The summit of security: fortifying Toronto for the G8/G20 meetings

Regardless of your personal politics, it’s hard to look at the extensive preparations for summits like the G8 and G20 groups – both of which are meeting near Toronto in Canada at the end of the month – and not be dumbfounded by the huge amount of money that gets pissed away on “preparing” for them.

Tim “Quiet Babylon” Maly takes a look at the “media pavilion” that’s been constructed for the world’s journalists to lounge around in, complete with simulated lakefront ambience and local rural flavour, and there’s a bunch of links at MetaFilter talking about the extensive fortification of the town against the inevitable floods of protesters – up to and including the removal of street-side trees and saplings, lest they be used as weapons (yes, seriously).

Maly makes much of the parasitic nature of these conferences, beaming in and completely subsuming a location for the duration of the summit, and that’s certainly one weird aspect of the whole business. But weirder still, at least to my eye, is the sociopolitical nature of the thing: here’s a meeting of powerful people who are ostensibly discussing ways to make the world a better place, and they have to defend themselves from political dissent to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

That’s the sort of budget that most dictatorships can only dream of, all spuffed away for a week or so of hermetically-sealed political secrecy and security for the allegedly democratic governers of the civilised world. There’s something deeply paradoxical – I might even go so far as to say “fucked up” – about that; defending oneself from external enemies is one thing, but any governmental organisation that spends that much money on protecting itself from the people it ostensibly looks after is doing something very, very wrong.

2 thoughts on “The summit of security: fortifying Toronto for the G8/G20 meetings”

  1. Totally agree w/ all of the above. Though I think it’s more like a billion we’re flushing for three days of meetings. A billion that a quick look at our (or any country except maybe China’s) debt clock shows we hardly have to spare. Strikes me as odd that if the issue were voted on (instead of just figureheads)I doubt 1 in 1000 Canadians would opt to squander this $ on a venue that could just as well be teleconferenced, or even just not bothered with. Which makes me wonder who our decision makers are really representing. I’m reminded Stanley Elkin’s novel, “Boswell.”

    Boswell is a charismatic man. In the end he dedicates his life and talents to congregating all of the wealthiest and most successful people on the planet: artists, politicians, economists, scientists, Nobel laureates, movie stars, writers—the movers and shakers of the world. He invites them all to a New York club. And they come. It is a very exclusive and prestigious affair, what with all of the most beautiful and influential and powerful and creative people gathered in one place like that. A huge crowd forms behind a police barrier outside. They resent having been excluded. For some reason Boswell arrives late. The party is already underway. The cops won’t let him pass. So now he’s part of the mob. He takes off his shirt. He is always at his most charismatic with his shirt off. It’s kind of a motif if I remember. He presses forward. I think it’s raining. Then he starts to shout. “Down with the club! Down with the club!” It’s the best ending I have ever read. “Down with the club!”

  2. (Chuckles evilly.)

    Pretty sure our PM is *not* at his most charismatic with his shirt off.

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