M.M. Akash

Anti-capitalist protest in 951 centres of capitalism

November 5, 2011
Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

1. Started in the heart of world capitalism — Wall Street of USA. The main slogan was “Occupy Wall Street”.

2. Three major issues: Corruption, Inequality and Unemployment. Perhaps another major issue is bailing out the corrupt MNCs and reducing social consumption of the poor!

3. No permanent party or organisation led this movement. It was a self organised revolt. The major mechanism of this self organisation was a spontaneous network of individuals all over the world around a single common popular issue or slogan, a revolt where everybody is a leader.

4. Special features: Not like previous anti-capitalist revolutions springing in the so-called weak link and organised by a strong regimented vanguard followed by the masses. It is a movement of the people, for the people and by the people in the most literal sense. It is a movement of a BLOC OF LIKEMINDED people.

5. It would not have been possible without the infrastructural support of website, Facebook, Micro-blog, Twitter, etc.

6. The main weakness of such movements is their “Negative” character. It is a protest against capitalism and various individuals from various angles have assembled to show their anger and protest. But they do not have any long term programme or the protesters do not know with what system they will replace capitalism. It is spontaneous and unplanned so any strong group within the movement can take control of it and steer it to an undesirable end! That could hurtle them further backward into anarchy.

7. The protest was against the symbol of finance capital in USA i.e. Wall Street. The protest actually started one month ago, on Sep 17, when around 200 protestors took position in tents at a park near Wall Street. Police had announced beforehand that they must leave the place by last Friday i.e. Oct 14. But they didn’t. And the administration backed out! So this small victory fuelled the movement further. More so because millions of protestors have supported this movement on the same day i.e. Oct 15 in 951 cities.

8. The main slogan was “Occupy Wall Street”. That clearly meant not just the narrow issues but also challenging the system or power. Thus the slogan was “Occupuy Tokyo”, “Occupy London”, “Occupy Rome” “Occupy Madrid”, etc.

9. The disadvantaged groups like adivasis, women, gays, blacks, peace veterans, all had joined. The middle-class and lower middle-classes also joined. In addition the honest and discontented section of the ruling class also joined in e.g. in Sydney the Business Union members joined the protest, in Taiwan their top businessmen, including chairman of the semi-conductor manufacturing association had joined. Many intellectuals and media personalities joined in too.

10. www.15october.net issued that call and caught the imagination of all! Three things were written in the original call — First, enough is enough. It is time to rise. Rise up without violence, rise up against the powerful. The powerful works for vested interest, an insignificant minority and disobeys the will of majority. Establish true democracy and your right.

11. The only two positive slogans: Empowerment of people and True Democracy.

12. If a limit crosses then the most democratic state becomes autocratic. The example is the attack on Occupy Boston procession. At 1:30 this morning hundreds of policemen in full riot gear brutally attacked Occupy Boston, which had peacefully gathered on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The Boston Police Department made no distinction between protesters, medics, or legal observers, arresting legal observer Ursula Levelt, who serves on the steering committee for the National Lawyers Guild, as well as four medics attempting to care for the injured. Earlier in the day, an estimated 10,000 union members, students, veterans, families, men, and women of all ages marched from the Boston Common to Dewey Square, and then to the North Washington Bridge to demand economic reform on Wall Street and the end of special interest influence in Washington. Following this massive outpouring of public support, dozens of police vans descended on the Greenway, with batons drawn, assaulting protesters and arresting more than one-hundred people. Members of Veterans for Peace carrying American flags were pushed to the ground and their flags trampled upon as the police hauled them away. Boston police said no protesters or police were injured in the manoeuvre. “Civil disobedience will not be tolerated,” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told the local Fox 25 News in Boston on Tuesday morning.

13. But oppression cannot stop it this time. New action programmes are coming up: In New York, a section of Occupy Wall Street protesters is planning a “millionaire’s march” to wealthy Manhattan homes. The action is being planned by UnitedNY, the Strong Economy for All Coalition, the Working Families Party, and New York Communities for Change, all of whom helped swell the largest Occupy Wall Street march so far last Wednesday. The march will set off at 12.30pm, and reportedly the homes will include that of Rupert Murdoch according to the press release.

14. Now the network can also use technology to post video films of oppression and thus build up belief, trust emotion, etc. even when major media outlets are screening their news content. In the media war network plays a more progressive, democratic and eye-opening role.

15. Background of USA protest — big banks had trillion dollars worth of liabilities but not as much asset. So they were becoming bankrupt. State came to support them. State deficit rose to become $14 trillion this year. Obama pledged to cut deficit by $4 trillion every year. This means cutting education, health and social insurance expenditure hurting the poor.

16. This movement is not funded by any corporation or government.

17. Perhaps it is a new Post Modern revolutionary movement. Perhaps a new New Epoch has started against any form of undemocratic power.

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M. M. Akash is a professor, economist and researcher.

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4 Responses to “ Anti-capitalist protest in 951 centres of capitalism ”

  1. ABM Nasir on November 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Dear Akash bhai, good to see you nicely introducing the OWC movement to the Bangladeshi audience. The three issues — corruption, inequality, unemployment — only partly explain the real energy behind the movement… trying also to connect the dots…

    Nasir

  2. afsan chowdhury on November 7, 2011 at 3:10 am

    Akash’s excellent post puts a lot of food on the thinking plate. In fact, ‘what to do next’ is the crisis that affects even the protesters since they appear more emotional than intellectual or even logical. However, protests often are that way.

    The protests are against inequality, poverty and lack of participation in economic decision making rather than a committed anti-capitalist stance. While they protest capitalism, they have no credible response to what should replace it as the writer says.
    The crisis within capitalism has been growing for years and has now begun to pour out from its holes. A lot of Marxists however see this as a green light for some socialist movements but there is little support for socialism as people already know that it has globally failed.

    Interestingly, capitalism is now most successful in the two once ’socialist’ countries, China and Russia. In China, the leadership of capitalism is with the Communist Party while in Russia it seems to have brought forward a new kind of ‘robber capitalism’ aided by the state leadership. In other words, the state is not a regulator as in classical capitalism but a participant, promoter and leader. In both cases, it doesn’t include the role of people as activists in the new capitalist ‘revolution.’

    This phenomenon is probably a result of the socialism’s demise as a governance and equity solution provider through a political model and the inability of such regimes to offer both democracy and efficiency.

    Clearly, with the rise of capitalism as the only option even if by default, many Westerners like the theoretician Francis Fukyama, have assumed that ‘history had ended’ and now everything else will be inevitable and wonderful. Yet, the many variations of the ‘new capitalism’ make such conclusions untenable.

    The answers are in the history of the process that is unfolding. In the absence of socialism as an alternative, its history as a political failure and the structural limits of participatory democracy in it, it’s only the challenges and responses within the capitalist-democratic framework that may dominate the future though neither guaranteeing a better or worse world.

    Post-modernist narratives probably look like that.

  3. sarwar Kamal on November 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    True democracy is too utopian to emulate in present world system because conceptually it goes against human nature and law of the nature. Add to this, empowerment of the people doesn’t necessarily mean reclamation of the power by the masses. Nature of the power itself will create some power elite to dominate over weak marginal group. So the movement which got tempo with utopian promises may lead to a futile outcry.

  4. Golam Arshad on November 6, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Akash: It is just like a “reverse stroke” in cricket. The powerplay by the people to overpower “wrongs” of the establishment!

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