‘The Great Wave of Revolution’
Mary A Moore
Sept 29 2011
We have seen signs of social unrest lately in a variety of locations we might normally expect such as the Middle East, Iran, and China. What we might not have expected is for social unrest to start spreading across Europe into the America’s, as changes related to the financial collapse continue to unfold. Triggers may include minor extraneous stressors such as the colder weather, increasing levels of fear, and open confrontation from both sides, impacting major issues such as continued unemployment, homelessness, and rising austerity. A grassroots movement is starting to galvanize in the United States in response to the prolonged changes in the economy. In the depression of the dirty thirties, there was an occupation of the areas surrounding the White House by unpaid ex-military who felt unjustly treated, which was eventually forcefully and brutally suppressed by the actual military ordered by Hoover, who paid dearly for this politically. In this instance the occupation is galvanizing around the symbol of the cause of the financial collapse – Wall Street, with a group called ‘occupywallstreet.org’ with some minor skirmishes having already happened between the police and the protesters.
The group is beginning to organize via social media, and this is picking interest and connection in Europe as well. A live streaming internet TV station has been created and is calling itself ‘global revolution’. While the organization of this group is primarily being driven by youth elements, this movement is picking up steam with other social protest groups such as Wikileaks, and Anonymous, and celebrities such as Micheal Moore and Susan Sarandon. New York City Transit workers are planning to join the protest on next Friday October 5th. If organized labor joins the movement formally, we may have reached a critical mass for social change being engaged, and this will become a force to be reckoned with by various levels of government. Early attempts at Social media censorship are being reported in media such as Al Jazeera with the following report being posted on their internet site:
“On at least two occasions, Saturday September 17 and again on Thursday night, Twitter blocked #OccupyWallStreet from being featured as a top trending topic on their homepage. On both occasions,#OccupyWallStreet tweets were coming in more frequently than other top trending topics that they were featuring on their homepage. This is blatant political censorship on the part of a company that has recently received a $400 million investment from JP Morgan Chase.”
From the wikileaks central site, the following excerpt outlines the spread of similar organizations starting to rally across the country that are beginning to take hold.
‘The volunteer based website Occupy Together, whose aim is to create a site that would help spread the word as more protests organize across the country, counts over 70 registered protests in U.S. cities. Apart from the main occupations, currently on-going in New York, Chicago and Denver, many will start in the following weeks to coincide with the global protest day of October 15th. In the following days, parks and squares in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Kansas City, Houston, among others, will be occupied.’
OWS New York City: October 2011
A ‘global day of protest’ is planned for Oct 15th, and while this movement is in the initial stages of formation, it will prove interesting to see how much support this larger protest is able to garnish in the next few days. There are three phases to the protest in New York from a march on the banks in the A.M., to a student get together after lunch, and finally a demonstration at Times Square in the evening. On Friday the gathering of protesters by Wall Street is a collection of a variety of characters from youthful rebels, hard core anarchists, elderly activists, and a women who brought her 3 young daughters to the protest. All of whom were easily out numbered by the media that were present.
The Photo Collection and the Stories
Dave Silver, an elderly New Yorker with a walker, was one of those protesters. He was quick to point out that he had been there for the sixties social unrest, and he understood that this was another of those times where as he felt you had to ‘stand up to be counted.’ Dave was a decorated WWII vet with a bronze star, jail time from the sixties protests, and a friend of the Black Panthers. ‘I came from a progressive Jewish family’, he explained. He recalled the sixties marches as heated, where ‘heads were bashed on both sides’ and admired the protesters of today for sticking it out day after day. ‘In the sixties we protested fiercely and then went home after it was done.’ He encouraged the group to become more organized with deciding what they wanted, ‘they need to know what they want’, as he had done on the sign he wore on his chest. ‘The list is the way we can save trillions of dollars’ he stated.
