IMF Protesters Try to Disrupt Cambridge University Address by Strauss-Kahn


Dominique Strauss-Kahn IMF Kings College INET Steve Clemons.jpg
(photo credit: Steve Clemons, The Washington Note)
IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn is “cool under fire”, as Central European University President John Shattuck said when introducing him, and didn’t break his stride during his interesting presentation to a group convened by the Institute for New Economic Thinking at Kings College, University of Cambridge.
I am sitting in the hall now — listening to Strauss-Kahn and witnessed the disruption. The above photo was snapped by me a few moments ago.
Those in the hall during Strauss-Kahn’s talk and the disruption include George Soros, Financial Services Authority Chief Lord Adair Turner, UT Austin’s James K. Galbraith, the American Prospect‘s Robert Kuttner, Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, financier and writer Marshall Auerback, former IMF chief economist and blog provocateur Simon Johnson, Naked Capitalism blogger Yves Smith, Institute for New Economic Thinking Executive Director Rob Johnson, Economic Policy Institute President Lawrence Mishel, and others.
— Steve Clemons


14 comments on “IMF Protesters Try to Disrupt Cambridge University Address by Strauss-Kahn

  1. Robert Searle says:

    Apologies for the lack of editing in my previous message…but I hope people get the gist of it…


  2. Robert Searle says:

    The IMF is ofcourse of the problem. If it developed more intelligent, and more advanced strategies in which both the rich, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY THE POOR benefited we would actually get somewhere….if ofcourse we are serious about the possibility of the a fairer, and better world.
    At present, we live in a Debt-Based Economy,and we need to evolve as quickly as possible to one which is Non-Debt Based. With the right legal “requirements” this could be done quite speedily as explained in the initial stages of the evolving economic model of Transfinancial Economics (see p2pfoundation).
    …And yes whether we like it, or not banks,small-medium enterprises, large privates businesses, and corporations could still benefit more than they do before…but largely within the context of green business models, and genuine sustainable growth more in line to the ideals of global justice.


  3. Protester says:

    Thanks for the reply. Yes, I was in the second group of protesters that attempted to walk in to the hall, so didn’t see what happened at the banner drop


  4. Steve Clemons says:

    Protester — Thanks very much for sharing your perspective on
    things. I hope to write more about this in the next day or two.
    I’ve just returned back to DC. It reminded me of the themes and
    figures in the movie and real world event, “Battle in Seattle”,
    directed by Stuart Townsend. I did a premiere event for the film
    in DC — and as you might guess, there were many in the hall
    who were quite sympathetic with your and your colleagues’
    I also have to say that I was very impressed with Strauss-Kahn
    as well who did for a moment offer to engage one of the guys
    hanging the banner. And to that young man’s credit, he stated
    what was on the banner but was otherwise really respectful.
    Sorry to hear about the head-butting. Check on my piece here
    today or tomorrow. Crashing on another deadline but would
    love to keep up the exchange.
    Steve Clemons
    The Washington Note
    Washington, DC


  5. Protester says:

    Just thought I’d give you some info from a protesters perspective.
    We were a mixture of student and town’s people (like myself). The protest was organised at a days notice, but was carefully consider all the same.
    The issue that the conference push somewhat ‘progressive’ forms of capitalism was extensively discussed before the protest was planned. There was agreement that we saw the world totally differently, but the conference was not what we were going to focus on and there would be no protest against it in general.
    We however felt that our view of a radically different world should be represented and the fact the IMF, is and always will be, part of the problem exposed. We felt the only time there should be any ‘disruption’ was during Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s talk and so a banner drop and walk in was planned.
    The banner drop was successful, but security stopped the walk in with aggressive force (even
    head butting one young lad) without even asking anyone to leave. We didn’t mind this really, but to me, this exposes the battle lines between those of us that want change and those who are part of the system. The cover of respectability falls off when push comes to shove, each side fights for either the oppressed or the oppressor


  6. Steve Clemons says:

    Dear King’s Student — Many thanks for participating here. I did get one of the flyers from the protesters and may try to get it up later. So glad that you don’t have to suffer the same bandwidth constraints we have. If you happen to be in the pub when I walk by — say hello!
    All best to you and your excellent student colleagues who have been terrifically hospitable.
    best, steve clemons


  7. DonS says:

    Sorry for the incomplete phrase in first sentence, @2:27: “. . . put into words some parts of the [desperation??] that goes through my head . . .”


