Saturday, April 04, 2009

Viva Los Violence

And there it was, gone. Two days of peaceful protest against banks and climate change which resulted in several bloody clashes between protestors and police, one death, and the storming of Royal Bank of Scotland.

While in some of these incidents the protestors do not appear to be to blame, rather some heavy-handedness on the part of the law enforcement, others as expected were the result of a mob mentality serving no purpose other than to cause the most damage and disruption possible. Until protests can take place without this kind of occurrence, no one is going to listen.

And even when people do listen, what they hear either makes no sense, or hasn't been entirely thought through. Indeed many protestors simply join in for the sake of it. Short-sightedness gets the better of them and they join in any publicised large-scale event so they can say they were part of it afterwards. The reasons for the event occurring in the first place don't mean a thing to them.

The examples of the lunacy of some of the protests were many. A hugely imaginative reworking of Bob Marley's One Love by one protestor went along the lines of "One love, one heart, let's drop the debt and it'll be alright". So the point you're making there, Billy Bragg, is that it's OK to borrow more money than any idiot could tell you you won't be able to pay back, but when it all goes wrong and you're in trouble, just pretend it never happened and that will fix it? What a wonderful idea. That way, everyone gets their houses for free. Utopia! Or, to put it another more accurate way, the banks will own everyone's houses because they paid for it and you didn't. Is it any wonder no one takes these protests seriously?

One woman was quoted in the Guardian as saying "We've just come on a peaceful protest. We've got fire in our belly and we want to say something and be heard". A noble notion if ever there was one, but given that protests, peaceful or otherwise, only ultimately annoy people, who do you think is listening to what you have to say? After all, we all know most of you aren't there for the right reasons anyway. Take away the minority groups bent on causing trouble, the trendy hangers-on, and the brainless soap-watchers who just want to be a part of anything popular and you're left with a small core of genuine protestors who actually understand and believe the causes the event is meant to be in the name of. "I can understand protesting for jobs, but how many of them really want jobs?" Well said that man; a random suit watching the pointlessness from the sidelines, just about summing up everyone else's opinion of your average protest.

And what were they really saying? Job cuts are bad? Pollution is bad? War is bad? You're not making points that are beyond pure common sense. We know all these things. We don't need you forcing the closure of stations to tell us. Regardless of your actions everyone else is going to carry on just as they always do, and if anything they're simply going to be slightly less sympathetic to you because you've spent a couple of days irritating them.

Meanwhile the G20 had their summit, oblivious to the pointless goings on around the city and, as with every crisis which befalls the World, regardless of its nature, have come up with the standard two responses they always do. To throw money at it until it goes away, and to set up one or more new regulatory bodies to stop it happening again. We are soon to have the Financial Stability Board, an expansion of the Financial Stability Forum, chaired by Bank of Italy governor Mario Draghi, set up in 1999 to "promote international financial stability through better information exchange and international cooperation." The new body will conduct "early warning exercises" and reviews to spot potential problems in the international economy and work with Washington's International Monetary Fund (IMF), who oversee international finances, lending money where necessary.

A nice idea, but there isn't much genuine strength in there. Lots of reviewing (post-problem), information exchange and other such soft actions with very little hint of powers or strategies which could alleviate financial issues ahead of time. It's main aim is to make sure all "systemically important" financial institutions have appropriate contingency planning in place for economic crisis. But by the very nature of a crisis it is something which is largely unpredictable, so just what good such planning can have is uncertain. Not that the current 'crisis' was unpredictable at all, given that it is entirely the product of idiocy on the part of a large number of people, but in general a genuine financial disaster probably can't be foreseen.

In the mean time the plan is to pump $1.1trillion into the international economy, increasing the funds of the IMF from an estimated $250bn to around $700bn, with $40bn coming from China and further amounts expected from Saudi Arabia. This was no doubt an attempt to over-shadow the fact that China were reportedly the biggest opposer to 'green language' in the finalised communique outlining the new financial deal which saw all climate change issues relegated to two paragraphs at the end. Losing their status as the biggest polluters of the World would be too much to ask, presumably.

"A crazy man's utopia"