Op-Ed: The “Occupy” protests that took this past weekend across Europe could very well be here to stay – in large part because the David vs. Goliath standoff that is brewing on both sides of the Atlantic is neither typically right-wing nor typically left-
MUNICH -- Globalization's children are waking up with a wave of protests that are going to resist the old lassoes used to rein them in. That's because this uprising cannot be dismissed as just a "left-wing" movement, even though the protestors are clearly expressing indignation about social inequality – a classic theme of the Left.
The protests are also being driven by a fatal feeling that governments are too weak, and that they're being choked and manipulated by the financial markets. The markets, in other words, are challenging government sovereignty, which is a typical conservative, right-wing theme. The bottom line is that people on the right and left are developing a shared position, which is that the marauders of the international financial economy need to be restrained.
The anger and disappointment began with the 2008 financial crisis, when governments pumped an ungodly amount of money into the banks. Many people thought that we were experiencing a kind of reformation of capitalism. That was, and has remained, deceptive. The big banks just went right on using the same means and methods that brought the financial crisis about in the first place. And they were allowed to go right on doing so, because none of the strict rules that had been announced by the world's politicians came into effect. Financial capitalism did not become one bit more humane, it just juggernauted on as turbocharged as ever.
New rules of the road
And here we are with the results: global protest. It's not the first time. In 2003-2004, the Iraq war triggered massive protests in Berlin, Rome and Paris, and helped form a European body of public opinion that is now, with the support of digital social networks, in the process of going international. This time around, however, the protests are not likely to go away so easily.
If this movement works, global capitalism is no longer going to be able to operate as before – wander to the places where it can get away with whatever it wants without the people responding. "Occupy" protesters don't put much stock in national politics anymore; they've experienced how unaware and directionless their governments are in the face of the financial crisis. International protest demands international politics.
Simply put, the Davids of the world are no longer willing to watch the Goliath banks being shored up with millions and billions while the potholes in the autobahn of financial capitalism are repaired so that the marauders can just keep speeding by. The Davids want new traffic rules, different speed limits – new everything from A to Z for all vehicles travelling these international highways.
Germany has been defending its democracy for 10 years in the Hindu Kush. Now it needs to defend its democracy against the greed of the markets. Surely, a world that can take on the Taliban has nothing to fear from a bunch of stock brokers?
Read the original story in German
Photo - Ben Fredericson (xjrlokix)