There's no denying that protests can be an effective mechanism
for change. Or that sometimes protests don't do shit. But what
are the protests up in Seattle accomplishing?
Well, let's start off with the bill for the damage done so far. Estimated lost
sales by downtown merchants during the siege have climbed to the $7 million
mark, while actual, physical property damage has reached an estimated $1
million. That's broken windows, free shoes and grafitti removal/repainting.
Does this make the average small business owner in Seattle more sympathetic to
the concerns of the WTO protesters, or less sympathetic?
Then there's the inconvenience to people who work in the area. All bus routes
into the area have been truncated to end outside the war zone, so commuters are
finding themselves in the position of having to walk several or even dozens of
blocks to and from work every day, not to mention that they face constant
harassment and scrutiny as they travel to their jobs. These aren't fatcats I'm
talking about - I'm sure the shiny shoe people come in via limousine and don't
have to worry about the confusion - these are ordinary people whose lives are
now more difficult because of a few assholes from Portland and Vancouver.
Are these people going to be feeling much pain for the protesters and their
Now, how about the WTO itself? It's not going to just roll up into a little
ball and disappear overnight. There's still going to be a WTO next month, and
the US will probably still be part of it. But now, because of some fuckups and
retards in Seattle, Uncle Sam is going to have an extremely difficult time
convincing the WTO to consider that certain protections for workers and
environmental concerns be included in global trade talks. Clinton is up there
right now waving his arms and trying to sweat his way out of this mess, and no
one in thw WTO really wants to listen to him, because they blame him and his
country for what's happening to them.
Congratulations, protesters. Instead of swaying the WTO towards humanitarian
compromise, you've rolled them even further into an intractable ball. Think
sweat shops in Indonesia are bad now? Just wait until the WTO ministers get
home with Seattle fresh on their minds.
It's not the good people with legitimate concerns who are the problem here.
There were lots of them around when this thing started. But they've faded
into the mist as the opportunists who saw an opportunity to be seen on
television throwing rocks at cops came forward. These people aren't doing any
good, and they're not changing anybody's mind, and no amount of "it's good
because it makes the US look bad and the WTO is Clinton's baby" dissembling is
going to change the fact that if the WTO shuts us out of the process, at this
point, we've just assured that the people who set policy for this organization
in the future are going to be the same people who run the sweatshops and cut
down rain forests.