Inspired by the Arab Spring, Americans as well as people in other countries are joining the Occupy Wall Street movement in droves. The protest which started when a few hundred people camped outside corporation offices in Wall Street, New York, has turned into a mega event, stunning world governments and drawing support from people across the planet. The sheer size of the movement has forced several governments to reconsider their unabated support to banks and corporations and cancel austerity measures to tackle public debt.
Things are taking a new turn as more and more people are getting concerned, not only about their lives, but also for the lives of their children and generations to come.
?I am occupying Wall Street because it is my future generation which is at stake,? said Linnea Palmer Paton, 23, student of New York University. There are many such young protestors who have taken part in this revolt with a single dream – equal opportunity for all.
The spotlight may be on New York, however, the ripples can be felt in cities across the world, from Auckland to Vancouver and Tokyo to Santiago. The binding thread among the protestors is basically the 99% concept: ?We are the 99% and will no longer come under the false promises of 1% corrupt government officials?.
Once a prestigious profession, banking is now looked as one of the most corrupt and unscrupulous profession of all time.
?Maybe the world is facing the worst financial crisis ever but this will not affect the bankers for they live a life of luxury,? Lucy, a teacher from London, told Arabiangazette.com. “The financial crisis has not affected the bankers at all. They have been enjoying their bonuses and payouts, without even the slight consideration of the common people,” she added.
According to the protestors, bankers are mostly responsible for the crisis because of their reckless business practices fuelled by greed and corruption.
Some critics have likened the bankers to French nobility before the Great French Revolution of 1789. The French nobles dined and lived the life of luxury (like modern day bankers) whereas the common people of France were poor, destitute and hungry. They didn?t have bread to eat let alone cakes and caviar. The power of the 99% eventually swept aside the nobility thanks to the La Grande R?volution.
?We are not going to make any demands. We are not going to become a political party. The second we start making demands, we start splintering and we are no longer the 99%,? Sonia Silbert, long time political activist, said while speaking to the media.
The populist movement commenced on 17 September, 2011, in Manhattan, the financial district of New York. Since then, it has spread to different cities of the world. Occupy World Street (#OWS) has been creating quite a stir among high profile bankers who are actually behind the deepening financial crises. The movement claims it is a fightback against top banks and corporations, which played a major role in creating the worst financial meltdown witnessed by this generation.
Marshall Ganz, a?veteran civil-rights and union organiser, says: ?A powerful public argument is being made by the right-wing about the role of government and so forth. We sort of had one side making its argument very vigorously and the other side not really responding to it. Well, now there is a response.?
Presently, the US government has passed a piece of legislation named Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to regulate financial authorities and stabilise financial crises. However, many US citizens have widely criticised the Obama administration’s attempts and called for more action.
Social media is playing a vital role in these protests. On Facebook, the Occupy Wall Street page has more than 170,000 fans following and on Twitter, there is a new tweet every couple of seconds with #ows hashtag.
There is still a long way to go to achieve the objectives. It is still unclear if the governments would be able to loose the grip the banks have on them. Banks seem to rule the world, not the governments.
(By Pratish Amin; additional input by Rizana Shah Jahan. Edited by Moign Khawaja)