We must recognize that we can't solve our problems now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power.... a radical restructuring of the architecture of American society.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr
Depending on who you believe, the Occupy Wall Street demonstration has numbered as little as 700 protesters (Bloomberg) or as high as 5000 protesters (The Guardian). But, whatever the true number, the organisers did not get the 20,000 protesters they were hoping for.
A demonstration of 20,000 was always going to be a big ask though. Unlike events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, Occupy Wall Street isn't being propelled along by a countrywide democratic revolution.
The groups behind Occupy Wall Street, like Adbusters magazine (which floated the initial idea) have had to act from 'scratch' in a country where the development of progressive politics has been strangled by the two political wings of American capitalism, the Democrats and the Republicans.
This is something we certainly can identify with in New Zealand where the general election result has already been decided - Neoliberalism wins.
The demonstrators have also had to contend with, not unexpectedly, a media blackout. Occupy Wall Street has been largely ignored by the corporate media - the very same corporate media who have been all over the right wing Tea Party.
It has been left to small independent news outlets to provide coverage of the Wall Street action. Here in New Zealand I have seen some decent coverage on The Alyona Show (RT, Sky 96)
But the protesters are determined, imaginative and, simply by being there, are a visible rejection of capitalist politics. It is a message not simply being transmitted to America but around the world as well. It is a message that says that 'business as usual' has led to a situation where 43 million Americans are now living below the poverty line and that cannot be tolerated.
What we are seeing here is the renewal of class consciousness in the United States. Indeed this is something that Michael Bloomberg observed last week. The New York mayor warned his fellow capitalists:
“You have a lot of kids graduating college, can’t find jobs, that’s what happened in Cairo. That’s what happened in Madrid. You don’t want those kind of riots here.”
The protest is now into its third day and six people were arrested on Monday, They were reportedly arrested on the grounds that it is unlawful for two or more individuals to wear masks in a public place.
In the towers above the protesters live the men and women who have helped wipe out the American economy and not one of them has been arrested for their crimes...