If you ask anyone who the most greedy, venal, evil group of people in the world are today, and about 76% of people will shout ‘bankers’, outranking dictators, serial killers and the cast of Jersey Shore. To a point, I would agree. The world has been brought to the brink more times than a lemming on a bungee cord and the banks are standing front and centre in the blame game, but somehow even after all this world leaders are still in thrall to their demands and whinges.
Yet to place the sole burden of blame on the bankers is a gross simplification and an easy scapegoat to make (granted, in this instance the goat is holding a smoking gun over a corpse with a gunshot wound). In truth, we are all to blame; when times were good we were queuing up outside bank for ‘free plastic money cards’, the type that could never lead to repo men calling round for tea; the City was working, so we shut our eyes. But now we have been kicked in our economic teeth, with our impulsive desire to spend, spend, spend leading us to ruin and yet we only prefer to focus on the tip of the iceberg, partly because it’s the bit that can be easily seen, but mainly as it means we are avoiding calling ourselves a twat.
Occupy Wall Street aren’t afraid of calling a twat, a twat. Situating themselves in one of the hubs of modern capitalism, OWS are standing up for the 99% affected by the global recession; yes, we might have aided and abetted the global meltdown but why should we have to be the only ones bearing the brunt of it? In the face of the media’s (mostly) subtle opposition, and prominent confusion, the supporters of OWS have been raising awareness of the dangers of sleepwalking into another financial crisis and the benefits of living in a more socially focused capitalistic economy. The reporting of OWS highlights just how non-existent politically objective coverage has become; it has receded into the background like a chameleon at a camouflage factory (yes, they happen all the time, you just can’t see them).
In a world where the Tea Party is presented as a cohesive whole, seemingly unwavering in their belief in everything conservative even though their ranks are as ideologically diverse as a the average football match (for the most part, sitting in the ‘similar intelligence to a snail shell’ camp but to varying degrees), Occupy Wall Street are shown to be fractured, indecisive and ‘eccentric’. Protesting against ‘The American Way’ is seen as a fringe concern, something that was exterminated when the Berlin Wall came down, but it can’t be isolated from the mainstream any longer.
Britain needs it’s own alternative to Occupy, but looking at the support for similar protests in the past, the general public aren’t a fan of the status quo but do not want to do anything about it. I find this disjuncture between anger and lack of pragmatism both fascinating and hugely dispiriting; why do the majority of people feel that they are not part of the alternative? Is this phenomena something exclusively British, are the protests sufficiently inclusive or is this just the state of modern political discourse?
Whether Occupy the London Stock Exchange will be as successful as OWS will have to be seen, but purely based on how catchy the name is, the bankers win once again.