Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Occupy Wall Street movement
This movement is just a month old. Inspired by events in the Arab Spring and the Indignados of Spain, it has struck a chord around the world. Over 900 cities had demonstrations and occupations over the weekend. The Financial Times, not known as a liberal bastion, came out in support in a leader article yesterday.
"Today only the foolhardy would dismiss a movement reflecting the anger and frustration of ordinary citizens from all walks of life around the world … the fundamental call for a fairer distribution of wealth cannot be ignored." (The American dream )"has been shattered by a crisis brought about by financial excess and political cynicism. The consequence has been growing inequality, rising poverty and sacrifice by those least able to bear it – all of which are failing to deliver economic growth......The cry for change is one that must be heeded." The FT agrees that rising inequality is not only unjust, it is also a recipe for economic disaster. 
The occupiers of the steps of St Pauls agreed a communal statement. "We refuse to pay for the banks' crisis. We do not accept the cuts as either necessary or inevitable. We demand an end to global tax injustice and our democracy representing corporations instead of the people. We want regulators to be genuinely independent of the industries they regulate. We support the strike on 30 November and the student action on 9 November, and actions to defend our health services, welfare, education and employment, and to stop wars and arms dealing. We want structural change towards authentic global equality. The world's resources must go towards caring for people and the planet, not the military, corporate profits or the rich." 
Most folks would agree with those sentiments. There are opponents such as Richard Littlejohn, writing in the Daily Hate, who castigates the protestors for drinking Coca-Cola and using the internet. He derided the protestors as, “The usual gormless rent-a-mob you always find on these anti-globalisation demos — Toytown Trots from Mickey Mouse universities, social workers, lecturers, full-time mature students and Swampy wannabes.” No sign of a massively overpaid, smug, nasty and arrogant columnist among them. He did agree that the banks were getting away with it. He wanted the protest to be lead by the owners of small businesses struggling to get credit to help their enterprises to thrive or even survive.  
James Harkin writing in The Independent is also not convinced. “The banks were only the beginning of it. Unless these new anti-capitalists find a way to hitch their demands to the interests of the rest of the population – the 99 per cent they claim to speak for – they're stuck in a self-righteous bubble. And until they do so, their tirades against greed reek of the worst kind of Victorian self-righteous puritanism. It used to be that workers occupied factories, but now these sons and daughters of the bourgeoisie have seen fit to occupy the space outside a church. If there's a spectre haunting capitalism today, it's nothing more than its own self-loathing.”
Bit harsh that ‘self-righteous bubble’ and ‘self-righteous puritanism.’ The principles emerging from the St Pauls occupiers are a good place to start the debate. There is a deal of unfocussed anger around the world . Political parties in hock to the powerful corporations and financial sectors do not speak for the majority. There is a vacuum between the leaders and the lead. It is both an optimistic sign and a worry that people are starting to act. Optimistic because real positive change can be generated on a world-wide basis. A worry because there is a danger of turning to the simple solutions so beloved by fascists. The current crisis has some horrible parallels with the 1930’s which need to be borne in mind.  

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