  8. King's Student says:

    A few points –
    1. The protest wasn’t anything to do with free speech, either for or against. The demonstrators left once they had made their point and didn’t try to re-enter or further disrupt the conference – they clearly didn’t hinder the free speech of those attending a three-day(?) event by unfurling a banner and trying to give out leaflets for about three minutes!
    2. The reasons for choosing the conference as a point of protest are obviously that those involved feel the whole event is missing the point. While they are singling out the IMF in particular, I saw leaflets they left in our bar afterwards which found fault with capitalism per se. Whether you agree with them or not, their intention seems to have been undermining the assumptions of the conference that reform and policy redirection by institutions like the World Bank will actually achieve everything we’d like to see our economies do.
    3. Steve – sorry to disappoint, but I think the college may be less than charitable with guest internet access… Students rarely have problems with the connection we get!


  9. DonS says:

    Erichwwk, you put into words some parts of the that goes through my head when I consider the connection, or more frequently the disconnect between economic thought and political realities.
    Much of the brief material at the INET site is encouraging as far as it goes, to wit:
    “The Institute firmly believes in empowering the next generation, providing the proper guidance as we challenge outdated approaches with innovative and ethical economic strategy.
    “The Institute


  10. erichwwk says:

    What great news!
    Thanks Steve. I can’t help conclude that you have a significant leg up on other economic crisis commentators that did not attend this conference.
    Just recognizing its importance tells me a lot.
    This is the sort of event I have waited decades for,so take your time. I have learned patience.
    Axel Leijonhufvud may recall my frustration. In response he gave me a paper “Life Among the Econs” that at the time had the caveat “not for distribution or publication”. Much to my surprise and delight, the paper became his Western Economic Association address as President, now available online here:
    It turned out to be more than tongue in cheek.


  11. Steve Clemons says:

    Erichwwk and all — We will be getting longer videos up soon, but probably when we return to the US. The bandwidth at Kings College is vintage Henry VI. It took 3 hours to load that two minute Richard Koo/Bob Kuttner clip. There will be video of everything. In fact, I’ll have the video of George Soros’ talk as well as FSA Chief Adair Turner’s speech up soon. Both were great. But the organizers had to go to another university to upload. Thanks for interest, and patience, Steve


  12. erichwwk says:

    It is disappointing that the INET videos are all just short snippets, and all one gets in full are the submitted papers (not that it is insignificant-there are 18 downloadable papers).
    But will there be the any opportunities to view any sessions in full? Was Steve able to record any of these sessions to share with TWN readers?
    While I do not posses Wigwag’s apparent ability to know what folks “believe in”, I can’t help note that this unwillingness/ inability for the economics profession to be ideologically driven has a long history, and ask Wigwag her basis for concluding that “they [IMF protesters] believe in free speech, but mostly just for themselves.”
    It seems to me that civil disobedience and risking jail time have been necessary (although perhaps not sufficient)conditions to produce any real impact in America in furthering social change. The sort of event that INET is hosting, where one can have a civil opportunity to self criticize are extremely rare events, and even this conference has not bridged the gap to include those most ideologically driven.
    Along that line, now that SCOTUS has ruled that corporations are entitled to buy elections (albeit not the the extent of Massey buying judicial elections, but that only by the usual 5-4 split) what opportunities exist for a meaningful US voting process? It seems that anything short of a Constitutional amendment will be ruled “unconstitutional”. It is a long time until one of the four activist (conservative?) justices can be replaced.
    And to return to this INET conference, without the ability to counteract the role of money in influencing political power to enact the sort of change the profession is now at least willing to acknowledge, how on earth is such change able to be enacted? It is one thing to acknowledge (Joe Stiglitz) that Adam Smith noted the tendency of unregulated corporations towards monopoly, and quite another to overcome what seems to be a catch 21 whereas that right is now cast in stone.
    So I hope Steve either offers us more access to the sessions, or at least reports his thoughts on the best way to obtain more information on mostly our own initiative.
    Thanks for devoting three days of your time to attending, Steve!


  13. WigWag says:

    Many IMF protestors and many Tea Partiers seem to represent the opposite sides of the same coin.
    They both believe in free speech, but mostly just for themselves.


  14. erichwwk says:

    While I concur with those that see the IMF as part of the problem, it also seems to me an inappropriate place to register that protest.
    This conference is absolutely outstanding, in all respects. I am so glad Steve is able to attend in full, and is impressed with both the presentations and the “the intellectual and performance talent deficit among comparable US economic policy elites”, although I would not include those just mentioned in that category. In fact, I am impressed by the attendance of those US economists I respect, and notice the non-attendance of those with those deficits.
    Folks check out the institutes format, openness, and effort to share this experience. It is above outstanding!


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