The British government is pushing through a measure to raise the annual cost of university education from $4,800 to $14,500. Put another way, students are no longer to be subsidized quite so generously by the taxpayer. Depending on whose figures you credit, between 15,000 and 30,000 people took to the streets in a protest march through central London. Many, perhaps most, of these were students simply out to defend privilege, like any interest group. A minority, though, were not students but anarchists and extreme socialists. They turned what would have been a normal demonstration into a running battle with the police at a level of violence rare in Britain. A young man made a spectacle of himself as he was photographed climbing up on the Cenotaph war memorial and swinging from its flag. He proved to be one Charlie Gilmour, a Cambridge undergraduate and the son of David Gilmour, the Pink Floyd guitarist whose fortune is said to be more than a hundred million dollars. As luck or bad judgment on the part of palace security would have it, Prince Charles and his Camilla were being driven in a very noticeable Rolls-Royce to a theater nearby. Demonstrators threw paint at the car, smashed a window, and struck Camilla. The media judge that such ugly behavior condemns the cause irretrievably, but students are promising more of the same.
In response to the awarding of the Nobel peace prize to their political prisoner Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese Communists did many things: They placed Liu’s wife under house arrest; they warned governments around the world to boycott the prize ceremony in Oslo (a great many complied); they hacked the website of the Norwegian Nobel Institute. They also created their own prize, the Confucius Peace Prize. There is an ignominious tradition of this. When the Nobel committee awarded the prize for 1935 to a political prisoner of the Nazis, Carl von Ossietzky, the Nazis created their own prize — and forbade German citizens to accept a Nobel. In the late 1940s, after Soviet luminaries were repeatedly passed over for the Nobel peace prize, including himself, Stalin created his own prize: the Stalin Peace Prize, later named the Lenin Peace Prize. And now the Chinese Communists have come up with their little Confucius trinket. It is little in more than one way: They’re giving $15,000 along with it, as opposed to the Nobel prize’s $1.4 million. In this case at least, the regime has not matched its cruelty with a flair for PR.