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Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
Would you rather be a protester or a politician?
The protesters who grabbed the media's attention at the recent EU summit in Gothenberg, will soon be demonstrating again.
In Genoa where the G-8 top industrial countries meet in July they are already bracing themselves for similar riots.
But does the stance of the protesters have more sympathy across Europe than the politicians who many see as out of touch and holed up in a privileged fortress?
Where do your sympathies lie? Is it with the protesters or the politicians?
For this Europewide debate we brought together a protester, Tord Bjork, who founded the Gothenberg 2001 opposition coalition, and in Brussels, a politician, the member of the European Parliament, Dutch Liberal, Lousewies van der Laan.
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Mikko Toivonen, Finland
The protestors want to get rid of capitalism... but what are they proposing as a replacement system? Barter? Communism? I really can't see these working in the modern western world.
If the protestors want to change things then why not form their own political party and see if people will vote for them. Then we'll find out whether they're fighting for the masses or just a few malcontents.
If the protestors make people think about capitalism for a moment then they are good. Capitalism is based on outright greed disguised as a science (economics) based on the principle that money is the sole answer to everything. The reason the protestors appear to be "toddlers" is because people are indoctrinated from birth into the existing system. How else do you explain the difference between protestors "violence" and police "keeping order", or for that matter the difference between anti-capitalist protestors ("extremists") and pro-capitalist protestors for example in Serbia ("the people"). Think for a moment whether you feel "happy" at having to do what another person tells you to do for the sole purpose of making more money for that person?
I am all for peaceful protest but, if a protest becomes violent, it defeats its object and panders to the small-minded reactionaries who want to ban protest.
I think that both are necessary to keep the other in check; the protestors to make sure that people are listened to other than at election times, and the politicians to make sure that violent protests are dealt with accordingly.
Tridiv Borah, Germany/India
My sympathies do not lie with the
protesters. To demonstrate violently
against "global capitalism" or free trade
is rather like having a temper tantrum
about the weather, or complaining that
life in general has been unfair. Or that
Mommy won't let you have sweets before
dinner! It has the same effect. The protesters
have a problem with the world's modern
realities, without any inkling of a way to
solve them. Generally, the protesters
are angry with the reality that the
world is not equally fair to all, although
they fail to understand why trashing
things does not in any way make the
world a better place. The protests
are a toddler's temper-tantrum on a
Protestors can sometimes be contemptible; sometimes they can be worthy of praise. A politician is just a politician.
Recent protests seem to reflect that it is much easier to be a protester than a politician. All you have to do is throw things and create a ruckus. If protesters would start creating solutions and stop creating problems, perhaps they may be more credible. But I have been unimpressed with recent protests.
How can these global elitist tell us that there is no stopping the EU? Is this a grassroots movement of the people or the political elites? The people and only the people can decide the fate of their state. If there were more referendums like the one in Ireland, I think that we would see a lot more anti-EU outcomes. A supranational state, at the command of Europe's political and financial elites is the last thing Europeans need. Long live the people of Europe and their respective states.
Protests such as the ones in Gothenberg, Seattle etc will only grow in strength as the world realises the evils of corporate elitism, capitalist exploitation and financial greed.
The protestors from Seattle to Gothenburg are the front line defenders of our civil rights and our wages and conditions. They also ensure that IMF programs that bleed the Third World are highlighted. Papua New Guinea to Genoa, the struggle continues.
I am sceptical that the present policy of globalisation can be terminated since it has produced the greatest level of prosperity for the elitists who essentially control this planet. The rest of us simply do not count.
A politician is answerable to everybody - even those who did not vote for him.
A protestor is answerable to nobody.
To be honest I don't like either of them.
15 Jun 01 | Europe
Three shot in EU summit riots
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Blair: Anarchists will not stop us
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