The last three jamborees organised by the world's rich nations (Montreal, Prague and the European Union Summit in Nice) have all been enlivened by the riotous presence of vociferous demonstrators. Their demands have been so diverse that the noises collectively seemed to issue from the Tower of Babel.
But, whatever the confusion of tongues, the messages emanating from the protesters coalesced into three issues: (1) to bring the World Bank and the IMF to heel; (2) a cancellation of Third World Debt and (3) to protect poor nations from the destructive aspects of globalisation.
Western governments and the international organisations which faced the full brunt of the protests, have been at pains to dismiss the demonstrations as the activities of a misguided and an ill informed rabble. They do so at their own peril.
These protesters are not down at heel malcontents. In their ranks they count eminent economists, environmentalists, sociologists, industrialists, bankers and others of like ilk. To turn a deaf ear to their demands is to court the fate of dictators - which as history has shown us, is not a very pleasant one.
What the protesters are saying, loudly and clearly despite the babble of tongues, is that they are fed up with the inequities of the modern world. They cannot see a future for their children and their grandchildren in which the majority scrape the bottom of the barrel and the minority lap up the cream. They point to history - whenever inequity has reached breaking point, the whole barrel has been upset and everything scattered to the four winds.
Their aim is to prevent the current situation reaching this point of no return. They are trying to hammer the message home into the minds of the organisations and governments who they consider responsible for creating this diabolical situation in the first place.
Over the last 40 years, we have all grown up and learnt to see through the benign image presented by international institutions and 'friendly' Western governments. All that talk about helping the Third World to develop, all those promises of poverty eradication, all those offers of equal partnerships have been nothing more than hot air. In reality, the West has milked the Third World so dry the cow is now on its last legs. But if the Third World goes down, it will take the developed world with it. Of this, there is no doubt - check the history books.
Acting like despots
The mountains of loans made to the Third World were never...