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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope


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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

What do we want? Free trade!

Here's a brilliant column by Boris Johnson, mayor of London, with advice to the protesters descending on the city to disrupt next week's G20 meeting. Some excerpts:
So here we go again, folks. It is now 10 years since the anti-capitalists attacked the City of London, and next week they intend to outdo themselves. In student bedsits and in terrace Kensington houses, the alienated children of the middle classes are planning to subvert the G20 summit. Across the desolate wastes of the Leftie internet, their wrathful campfires are already burning, and when April dawns they will surge like the orcs of Mordor in the general direction of the Bank of England.

They will taunt the police. They will paralyse traffic. They will do their utmost to spoil your day; and when they have been sufficiently whipped up by the oratory of Tony Benn, and when Billy Bragg has finished his ditties, it is a safe bet that they will begin the chant of hate. Somewhere in the crowd, a nose-ringed twerp will drain a mouthful of cider and call to his comrades. "What do we want?" he will demand.

And at that moment, a great silence will fall in the carnival of cretinous crusties. The papier mâché horsemen of the Apocalypse will turn their heads inquiringly in his direction. "What do we want?" he will demand again, a shade more hysterically, and by this time the rioters will be looking at their feet and coughing. Er. What do they want?

...

So, in a spirit of compassion, let me give the G20 protesters the slogan they need. Here is a demand they could make that would transform the lives and hopes of millions of the poorest people on earth. It is a global stimulus package that doesn't involve borrowing untold trillions from future generations. It is something the world's leaders have been trying and failing to do for the past nine years, and if I were the man with the megaphone my cry would be: "What do we want? The completion of the Doha Round of world trade talks! When do we want it? Now!"

(ht: Tom Palmer)

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