Occupy All Streets

Giełda na Wall Street
"Question us, and you're questioning America"

It is to my shame that I have not yet written about the Occupy Wall Street movement.

I hadn’t intended to write about politics at all of course, with my driving test now less than 36 hours away. But if I can break that for something as parochial and – when it comes down to it – irrelevant as an uncorroborated allegation against a relative of a presidential candidate, I can surely spare a few words on the global revolt against capitalism. And as it happens, I have only three:

About ***ing time.

Really, what took so long? When the financial industry has been allowed to get away with the greatest act of larceny in history. When the people of capitalist countries have spent years looking on helplessly as their nations’ wealth was corralled into fewer and fewer pockets. As democracy degenerates into a re-branded aristocracy. As poorer people – indeed, poorer countries – are crushed by systems set up to benefit the rich, while being told that that is their personal failure. How have we managed to put up with this shit for so long?

It is great to see that ordinary people of good intent still believe you can change things. Or maybe they don’t believe that. Maybe they see no hope of ever changing anything. But they protest anyway, because they cannot not protest anymore.

One reply on “Occupy All Streets”

Personally, I see the “occupy” movement as a resurgence or reboot of the somewhat incorrectly named “anti-globalisation” movement of the late ’90s and early ’00s.

That too was a very broad coalition of mostly left oriented groups and organisations, who had a similar agenda of pointing out who was falling through the cracks of global capitalism and that this was dangerous, without unified proposals how to solve it.

That movement was actually gaining quite some traction, and starting to significantly influence the debate, when in early September 2001, a few planes flew into a few buildings, and the public mood swung from “let’s help eachother as citizens of the world” to “everyone for themselves and the bigger gun rules”. Sure, it sputtered on some more in the form of massive Anti-War demonstrations, but politically the climate had been lost to nuanced thought about divvying up wealth.

What I see now is that some of the predictions of that movement have come true and this time it’s not just poor people in far away countries falling through the cracks. The chickens (or is that chickenhawks?) have come home to roost.

Where the anti-globalisation movement was inspired by (South-American) third world trade unions and environmental activists, it’s good to see that “Occupy” has taken its inspiration from the mass protests of the Middle East. The anti-globalists might have been silenced during the War on Terror, but the groundwork has already been laid, and mass communication has improved so much that where it took most of the middle ’90s before the Battle of Seattle put the movement center-stage, Occupy laid its groundwork in Spain (Indignados) and Israel, and then moved straight into the spotlight with the police riot on the Brooklyn Bridge.

If “Occupy” can keep this giant momentum going and translate it into political significance, then we’re in for a treat.

At the basis is the simple fact that our current way of organising economics are very clearly unsustainable. It’s increasingly short term, defending an ever more beleaguered status quo, which has us running form crisis to ever-bigger crisis. Every crisis hitting ever more closer to home.

“Occupy” or a successor movement must succeed, or the future is very bleak indeed.

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