Occupy Wall Street movement goes global
The mainstream media is beginning to wake up to the global, grass roots uprising coalescing around the Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS). Inspired by the youth demonstrations which began in Spain in May this year and the various uprisings (Egypt, Tunisia, Greece etc.), disparate groups came together on Wall Street on 17th September 2011 to protest against the financial system which no longer works for 99% of the people. In spite of being ignored, dismissed or ridiculed by the mainstream media the occupation of the renamed Liberty Square in New York persisted. Repressive police tactics against the peaceful protesters only swelled their numbers and four weeks later the movement has spread across the globe with over 1000 demonstrations taking place on 15th October.
In London yesterday, the occupation of St Paul’s Churchyard, next to Paternoster Square began, coinciding with the global demonstrations. The initial objective was to occupy Paternoster Square itself but heavily manned police barricades denied the protesters access. At midnight on the first day of the occupation there remained between 300-500 protesters and a heavy police presence (circa 600 officers). During the day the police attempted to kettle and intimidate the protesters using riot gear clad officers and police dogs. A line of some 40 officers with riot gear to hand were posted along the top of the steps to St Paul’s, where they remained throughout the night. The following day, Reverend Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s, said he was happy for people to “exercise their right to protest peacefully” outside the cathedral and asked the officers “guarding” the entrance to the Cathedral to go as he felt the Cathedral was not under any threat. The first victory is won.
The original Occupation of Wall Street began modestly but has grown and as the City of London occupation evolves, it too can grow into a powerful movement. However, the overarching problem with our financial system needs to be understood to:
1. build overwhelming pressure for it to be replaced so that political and economic power can be recovered by the people for the people;
2. develop ideas for an alternative economic and financial paradigm that works for the majority, rather than the 1%.
Utopian visions must be avoided and solutions need to satisfy the needs and desires of the majority. As the movement gains credibility and scale, established interests will seek to take ownership and subvert the movement. There will be many threats to the nascent vision of a better, fairer world and we must guard against them.
The way to resist these forces is to understand why our banking and financial system is fraudulent as well as flawed. Knowledge is power. As a first step, all people interested in a better financial system should read economist Murray N Rothbard’s Mystery of Banking (mysteryofbanking). Written over 25 years ago, it has more relevance today than ever. He explains the purpose of money, its origins and the development of fractional reserve banking. Using simple examples he exposes the legalised fraud which is the fundamental basis of banking today. He also proposes ideas for an alternative free banking system which involves having many small banks rather than the few dominant institutions we have today.
He also challenges the need for central banks which commit a form of theft by increasing the money supply, causing inflation which robs everyone but the poor significantly more than anyone else. When the major currencies moved off the gold standard, politicians and bankers were free to inflate the money supply, for the former to binge on expenditures to improve their electoral prospects and for the latter to multiply their profits through the fraud of fractional reserve lending.
The time to change the financial system is now but we need to equip ourselves with the knowledge to identify the flaws and come up with a better solution. The financial system dominates everything and we need a system which serves rather than dominates. Global conflict is fueled by the system, it must go.
Comments emerging from the G20 summit in Paris and Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, show the bankruptcy of our leaders’ ideas. We have the solution before us, we just need to work for it.
If the prospect of reading an economic textbook fills you with terror try these two films. The first, Money as Debt is just over 45mins and is an introduction to how our banking system developed and offers an alternative. The Money Masters – How International Bankers Gained Control of America, is a three hour movie covering similar ground but in greater detail and from a different perspective. Who knows, after watching the movies you may be inspired to read the book?