July 25, 2001 -- This week, people will travel inexpensively from all over the globe to Genoa, Italy—to protest the policies that made their travel possible. Protest leaders will use cell phones to swiftly shift protestors away from police and toward fruitful spots for agitation. People in Genoa will protest globalization—just the way others have protested it in Seattle, in Prague, and in Toronto. They will dress in the same counter-culture clothing with the same rebellious hairstyles and bathing habits.
The fact that anti-globalization protests are just another global trend makes them faintly ridiculous. But the hollow, negative, and self-contradictory view of life that lies behind the protests makes them sinister.
There is nothing wrong with people disliking McDonald’s hamburgers, or not caring to watch the latest summer-action-blockbuster. Indeed, it is the essence of freedom to be economically free: to be allowed the choice to take or leave the products available in the marketplace and the ideas offered in the intellectual arena. But the protestors don’t want to be free. Instead, they are free people begging for chains.
“Stop me before I shop at Wal-mart! Tax me, so I won’t take my kids to Euro-Disney! Ban Hollywood films; otherwise, I’ll watch them! Prevent foreign investment; otherwise, I might work for a multi-national firm!”