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The last time the World Trade Organization had a major meeting it was in Singapore and now we know why Singapore of course is the city-state that accords near-perfect freedom to banks and corporations while jailing political activists and caning messy tenants and people who chew gum in public When WTO ministers gathered in Singapore in 1997 their business was unimpeded by any outside agitators Or for that matter any internal dissidents Advocates for worker rights or environmental standards are not allowed into the deliberations that set the rules for global commerce That Seattle wasnt going to be another Singapore was never in question On Tuesday though Seattle wasnt even Seattle It was more like Petrograd-for-a-Day The TV news may be filled with replays of the days violence but that was just a small part of the Seattle revolution and something that hundreds of demonstrators personally tried to stop But like Petrograd circa 1917 Seattle in just the past 24 hours has had something for nearly every species of reformer and revolutionary Here was economist Bob Kuttner with a scholarly presentation to an upscale and decorous gathering on the perils of laissez-faire capitalism Over there Ralph Nader was giving a more spirited rendition of the same basic tune On the waterfront the entire port clanged shut as the longshoremen welcomed the trade ministers to Seattle by closing off trade altogether Down one boulevard paraded 100 uniformed airline pilots indignant about growing employer power down another 100 environmentalists decked out in turtle suits to dramatize the WTOs overturning of national endangered-species laws Not to mention the thousands of students who trudged downtown from the University of Washington the leaders of the American union movement who suddenly sounded like Gene Debs and the nearly 20000 workers who paraded around the outskirts of downtown while 20000 other activists most of them college-age peaceably sat down in the middle of downtown and kept the WTO from convening
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