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05/25/2004 Archived Entry: "Ian's Bureaucrash report from Switzerland"

SOMETHING SPECIAL TODAY. Blogispondent Ian McCollum has just returned from Switzerland, where he took part in Bureaucrash's Operation Capitalism Heals. Whoda thunk international subversion could be so fun?

Now, I get out of the way and give you Ian. The rest of this entry is all his, not a word altered:

After-action Report: Operation Capitalism Heals (Geneva)

By Ian McCollum

(cue James Bond theme...)

It was a dark and stormy night when our twenty highly-trained international Bureaucrash activists covertly parachuted into Geneva, Switzerland...

Well, ok, maybe it was a nice sunny Wednesday morning, and maybe we just flew into Geneva's international airport on SwissAir jetliners. But either way, it was the start of a great day of political activism. After meeting up with the whole team (which included Crashers from a half dozen different nations) and getting a briefing on the planned activities, we proceded to Crash in on World Health Organization bureaucrats at the UN Palace of Nations.

Our goal there was to Crash a couple of WHO meetings, but we didn't quite get that far. Upon entering, we were told by security that we couldn't bring in the flyers we had planned to distribute. While we were talking to the guards, a couple of us headed downstairs to the building's cafeteria. The entranceway leading into it was lined with displays and tables of propaganda about the terrible global epidemic of tasty - I mean fattening - foods. You can imagine our surprise upon finding things like butter-and-cream sauces on the menus inside. Bureaucrats as hypocrites? Never!

After spending a few minutes handing out flyers in front of the building, we decided to move on to another building in the same complex, where we hoped to Crash another meeting. But this time, the security guards declared that our "Capitalism Heals" t-shirts conveyed a message, and thus couldn't be brought inside the building. So we contented ourselves with leaving a couple stacks of our flyers on the rack of UN/WHO health propaganda, and (pausing to snap a couple photos of health-o-crats smoking outside the WHO building) headed off to the next target event. I should add that we didn't really just "head off" - we were actually honored with the distinction of being escorted out of the UN compound by a couple of guards. Flattering. :)

The final Crash of the day was at an auditorium on the other side of the city, where desperate health-o-crat German Velasquez was screening a documentary film called "Profits or Life?", about his attacks on pharmaceutical patents. During the film (which should have been subtitled "A study in false dichotomy") we distributed flyers pointing out the numerous idiocies in the film's arguments. This flustered the organizers a bit...and they got really unhappy when they found their discussion session Crashed by tough questions. Unsurprisingly, the panel members refused to answer most of our questions (including ones like why, when they claimed to be acting for the good of Africa, they had no Africans on their panel). Nor could they explain things like why capitalistic charity groups have proven so much more effective than lumbering, tax-funded UN bureaucracies. Circulating among the attendees afterwards, we found that we had gotten many of the attendees thinking seriously about the issue, and many expressed support for our ideas.

By the time we left the auditorium, it was well after sunset, and we drifted into Geneva for some food and sleep.

The next day, we decided to head back the UN Palace of Nations. Having already been kicked out of the compound by UN cops the day before, we set ourselves up just outside the gates at the main entrance, where all the traffic in and out got a good view of us. We brought along a bunch of protest posters, sporting sayings including "Culinary Communists," "Keep Your Laws Off My Belly," "Wealthier is Healthier," "Capitalism Heals, Socialism Kills," and "Fight Government Obesity." Of course, the control fanatics inside couldn't stand being opposed by a bunch of Crashers, so (since their own cops had no jurisdiction where we were) they called the Geneva police on us. They arrived in three or four cars and brought along a paddy wagon, but after checking our IDs and copying down our poster slogans they piled back in their cars and drove off. They did leave two officers and the paddy wagon as a not-too-subtle warning, though. The responses we got from passing individuals were mostly thumbs up, and from official-looking vehicles full of 'crats were mostly thumbs down (surprise surprise, huh?)

In the overall scope of things, our protests were fairly small, but I think we really rattled a lot of UN kleptocrats. They really don't expect anyone, particularly young people, to show up in person to denounce their socialism as the killer system it is. Better yet, we got some people thinking about whether they really want a blundering bureaucracy controlling so much of their lives.

A few other points of interest I noted along the way:

When I checked my baggage for the flight out of the US, it was first scanned and inspected by "Freedom Air Services." Urg.

SwissAir actually provided us with metal forks and knives in our meals. Amazingly, nobody tried to hijack the flight with one of them.

For you Firefly fans out there, it is interesting to note that most of the US customs and security personnel I saw were wearing bright blue latex gloves. Two by two...hands of blue...

Posted by Claire @ 12:13 PM CST

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