A world in protest

At Open Democracy, Paul Rogers writes: The authorities are undertaking a legal and judicial counter-offensive against the “occupy” camps that have sprung up in central locations in New York and London. But scores of camps remain across north America and western Europe, part of a diffuse and dispersed phenomenon that has acquired a life of its own within a few short weeks.

These protests echo others earlier in 2011, including the turbulent actions in Greece and the extensive mobilisations in Spain (see “A time of riot: England and the world”, 11 August 2011). They also connect with developments elsewhere: the mass student demonstrations in Chile that moved from opposition to a failing education system to a much wider campaign against marginalisation, and the protests by middle-class Israelis against their more restricted life-chances (albeit such conditions are still far outranked by the great poverty in the nearby occupied territories, notably Gaza).

This upsurge of demonstrations is largely a response to the renewed economic crisis and to the enduring spectacle of financial institutions paying huge salaries and even larger bonuses to their elites while the majority of populations bear the brunt of government-imposed cuts. More broadly it recalls the large-scale anti-globalisation movement of the late 1990s, not least around the Seattle (1999) and Genoa (2001) summits. This movement receded after 9/11 and the launch of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – but it has now returned, albeit in a different guise, as a result of the accumulating economic crises of 2007-11.

These protests, demonstrations and movements may well be sustained or they may (at least in the short term) recede. Yet in a global perspective they reflect two processes that lend them deep importance. [Continue reading…]

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