Occupy has changed the country. People are fighting back. And the developments are happening faster than anyone could have guessed even a few months ago. The Occupy movement has gone from a few dozen in Zuccotti park in New York to thousands of participants in hundreds of cities. Across the country occupations have become pitched battles between the people’s movement and municipal police forces.
The speed with which this unfolded, the degree of brutality leveled against the occupiers, and the resilience of the Occupy movement are all remarkable. In times like this the movement outstrips the best expectations of organizers and organizations. And while these developments defy simple explanation, their impact is undeniable. People are no longer talking about deficits and budget cuts, but about Wall Street and the one percent.
So it is with Occupy. It has bypassed traditional forms of political mobilization, leaving more established organizations trying to play catch up. And the movement has changed form, from public occupations, to marches and rallies, civil disobedience and city-wide strikes – all faster than anyone would have expected.
But the forces opposed to Occupy are moving fast too. Occupiers have faced serious police repression around the country, with pepper spray attacks in Seattle and Davis, California, life-threatening injuries in Oakland, and in Seattle a miscarriage caused by police violence.
Meanwhile, Wall Street’s agenda of austerity for the poor and attacks on the public sector has not yet been derailed. In Europe, the bankers and bondholders are remaking governments and economies in Greece and Italy. But gutting the public sector and democratic governments may not satisfy the IMF and German bankers, nor avoid collapse. The euro zone’s whole single-currency project is approaching a systemic meltdown that threatens to contaminate U.S. banks and to bring on a rerun of the 2008 crash, perhaps worse this time.
Domestically, Washington remains focused on debt reduction, attacking the programs that support working-class people, while the economy slides further into disrepair. The failure of the Debt Commission to reach an agreement only means that Congress will now be scrambling to avoid the automatic cuts to the Pentagon budget, cuts that will supposedly activate in 2013. In the short term it is a victory of sorts, kicking the can down the road as Congress tries to figure out how to make the cuts that will be extremely unpopular.
Austerity is also on the agenda in Europe, where the sovereign debt crisis threatens to collapse the entire European banking system, and perhaps spread to Asia and the Americas. Already banks and investors are trying to limit their exposure and restrict lending in the Euro Zone. Remarkably, mighty Germany had trouble selling state bonds at a recent auction. Even more remarkable still, European countries have turned to the BRICs, the developing countries of the third world as a potential source of capital to extend to troubled member states. This shift, away from the United States and the European first world, toward the rising powers of China, Brazil and India, as a source of capital is significant.
Excerpts from War Times.
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