Perhaps they never will…

By Val G. Abelgas

THE world has indeed become one global village, as the late Canadian philosopher and scholar Herbert Marshall McLuhan had predicted 30 years before the creation of the World Wide Web or what we now know as the internet.

In the Sixties, McLuhan wrote in his book “The Gutenberg Galaxy” that the visual, individualistic print culture would soon be brought to an end by what he called “electronic interdependence.” He said that in this age, humankind will move from individualism and fragmentation to a collective identity, which he called the “global village.”

His media prophesy has been proved true in many ways in the last two decades, but none more accurately than by the recent global protests against corporate greed and other ills that afflict the world.

The worldwide protests had come less than a month after about 50 young people gathered in New York’s Zucotti Park along Wall Street, home of corporate greed in America, on September 17 to protest corporate greed, social inequality, Washington indifference, and other ills that afflict American society and economy.

From that small rally, it ballooned to protests by thousands of both young and old Americans who have grown tired of the general decline of American society and economy. The reasons for the protest have grown from corporate greed to Washington’s incompetence in dealing with the problems, lack of jobs, foreclosures, drugs, and every conceivable ill that afflict the United States and the world.

Over the weekend, the protest became global, with hundreds of thousands of angry protesters holding simultaneous rallies in 951 cities in 82 countries across North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Although the cries varied in all those demonstrations, the common cry was against corporate greed, and the common enemies were the profit-hungry capitalists and indifferent politicians of the world.

The social media – Facebook, Twitter, e-mails, blogs, online publications, etc. – were credited for the momentum of the protest buildup. The protesters used cell phones and social media tools to share developments in their cities in real time to the whole world.

They posted links on Twitter and Facebook, uploaded photos and videos on YouTube and other image-sharing sites like Bambuser, Yfrog and Ustream. New York protest organizers used their Global Revolution channel on Livestream so the whole world can see what’s happening in their part of the global protest movement.

People from all over the world were tuned in to the protests and joined online conversations and discussions on social media platforms in the days leading to the Saturday global protests. Trendrr, a social media analysis firm, said the number of posts about Occupy Wall Street protest movement on Twitter outside the US grew to more than 25 percent of total posts on Friday. On Saturday, the total increased to 47 percent of all Twitter posts that day.

Dozens of Facebook pages focus on the protest, such as Occupy Tokyo, Occupy Berlin, Occupy Sydney and Occupy Brazil. Users were also reported using and Foursquare, a geolocation service, to help find one another and organize protests.

Corporate moguls must be shaking in their boots with the increasing number of people joining and organizing protests in more and more cities around the world. If they think they can ignore the anger of the “other 99%,” who are pointing out that businesses that were responsible for the recession are the ones who are suffering least from it, they’ve got another think coming.

After the mortgage crisis, for example, the government gave them “doleouts” in the form of economic stimulus that they should have used to give out loans to enable the people to keep their homes, create jobs and save the economy. Instead, they held on to the cash. In fact, the US Federal Reserve reported that US businesses had record cash on their books — over $2 trillion – that could have spurred the economy if they had poured even a fraction of it into the economy.

The “other 99%” are complaining that about 40% of the nation’s wealth and about 25% of income are controlled by 1% of the population. Businesses continue to grow bigger and the rich that control them continue to grow richer, but the middle class and the lower classes have been left behind as the income gap grew wider through the decades.

The protesters are also protesting the alleged conspiracy between the politicians and big business. They are particularly angry about the way Republicans and other ultra-conservatives are insisting on spending cuts and blocking moves to impose more taxes on the rich and on businesses. They point out that when government cuts spending on health care, education, and other welfare benefits, it is the middle class and the poor who suffer most.

The Republicans claim that taxing the rich more would slow down economic growth and make them less likely to invest in job creation. However, economists point out that corporate executives now earn about 263 times the average American worker earns, and yet the country is experiencing the worst recession since the Great Depression. At the same time, the country’s unemployment rate stands at 9.1%, the highest in years.

The world’s political leaders will have to start re-thinking their policies while the corporate executives will have to start making some sacrifices to narrow the gap between the “other 99%” and the richest “1%.”

People all over the world, particularly those in the United States, are beginning to echo the words of TV news anchor Howard Beale in the award-winning film “Network” when he said: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

Despite bodily harm from police batons and threats of arrests, people from all over the world are joining the “revolution of the 99%” in mass numbers and the demonstrations are growing bigger and more and more uncontrollable.

In Rome, for example, demonstrators set cars ablaze, broke banks and shop windows and destroyed traffic lights and signposts. It was one of the worst violence in Italy in years. Protesters clashed with police, hurling rocks, bottles and firecrackers. And setting off smoke bombs. They denounced economic policies that, they said, were hurting the poor.

“We can’t carry on any more with public debt that wasn’t created by us but by thieving governments, corrupt banks and speculators who don’t give a damn about us,” said protester Nicla Crippa. “They caused this international crisis and are still profiting from it. They should pay for it.”

Her grievance just about sums up what most of the hundreds of thousands who have joined the global protest have against corporate greed and politicians’ indifference. But will they listen? Don McLean’s hit song “Vincent (Starry Starry Night),” in tribute to the artist Vincent van Gogh, may have the answer: “They would not listen, they’re not listening still. Perhaps they never will…”

They better.


Leave a Reply