It's been a year of highs and lows for Pittsburgh, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently observed. The Steelers won the Superbowl. Three police officers were killed in one night on duty. The Economist declared Pittsburgh America's most livable city. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup. Three women were killed by a nutcase with a gun at LA Fitness. Obama declared that Pittsburgh would host the G-20 meeting on September 24 and 25.
One question the Post-Gazette hasn't really asked is whether or not that last thing is a good thing. Most news outlets have been repeating the endless stream of some variation of "The G-20 is a perfect opportunity to show off Pittsburgh's transformation from a major center of heavy industry to its resurgence as a center of biotechnology, green design, and medicine." While the preparations for the summit have received a lot of media attention ("Michelle Obama is hosting an event at the Andy Warhol Museum!" "Free pizza for volunteers to remove graffiti from the streets of Oakland!"), the preparations for the inevitable protesters that the G-7/8/20 bring haven't been as publicized, and most of the articles don't really go into why so many groups come to protest - they generally mumble something about globalization and war.
A few websites for people interested in protesting have popped up. The G-20 Media Support team created site to provide information on organizations and events voicing dissent with regard to the G-20 summit, track media coverage to enforce "a reasonable standard of fairness and accuracy." The Thomas Merton Center, Pittsburgh's Peace and Social Justice Center, hopes to bring together the many different groups of activitists that will be converging on the city. The Pittsbugh G-20 Resistance Project seeks to "demonstrate and build new and existing alternatives to the worldview represented by the G-20 and the direct policies it promotes, and to disrupt the summit and undermine its attempts to gain legitimacy." A variety of marches, protests, and coordinated actions are planned, some with permission, some without. "Direct action" to disrupt the day's events (people purposefully getting arrested) and other sorts of media-friendly activities are inevitable.
The goals of this summit of the G-20 are to reform the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and talk about "green economies." From what I can distill from reading the goals, mission statements, associations, and everything of the voices of dissent, the protestors oppose capitalism, globalization, war, hierarchy, discrimination, and a whole lot of other things. They are in favor of the eradication of poverty, self-determination, peace, social justice, and anti-authoritarianism.
But all of this doesn't really answer my original questions, which is whether I should oppose them.
Although most people assume I am politically liberal (and it is true that am a registered Democrat), when asked, I tend to say that I am anti-everything - it's easier than actually explaining that even though I do think that capitalism is an evil system that oppresses people and makes it impossible for everyone to obtain their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, I think that it is less evil than the results of economic systems that require a spirit of collectivism on a scale that is unnatural for humans (we are protective of our family and tribal groups and generally distrustful of people we don't know). I don't think that globalization is inherently evil, but when government subsidies in one country make it impossible for people somewhere else to make a living, I think it needs to be reconsidered. I want the government to stay out of my personal life, but I want it to protect the environment and make sure that I am not getting exploited by some multi-national corporation whose actions hold no person legally accountable.
Although I sympathize with many of the sentiments of the protesters - self-determination, freedom of speech and assembly, social and environmental justice - I don't believe that the capitalism and globalization need to be completely abolished to accomplish those goals, and I think that the stability they provide is vital to the improvement of places where no such stability exists. So, G-20, have fun hanging around in my city, I hope that you guys are working toward the world your citizens deserve.
I'll probably attend some of the G-20 protester events just to see what's going on, but the only ones I am willing to say I agree with (and even then, not completely) are the ones on climate change. I'll try not to get arrested.
The Mighty Jungle
11 months ago