Eric, was a forty something man dressed impeccably in a pin stripe suit, and was in sharp contrast to the rather tired looking crew of younger protesters. With a purple sash about his arm, wilted flower in the lapel, and the requisite mask now symbolic of the online group known as ‘Anonymous’, he stood prominently on a corner waving his sign to the crowd. A sign carried the message that… ‘If a corporation was a person, it would be a sociopath.’ When asked about his stance. Eric spoke of a study where the behaviours of a corporation were analyzed through a MMPI, a psychological test that is used to measure personality features, amongst other things, and that corporate behaviours scored as a sociopath. As an entity, ‘that it cared nothing than about itself’. Eric also spoke of corporations using the 14th amendment to protect their rights as equal to that of a person, ‘although we know that it is not a person’. He continued his argument that ‘the 14th amendment was designed to keep men equal under the eyes of the law,… it helped to end slavery. It was never meant for a corporation.’ Eric had tried to make his past grievances about the Bush Administration known to his Congressman, only to be ignored. He had ran for Congress as a Green party member just to get the opportunity to debate his Congressman, but no debate was ever held. He tried to ask questions at Town Hall meetings that were essential vetted phone call questions, of which his were never allowed. So, he came today to the protest in his finest, knowing how he looked in the mask and what the sign said, was ‘a bit of theater…and theater has been used for centuries to get a message across’. The questions that Eric asks ‘Are corporations more important than citizens’, and ‘has government become.. by the corporation for the corporation.’
‘Mike’ was a young beaded musician who was just passing through town and decided to join the protest. He said he could understand how ‘both side of the fence’ think, as he worked in business, and yet understood it was time for a change.
The Press Representative for the protest stated they had gathered about $130,000 in donations so far, mainly from people who had come by in person. This figure quickly escalated to over $300,000. They were still organizing a structure and groups were working on various issues. They had not thought so far ahead as to think whether they thought they could be an influence in the 2012 elections.
The protest march that was held the next day was loud, peaceful, and well attended by various factions of society. They enjoyed the full assistance of the NYPD who worked hard at clearing the sidewalks in advance of the chanting crowd approaching, and managing the difficult job of coordinating the traffic intersections affected. The crowds gathered again in various locales across the city as the day progressed, but were generally peaceful. This day of protest was enacted across the world in the major areas most affected by the financial crisis and collapse. There were some minor arrests, but New York was for the most part a peaceful event, in comparison to places such as Rome. From these events we can start to examine the underlying cognitions and facilitating factors with these trends, as well as examine where these trends can take us further.
An excerpt from the Website Zero Hedge had a comment about the some of the underlying changes in thinking in society that have preceded collapse.
‘Interestingly, there are some forms of theoretical mathematics which allow false conclusions to be presented as fact, and this same methodology of fuzzy logic is consistently used by moral relativist to achieve the appearance of reason. At bottom, intellectual prowess accomplishes little without the disciplines of experience, emotion, and insight. Cultures which widely abandon the guidelines of conscience always find themselves subject to collapse, whether economic or political. Without the ability to feel empathy for the victims of one’s actions, any disaster becomes possible.’
Perhaps in a time of burgeoning technology we should examine the social risk that computers, algorithms, and forms of inanimate collectivity ultimately create. Does a society or segment of society ultimately become self-limiting by the virtue that part of its critical decision making processes have no emotional component, and no context for which to make critical judgments. Are computers psychopathic in nature?
In the economic collapse that this social unrest follows, a lack of regulatory oversight has been the focused upon causative factor, but it is not the only issue, and in fact, the role that technology had in the development of this disaster, is often minimized. Our technological society was endless with electronic media advertisements of the ‘good life’, and how to achieve it, even though most could not afford it. From the online mortgage application, to the ‘robo-signing’ of documents, money was borrowed, re-leveraged, and repackaged endlessly down the chain, from basic consumer credit to the re-supply of money to troubled banks that made money lending out money, they never had. This technological orgy had been what kept society from realizing the full impact of globalization, and noticing the concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer. Now that the facade has also been revealed, and our current plight emphasized by technology as well, we have the ‘multiplier effect’ on social unrest, and global social unrest.
There is with some, a simplistic political wish for some nostalgic return to past economic eras, such as Reagon’s ‘Trickle Down’ economic theory which unfortunately has benefited the wealthy more, with the net trickle up of wealth. Returning to these policies would only continue the present trajectory, and without the facade of the unregulated, technological enhancement of money, unemployment will linger. It remains to be seen whether the awakening social unrest will jar governments into a new style of functioning, or whether reactionary forces will create a further response, such the emergence of new domestic or regional political parties, or the strengthening of ‘global political parties’ such as the green movement.
From the following quote from the Washington Post illustrates that we recognize that this is a global issue that we lack the institutions and structure to effectively deal with, as problems are developing across various countries and regions. We have to look at developing new democratic structures at a larger global scale, or we are at the mercy of other global organizations, such as multinational corporations, who can exert influence at a global level.
