I wonder how many of us have been glued to our computer screens over the past week watching the events in New York as they unfold live on air (http://www.livestream.com/globalrevolution & http://occupystream.com/). Have you joined the Twitter conversation with hash-tag OccupyWallStreet? The occupy movement in the US is proving to be something of a social tsunami. Only two weeks ago one could not predict that people would be mobilising in countless US cities to start a new radical conversation about democracy. It has been inspired in large part by the ‘Indignants’ of Madrid May 15, who kicked off the idea of occupying the urban square. This in turn was a movement mimicking social unrest in most parts of Northern Africa, especially Tahir Square in Cairo, and also other parts of Europe (largely ignored by mainstream media in Australia). What characterises all these movements is their technology-savvy participants who have taken networking to a whole new radical level. Marx always said that the contradictions within capitalism would manifest somewhere in its ever advancing modes of production, and that the capitalist would prove to be his or her own gravedigger. This movement is now globally prevalent, with October the 15th being anticipated as a day of international action and solidarity (check out the website http://15october.net/ for information and innovative ways of contributing to the dialogue).
The question for Sydneysiders is, when is the ‘occupy’ movement coming here? There are already actions slated for Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney on the 15th of October. Somewhat confusingly, the action in Sydney is being held in two different locations. The one reported on the calendar in Indymedia will take place in Hyde Park Square, Elizabeth St. at 2-5pm (http://indymedia.org.au/occupy-sydney-hyde-park-rally). Another, which seems to be a true ‘occupation’, since it will attempt to set up camp, is to take place at Martin Place, outside the Reserve Bank (http://occupysydney.wordpress.com/tag/occupy-sydney/).
There have already been reports of shady dealings behind the scenes, with accusations of the #OccupySydney action in Martin Place being a ‘scam’. Apparently large donations were accepted on behalf of a group that does not yet exist except in cyberspace. Personally, I think the #Occupy movement will be on a par with the great civil disobedience movements of the 1960s and 70s. In other words, this is the ’68 of generations X, Y and Z. It stands for international transparency in economics and politics. It is against the economic and political hegemony of ‘big banks’, the rule of the ‘1%’ over the ‘99%’ (the favourite slogan of Occupy Wall Street). It would be a shame if Sydney missed out on this occasion to voice its concern over the ever growing disparity between the wealthy and the poor everywhere, at the deregulation and privatisation of public assets, at the erosion of the gains of social democracy over the past decades and the general diminishment of the worker’s share in social wealth.
Incredibly, occupy Melbourne and Sydney are even getting CNN coverage before the fact (http://edition.cnn.com/2011/10/07/business/wall-street-protest-global/). It’s as though the world has been waiting for this moment since the GFC (global financial crisis) in 2008: the global masses are now at breaking point. Keep the twitter conversation alive with #OccupySydney and perhaps we’ll be sharing views in a General Assembly.