Reflections of a Wandering Cypriot Philosopher, Part 2
Part II - The Occupy Wall Street movement is still very much in its infancy, in comparison to similar movements in Europe such as the 15-M Movement in Spain and the aganaktismenoi (indignants) in Greece who have been occupying their own streets for a while now.
Occupy Wall Street was born on September 17th, two months after adbusters released the following call on their website on July 17: “Occupy Wall Street. On Sept. 17 flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street”. As Naomi Klein, author of NO LOGO, wrote in last Saturday’s edition of the movement’s newspaper ‘ “Why are they protesting?” ask the baffled pundits on TV. Meanwhile, the rest of the world asks: “What took you so long? We’ve been wondering when you were going to show up”. And most of all: “Welcome”’.
Klein mentions the parallels that have been drawn between Occupy Wall Street and the anti-globalisation protests in Seattle in 1999, the “last time”, she says, “a global, youth-led, decentralized movement took direct aim at corporate power”. Back then, the movement targeted the summits of institutions (WTO, IMF, World Bank, Nafta) otherwise also known as bureaucracies whose sole goal are the interests of transnational capital.
Summits are transient by nature and this made the movement transient too. The economy was booming and the frenzy of patriotism and militarism after 9/11 killed the movement. For Klein, by choosing a specific setting, Occupy Wall Street can grow roots and so weather the storms rather than die out.
By committing to non-violence they refuse the media their spectacle and expose the fact of unprovoked police brutality (700 hundred people were arrested the week before on a march across Brooklyn Bridge). One could see in Washington Square Park people with T-Shirts marked “POLICE THE POLICE”. The ‘Arab Spring’ as the wave of protests in the Arab world came to be known, is a more recent inspiration to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Some people are calling it the “NY Fall”.
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