‘The emergence of an international protest movement without a coherent program is therefore not an accident: It reflects a deeper crisis, one without an obvious solution. Democracy is based on the rule of law. Democracy works only within distinct borders and among people who feel themselves to be part of the same nation. A global community cannot be a national democracy. And a national democracy cannot command the allegiance of a billion-dollar global hedge fund, with its headquarters in a tax haven and its employees scattered around the world… we have democratic institutions in the Western world. They are designed to reflect, at least crudely, the desire for political change within a given nation. But they cannot cope with the desire for global political change, nor can they control things that happen outside their borders. Although I still believe in globalization economic and spiritual benefits along with open borders, freedom of movement and free trade globalization has clearly begun to undermine the legitimacy of Western democracies.’
2012 Waves Expand and Deepen
While the Occupy movement symbolizes unrest in democracies, other larger countries such as Russia and China are experiencing their own rebellious subterfuge. These ‘post CCP’ revolutions may emerge upon larger impacts felt economically, such as the Euro zone crisis worsening in the spring and causing economic chaos in China, and for Russia the next national election also comes in spring of 2012. It is not surprising that their UN vetoes took place in the context of fear, a fear of change in authoritarian regions that may have contagion for them. Hong Kong is now feeling increased pressure from mainland China as its previous greater economic power is being usurped by those in power in the mainland, to develop additional resources as the mainland starts to hurt economically. The Chinese population and independent media is beginning to openly criticize the government, and further economic stress could worsen this into a more significant social reaction. In Russia, what is being mislabeled as the ‘White Revolution’ by those who do not remember that traditionally ‘White Russians’ were the Czar’s army, and not a democratic movement, is perhaps more accurate in its historical sense. Russian government is being re-created in the authoritative structure of a Czar -Czar Putin. The Russian people have had a limited history with democratic forms of government, and have a greater likelihood of seeking a strong authoritarian figure unless the geography of Russia changes significantly. Russia’s ‘White Revolution’ may signal a return more to the past than the future. Mortality rates are still high and the average lifespan between male and female exceeds ten years. The bulk of the population is middle-aged or younger, with the average age around the late thirties. Czar Putin can expect some younger bucks to try him as an opponent, but he is unlikely to be toppled as yet at the age of 59.
Middle Eastern regions already in the stages of revolution, are escalating into a major push back by those feeling the pressure of change. Egypt’s current government is battling the expectations of democratic change, while setting course on maintaining their power base. A free Libya is struggling to settle old scores and create a just society where there has been none for almost half a century. Syria and Iran are gunning their own people down to stop revolutionary fervour. Syria is most likely of the two to fall in the near future. Iran, while showing signs of economic stress, is still able to lash out and ignite sectarian violence in strategic regions, and as such maintains a position of strength and influence. Israel remains in a defensively aggressive posture after the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, coupled with previous misadventure with Turkey and the Gaza Flotilla, and a Muslim Brotherhood who wants their cake and to eat it too, threatening to nullify the peace treaty with Israel if the Americans cut off any funding, after Egypt authorities arrested American NGO personnel. The middle east remains a critical tinderbox of escalating conflict that has gone beyond the initial democratic call of its people.
Youth protests worldwide are continuing to interconnect. Current protests in Montreal over tuition increases and government restrictions on protests which have unleashed an even larger turnout of Quebecer’s protesting the restrictions and attitude of the government, which has now been called ‘the awakening’. These protests have been connected to the OWS movement in the USA with solidarity protests, and other protests such as the Ontario students planned protest, also done in solidarity and to raise similar issues about tuition costs.
Chris Hedges spoke about social activism and the recent OWS and Montreal protests, in the context of past revolutions and periods of social change that he has witnessed.
Egypt has begun the countdown to a new president that they are to elect. The process has heated up students protests against the military led government and judiciary, which has since acquitted everyone except Mubarak, who was sentenced to life in prison. The election has been filled with acrimony and scurrilous activities, with everything from candidates being disqualified after acceptance, the arson of party headquarters, the armed attacks of thugs on student protesters in the night, to the nonpayment of civil servants before the election. The final vote for president whatever the outcome, should bring to the head the battle for power between the old guard and the revolution.
The Occupy movement has officially began to morph as an official form of protest into categories outside of the discontent with the financial collapse and the economic difficulties felt globally. Occupy Monsanto has enveloped the category of food, and food sustainability. The issue of terminator seeds, corporate control of food and farmer dependency, has led to the development of an ‘organic’ alternative-a farmer run seed supply chain, and a social backlash to the unsustainable policies of agricultural conglomerates and their GMO products. A pivotal vote to take place in the usual breakwater state of California, to mandate the identification of foods as GMO, or not, in a Right to Know campaign.