The Revolution We Have To Have?
There’s something really interesting going on with this Occupy Wall Street business. First of all, the movement seems to be genuinely autochthonous out of Social Media. The even weirder thing about it is the persistent refusal to nominate a leadership. So the powers that be cannot negotiate with the massive body of people to get them out of Wall Street. What’s less strange is that this movement is moving beyond Wall Street and around the world. And for once, you would think that the powers that be would be forced to reckon with this public show of anger.
The kinds of analysis that are out and about are hopelessly outdated by ideological frameworks of the past. What’s particularly interesting about the movement is how it is basically moving out of the traditional – and largely stage-managed – American left and right dialectic, which the rest of us in the world know to be a in fact a weird bird with two right wings fighting over who gets to go to the right further. There are even original Tea Party people who have abandoned the Tea Party, turning up. And this makes sense because the outrage can really be described in a few short sentences.
The bankers got bailed out while the rest of the economy went to pot. Then, they paid themselves massive, obscene bonuses while lots of people lost houses and livelihoods. And now that people have noticed, they’re wondering why these people are so angry and won’t go away. Frankly, would you?
Not only did people lose half of their retirement savings in the catastrophe that was the GFC, many lost livelihoods, businesses, houses and whole communities went down the gurgler. it hasn’t happened here in Australia, but it could well do if China happens to tank, thanks to Europe tanking. With the two speed economy straining, should China go, our mining sector will wilt and we’ll be a one speed economy, equally in the pot. So we’re not that far off the need to tell these bankers and in our case our CEOs to take a huge pay cut and come back to earth where the rest of us live.
But back to the phenomenon itself. A few weeks I ago I made the remark that all they needed was a Trotsky, but the amazing thing is that Social Media is going to obliviate the need for a organiser like Leon Trotsky was in his day. As long as people are angry, they’ll be motivated enough to organise themselves through social media. It’s like flash mob, but really angry and motivated. And the ramifications of this is what is truly interesting. You wonder how long the Republican Party in the US can keep pretending that these people are marginal weirdos when the crowd and movements grow day by day and around the world. You wonder how long before the sheer number puts some spine into Barack Obama’s administration -and by extension fear of the electorate into the Republicans who just shot down Obama’s 477billion dollar package for jobs.
Maybe Social Media really is going to change the world for the better by bypassing the information control exerted by the traditional mass media? That would be something to see.