May 1, 2002
Having overcome a minor administrative hurdle, Mike and Andy arrive in Sydney (this time, the flight has been funded by various arts organizations, and they rely on a dozen local activists for housing and other assistance). After a day of adjustment for jet-lag, they put on fresh thrift-store suits, cut their hair, and go find the headquarters of the Certified Practicing Accountants Association of Australia.
After a good many pleasantries—the conference organizers are exceedingly gracious—“Kinnithrung Sprat” is introduced and takes the podium with all the gravitas he can muster.
Andy and Mike have decided on an entirely new tack for this lecture, one unmarked by the bombast and lunacy of previous ones. Since parody hasn’t worked, they’ve decided to try that old standby, sincerity.
The WTO, Andy explains, has finally understood that corporate globalization is hurting the little guy; it has to therefore shut down completely. After that, Andy explains, the WTO will re-launch as a new organization—the Trade Regulation Organization—devoted, as its name suggests, to making corporations behave responsibly towards all world citizens, not just the wealthy. Instead of serving to help businesses do business—this is the way the WTO explicitly describes itself on its website—it will henceforward make sure that business helps people.
The lecture includes nearly an hour of shocking statistics drumming home the need for this massive transformation.
The accountants rally behind the plan with excitement. They are authentically thrilled at this radical new direction the WTO is taking. At the luncheon, some of them give suggestions for insuring that the new organization will serve the poor rather than only the rich. It is very clear that these accountants want to help the poor as much as we do.
They are not the only excited ones about the prospects of a new kind of trade organization. After Mike and Andy send out a press release from the WTO announcing its imminent improvement, a Canadian parliamentarian takes the floor to announce the good news. Andy and Mike receive hundreds of congratulatory e-mails from others excited about the rebirth.
Could it be that the violent and irrational consensus gripping the world, that we call corporate globalization, is maintained only through a sustained and strenuous effort of faith? Could it be that almost everyone—even those, like accountants, that we are usually inclined to think of as conservative—would immediately embrace a more humane consensus if one were presented by those in positions of authority?
The “WTO’s” press release is revealed to be a hoax, and sadly the WTO still does exist. The Canadian Parlimentarian retracts his statement, and hundreds of people email to tell us how disappointed they are that it isn’t true. The Yes Men sends another press release to clear up the confusion.
Although clearly another world is possible, it will have to start from the bottom up….