Econintersect: The Year of the ‘Arab Spring’ has been an appellation for 2011. It turns out that it is also the year of The ‘American Autumn. The revolutionary changes that have swept across the streets of North Africa and the Middle East started with relatively small demonstrations in Tunisia which quickly swelled to sufficient size to drive out the long-entrenched dictator (see GEI News). Then demonstrations and armed rebellion broke out in several other countries, including Eqypt and Libya, deposing decades-old dictatorships. Unrest continues in several other Arab world dictatorships. It remains to be seen if the American Autumn will grow to have anywhere near the consequences of the Arab Spring.The loosely organized (organized is probably too strong a term) OccupyWallStreet, which is the focus of attention in the past two weeks, has a web presence only as a Facebook page.
However, David Graeber (in The Guardian) thinks something bigger is beginning. He described the situation this way:
Why are people occupying Wall Street? Why has the occupation – despite the latest police crackdown – sent out sparks across America, within days, inspiring hundreds of people to send pizzas, money, equipment and, now, to start their own movements called OccupyChicago, OccupyFlorida, in OccupyDenver or OccupyLA?
There are obvious reasons. We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.
Is it really surprising they would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?
Editor’s note: David Graeber is an economic anthropologist, whose interview by Philip Pilkington about the history of money was summarized by GEI News.
We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. (David Graeber)
However persistent the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are, they are not very well organized around a theme. There is no “bring the troops home” or “reinstate Glass-Steagall” mantra. The demonstrators have more abstract messages, like “Wake Up, America” and “Wall Street is our Street.” In The New York Times, Gina Bellafante called the protests “a noble but fractured and airy movement of rightly frustrated young people.”
The protests have not been massive in extent, with numbers many days in the hundreds and just near 100 on some days. It is hard to envision that these small gatherings, until recently almost ignored by the main stream media, could lead to a movement with the scope of involvement and effect of the democratization wave in the Arab world.
… a noble but fractured and airy movement of rightly frustrated young people. (Ginia Belafante)
A turning point for publicity may have occurred Saturday, October 1, and all thanks to actions of the police. On that day New York City police arrested more than 700 protestors who were walking in the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge, from reports made by ABC News. Watch the ABC video:
The protestors claim entrapment, that the police invited them to walk on the roadway and accompanied them halfway across the bridge before making the arrests. The police say that the protestors were warned to stay on the walkway and off the vehicular part of the bridge.
In the early hours Sunday it appeared that many of those arrested had been released with summons to appear later in court on charges such as disorderly conduct and obstructing traffic.
In the past week there have been videos showing what protestors claim is police brutality. In one case a woman was sprayed with mace by a policeman. In another case a man taking pictures was thrown to the ground by an officer. (Reports by ABC News)