WASHINGTON BRACES FOR GLOBALIZATION GRUMPS

Every organization has its grumps: complainers richly articulate about group imperfection but sketchy on the subject of reasonable alternatives.

They know what they dislike and want everyone around them to know it, too. On how to make things better, however, they turn remarkably fuzzy.

As long as there are organizations there will be grumps, bless their troubled hearts. This is so because as long as there are organizations there will be imperfection.

There always will be, in other words, something to complain about. And grumps will. And their more creative colleagues will work to make things better and almost always chatter less about it.

Guess who succeeds in organizations.

The same principle applies to society, which is an organization of sorts.

Society has its grumps and always will.

One hodge-podge of grumps much in the news these days focuses its disfavor on globalization.

It is these grumps who, kicking in shop windows and trashing automobiles, successfully thwarted a November 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle and, this year, turned violent outside the Group of Eight meeting in Genoa, Italy, where one protestor was shot and killed by police.

These grumps really, really don't like globalization. And they are determined to express their fervor on the subject whenever international groups meet to discuss heresies like world trade and global finance.

Their next target: the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C., Sept. 29-30.

The institutions originally planned to meet separately over the course of a week, as they have in the past. In response to mass protest promised by the grumps, however, they combined the meetings and shortened the schedule.

For that, the grumps can claim a victory.

But the question must be raised: Does the course of globalization change because grumps thwarted the WTO meeting, made colossal nuisances of themselves in numerous other settings, and worried the World Bank and IMF into truncating their annual get-together?

Nope.

The grumps have it all wrong. They think globalization's propulsion comes from corporate greed. And they despise corporations.

In contrary fact, globalization draws its energy from human aspiration. Greed-corporate and otherwise-is an unfortunate and eternal dimension of that motive. But it's just one thread-and a resistible one-in a human fabric that also includes hope, ingenuity, and compassion.

Globalization can and does improve the condition of life for multitudes of people. That the promise hasn't yet touched all inhabitants of the planet reflects regrettable imperfection, mostly of cultural and political systems that would exist with or without globalization. The imperfection is no reason to snuff the process-if the process could indeed be snuffed.

Do globalization grumps really believe they can thwart human aspiration with their street dramas, giant puppets, and vandalism?

They might just as well protest tornadoes or influenza.

Washington is preparing for trouble. The District of Columbia police department has requested $38 million in federal funds to pay for its preparations, which include fencing off much of the city and soliciting reinforcement from other jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, the grumps press their gripes.

"The fact that institutions based in Washington and largely controlled by the US Treasury Department have been starving peoples around the world for 2 decades is a scandal," blares Mobilization for Global Justice. "That people in the US are barely aware of the fact is a disgrace."

Baloney. People in the US have no reason to either listen to or believe a faction so eager to push its neuroses into the faces of strangers-and so mute about how to achieve its version of utopia.

Successful members of this organization called society know the best way to handle grumps. Ignore them.

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