On Friday I spent a second day behind the Golden EIB Microphone on America's Number One radio show. You can find a few moments from the program here, which, as always on Open Line Friday, covered a wide range, including the big blue wave (in the Tory sense) that swept Ontario and reduced the Liberal caucus to a barely detectable rump; sexy tweets from M Macron; the celebrity suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade; the Cossacks policing gay smooching at the World Cup; the cockroaches crawling into Floridian ears that I improvised into a metaphor for what Trump does to the media every morning; and Charles Krauthammer's moving, dignified announcement that he has only weeks to live. On live radio there are always a couple of mistakes: I apparently muddled the leading causes of death in America with the fastest-rising causes - and, more embarrassingly, I said that the eponymous heroine of Bizet's Carmen worked in a cigar factory, when it was, of course, a cigarette factory.
But much of the show dealt with the rare drama around the US President's late arrival and early departure from the G7 summit at La Malbaie. The media and the demonstrators are being kept ninety miles away in Quebec City, so, if the protests get out of hand, there'll be no one for them to beat up but network correspondents. That said, it's all quiet on the anti-western front - at least by comparison with the last big international beano in Quebec, the Summit of the Americas seventeen years ago, in that brief interlude between the Florida recount and 9/11. I was on the ground for that one, and thought you might enjoy this report for Britain's Sunday Telegraph from April 22nd 2001. The big difference between then and now: In those days, the opposition to the globalist elites came from leftie mobs; today it comes from right-wing populists - and the anti-globalist left now looks to the globalists to save them from the populist right:
I am in Quebec City this weekend where the stars of the global anti-globalisation movement have gathered for the Summit of the Americas. The official meeting is between George W Bush and 33 other heads of government you've never heard of, in town to plan a free-trade area from North to South Pole and stick it to the EU good and proper. But who cares about that? All the action's outside the perimeter fence - or what's left of it, after Friday's riot.
I got caught in the riot, driving down a one-way street when a fleet of Budget rental vans appeared out of nowhere, heading straight toward me. As one does when one has right of way, I pulled up nose to nose and gestured to the idiot driver opposite to back up. Then I noticed he was wearing riot gear. Platoons of SĂ»retĂ© du QuĂ©bec officers piled out with plexiglass shields, rubber-bullet guns, the works. Round the corner of the rue RenĂ©-LĂ©vesque came the mob of young radicals, a sight that brought tears to my eyes, and not just because the SQ and Mounties were lobbing tear-gas canisters. For those of us too young to take part in the great student demos of 1968, this was the sort of riot our grandfathers had fought in. Falling in between a guy who had a sign saying "The Dollar Is A Collar" and another setting alight his Stars and Stripes, I took my necktie off and tried to look as if I'd been sleeping in the park for a week.
What a town: it's one big Activists-R-Us superstore. There are Ivy League undergraduates and European anti-GM campaigners, Guatemalan union leaders and Brazilian political scientists, Quebec anarchists and rump Sandinistas. There's an aboriginal woman protesting that "there was no blessing by indigenous peoples of the land you have been occupying for this forum". There's a radical women's group which decorated the security fence with their slogan-bearing bras. The stand-out, in every sense, is a huge underwired thing with "Ma mĂ¨re" on one cup and "is not for sale" on the other. In the interests of accuracy, I checked the label: 48D. That's one big earth mother.
There's JosĂ© BovĂ©, the French sheep farmer who destroyed a McDonald's. President Chirac and Prime Minister Jospin declined to criticise him, and Canadian Immigration waived their own rules on convicted criminals to admit him. Hearing M BovĂ© had landed, the fellow who runs the Big Mac franchise on the rue St-Jean tore down all the Golden Arches, boarded up the building and had giant sunflowers painted all over the plywood so the joint now looks like a slum-housing community art project. There's the pin-up girl of the anti-globalisation movement, Naomi Klein, the author of the international bestseller No Logo which has itself become the international logo of the anti-globalisation movement. Miss Klein rages about how distinctive regional identities are being obliterated by a bland remote multinational homogeneity - and she does it every week in her column in Canada's Globe And Mail, reprinted in The Guardian. Does Miss Klein never spare a thought for the stringy English feminist in her grotty Earl's Court bedsit cranking out good, honest, hand-crafted, distinctively British anti-capitalist columns only to find she's been tossed on the scrapheap because The Guardian finds it easier to buy in cheap generic mass-produced opinion pieces from some neo-colonial sweatshop in Toronto?
