Saturday, October 15, 2011

#OWS goes global

When you have a sound message and you target your protests well, it is not surprising when your movement picks up imitators.  Even so, it will be interesting to see how the transformation to a global movement works out.

First, from France 24
Worldwide protests over economic crisis
Protesters will take to the streets in some of the major cities around the world to demonstrate against financiers and politicians who they accuse of destroying global economies and condemning millions to poverty.
By News Wires

REUTERS - Protesters worldwide geared up for a cry of rage on Saturday against bankers, financiers and politicians they accuse of ruining global economies and condemning millions to poverty and hardship through greed. 
Galvanised by the past month’s Occupy Wall Street movement, they plan to take to the streets from Sydney to Alaska via London, Frankfurt, Washington and New York. 
Riot police prepared for any trouble—cities such as London and Athens have seen violent confrontations this year—but it was impossible to say how many people would actually turn out despite a rallying call across social media websites. 
“I’ve been waiting for this protest for a long time, since 2008,” said Daniel Schreiber, 28, an editor in Berlin. “I was always wondering why people aren’t outraged and why nothing has happened and finally, three years later, it’s happening.” 
The Australian city of Melbourne got the ball rolling on Saturday with about 1,000 gathering peacefully in central City Square, listening to speeches. 
Nick Carson, a spokesman for OccupyMelbourne.Org, said protests were planned for all of Australia’s major cities. 
“I think people want real democracy,” he said. “They don’t want corporate influence over their politicians. They want their politicians to be accountable. They want proper representation.” 
Elsewhere in traditionally reserved Asia, about 50 gathered in New Zealand’s quake-hit city of Christchurch and small demonstrations were expected in the Japanese capital Tokyo. 
The protests are billed as peaceful. But in a sign of what may happen, a group of students stormed Goldman Sachs’s offices in the Italian city of Milan on Friday. 
The students managed to break into the hall of the Goldman Sachs building in the heart of Milan’s financial district. The protests were quickly dispersed but red graffiti was daubed on its walls expressing anger at Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and saying “Give us money”. more
And from Der Spiegel.
Taking a Cue from Wall Street
Will Frankfurt See Birth of 'Occupy Germany' Movement?
By Stefan Schultz   10/14/2011
Thousands are protesting in the United States in a new movement criticial of the excesses of Wall Street casino capitalism. Now activists in Germany and other parts of Europe are planning similar demonstrations. On Saturday, the protesters plan to occupy public spaces across Germany. Are the similarities between the US and Germany great enough for the movement to take off?

In Germany, the revolution against the financial system is already raging -- at least on the Internet. A cyber class war with photos, videos, texts and plenty of symbolism is in full swing. In the video messages calling for a nationwide protest in Germany this Saturday, images of the Frankfurt bank skyline are juxtaposed against paintings of the German Revolutions of 1848. Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" is mixed with the orchestral pomp of the "Requiem for a Dream" movie soundtrack.

"Something is going to happen on Oct. 15," the cyber revolutionaries pledge. Thousands will supposedly rise up in Germany alone so the "people can take back control from the dictatorship of money." "It began in New York," the call to action states, "but it will end in Hesse," a reference to the western German state where Frankfurt is located.

Thousands of outraged Americans have occupied Zuccotti Park near Wall Street in New York for weeks now, and protesters in a growing number of cities in the United States are joining the revolt, starting their own protest camps. What began on Sept. 17 in Zuccotti Park now appears to be spreading to Europe. German activists are seeking to bring the phenomenon to Germany, where protest events are being planned in dozens of cities across the country, starting on Saturday. In the German financial center Frankfurt, protesters are expected to march to the European Central Bank on Saturday. Elsewhere in Europe, events are planned in Paris at the Place de la Bourse, in London outside St. Paul's Cathedral and in many other European cities. 
The statements in the protest announcements are in no way modest. "In this room all of my dreams become realities," one protest video states. "And some of my realities become dreams." The quote comes from the Roald Dahl children's book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." In the context of the desired revolution, it can be interpreted in a number of ways. 
The most obvious interpretation is that, if you believe hard enough, you can achieve anything you dream of -- in this case, an economic system that treats all citizens fairly and punishes banks for the worst excesses of their casino capitalism. But one could also interpret the quote this way: For now, the room in which all dreams become true will remain a virtual one. After all, it is a lot easier to set up a protest camp on the Internet than in the real world. Can it function on Germany's streets, with freezing night-time temperatures? 
The kind of sheer anger that can lead to the birth of protest movements is indeed considerable in Germany -- at least at first glance. Germans see themselves every day as being confronted with a world in which overly powerful banks cash in as the rest of the world is forced to pay for the consequences of their errors, a world where the major banks are still profiting from the same kinds of dubious financial products that led to the first outbreak of the crisis in 2008. It is a world in which politicians are as frustrated as the people, given that it has proven nearly impossible to regulate financial institutions and stop waves of speculation. On top of that, it now appears that the state will soon have to bail out numerous banks again. more
And a look from India.

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