Today, October 15, is a global day of action, with events taking place in 951 cities in 82 countries, according to 15october.net, where, under the heading, “united for #globalchange,” campaigners worldwide have been planning events over the last few months, with the intention of starting a global movement to change the world.
Inspired by the revolutionary movements in Tunisia and Egypt, and the mass mobilization of citizens in Greece, and the indignados in Spain, this movement has taken off in America in recent months through “Occupy Wall Street,” a manifestation of the movement in New York which, growing from a seed planted by Adbusters, began a month ago, was initially ignored by the mainstream media, but then became too big to ignore, spawning similar movements across the US (see the “Occupy Together” website), and both inspiring movements in other countries and tying in with already existing movements around the world, all of which have sprung up in the wake of the revolutionary movements in the Middle East.
While this global movement is confusing to the establishment because it lacks clearly defined leaders and manifestos written in stone, its aims are readily comprehensible, as is obvious from its statements. Those protesting recognize, as the British campaigning group UK Uncut states succinctly on its website, that banks, corporations and the super-rich are bleeding the rest of us dry, and that tax evasion and state subsidies to banks are equivalent to the cuts imposed on the rest of us in this new global age of cuts and austerity.
“Occupy Wall Street” declares itself to be a “leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions,” adding, “The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.” The reference to the 99 percent is crucial to the movement as it has developed, as can be seen from the success of “We are the 99 Percent,” a website where those excluded from the vast riches seized by one percent of the population are telling their stories.
Declaring that the site was “brought to you by the people who occupy Wall Street,” and asking, “Why will YOU occupy?” the “We are the 99 Percent” website states:
We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.
And this is how “Occupy Wall Street” describes the movement in a call for today’s global actions:
Over the last 30 years, the 1% have created a global economic system — neoliberalism — that attacks our human rights and destroys our environment. Neoliberalism is worldwide – it is the reason you no longer have a job, it is the reason you cannot afford healthcare, education, food, your mortgage. Neoliberalism is your future stolen.
Neoliberalism is everywhere, gutting labor standards, living wages, social contracts, and environmental protections. It is “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” It is a system that ravages the global south and creates global financial crisis — crisis in Spain, in Greece, in the United States. It is a system built on greed and thrives on destablizing shocks. It allows the 1% to enrich themselves by impoverishing humanity.
This has to stop!
We must usher in an era of democratic and economic justice.
We must change, we must evolve.
On October 15th the world will rise up as one and say, “We have had enough! We are a new beginning, a global fight on on all fronts that will usher in an era of shared prosperity, respect, mutual aid, and dignity.”
Crucially, however, the key to the possible success of the movement is that, rather than engaging in armchair activism, or its new Internet-based manifestation, online activism, the new dispossessed — young and old, working or unemployed — are getting out on the streets and refusing to go home, transforming the traditional method of protest, which, as with the worldwide protests against the Iraq war, for example, only ended up playing into the warmongers’ hands.
By occupying public spaces — as the brave pioneers of this global movement did in Tunisia and Egypt — the new protestors not only get noticed and find their message spreading across the US and around the world (as has happened with “Occupy Wall Street”), but they begin to organize in ways that day outings simply can’t achieve.
By also making full use of the Internet and social networks, the message is, literally, spreading like wildfire, but the other key ingredient for the potential success of the movement in shifting political inertia and the corruption of a system geared almost exclusively to the demands of the banks and the corporations is the fact that so many of those involved are young, educated, in debt but unemployed, and, instead of self-medicating in front of a giant plasma screen and watching daytime TV or getting a drug habit and an X-Box, they’re out on the streets, demanding jobs and demanding change — and until there is real change, there is, to be honest, no reason for therm to go home again.
I’ll be reporting back later, but for now I’m heading down to Paternoster Square to check out “Occupy London.”
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in June 2011, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
On Facebook, George Kenneth Berger wrote:
Thanks, George. The sun is shining, the riot police are gathering. Heading to central London now. Guardian coverage here:
And on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#occupyLSX
Charlotte Dennett wrote:
Go to City Hall park today Saturday in Burlington Vt at 2 p.m. where Vt labor joins forces with the OWS protesters
Thanks, Charlotte. A big shout out to everyone protesting in the US today! You have been an inspiration the last month!
George Kenneth Berger wrote:
Thanks, Andy. I’ll post and tweet that.
Thanks again, George. Yes, it’s worth keeping an eye on developments. I really don’t like the stories I’m hearing about riot police gathering. I’ll report back later.
George Kenneth Berger wrote:
I noticed that this morning, Andy.
Adam Johannes wrote:
Some people have suggested as the slogan for the Nov.30 round of strikes, ‘All out! Stay out!’ (ie don’t go back to work at the end of the strike), don’t know if people will yet feel confident enough to do that, but if an occupy wall street style movement catches fire in UK then maybe people might. Would love to see the slogan of the Arab street become mainstream here: ‘The People Demand the Fall of the Regime’
Malcolm Bush wrote:
We must all keep the pressure up, each in our own area and our own way. Whilst there are no demonstrations anywhere near where I live I’m writing out some campaign letters today and tomorrow is door step campaign day.
Thanks again, George, and great to hear from you, Adam and Malcolm. I’m back from the City now, and delighted that so many people were there — in the thousands — but unhappy, of course, that the police shut off those in front of St. Paul’s from everyone else, refusing to allow anyone in to join the several hundred protestors who were there first. I’ll write a more detailed report soon …
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great to see people stand up all around the world
Yes we can
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