When David Rothkopf came to Grist’s hometown of Seattle in 1999, he was a member of President Clinton’s commerce team, here to spread the gospel of free trade at the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting. You may recall that the delegates didn’t get the warm welcome they might have imagined.

“I remember being at this black tie thing and was talking to Bill Gates … and the Sultan of Brunei walked in,” says Rothkopf, who was clearly impressed with the crowd. “And then a friend of mine walked in and said, ‘Somebody just punched me in the face.’”

Outside, the police had used tear gas to break up nonviolent protests against the WTO, and chaos and riots were spreading through downtown.