Monday, October 3, 2011

Anti-capitalism rebellion in progress in US

They are in a rebellious mood against their economic system as it is grinding to a halt. During the past week alone some $4 trillion of paper assets on the global stock exchanges went down the drain, because they were speculative ‘assets’ that had no real material (real economy) base.

They were paper assets acting as parasites on the real economy. The meltdown of the bubble economy that begun in 2008 is now in full swing because despite the pumping in by the US government of large amounts of dollars into the economy through ‘stimulus packages’ the recession did not ebb. Instead it worsened into what is now being called a ‘double dip recession.’ The result has been that the US unemployment rate has continued to worsen. It is now standing at 9.1 per cent and as a result it is creating problems for Obama’s second term re-election hopes.

Last week the Governor of the Federal Reserve abandoned all efforts of pumping more printed dollars into the economy to help ‘quick start’ the recovery with what the Federal Reserve has recently called “Operation Twist” after it abandoned the “Quantitative Easing” of printing more dollars as the appropriate response.

In Europe, the Euro zone is in the grip of the Greek ‘sovereign debt’ crisis due to the worsening of the economic recovery in that zone. Many of these countries adopted stringent budgetary controls as a response to the meltdown, but these strategies have not produced any astounding results.

In the case of the UK, these policies have led to serious social tensions that erupted in the city riots that threatened to burn Britain down. The Greek debt crisis has threatened the Euro Zone as a regional monetary system. Countries are pulling back into their national cocoons to run away from supporting Greece. Many members are insisting that the holders of the Greek state bonds should also contribute to solving the crisis. The Italian credit system has recently been downgraded from A+ to A. The other ‘PIGS’ countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) are on the edge.

In the meantime, the increasing inequality in the distribution of wealth all over the world, which is capitalism’s main weakness, has begun to have toll on the billionaire’s confidence. They are increasingly being looked upon as the real problem for the world economy because of their insatiable greed. The mood among the large numbers of unemployed is beginning to turn rowdy and rebellious. The recent British riots were a clear warning to the Western leaders of the upcoming upheavals. Now the anger is beginning to emerge in the US where there have been plans by the youth to occupy Wall Street, the headquarters of American financial capitalism.

According to a recent article in the Guardian, the rebellion begun on Saturday September 17, when over 5,000 young Americans descended on to the financial district of lower Manhattan with signs, banners, drums, slogans and proceeded to walk towards what they called the “financial Gomorrah” of the nation as they vowed to “occupy Wall Street” and to “bring justice to the bankers.”

Although the New York police thwarted their efforts temporarily, locking down the symbolic street with barricades and checkpoints, the protestors were undeterred. They walked around the area before holding a people’s assembly and setting up a semi-permanent protest encampment in a park on Liberty Street, a stone’s throw from Wall Street and a block from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Three hundred of them spent the night in the streets and several hundred reinforcements arrived the next day to back them up. Using the social network, the protesters sent messages to the world that they were hungry and a nearby pizzeria received $2,800 in orders for delivery in a single hour. Emboldened by an outpouring of international solidarity, the protestors said they’d be there to greet the bankers when the stock market opened the following Monday. The police, according to the Guardian realised they could not stop them. The ABC News reported that even though the demonstrators did not have a permit for the protest they were nevertheless” digging in for a long-term occupation.”

According to news reports, the campaign to “Occupy Wall Street” was inspired by the “People’s Assemblies of Spain,” which were in turn inspired by the “Arab Spring.” Although the concept “Occupy Wall Street” was floated in a double-page poster in the 97th issue of Adbusters magazine, it was nevertheless spearheaded, orchestrated and carried out by independent activists. It all started when Adbusters magazine asked its network of culture jammers to flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens and peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. The idea caught on immediately on social networks and the unaffiliated activists seized the idea and built an open-source organising site.

A few days later, a general assembly was held in New York City and 150 people showed up. These activists became the core organisers of the occupation. The mystique of Anonymous pushed the idea into the mainstream media with a video communiqué endorsing the action. This attracted 100,000 views resulting in a warning from the Department of Homeland Security addressed to the nation’s bankers about what was going on. But the ‘indignation’ was spreading in other cities. When, in August, the ‘indignados’ of Spain sent word that they would be holding a solidarity event in Madrid’s financial district, activists in Milan, Valencia, London, Lisbon, Athens, San Francisco, Madison, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Israel and beyond vowed to do the same.

There is thus a shared feeling on the streets around the world that the global economy is a ‘Ponzi scheme’ run by and for ‘Big Finance,’ meaning the billionaires who do not want to pay taxes. People everywhere are waking up to the realisation that there is something fundamentally wrong with a system in which speculative financial transactions add up, each day, to $1.3 trillion, which is 50 times more than the sum of all the production and commercial transactions. Meanwhile, according to a United Nations report, “in the 35 countries for which data exist, nearly 40 per cent of jobseekers have been without work for more than one year. A jobless Vietnam veteran protestor said the demonstration was “a worthy cause because people on Wall Street are blood-sucking warmongers”.

The indignation was an expression of a feeling among the protestors that the standard solutions to the economic crisis proposed by leading politicians and mainstream economists such as stimulus packages, budget cuts, debt management, low interest rates, neo-Keynesian propping up of ‘demand’ though increased consumption were all false approaches that would not work.

This is not just a concern of the Western unemployed youth, it is also increasingly becoming an issue among rural folk in Uganda in areas such as Buliisa where people’s lands are being grabbed by the oil speculators and Bugisu where the peasant farmers cooperators are determined to ‘walk naked’ to demand the restoration of their cooperative union. These rural folk have also decided to join hands with the New York and Madrid ‘indignados.’ This mood amongst the world’s poor is bound to reverberate for some time to come and who knows what is likely to come out of the protests - a World Revolution?