade, but I think it is a fair assumption these clowns are anti free trade. You would think they would be at the GATT talks but no one ever accused these people of being very bright.

  11. Errr, sorry JP. The spelling has been corrected.

  12. Caption:

    Members of the North American Clown – Dolphin Love Association (NACDLA) at their annual meeting near SeaWorld in San Diego.

    or

  13. Asharak,
    [whisper voice]That’s why it’s funny.[/wv]

  14. Nothing more pathetic than a bunch of anarchists protesting for more taxes, more spending and more gub’ment.

    Exactly. What idiot started calling these warmed-over Marxist rejects “anarchists”, anyway? It makes “anarcho-capitalist” and “anarcho-libertarian” sound like they have something in common with these douchebags.

    I must assume that they actively tried to appropriate “anarchist” because it has romantic revolutionary connotations, and sure sounds better than “supporters of overwhelming government intervention and control”.

  15. All the free-market anarchists I know are too busy trying to earn a living to waste their time acting as speed-bumps for politicians.

    I bet if you studied the finances of the protesters, you’d find a significant portion are on government assistance of some kind or another.

  16. Caption:

    MTV presents Clown College Spring Break 2007

  17. I eagerly await the day our new clown overlords and their weapons of mass dolphin destruction take power.

  18. I’m not a free trade opponent but I’m not at all surprised that a WSJ reporter was “unable to find” someone who could coherently articulate the anti-trade viewpoint. Nor am I surprised that Reason would uncritically post said reporters’ findings.

  19. As a principled libertarian I’d glad to see non-effective, low level, politically orientated violent tumults back on the rise after 9/11. I wish them success in creating general chaos where such wretched world leaders are gathered.

    While accomplishing little by people who stand for very little, effective non-violent efficacy for any half way decent or at least honestly felt cause is basically dead and this is one way to remind our leaders a lot of people think they suck and are willing to act on it in ways that challenge the norms and standards of the day. Oddly I feel this more and more the older I get, aren’t I supposed to get more conservative as I get older?

    Also I hate it when reporters resort to the old ‘amazingly the anarchists were well organized’ cliche…give me a break.

    Also the Revolutionary Clown Brigade in the picture have the best political chant I’ve ever heard at a protest “Hey Hey Ho Ho HeHe HaHa HoHoHo!” that about sums it up really.

  20. These type of protesters always intrested me. On one hand, I find their political phillosophy to be either vauge, incoherent knee-jerks or just plain evil, but on the other hand I wish I could be a part of groups like that.
    It’s like in middle school, where you find all of the “cool” kids to be cruel douchebags, but at the same time you (ok, I) find yourself (myself) wishing to go to their parties.

  21. Cartoon Caption:

    Pssst…wrong hole buddy, wrong hole.

  22. Could you provide a link to the dolphin picture? thanks.

  23. Dan T. | June 8, 2007, 3:32pm | #
    I’m not a free trade opponent but I’m not at all surprised that a WSJ reporter…
    [insert assumption of conspiracy here]

    ok dude. Have a go. What IS the unifying theme?

  24. Thinking about it, everytime I’ve involved with myself with the hyper-liberal protest groups, I’ve always found them to be extremely close-minded and oppressive.
    Anyone who poses a disenting voice to, say, how effective their actions are to achiving their goals are treated with hostility.

  25. So its unanimous. Even though Japanese cars and Indian mangos totally rock!!!, Clowns Gone Wild does too.

  26. “Also I hate it when reporters resort to the old ‘amazingly the anarchists were well organized’ cliche…give me a break.”

    But of course they are not anarchist they are criminal thugs who claim to be anarachists.

  27. gunna’ drink a 4-D
    goin’ down to Mexico,
    gunna’ get a dolphin,
    stick it in the blow hole

  28. I just want to be the first to acknowledge the David Bowie quote in the title. Excellent song.

  29. If I asked 50 random self-identifying Democrats or Republicans to outline their party plaform and ask them to argue why it is correct and better than the oppo, I’d get 50 responses pretty much akin to Ms. Carlson’s.

    Young idealistic protesters with some poorly thought through positions. I think I’ll survive.

    More interesting stories from the G8: Putin’s offer on missle defense sites in Eastern Europe, GWB drinking near beer (isn’t that supposed to a real bad idea for a recovering alky?), moving a meeting into GWB’s room because he was sick, what dorky costumes they’ll get everybody to wear for the photo op, etc.

    People having a huge papier mache head parade? Meh.


