Fake News, Real Fear, No Democracy

The Daily Show's John Oliver interviews woodland creatures

I’m looking forward to The Daily Show this evening – John Oliver was out interviewing the little woodland creatures (or so they appeared) who were part of the protest rainbow today at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh. Undoubtedly, they’ll be made to look foolish (and in all likelihood, they had it coming). It’s sad that Comrade Oliver couldn’t interview folk from inside the G20 building – they are idiots of a far more dangerous stripe. But before I opine about them, a quick thought about what happened outside the G20 today.

It being a rainbow protest, some colours clashed with others. There were blood red critics of the Obama administration’s failures on climate change, the bailout, health care, unemployment, poverty and two wars in the Middle East. They marched alongside the Falun Gong, who wafted behind everyone else, and a couple of pasty Republican men whose thinly-repressed racism was kept sufficiently in check to allow them to walk in the same march as some vocal people of colour.

The protest was very good humoured – the anarchist blocs decided to respect the not-even-property-damage-level of non-violence on the march, content to engage in the mild contrarianism of eating a “Don’t Eat This Poster” McDonald’s Advert.

boy eats mcdonalds poster

Last night, apparently, there were some hijinks which resulted in the police beating the shit out of a pensioner, Albert Petrarca, who didn’t want his community militarised. (The cameras weren’t there when he was beaten, which Albert described as “a police riot”.)

All in all, though, the protest wasn’t half bad. I’m rubbish at estimating this sort of thing, but I’d guess about three thousand people came, and there were great connections made between groups ahead of the US Social Forum in Detroit in 2010. But that’s about the extent of success from the protest. No one within the G20 was allowed to hear a peep from us, and no-one in the media bothered to ask the serious question of why folk were protesting. The authorities were too busy manufacturing their circus of fear, and the media too busy covering it, for there to be much analysis of the G20’s failures.

The G20 meeting itself is now over, and it has declared itself the premier forum for our international economic co-operation, according to its communique. I remember when the head of the World Trade Organization, Renato Ruggiero said “We are writing the constitution of a single global economy.” It was one of the reasons we were so outraged in Seattle.

Now, it seems, there’s governance for the global economy, but no constitution. And, with leaders deaf to the demands of people in the streets, no effective way of shaping that global economy. There’s a word for this, but it isn’t democracy.