In our early, scruffier days we liked to cover nude political protests of various kinds. There were quite a few of them at that time–mostly anti-war; a few anti-patriarchy; and, on one memorable occasion, pro-fox hunting. Naked protesting has mostly died out, but it has been brought back, over the last year or two, by a Ukrainian group called Femen. Femen is distinguished by the fact that its members are quite attractive. Generally its topless demonstrations have focused on women’s issues, but, in an apparent effort to broaden the group’s charter, a number of Femen members made their way to Davos to protest against the economic conclave going on there. To their credit, they removed their tops under freezing conditions:
Three topless Ukrainian protesters were detained today as they bid to break into an invitation-only gathering of CEOs and political leaders to call attention to the needs of the world’s poor. With temperatures around freezing in the snow-filled town, they took off their tops and tried to climb a fence before being detained. …
‘We came here to Switzerland to Davos to explain the position of all poor people of the world, to explain that we are poor because of these rich people who now sit in the building,’ said protester Inna Schewcenko.
Before we critique that last comment, let’s give the topless protesters their due:
The sad reality is that while the ladies of Femen may be fetching, they are not smart. It is highly unlikely that any of them is, as one sign proclaimed, “Poor because of you [i.e., economists, businessmen and bankers].” On the contrary, the overwhelming majority of the world’s population has escaped from grinding poverty only because of the efforts of frequently-despised businessmen and bankers.
The fallacy that these women have fallen for–the idea that wealth causes poverty–has been with us for a long time. It was exploded memorably by George Gilder in Wealth and Poverty, a book that I would recommend to the Femenistas. If they read it, maybe next summer they will disrobe at the Democratic National Convention.