  30. I’m not a free trade opponent but I’m not at all surprised that a WSJ reporter was “unable to find” someone who could coherently articulate the anti-trade viewpoint. Nor am I surprised that Reason would uncritically post said reporters’ findings.

    Gotta agree with Dan T. here.

  31. Everyone knows that all the lefty guys are only that way because they’re trying to score with the hot lefty chicks!

    These libertarian meetups and supper clubs are too frikking boring! I want to go to one of those wild and crazy anarcho-lefto protest orgies!

  32. de stijl,

    You are right that this does distract from more important news, like when the Paris Hilton LA County Jail strip search video will hit the internet.

  33. Caption entry:

    No one was affected more by the Doink the Clown’s passing than his 4 cousins, who vowed vengeance not just on the offending dolphin, but all dolphinkind.

  34. I’m so jealous of that dolphin!

  35. I wonder what the PETA contingent thought of the forcible violation of that poor marine mamal?

  36. I never seen a dolphin get fucked over like that since Ricky Williams!

  37. You know, can you imagine what a real dolphin would think if they witnessed these guys carrying out their assault?

    I imagine they would be horrified, possibly traumatized…

    “… and then this one guy started ramming his genitals into the blow-up-toy that looked like my uncle Sneeepurt while slamming its head into the fence. I thought I was going to throw up. And then one of the other perverts saw me and got this sick smile on its face and started wading out toward me, and then I porpoised out of there as quickly as I could. Don’t accept any fish from these guys, they have some kind sick thing going …”

  38. Maybe they are re-enacting Lil’ Elian’s miraculous voyage to America.

  39. Oh, completely OT, but remember a while ago when we all were wondering why ladder deaths have been rising? Listening to NPR the other day, they said that accidental deaths, especially from falling, where on the rise (mostly because of the aging population).

    I think that’s pretty much the answer; more people are dying from ladders because more people are likely to die from ladders.

  40. It’s easy and a cheap laugh to look at the clownish antics of some of the protesters to avoid seriously examining some of the points they make, but thoughtful libertarians should make the effort. Don’t like corporate welfare? What do expect when corporations can shift production anywhere in the world with guranteed access to any market, and they play governments off against each other for the biggest bribes. Or when developing countries aren’t allowed to protect their farmers against subsidized agricultural products from us. And please, spare me the claptrap about protecting our privilege against the poor. When Viet Nam and China proposed modest improvements in worker protections, foreign investors naturally threatened to pull out.

  41. John,

    I’m refreshing PerezHilton.com compulsively this afternoon.

  42. “vm” wasn’t this moose.

  43. Caption: “See, this is exactly what Ron Santorum warned would happen.”

  44. oh, and what Blow-up said.

    hey… wait a sec.

    YOU GET BACK HIER, BLOW UP NOAM CHOMSKY. JUST YOU GET BACK HIER!

  45. What Bill Pope said.

  46. -Bill

    Lets make a deal.

    You get to laugh at the tax rebels (located down there, somewhere), and we get to laugh at the doods bonin’ the dolphin. Kewl? 🙂

  47. Hey Snowflake, here’s a fishstick for ya!

  48. “It’s easy and a cheap laugh to look at the clownish antics of some of the protesters to avoid seriously examining some of the points they make, but thoughtful libertarians should make the effort.”

    Throw pearls before swine? Why?

  49. They look like some really wild, porno Mexican wrestling team. Do they play in Matamoros, Juarez, or Tijuana?

  50. Bill Pope | June 8, 2007, 4:13pm | #
    It’s easy and a cheap laugh to look at the clownish antics of some of the protesters…

    well, thats exactly the answer to your problem; because they are silly and ineffective, their principled stances on whatever thing they want to promote (unions, environmentalists, pro-palestinians, New World Order kooks, protectionists, etc) are rendered mostly moot. They are their own worst enemy. If they were effective at any one thing, i’d probably support them on one angle, possibly, but certainly not some ridiculous pastiche like they are now. Lesbians for sustainable vegan palestinian auto workers rights alliance, et al

  51. Jonathan C. Hohensee wrote “Thinking about it, everytime I’ve involved with myself with the hyper-liberal protest groups, I’ve always found them to be extremely close-minded and oppressive.
    Anyone who poses a disenting voice to, say, how effective their actions are to achiving their goals are treated with hostility.”

    Yep, that’s why I left. I didn’t become a libertarian until long after I’d stopped being a liberal.

    ________

    Bill Pope: With truly free trade, the response to your comment would be “Subsidized agriculture? What subsidies?”

    Sadly, since agricultural subsidies are going the way of the dishonest politician, you’ve got a point there.

