The aim of this article is not to state the significance of the Occupy Wall Street movement in such a way as to say anything with any certainty. It is merely to question it. Is it finally the movement we have all been patiently waiting for, grinding our nails against the front side of the couch as we slowly lean closer to the luminous television, our only apparent light source in an otherwise dark room? Will it satisfactorily bring peace, equality and prosperity to all in the world, whilst toppling over the corrupt corporate powers that have run our lives for over a century? Or is it just another glitch in a banker’s computer game? I do not know and I do not think anyone does with any certainty but I will say this: It looks promising, but only if it persists.
It was, at least in part, inspired by the Arab spring, which was itself a response to the documents released by Wikileaks. We have a lot to thank Wikileaks and Julian Assange for. It was this whistleblowing, the release of thousands of classified papers that served the truth to the people. Information is power. Now, people all over the First World have a sense that the government cannot hide from us anymore and it feels good. I was once told, during an argument with a friend, that protesting was pointless as it yielded no results. This feeling of helplessness, one could argue, was quite characteristic of the pre-internet era but now, all the people of the world have the power to come together, even having never met each other. We are feeling less and less powerless as the internet age progresses. The bourgeoisie is losing ground.
It is not often; at least it has not been often in my short lifetime, that people have mobilized in such a manner that was not to vote. This is important; finally democracy is not just about emerging from our burrows, squinty eyed at the seldom seen sun, and voting once every few years, before returning to sleep. People are taking action the way they should, and constantly voicing their opinions in a way that the politicians have to respond to. It is not just the United States that is seeing this action; facebook is being host to Europe’s response as well with similar movements being planned in Berlin, Paris, Edinburgh and many more. A notable one is the Occupy the London Stock Exchange group, which currently boasts the support of almost 13,000 people.
The question is; how far will these protests go? If they do not go far enough, will we settle for a slight change in policy, only to realize in a few years’ time that today’s status quo will have been reinstated? If the protests are unsuccessful, how easily will they be abandoned and forgotten? If recent history is to be heeded, then it will be pretty quickly. In 2003, anti-war protests were quite numerous, but were mostly ignored by the Blair administration and they continued their war in Iraq until they got what they wanted. The Afghanistan war rages on. Earlier this year, hundreds of thousands rallied against the Coalition government’s spending cut frenzy, but the government continues. It is no wonder people are losing faith in remonstration, but it is not excusable. The more persistent we are, the more we will force them to listen to us. If we are unwavering, we will see the changes we want, but, if we are fickle and easily discouraged, things will not change for the better.