- The Washington Times - Friday, February 18, 2000

Naive pessimism

"As I wandered the rainy streets of Seattle that Tuesday morning, Nov. 30, the demonstrators against the World Trade Organization (WTO) seemed, at first, more naive than violent.
"A group of approximately 25 young men and women defended an empty street with big plywood cutouts of evergreens and a sign that said, 'We Stand for Trees.' Carl, a bearded carpenter from northern California, said that he was there because the WTO would force America to cut its old-growth forests. (It wouldn't.) …
"Most of the protesters also demanded the end of 'capitalism.' But opposition to economic freedom after the death of communism is simply perverse… .
"The eco-activists are locked in their deeply pessimistic worldview. First and foremost, the movement hates having a lot of people on the planet… . They do not want the world to have its current 6 billion people, let alone 8.5 billion in 2035 … . Thus, all the dancing condoms and the like: The movement is angry because the public now seems willing to let the current population surge run its course, instead of demanding immediate, direct action for population reduction… .
"The problem is that some First World consumers want to live in modern opulence while giving lip service to the impoverished lifestyle the eco-movement demands."
Dennis T. Avery, writing on "Clueless in Seattle," in the Winter issue of American Outlook

For your own good?

"The TV ads for iVillage.com, one of the rising stars in the ever-expanding galaxy of women's Web sites, suggests that, for the modern woman, logging onto the Internet provides all the comfort Mom found in the long, hot bath combined with the fun and fellowship of an evening out with the girls… .
"IVillage is only a symptom of the virulent cultural separatism currently generating a profusion of products and services created specifically for women… .
"Perhaps the most insidious paradox of the new women's culture from the Oxygen network to 'Bridget Jones's Diary' to 'Judging Amy' is that its purveyors can make lots of money from women and simultaneously claim to be doing it all for women's own good, to give women what they want and need and deserve. It is like having a best friend with her hand in your pocket."
Francine Prose, writing on "A Wasteland of One's Own," in Sunday's New York Times Magazine

Fidel's time warp

"As if to confirm his mooring in a time warp, Fidel Castro, 73 … declared that Jan. 1, 2000, was not the beginning of a new millennium. Determined as ever to remain at an angle to the rest of the world, he announced that the true year would be 2001.
"This eccentric if mathematically correct gesture had a surreal feeling on an island where official figures and statistics mean almost nothing, and where the revolution climaxed on New Year's Eve 1958… .
"The only leader in Latin America who always wears a military uniform, and who steadfastly and on principle refuses elections, is Fidel Castro… .
" 'If Karl Marx were a Cuban, he would be in jail or in Miami,' says [Cuban dissident economist] Dr. Oscar Espinosa … . ' "From each according to his abilities to each according to his need." That's the old slogan. But the average salary here is $11 a month, and only the army and the bureaucracy get what they need.'
"Slowly emerging behind the Fidelist flourishes and slogans is a system not unlike that in China, where capitalism and profiteering are permitted but democracy and free expression are not. You might call it the worst of both worlds."
Christopher Hitchens, writing on "Havana Can Wait," in the March issue of Vanity Fair

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