For the last few weeks all of my online mediums have been flooded with messages from the #occupy-whatever- movement. It started with #occupywallstreet but has since spread across the USA and into western Europe with #occupydamestreet in Dublin, #occupymanchester etc etc.
The whole movement has me banging my head off the wall in frustration. I have long espoused the need for a overturning of the current political and economical system. Every pillar of our modern societal structure is crumbling. Religion came first and politics & finance are next. We are in urgent need of a structural change unlike anything we have ever seen before but the main questions are how to effect this change and more importantly what should be the goal of this change.Change can happen in a variety of ways and is not necessarily always good. Change should not be seen as a goal in itself.
In certain ways I admire those participating in the #occupy events around the globe. At least they are getting out of their comfort zone and out on the street making a stand for something they believe in. Eager to support this I have spent the last two weeks communicating with a number a number of people involved in these events to ascertain what their goals are and how they plan to achieve these. So far none have been able to provide a clear answer. They were clear enough about what they opposed and who (according to them) the bad guys were but none could tell me what they wanted to achieve or more to the point how they planned to achieve this. It seemed very much a movement of “let’s just get together and protest and we see where it takes us”. This is not something I support.
I then looked at the way the protest was conducted to find some common ground there. Again I drew a blank. Most of the information I got on this came from this blogpost, communications with protest participants and watching video reports. What I found was an overwhelming sense of entitlement as well as an intolerance of anyone with a different opinion. Placards were rife with statements of personal hardship and demands for this to be resolved. The same story is displayed very clearly on the “wearethe99percent” website. The protestors seem to largely consist of people who are experiencing financial hardship and expect someone (the government?) to solve their problems. The number of students expressing dissatisfaction with the fact that they a) didn’t get their dream job & b) are struggling to pay off their student loan is extremely high. Again this sense of entitlement: “I studied for the job I want but now I can’t get it and I still have to pay my student loan”. There is even the odd person who states that they lost lots of money on the stock market and now they can’t pay their bills. For all this I suggest they watch the below video.
Yes, the economy is buggered and yes we are being slowly sucked dry by large unethical corporations. But do you know where the real fault lies? Not with the Lehmans or Goldman Sach’s of this world. It lies squarely with the government who allowed this to happen and who colluded with this racket creating a two-tier (if not multi-tier) society. So do not point your finger at Wall Street, the banks or large multi-nationals. Their basic premise is to maximise share value and the it’s the government of this world who let this premise run wild. We need stricter legislation to prevent this from happening again. That’s not *more* legislation but rather a basic set of regulation that will be strictly enforced. Basic regulations along the lines of “these are the rules of the game. You break them and we will shut you down”. Period. We also do not need a bigger government that creates: “a society that guarantees a society that guarantees housing,work,culture, health care, education, political participation and a fulfilled life.” (as one protestor told me). What we need a smaller but stronger government which creates a society where everyone has an equal chances of achieving “housing,work,culture, health care, education, political participation and a fulfilled life”. Less dependence of government, not more.
The whole #occupy movement is scarily totalitarian in their demands and in their intolerance of a different opinion. At the same time they claim to represent “The 99%”. For example the #occupyPortland website states under their “About Us” section that if you don’t know what they’re about that you’re obviously ignorant or part of the 1% (the enemy). This type of positioning is polarizing in the extreme and will actually damage the chances of real change happening. I won’t even go into the support of the unions, the possible hijacking of the movement by extreme left political organisations and the fact that several of the #occupy events are openly soliciting financial support.
What we really need is an all-inclusive “people’s movement” (as much as I hate that term). We need to achieve a sweeping overhaul of the current system with less tolerance and less entitlement but more freedom. We need to move from a “give me” to a “let me” culture. We need more and more direct power with “the people”. We need more accountability both in the public & private sectors. We need less but stronger government interference in the life of its citizens. We need a government which realises that it is only there to serve the people and on behalf of the people. We need a modern version of a “Night watchman state“. We need not to protest outside buildings but inside buildings. We need to get our act together. Not tomorrow but today.