Saturday, 8 October 2011

Occupy Wall Street Movement

The Occupy Wall Street movement, which began last month in New York, has expanded now to dozens of towns, including Tampa, Florida; Norfolk, Virginia; Washington, DC; Boston; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Chicago; St. Louis, Missouri; Minneapolis; Houston, San Antonio and Austin, Texas; Nashville; Portland, Oregon; Anchorage, Alaska; and a number of California cities.

The demonstrations - fueled by anger over social inequality, unemployment and a vast decline in living standards for the overwhelming majority - are also gaining international support. There are calls on Facebook for a global demonstration on October 15 in cities in more than 15 countries, from Dublin to Madrid, Buenos Aires to Hong Kong.

“Occupy Melbourne” in Australia is planning an October 15 protest in City Square, and similar calls are being organized on Facebook for protests in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. The “Occupy the London Stock Exchange” Facebook page has more than 6,000 followers, and has announced plans to occupy Paternoster Square beginning October 15.

The spontaneous outburst of anger at the banks and big business, which has struck a chord with wide layers of the population, has been met with arrests and police harassment and brutality in a number of areas. It has also come under attack from sections of the political establishment, and has been given generally short shrift in the mainstream media.

In comments to the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Republican presidential contender Herman Cain denounced the protesters as “anti-capitalism,” and added, “Don’t blame Wall Street. Don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job, and you’re not rich, blame yourself.”

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Dan Ladds said...

I'm glad to see the support and attention these protests are getting. My only concern, as I blogged yesterday, is whether a lot of the protesters involved have the focus and understanding required to bring about actual change.

Again, I do support this movement, but sometimes support requires constructive critisism.

Norbert said...

Thank you for your comment comrade, and have to say do very much agree'.

I have also included your blog on to my list.

Ross Wolfe said...

One of the most glaring problems with the supporters of Occupy Wall Street and its copycat successors is that they suffer from a woefully inadequate understanding of the capitalist social formation — its dynamics, its (spatial) globality, its (temporal) modernity. They equate anti-capitalism with simple anti-Americanism, and ignore the international basis of the capitalist world economy. To some extent, they have even reified its spatial metonym in the NYSE on Wall Street. Capitalism is an inherently global phenomenon; it does not admit of localization to any single nation, city, or financial district.

Moreover, many of the more moderate protestors hold on to the erroneous belief that capitalism can be “controlled” or “corrected” through Keynesian-administrative measures: steeper taxes on the rich, more bureaucratic regulation and oversight of business practices, broader government social programs (welfare, Social Security), and projects of rebuilding infrastructure to create jobs. Moderate “progressives” dream of a return to the Clinton boom years, or better yet, a Rooseveltian new “New Deal.” All this amounts to petty reformism, which only serves to perpetuate the global capitalist order rather than to overcome it. They fail to see the same thing that the libertarians in the Tea Party are blind to: laissez-faire economics is not essential to capitalism. State-interventionist capitalism is just as capitalist as free-market capitalism.

Nevertheless, though Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy [insert location here] in general still contains many problematic aspects, it nevertheless presents an opportunity for the Left to engage with some of the nascent anti-capitalist sentiment taking shape there. So far it has been successful in enlisting the support of a number of leftish celebrities, prominent unions, and young activists, and has received a lot of media coverage. Hopefully, the demonstrations will lead to a general radicalization of the participants’ politics, and a commitment to the longer-term project of social emancipation.

To this end, I have written up a rather pointed Marxist analysis of the OWS movement so far that you might find interesting:

“Reflections on Occupy Wall Street: What It Represents, Its Prospects, and Its Deficiencies”

Norbert said...

Thank you Ross,

For your comments, and I have to say that you make some very good points that I find agreement with, your general analysis is spot on comrade!"

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