Thursday, November 11th, 2010
Todd Howe, WeAreChangeToronto
November 11, 2010
This week world leaders, finance ministers and their retinues are once again meeting for the G20 summit, descending this time on the city of Seoul. Protests have broken out in the streets, as expected. The mandatory dramatic images of citizens being pepper sprayed have been rolled out to the international media. And South Korea has shown it can deploy a militarized security force with the best of them: demonstration is simply ‘illegal’ within 2km of the site and a battery of water cannons, armoured vehicles, robots, roadblocks and helicopters says so.
As it turns out, the real melee to watch in Seoul may be inside the security wall this week. With talk of a showdown between the US and Germany and China over currency manipulation, the World Bank’s push for a stronger global trade unit, and the ongoing implosion of sovereign European bonds in overexposed countries (most recently, Ireland), the occasional firework is sure to be lit inside the conference center as well. Despite the mass media’s overwhelming focus on protest, violence, and damage to property it’s clear that the police, the intimidating hardware, and the very real populist opposition to the summit are symptomatic of, but are not the ultimate cause of the dis-ease afflicting the streets of any recent G20 host site. That’s the part of the story reserved for the business sections and back pages of the paper, couched in the pallid language of global economics, abstraction, and understatement.