Not waving but clowning

by | Aug 31, 2011

What on earth was with this painfully cringeworthy waving at the Seoul G20? Heavens above – this is supposed to be a summit, not a school outing. If you look closely at the big version (click on photo), you can see that the world’s leaders fall into 4 categories:

1) Those who are waving and – horror of horrors – think that the whole thing is not only acceptable, but great fun. Ban Ki-moon, Silvio Berlusconi, Herman Van Rompuy – fire your PR advisers and get new ones immediately. (Especially you, Van Rompuy – I just had to look you up on Wikipedia to confirm your first name. That’s how much impact you’ve had, that is.)

2) Those who are waving, but dying inside as they do so. Look at Hu Jintao or Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Fellas – we feel your pain, but we’re a bit alarmed that you felt the need to go with the crowd and wave anyway. Your citizens pay you to lead.

3) Those who refuse to wave, but give embarrassed rictus smiles instead. David Cameron and Jose Barroso, you get modest props for not going with the crowd. But those sheepish looks tell a different tale. You pass, but without distinction.

4) Those who not only refuse to wave, but make no secret of their amused contempt for everyone else for going along with what some duff photographer is demanding of them. Meles Zenawi, Angela Merkel, Lula da Silva, Nicolas Sarkozy – we salute you. Go set up a G4 together. You have my vote.


  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.

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