  52. A commenter requested the URL for the dolphin molestation photo. It can be found here:

    http://news.yahoo.com/photo/070607/ids_photos_wl/r3353181176.jpg

  53. Perhaps I am just too institutionalized by our government overlords, but it would never occur to me to celebrate a “victory” by throwing on a clown nose and fucking a blow-up dolphin on the beach with my buddies cheering me own.

    I must really be losing my imagination.

  54. Surely the biggest howler in Postrel’s 2000 article was her reference to WTO functionaries as “free traders.” If there’s a central lie in the politics of trade, it’s the pretense by neoliberals (unfortunately accepted by so much of the Left) that corporate globalization has anything to do with free markets or free trade.

  55. I am not surprised that Dan T. feels that the inability of these people to articulate exactly what it is they are against is somebody else’s fault.

  56. If there’s a central lie in the politics of trade, it’s the pretense by neoliberals (unfortunately accepted by so much of the Left) that corporate globalization has anything to do with free markets or free trade.

    See, since corporate globalization doesn’t have anything to do with free markets or free trade, it isn’t regulation when we regulate it!

  57. hippie scum. tear gas is my solution for these types.

  58. This seems the perfect thread to post the best protest song ever.

  59. MattXIV,

    I don’t know who “we” is, but I certainly don’t favor regulating trade. Just pointing out that the WTO weren’t the good guys in some “libertarian” morality play.

  60. Jonathan C. Hohensee says: “Thinking about it, everytime I’ve involved with myself with the hyper-liberal protest groups, I’ve always found them to be extremely close-minded and oppressive.
    Anyone who poses a disenting voice to, say, how effective their actions are to achiving their goals are treated with hostility.”

    Dan T: Should read: “… hyper-libertarian …”

    Fixed that for you.

  61. These people use clownish actions because they think it will get their issues press coverage? What a bunch of morons!

    Thanks, Wall Street Journal and Reason, for bringing them to our attention.

  62. “Bill Pope: With truly free trade, the response to your comment would be “Subsidized agriculture? What subsidies?”

    Platonic ideals make for good goals, but don’t tend to get implemented in the shadow world. So what is the shadow world libertarian response?

  63. Neu Mejican

    If this is the same shadow world that is in collusion with the giant reptiles, most of us rational libertarians kind of ignore it.

    If you are referring to the shadow world that is in the tabletop RPG Ninjas and Superspies we only play on weekends

    If you are referring to the actual shadow world, based solely on the loose collusion of human actors, with all of their failures, foibles, and mistakes,then we deal with the reality of the situation and try not to ascribe their actions to any sort of superhuman ability.

    I hope it is the latter, because the New World Order conspiracy nuts are not really the sort that a respectable Libertarian party should be courting.

  64. Ramsey “Shadow” world extrapolated from the parable of the cave…would mean that your use of the term “actual shadow world” is not quite apt…and creates problems for your use of the phrase “reality of the situation.”

    (~_^)

  65. Brandybuck writes: “Nothing more pathetic than a bunch of anarchists protesting for more taxes, more spending and more gub’ment. No wonder everyone thinks they’re incoherent.”

    I don’t see a contradiction here. Anarchists are either deluded or totalitarian.

    Primate societies abhor a vacuum of power, and that is more true of humans than of any ape. Anyone who wants to do away with the social hierarchy entirely should be assumed to be imagining themselves at the top of its replacement. Anarchist movements cannot, in practice, be distinguished from fascist movements.

    1. Hmm I don’t think that’s quite what they think tagore. Private courts have existed for millennia, the goal is to privatize as much as possible.

  66. Well, I was not familiar with that philosophical argument, but I am well aware of the ramifications.

    I just choose to believe that the “Shadow Masters” are no more or less infallible than the rest of us, and that the democratization of media dissemination presented by the internet would readily expose such a scenario. To behave otherwise is to go so far outside the matrix or through the looking glass as to be unable to function.

    Yes, there is a chance that that is the case, but pending tangible proof it is irrational to believe in such a scenario. Incredible theories requiring incredible proof and all.

    Again I must reiterate that it would be better to believe in the NWO and stay silent, to get a libertarian elected, than it would to be vocal and on the fringes.

  67. Ramsey,

    Shadows are imperfect representations of perfect ideals. When I say “shadow world” I am implying that our world does not correspond to the ideal world that Bill Pope yearns for. True free trade is, like the unicorn, a fantasy created by human intelligence, but is never manifest in the reality we inhabit. No shadow masters involved.

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