WAQUAR ANWAR delves deep into people’s frustration with the existing financial system and the way the corporate barons have controlled the whole system, and concludes that Occupy Wall Street will either fizzle out or lead to serious debates on course correction.
There is more to it than meets the eye. Occupy Wall Street is not merely a war cry by the leaderless youth and middle class section of the USA or other developed nations in order to achieve any specific limited demands. Even the organisers may not be aware of what specific demands they are raising as a number of petitions are in the air. This is not weakness but strength of the movement. Overall dissatisfaction with the system is more demanding than any specific demand. This is a case of total dissatisfaction with the system prevalent in the financial market.
This all started as a protest by the Canadian activist group Adbusters Media Foundation, that publishes an advertisement-free anti-consumerist magazine called Adbusters. They proposed a peaceful occupation of Wall Street, the financial capital of the USA, in order to cleanse politics from the evil influence of corporate world. It is generally felt in the USA, as is true in all parts of the world governed under the aegis of capitalist democratic system that the democracy instead of being ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’ has become ‘of the corporate, by the corporate and for the corporate.’ The idea floated through email caught the imagination of many persons and the message spread like jungle fire. Now it knows no bounds and every nook and corner of the so-called financially developed world is feeling the heat.
Although no single statement of demand of the movement can be cited as the ultimate goal of the mass movement yet the words and phrases in use indicate a specific concern and all seem to be emanating from the same feeling of distrust of the corporate magnate and their political allies. Following demands are more common.
The movement is against:
In order to achieve the above mentioned goals the public demands, inter alia, include:
A perusal of the demands and modes to achieve them shows that the protesters are unhappy with the capitalist system. This is confirmed by the outcome of a survey conducted by New York magazine, as under:
The frustration with the existing financial system and the way the corporate barons have succeeded in controlling the whole system ensuring their growth at the cost of the deprivation of the vast majority, has angered the masses. The beneficiaries of the system are mere 1% and the rest 99% stands disillusioned. The frustration of this 99% is getting manifestation in the form of Occupy Wall Street movement.
The 1% beneficiaries comprising politicians and corporate bosses are not silent minorities. They too had their field day till recently. The story of Tea Party movement should be understood in this background. In fact the activists representing the rich (1%segment) came to street earlier and the new movement may be taken as a backlash of that misconstrued outing! They perhaps never thought that their well- planned road show will result in this spontaneous reaction of the masses.
This is a party of conservative persons which has been serving the interest of rich Americans through protests in support of reduction in taxation of the rich and cuts in government expending. One may recall the role of conservative party in the USA with regard to debt crisis wherein statutory limit of government lending was proposed to be increased in order to obviate the impending payment crisis. The Conservative Party forced the Obama administration to agree on reduction in government expenditure over the years and reduction in taxation of the rich. Tea Party organised protests in support of these demands. Cut in government expenditure leads to reduction in creation of employment and reduction of taxation for the rich means that the burden of running the administrations falls squarely on the shoulders of the poor populace, thereby rich becoming richer and the poor poorer.
The word ‘Tea’ in USA is politically synonymous with the word ‘Salt’ in India. Like the Indian Salt Movement by Ghandhiji the tea movement was against a British tax on tea in 1773 wherein British tea was dumped in the sea. So it has patriotic connotation. It is an interesting phenomenon that the conservative groups everywhere use patriotism to disguise their hidden agendas. Other feature of this group that may be compared with our similar groups is that they are anti-Islam and racist. They favour a more aggressive of America in order to maintain its primacy in international relations.
The spontaneous reaction of masses in favour of Occupy Wall Street shows that the people of America have understood the hidden agendas and they are saying enough is enough; it should now be set right.
The global financial crisis was caused by the greed of the corporate world. Big banks and financial corporations were the culprits. But the funny thing of capitalism is that these culprits were provided huge bailout packages. The interest-based capitalist system as it exists has had no other method of recovery. Despite their wrong doings the banks and financial institutions enjoyed increased benefits, so much so that their executives were provided huge bonuses for their performances! These things were continuously reported but the powerful executives of the corporate world had their say. It was reported that the resources provided by the Treasury for the bailout of the economy were utilised for payment of huge bonuses to highly paid executives. This was an agenda in the presidential election of Obama but after his ascent to power he simply ignored his utterances in this regard and bought peace with the powerful lobbies of the rich and resourceful.
The common man has been watching the stories of greed, corrupt practices and deceit, and has been suffering because of the rising cost of living, non-creation of jobs, unemployment and reduced wages. The pinch of the inequalities is felt by all and sundry.
WHERE IT LEADS TO?
It is a million dollar question. Where will the Occupy Wall Street lead to? What will happen? The movement is basically leaderless. Mere anger against the system does not serve any purpose. Financial crises and increasing inequalities are ingrained in the interest-based capitalist system, even if there is no greed and no corruption. We do not find any serious debate on real issues involved like deficit financing, availability of excessive easy credit, geometric progression of financial economy as against the arithmetic increase of real economy, creation of money without corresponding creation of goods and services in the economy, fallacies in distribution of wealth created, etc.
The problems are linked to the financial system evolved in Bretten Woods Agreement and the institutions created thereafter with the US hegemony. The advantage of the US hegemony in financial sector has passed on to 1% of its population depriving its vast majority along with those in the third world countries. The case of other so-called advanced economies is similar with that of the USA.
The present movement will either fizzle out or lead to serious debates on course correction.