As the Occupy Wall Street movement grows and enhances other occupy movements in the United States (occupy Boston, etc) and in the world (as far as in Japan, Taiwan), I was remembering a note I wrote on May 2011 called To all the Tahrir Squares in the World where I was saying that with the Spanish Indignados unrest movement inspired by the Tunisian/Egyptian revolutions, we are seeing the beginning of a global phenomenon spreading much beyond the Arab World. Everywhere, the same basic demand: asking for a fairer world.
As a citizen of the world, there is one thing I always admired in Americans: their talent in putting the right words on things. In french we would say they have le sens de la formule, meaning ‘the sense of the right formula/sentence’. I don’t know who said first ‘We are the 99%’ , but I think it sums it up perfectly.
The ‘occupy’ movements demands are noble, they are right. But can they make a real difference? After all, the spanish Indignados movement did not result in reforms or change in the state of the things in Spain. The Greek protests did not prevent the new rules of the game dictated by the CEB and IMF. Things just carry on like they were, except for the traffic jam caused by the protests. If it is true these movements have raised the awareness in the Western World on the unnatural financial order in the world that does not even benefit to population of the rich countries, they yet fail in having any concrete impact on decision-makers. The problem maybe of these movements in Europe was that although the demands were clear and fair, the protests did not challenge the establishment. In other words: because we all understood the unrest will never reach point of a real physical revolution even if the demands are not fulfilled. In the worst case the young people will abstain at the next elections and that, the decision makers know it. Politicians are keen to do a lot of things to ensure people voting for them, dismantling a dysfunctioning system that feeds them is not one of them.
Same goes for the Occupy Wall Street movement: it can make a difference only if the 1% understand that the 99% will put their fight above everything else and anything else, including themselves. The crucial point for the Arab Spring is that governments are falling or shaking because they understood that people are ready to die for their ideas and that everytime somebody dies, the crowd does not diminish in size but augments. Because they know that from Friday to Friday, the rage of the protesters becomes more and more physically impossible to contain for police/armed forces.
It is not about being violent during the protests, it is about making clear that even if a crowd is met by violence – and we are not talking about pepper spray, we are talking about another level of violence that can cost lives – the crowd will still continue and in the contrary they will glorify the sacrifice of every single life. The Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions succeeded because even if the protesters where peaceful and unarmed, the repressive forces were forced to give up, because they were totally out of control of the situation. Because they knew that they will be unable to stop the crowd marching towards the ministries or presidential palaces at the risk of their lives.
Now, the Occupy Wall Street movement, if it really wants to change the world and impact on the financial world, should understand that nothing concrete will happen until the 1% really feel threatened from inside their ivory tower by the 99% that are ready to bring down the tower, and sit on everything that is in it. It is not about sending death threats to these people, it is about making their outrageous lifestyle and actions impossible to continue. In that country where a very few people managed to send thousands of young Americans to go get killed in Irak just for oil, it is already a fact the of Occupy Wall Street movement is opposing nothing else but people that really consider owning the lives of Americans and that will not hesitate to sacrifice all what it needs to maintain the system as it is.
To occupy wall street protesters, I know I am nobody to give my ‘advice’: if you really mean to change things, push for occupying Wall Street for real, and make understand that you are ready to physically sacrifice for it (not that events have to turn violent, but note that in front of you, you have a lot of people ready to do anything legal and illegal to satisfy their greed). Make understand that your intention is not only shouting against capitalism outside buildings in a park nearby, but that you will interrupt the financial activities inside. Only when the 1% inside the buildings of Wall Street will understand that the 99% outside have no upper limit in their determination to perturb the financial markets, they will consider reforms of the financial system. Occupy Wall Street can be a real difference, give yourself the means for it to happen.