On 17th September 2011, Wall Street gave birth to yet another crisis for our politicians to fix. It’s been a long year for the 99%, our society is still damaged, economy still broken, and environment still on its way to ruin. Once again the collective voices of the people seem to have brought no change. An international movement of sit-ins, strikes and protests haven’t yet caught the hearts and minds of the general public, but have certainly caught the attention of media corporations and politicians. With the United States on the edge of an election and austerity programmes getting into full swing across Europe, is there any steam left in the Occupy Movement?
Of course it’s hard to judge how progressive the movement has been so far. However, any protest disregarded by the government must be one on the rise. The movement, despite being political, has neither a political affiliation nor a leader. It aims to educate and reform without the use of violence. It is simply a platform on which people can express their want for positive social change and more equal economical distribution. Occupy has also brought other social issues into the limelight, particularly unemployment and homelessness. To write off the movement after a year actually seems like the wrong thing to do. In fact, it would seem the movement is just the beginning in terms of the revolution. As Noam Chomsky put it to the Guardian, 'The Occupy movement just lit a spark'. The Financial Times agreed the movement has made a global impact "the terms of the political debate" have changed. Now 82 countries have adopted the Occupy movement, millions of people calling for social justice, democracy, and freedom.
What Occupy has done, is show the people at the top that they won’t be there for long. In the US, the richest 1% of the population owns one third of the country’s net worth, there are 3.1 million millionaires and 400 billionaires. One in seven Americans lives below the poverty line. In Britain one fifth of children live in absolute poverty. Yet in 2011 the pay of directors in FSTE 100 companies rose by 49 per cent, their average salary being £2.7 million compared to the UK average of around £25,000. Tax evasion in Britain is worth £70 billion. When Occupy chants “We are the 99%”, they have proof. These figures aren’t going away and neither are the people who want to change them.
‘Capitalism is crisis’ was the saying for the camp outside St. Pauls Cathedral before they were removed by the authorities. The coalition government still blames Labour for the financial crisis. Two and a half years later we are back in recession, public sector strikes prepared, protest after protest, marching for an alternative. Those at the top still aren’t listening and the opposing political voice is silent. The Conservatives haven’t backed the movement, begging the question as to whether David Cameron really believes in the Big Society after all. We must stop blaming each other and move towards a progressive economical system.
One year on is the perfect time to reflect on the progress of the movement and build momentum for it to continue. Occupy has grown into the biggest political movement of our time. Four in ten people know about the movement and 53% of people sympathize with the protest. One only wonders what they the Occupy movement will achieve in the next year.
By Soila Apparicio
Animation on the figures: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/video/2011/nov/16/99-v-1-occupy-data-animation?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3486
IPSOS survey of the movement: http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=5487