International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Reality Check
Anarchy in the UK
Summit Sends The Euro-Masses A-Riotin'
jacks my adrenaline like a good old-fashioned protest riot. Some
of my favorite moments in TV viewing had to be the near orgasmic
Rodney King mayhem of 1992, where police brutality met economic
inequities in a king-hell blowout worthy of slick 'round the clock
coverage. It made the Watts riots a generation earlier look like
the Easter Parade.
'92 turned out to be a weak year for anarchic spectacles when compared
to the wild century-closing festivities of 1999, which managed to produce
two absolute doosies; the spastically delightful eruption of teen angst
at Woodstock III, where an exploited youth culture invented by TV and
cola later described as "the crass commercialization of music and
nudity" sparked an arson's paradise, and who could forget the weirdly
cross-ideological WTO street theater that made a war zone of Seattle.
I wrote about all three of those "happenings", two of them
in this space. Mostly, the pieces mocked the entire idea of getting
that angry over outrageously-priced bottled water or finding enough
armed solidarity to topple international free-trade agreements, but
I must admit against the better judgment I have left that I get teary
when I see kids heaving objects through windows or yanking people from
their cars and beating them with baseball bats. There is a certain type
of romanticism to the grouping of irate misanthropes taking on "the
establishment" that gets to me, like Jesus riding the crazies from
the Galilee into Jerusalem to "bring a sword, not peace" or
Che Guevara telling the UN the seeds of revolution grow like weeds upon
So, I get horny when I hear "The whole world is watching!"
from the 1968 savage assault upon college kids by Chicago cops at the
Democratic Convention? Sue me.
This week, the G-20 Summit, aka the planet's industrial masters of naked
power and pecuniary foot stomping met to decide our fate. The usual
transpired; Russia acted as if it still mattered, Saudi Arabia toed
the tricky line between atavistic war lording and the 21st century glad
hand. China complained, Japan winced, and the German/French annoy-alliance
pitched minor fits. Joe Cool and his wife pissed off the royals, made
with the tight-lipped diplomacy and tried to extricate the United States
from the cowboy thumb-nose mantra of the past eight years. But the real
story was happening on the streets of London where every lunatic from
Prague to Belfast rolled up their collective sleeve for a time-honored
fuselage of wig-out.
As stated in last week's ramble, there is little else in the realm of
human fury that rankles the masses quite like the rich and powerful
getting all pomp in their finery deciding if they'll allow us to still
have a civilization. This becomes especially galling after a good year
and a half of rapacious drunken regurgitation of whatever may be left
of free market capitalism. It's the kind of thing that sometimes ends
in Tea Parties or powdered heads filling Guillotines, but never without
at least a little torch wielding and fist pumping chants by a motivated
mob made up of the had-it-with-everything set.
Normally any meeting of powerbrokers brings the pain for the gaudy numbers
of have-nots that can attract a march or two. This comes in handy during
wartime, which is always going on somewhere, and specifically when grossly
abundant nations have to hear about starvation in India and AIDS in
Africa, atrocities aplenty in half of the third world, and whatever
nonsense the Iranians or Venezuelans are cooking up. However, when the
world economy is crumbling beneath an avalanche of fraud and greed and
those who have sunk us are lighting their cigars with taxpayer sweat,
anything called the Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank
Governors is going to rile up even the most apathetic bystander.
By the time of this writing the property damage is rising and the arrests
pour in. There has been one mysterious death, but that could happen
at a Manchester football match, so whose counting? The pictures and
video are good, though. Most of the really hardcore mania has made its
way via cell phone jorunalists onto YouTube. There is even a poll to
see if the damage rivals the French labor uprising of April, 2006. But
it has to be rigged, because no one takes to the streets to make bloody
rumble like the French.
But mass hysteria, while it has its place in the arena of entertainment,
really doesn't amount to a hill of beans in the world of big nation
building and high finance. The beautiful people shan't see the goofiness,
and even if they happen to catch a few seconds on the BBC, they can
switch it off like the rest of us. "It's nice that people want
to be involved," they will snicker, "but the really important
decisions have to be made in a vaccum."
This is why our president was not screwing around when he whacked the
CEO of GM before boarding Air Force One to leap the pond. He had to
show muscle, become the voice of the people, show the rest of the world
that although we are a country of gambling addicts forced to bring everyone
down with us, this is no bottomless pit. The end is coming one way or
the other, a fact made much clearer by the returning of $353 million
in federal bailout funds by eight American banks late in the week.
More times than not firings have a greater affect than actual fire.
It's just not as much fun.
© James Campion April 5th 2009
Pitch Forks & Torches
is cheap currency these days. It's a full-out poll-to-poll pogrom on
both the rich and powerful and the poor and disenfranchised. Bankers
to welfare moms, stockbrokers to inside traders are all on the block.
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