Clueless in Seattle

  I never thought I'd say this, but watching events in Seattle this week, it's almost hard not to feel sorry for the political Left. The coverage of the World Trade Organization meeting has centered on the protests, but reporters have missed the real story behind the frenzy: We are witnessing the last hurrah of the Old Left. Scenes of Seattle police in riot gear using tear gas and rubber bullets against demonstrators brought back memories of the sixties. The Los Angeles Times breathlessly announced that, "Not since the days of the Vietnam War... has the entire downtown core of a major American city been seized by a popular political uprising." The Times apparently forgot the 1992 Los Angeles riots when its own headquarters were trashed. As someone who occupied a front-row seat in the White House back in the days of the Vietnam anti-war protests, I can tell you the comparison is ridiculous. A lot has happened since the sixties, and events have conspired to render the Left largely irrelevant. For one, Marxism has been totally discredited. In fact, when the Soviet Union collapsed, it not only marked the death of Marxism, it also allowed the sins of that ideology to be put on public display: the repression, the genocide, and the failure to meet citizen's basic needs. Yet, instead of admitting error, today's Lefties have had to find new issues to complain about: harming the environment, feminist oppression, multiculturalism, or forced child labor. Today, instead of waving pictures of Mao Tse Tung, or Ho Chi Minh, they're parading down Seattle streets dressed as turtles, butterflies, and other endangered species. Instead of chanting "give peace a chance," they're reduced to shouting "save the turtles!" Instead of shutting down the Washington Monument, they settle for trashing Starbuck's and Nordstrom in their fight against globalization. It's really kind of pathetic when you think about it. Pathetic because, as historian Francis Fukuyama points out, the Left should welcome globilization. Foreign investment, he says, has done more to raise living standards in the developing world than leftist utopias ever did. And it's a view shared by a one of their own, former sixties protester, Bill Clinton. But, what's especially pathetic is that, like Marxism in the sixties, the new agenda of the Old Left is doomed to fail. Because these ideologies are all attempts to undo the effects of the Fall without the Cross. The Bible teaches that problems like poverty and environmental degradation have their origins in human sin. We pollute and we exploit resources as a consequence of our estrangement from God. Thus, the solution to these problems is, at root, a spiritual one—a solution that the protesters in Seattle want no part of. So they are destined to fail, no matter how many streets they block or how many windows they smash in. The futility of ideology is a lesson from Seattle that our neighbors need to hear. Because the only thing the protest really changed was the availability of Starbucks cappuccino to the World Trade Organization delegates.


Chuck Colson



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