The global anti-globalisation movement burst into view at the November 1999 WTO meeting in Seattle, when they trashed the town and shut down the discussions. They were there at the IMF meeting in Washington, and again in Prague. We were enjoying the longest economic boom in US history, 50 per cent of North Americans were invested in the stock market, business-friendly "Third Way" governments were running the world. Yet Seattle somehow persuaded disgruntled socialists that old-time anti-capitalist leftist politics were back.
The internal contradictions of capitalism have nothing on the internal contradictions of anti-globalisation. On the one hand, it's backed by western labour unions who, in a world where upscale white-collar First World entrepreneurs get their products assembled by Third World factory serfs, see protectionism as the only way to preserve their members' access to all the good things of western materialism. On the other hand, the movement's also backed by the vegan tree-hugger set who think western materialism is the most destructive force on the planet. The tofu types dislike the stultifying corporate conformity of products like Nike; the unions are relaxed on that point, but resent the way they're made in Third World sweatshops by workers earning six cents an hour rather than in American rust-belt factories by unsackable union labour snacking on six doughnuts an hour.
The environmentalists have a bumper sticker: "Think Globally, Act Locally". But in practice, they act globally and think locally, storming the transnational corporations for the most parochial of reasons: JosĂ© BovĂ© took it out on McDonald's because he was upset about some new French tax on cheese. No-one on the streets of Quebec City knows the first thing about the ins and outs of Paris's cheese taxation policy, but they're happy to smash up McDonald's for reasons of their own - and M BovĂ©, with his new global eminence, has broadened his beef. "Attacking McDonald's is not violence," he says. "The free market is violence.
Meanwhile, the more effective protesters come to us sponsored by Body Shopper Anita Roddick, Hollywood progressives Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, and Ben of Ben & Jerry's, the hippy-dippy Vermont ice-cream makers. They're among the celebrities who bankroll the Ruckus Society, a California camp that trains activists in "direct action" techniques for WTO, IMF, FTAA and even for London's forthcoming May Day riots, which despite the lack of bureaucratic acronym has also managed to attract the attention of MobGlob (Mobilisation against Globilisation). Given that Jerry and Ben sold Ben & Jerry's last year to the Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever and that almost every Hollywood movie is filmed in Canada because it's way cheaper, the humbug quotient here is already high. But Miss Roddick's commitment to the cause is impressive: she funds the group even though the Body Shop is on its list of targets.
In paying people to lob bricks through her windows, Miss Roddick neatly parallels the generosity of the Canadian Government, which gave $300,000 of taxpayers' money directly to the activists to fund their anti-summit summit, and indirectly will be spending a lot more cleaning up the damage. Sportingly, they invited the protesters to sit down with the Foreign Minister and other Cabinet members, but the activists told them to take a hike and demanded instead a "summit-to-summit" (their phrase) meeting with all 34 heads of government. The Canadian Prime Minister, whose name escapes me, doesn't get on too well with Bush as it is, and he didn't fancy telling Washington that he'd penciled in some face time for the President with a group of rainbow-haired crusties with extensive nasal piercings. But, in that case, why give them an all-expenses-paid vacation in Quebec City in the first place?
The right can only hope that he and the unions and Roddicks and Jerryless Bens carry on writing the cheques: after all, the best hope for Britain's and Canada's and Europe's beleagured right-wing parties would be the resurgence of ideological union-dominated economic illiteracy on the left. Alas, my bet is that, aside from the lovely Miss Klein's, this movement doesn't have legs. The Free Trade Area of the Americas will happen, unions in the west will lose more members, blue-collar jobs will accelerate their remorseless transfer to the Third World, and The Guardian will drop Naomi Klein.
But for one brief shining moment as the tear-gas grenades rent the air it was almost like the old days of no nukes and "Hey, hey, LBJ". And frankly it's more fun than being stuck inside the perimeter fence making small talk with the Deputy Trade Minister of Costa Rica.
~from The Sunday Telegraph, April 21st 2001
Speaking of Canada, which Quebec City is sort of half-in, Mark will be back in his hometown of Toronto this coming Friday, June 15th, to receive the very first George Jonas Freedom Award from Canada's Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms on June 15th in Toronto. You can find more details about the event here - and, if you enter STEYNCLUB18, you'll get 15 per cent off your ticket. It should be a fun evening.
As the second year of The Mark Steyn Club begins, we're very appreciative of all those who signed up in that first month last May who have been so eager to re-subscribe - and we hope as June proceeds that our second-month members will feel the same way. We thank you all, and hope to see at least a few of you on our inaugural Club Cruise this autumn. For more information on the Steyn Club, see here.