The movement that began from a small corner of Manhattan, U.S.A on 17th September 2011 has today spread to more than 180 countries beyond a 1500 cities. Occupy Wall Street demonstration has gained renewed attention this weekend after a dramatic police showdown on the Brooklyn Bridge lead to 700 arrests. This week marks the fourth month anniversary of the OWS movement. The Arab Spring-inspired encampment in Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park actually “reminded me a bit of Tahrir Square in Cairo,” says Nicholas Kristof, also inThe Times .
Yes. This is the start of something big: ” that rocked the Arab world”, says Micah L. Sifry at techPresident .
Plenty of people are comparing Occupy Wall Street to the Arab Spring and there’s now even a catchy name: the American Autumn. With worldwide attention to the protestsgrowing, the now-hardened protesters in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Libya have been taking notice; it’s difficult to digest that we may be living through the twenty-first century version of events which change the course of history. Before shrugging off the possibility that a ‘few’ people ‘occupying’ Wall Street are going to change anything, I say reconsider. It’s been a tumultuous 2011. The year started with a victorious Tunisia, moved on to a change of regime in Egypt, followed by a domino effect across the Middle East. Public consciousness has registered that these events have taken place, but has it registered their significance?
Is there a connection between these protests and does that connection means something, are questions worth exploring. The large scale level on which these protests are taking place is not the only factor that indicates this might be a ‘history-changing’ event.
This criticism of a paradigm is the biggest indicator of change. People are not protesting against a bill, a person, or one issue. But rather, such as in the case of the Occupy movement, people are protesting against a system which had been comfortably accepted with the collapse of communism. Just the fact that the word ‘capitalism’ is being bandied around in the movement rather than merely ‘privatization’ or ‘tax hikes’ shows that it is in fact, the system’s failure which has entered consciousness, and history is earmarked by changes in systems.
America has woken up to reality. They have woken up to see the way the coercive ways through which the middle class of America has been paying up the Wall Street’s malfeasance and Washington’s complicity in return for their jobs slashed and social services at lowest ever. Woken up up to the ludicrous Supreme Court decision defining corporation as a person, although it doesn’t eat, breath or sing – or take care of children and aging parents. Woken up to how unlimited and often anonymous campaign contributions corrupt our elections; to the fact that if money is speech, no money means no speech. As one demonstrator’s sign read: “I couldn’t afford a politician, so I bought this sign.”
Though with a lot of similarities, OWS also has It’s share of differences with Arab Spring. Where Arab Spring started because one graduate didn’t even had 10 dollars to spend, Occupy Wall Street supporters spend $10 dollars daily whilst protesting. There is a big difference between young men and women willing to face bullets to change their government and those who are gathering under far less dangerous and indeed often fun circumstances. The major difference between the people who stand in Arab streets and Wall Street is that Arab people stand there to achieve a political change, for their rights which they thrive to achieve. Whereas the people in the streets of Manhattan, London stand for the betterment of the system, to have more luxuries in their lives. They still have electricity in their houses, have clean water running in the taps of their houses whereas most Arabs don’t have this luxury. It was a question of survival for the people on Arab street and a question to have more economic options for the Occupy wall street protestors. Even the ambition or goal of the OWS unlike the Arab Spring is not clear.
The problem in American unemployed labor force is whether they want to work for $10/ hr or $15/hr. For the people who have nothing, anything is better. For the people who have something, more is better, for the people who have everything, anything less is bad. Nevertheless, the protesters are not a fringe group, nor their actions a passing fancy. Instead, OWS is evidence of a powerful global movement that reflects growing disenchantment with the rich favored capitalist system which has no interest in, nor concern for, the poor and underprivileged; a view which finds confirmation in the writings of many leading economists, environmentalists and social scientists.
Arab Spring or American Autumn, the fight, the movement belongs to common people, those who want to liberate themselves from the harshness and brutality of the system. Whether, it is the iron fist of the Arabic leaders or the choking hands of a few capitalist elites that have held people by the crook of their necks. People want freedom from this system. And time will tell that theses movements will result in an important socio-political change not only in these countries but globally. A change is sitting at the door step of the world. Now only we have to wait for how long this system manages to stop the on coming tide of change and take this damaged and unjust system with it.