Through the Reader Supported News e-bulletins I have been following the Occupy Wall Street protest with great interest (Reader Supported News is a new service by the creator of Truthout, Marc Ash, who started Truthout in downtown Los Angeles in the summer of 2000. Truthout built its following among readers who wanted to better understand the most important stories of the day, but had grown tired of the hype and sales-pitching of the big corporate outlets. No outside investment capital was used in the startup of RSN. No advertising money is accepted and no grants are sought by RSN. The service is free to all – even if the reader cannot contribute.)
With this pedigree they are well placed to cover the developing protests that are now spreading to countries around the world. I find it particularly interesting that the mainstream media refused to even acknowledge the protest until very recently when they can no longer ignore it. It is clear that they still do not take it seriously. They have branded the protestors as aging hippies and youth in an effort to undermine the credibility of those staging the protest.
The fascination I have had in following developments partially stems from the fact that as an outsider to the US political system I have looked on in dismay and disbelief at the Republican reaction to the presidency of Barak Obama, especially with regards to any suggestions that involve the rich contributing to the welfare of the poor in that nation. The violent objections to the healthcare reform and any hint that the rich should actually pay higher taxes to assist the poor reveals an anti-socialist paranoia reminiscent of the worst of McCarthyism.
The RSN describes the protest’s aim as to draw protesters to New York’s financial district in a non-violent protest to spark a mass movement against corporate dominance. The protest began on the 17th of September, this year, in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the US and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. The protest has particularly set its sights on the bail out of the big banks with slogans like: “The banks got bailed out, we got sold out!” While there are various positions and issues being articulated by the protestors, the core critique of the free market capitalist economy, the growing global divide between the haves and the have nots, and the dominance of the corporate world in seeking profits at the expense of the poor, has clearly resonated with people throughout the world, including myself. I see connections to the sentiments that have previously fuelled the anti-globalization protests against the G8, as well as the inspiration of the uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, Greece, Italy and the UK. It seeks to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of the global economy and are imposing an agenda of neoliberalism and economic inequality. There is a growing lack of confidence in government authority that seems to be dictated to by this corporate agenda at the expense of real democracy. People feel that their political voice can no longer be heard through proper channels and that another approach is being sought to get the message to those in power.
Chris Hedges writes: “The Occupy Wall Street movement, like all radical movements, has obliterated the narrow political parameters. It proposes something new. It will not make concessions with corrupt systems of corporate power. It holds fast to moral imperatives regardless of the cost. It confronts authority out of a sense of responsibility. It is not interested in formal positions of power. It is not seeking office. It is not trying to get people to vote. It has no resources. It can’t carry suitcases of money to congressional offices or run millions of dollars of advertisements. All it can do is ask us to use our bodies and voices, often at personal risk, to fight back. It has no other way of defying the corporate state. This rebellion creates a real community instead of a managed or virtual one. It affirms our dignity. It permits us to become free and independent human beings.”
The protest has connected with peoples of various creeds and excludes no one. John Gonzalez reports that on Sunday the 10th of October a group of faith based leaders came down to Wall Street with a Golden Calf to symbolize the state of national idolatry that many people are witnessing. The idol is an ancient one, money. Matthew 6:24 has Jesus cautioning us to always beware of this false idol and to be critical of an orientation to wealth over policies of justice for the people. It seems an idea whose time has come. I believe this protest is the best opportunity we’ve seen to send a message to our governments. The corporations believe they have the power to dictate government policies. This is our chance to send them the message that what they are doing is morally wrong.