When Everyone’s Screaming and Nobody’s Listening

Protesters Lack Cohesive Goals, Need to Focus on Solutions

On the top floor of some dark and foreboding office tower somewhere, evil corporate executives devise plots to control the world. Their fearless leader, without name but heretofore known as “Carl,” runs this evil conglomerate, CarlCo, from the 78th story of the CarlCo Building. CarlCo is a syndicate that runs many of the world’s top companies, companies with poor labor and environmental records, such as Exxon, Mobil, Ford, Nike and so on. Carl, from behind his curtain, runs them all, directing their mischief.

His ultimate plan: to consign much of the world’s population to poverty and ruin the planet as a whole with evil schemes against the environment. Together with the U.S. government, which he controls, he will ultimately rain fire and sulfur upon the weak and oppressed while he cackles mischievously, atop a large pile of ill-gotten money.

Free trade, International Monetary Fund, World Bank: all means of augmenting the power of CarlCo and its demagogue in chief. He uses men, lays waste to the poor and personally opens sweatshops, all as a means of pursuing wealth. He is rotten and evil to the core, like the brooding corporations that he has spawned.

Little do his corporate peons know that Carl leads a second life. Behind the scenes, Carl rages a different war. He seeks the destruction of all and has turned his anarchist sentiments towards annihilating globalization. He has no legitimate gripes against free trade or the IMF. How could he? The IMF is a purely beneficent organization, but Carl does not care. He was often hit with pepper spray this weekend during his radical, ultimately baseless protest. I assure you, however, that those tears he cried – they were merely crocodile tears. Carl dressed, like all of the protesters must have done last weekend, as an unwashed, unshaven hippie. He railed against globalization and its ill effects. Obviously, if he had ever taken an economics class at Georgetown, he would know better than to get in the way of the train that is free trade and the ultimate prosperity that it will bring to all. Environmental concerns? Why worry? Labor rights? Why say nay, when the market will ultimately solve all problems? Sure, Carl and many of his protesting kin have studied the issue and know when and where the IMF and World Bank have gone wrong, but they have not studied economics. They have not studied economics! Corporate overlord, ignorant hippie: these are the two faces of Carl, whose specter brought chaos and ill will to Washington last weekend. On one side, there is the World Bank and the IMF, both of which Carl prods in order to pursue his ultimate goal of global oppression. But Carl, the inveterate trickster, and his hippie friends also pursue another agenda, the destruction of the World Bank and IMF in order to further advance their political goals. Our only hope for compromise: The destruction of Carl and his Machiavellian campaign for tyranny and chaos, oppression and revolution.

It would be so simple to solve the problem of globalization if we could sum up the problem by assigning blame to one person or one group. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. Much of the pro-labor rhetoric has boiled down, unfortunately, to anti-corporate crusading. In response, many pro-globalization forces blame continuing economic issues on the intransigent protesters, who must not understand the issue of free trade, since they do not agree with the assessments of economics experts. I would say this to both sides: Congratulations. Congratulations for being right. Yes, free trade has the potential of increasing overall prosperity. Yes, there is a problem with unrestrained capitalism. Unfortunately, as often happens with any problem, each side is so focused on being right, nobody focuses on creating a solution. There is no evil, omnipotent “Carl” to cast as a scapegoat. The assignment of blame does not necessarily solve anything.

What I saw from the protests in Washington this weekend was division: protesters outside and World Bankers inside. This is the problem. At Georgetown, each side too often drowns out the other’s opinion through the sound of its own voice. Globalization, free trade, labor rights: These are all complicated issues. If someone tells you they have the entire solution – he is probably lying to you. Make up your own mind and add something constructive to the discussion. Or blame everything on Carl, which is what I always do.

Slowly Losing My Mind appears every other Tuesday in The Hoya.

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