Signs of Life at WEF Protest

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A certain mad hubris seems to have gripped the Power Elite lately, what with the state of Illinois confiscating legally registered guns from law-abiding citizens and Posse Comitatus safeguards tossed down the old memory hole in the name of Homeland Security. It's like the opening of The Turner Diaries. The radical right is bubbling with conspiracy theories and stockpiling guns, ammo, MREs and water filtration systems. The right doesn't march or demonstrate, which is sad, because they tend to be a colorful bunch and all the earliest warnings on groups like the IMF, WTO, CFR, the Trilats and the Bilderbergers came from the right. Lyndon LaRouche was the first to identify the IMF as a public menace, and the John Birch Society was warning us about the CFR 40 years ago. The most fascinating development in American politics recently has got to be the unprecedented convergence of left and right in identifying as the enemy the corporate sovereigns of the self-proclaimed New World Order.

The 15,000 or so people who marched against the World Economic Forum meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria last Saturday looked a lot more diverse than I'd expected. I didn't anticipate running into a grizzled union man from Youngstown, OH, or a farmer from Livingston, MT, marching with their wives and looking for all the world like rural folk on their way to church. I found that quite surprising, and I suspect there will be many more surprises ahead.

I headed up to Columbia University on Friday to check out the atmosphere surrounding the workshops and planning sessions there. There were no surprises. The college crowd fits very neatly into the stereotype of the current state of the left: a lot of kneejerk racist blather about the plight of cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal; economic utopians with grand schemes for redistribution of wealth; the hopelessly tenacious Greens; various communist atavisms; and the holier-than-thou posturing of the atrociously flatulent vegans. If I can't smoke in enclosed spaces, the least the authorities can do is force vegans to take Beano or something, just to level the playing field.

I noted with interest that the Spartacists had their little information booth staffed by a couple of really butch women. These women had that weird, kind of speedy intensity that you get from hardcore religious fanatics and communists, and I consider it an indicator of some sort of social progress that such a notoriously patriarchal group as the Spartacists now has women in positions of public authority. It is an endless source of wonder to me how people can still believe in the viability of communism, but people have been waiting for Jesus to come back for close to 2000 years, so it shouldn't really surprise me.

I found a fairly witty and clever bunch offering cool swag from They have t-shirts with the Office of Homeland Security logo on the front and "Real patriots turn each other in" written on the back, and I got a bunch of cool bogus OHS stickers with "We have always suspected you" next to the logo. Their website is both funny and informative. The Office of Homeland Security is a creepy bureaucracy, and it isn't going to go away. I'm dubious about giving the government any additional funds or authority to "protect" me without any sign of any kind of accountability for what went wrong on 9/11. A lot of heads should have rolled. I'm not inclined to believe that this government is any more effective in protecting me now than it was when 19 towelheads with boxcutters changed history, and I don't think that the palliative of pouring money on the problem is going to solve it.

The government does, however, exhibit considerable skill when it comes to protecting our billionaires. The NYPD was out in force in the days leading up to the march. Thursday it seemed like there was a cop on every corner. I got down to 53rd and Park at 11 a.m. on Saturday, forced into using an indirect and circuitous route by the numerous street closures imposed by the cops. There was a rally of maybe 1200 people penned uncomfortably into temporary enclosures on the west side of Park from 54th down to 50th. I couldn't get a precise figure out of anyone, but it's safe to say that there were thousands of cops in the area. There were cheap, awful loudspeakers blaring speeches into the crowd. The sound was so horrible it was painful. It was impossible to pick out any more than a few words from any given speaker, and it sounded very much like they were auditioning Hitler imitators. I reached my threshold of endurance when some half-witted minstrel-show Mumia groupie started into some kind of mutant left-wing Southern Baptist rhyming rant, whereupon I strolled off to find a drink.

On my way to the bar I ran into a small group of counter-demonstrators waving the flag at 51st and Lexington. It turned out that they were participants in the online forum at, a site dedicated to the idea of running our government according to the Constitution, a once-popular notion that has fallen into disrepute of late. I was stumped by their opposition to a rally against the WEF. The Free Republic website has numerous threads discussing the WEF, and the participants seem fairly unanimous in their appraisal of the WEF as a major threat to our Constitutional Republic. I guess they just couldn't get past the show of support for a cold-blooded cop-killer evinced by the vegan antiwar crowd. They looked like meat-eaters to me.

As I rounded a corner onto Lexington Ave. I was swept up by the head of a line of some 15,000 people marching on the Waldorf. It was great. I was amazed at the range of types in the crowd and the focus on the WEF. The march was a snapshot of America, and it reminded me of the later phase of the Vietnam protest era, when it began to seem like the whole country opposed the war. Sure, there were self-righteous vegans and Mumia yahoos, but there were also veterans and union guys with their families?mainstream Americans. The cops were great, totally professional and scrupulously polite. I saw three separate demonstrators carrying signs calling for more pay for the NYPD, and the interactions between the demonstrators and the cops were almost uniformly friendly. There were a couple of incidents involving a small band of anarchist wannabes, but it only amounted to a couple dozen arrests that day (there were more later), which is pretty good for a crowd that large.

The farmer from Montana wouldn't give his name. "You media people have a way with twisting up what a fella says," he explained. He and his wife appeared to be in their early 60s, and they most definitely didn't look like any kind of left-wing types. I asked them why they were marching. "We voted for Pat Buchanan," the lady told me. "And Ross Perot. We think American companies ought to keep American jobs in America. We elect our leaders here, we don't need the WEF or the IMF or the UN dictating policy. And we sure don't need cheap flimsy clothes from sweatshops in China, which is just about all you see in the stores these days." Her husband interjected, "Look, a lot of these kids out here are just plain confused about some things, like this open-borders nonsense, but they are absolutely correct about this forum and these corporations. A nation with no borders isn't a nation at all. We have too many people out of work here, we're losing the family farms to big business, and our manufacturing base up and took a slow boat to China. If we ever have to fight a real war, we're in some serious trouble."

I stuck around until the sun went down. The event was enormously uplifting, a very pleasant surprise. It was a glimpse of an open, democratic society. The possibility that a consensus among the working and middle classes of this country could form and mobilize against the various rapacious corporate conspiracies currently looting the world's economies is a very exciting idea. It seems like an idea whose time has definitely come.

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