Occupy London. Photo credit: Neil Cummings, http://flic.kr/p/awim5Z
The Occupy movement that started in a small park in New York has now gone global. Are demonstrators merely jumping on the bandwagon or are protesters around the world uniting?
Around the world. The New York Times reported that protests broke out over the weekend across the US, Asia and Europe, inspired by the durability of Occupy Wall Street. Indeed, protests attended by thousands continued in New York with rallies in Times Square and Washington Square Park.
Taking control. Laurie Penny argued in The Independent that the Occupy protests are reinventing power: “What’s being reoccupied is the collective political imagination, and a sense of collective possibility — beyond nationalism, beyond left and right — as millions of people lose faith in mainstream politics,” she wrote.
The same but different. Writing for The Washington Post, David Ignatius said that while circumstances vary between each protest movement, there are fundamental similarities: “Rejection of traditional political elites; a belief that ‘globalization’ benefits the rich more than the masses; anger about intertwined business and political corruption; and the connectedness and empowerment fostered by Facebook and other social media.” Ignatius suggested that public dissatisfaction will increase in Europe, as recovery from the financial crisis seems a long way off.
Outside the mainstream. Paul Mason argued on the BBC that the London protests are not currently as “mainstream” as their US counterparts, given the lack of celebrity and political endorsement, but that this doesn’t really matter: “Most people involved in such protests have switched off from mainstream politics: they believe it’s a rich-person’s club and totally impenetrable to reason or pressure”, he said.
Global solutions. Mason also suggested that the protests are a sign that the public are willing to “think globally” at a time when politicians are increasingly turning to national solutions to the economic crisis.
Wasted opportunity. By contrast, Mary Ellen Synon wrote in The Daily Mail that she found the global wave of protests disappointing: “The demonstrators didn’t seem to know what the protests were supposed to be for, except they were ‘against’. What a waste.” Synon agreed that the financial situation is dire and that governments are not serving the public’s best interests, but she insisted that what’s needed is “intelligent solutions” rather than placard-waving.
Need for focus. Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Grossman also identified a “lack of focus” among Occupy protesters. “There were few signs demonstrators were coalescing around a set of demands for change or had a desire to push the traditional levers of power,” he wrote. However, Grossman acknowledged that the apparent lack of clarity hasn’t hindered the movement’s growth.
Generation gap. Paul Campos wrote on The Daily Beast that the baby-boomer generation is too “clueless” to understand the Occupy movement:” It seems the Clueless Generation is largely incapable of grasping that this is no ordinary downturn in the business cycle, but rather that America is no longer the same country in which we were so fortunate to come of age,” he said.