Sunday, October 16, 2011

Occupy Montréal: Why?

Over a thousand people gathered in Victoria Square, the center
of Montreal's financial district, to "Occupy Montréal"
 The Occupy Movement has drawn disparate campaigners for a variety of  causes together. This has caused many to accuse the movement of being directionless or un-serious. In reality the people occupying Wall Street, London and other financial centers around the globe see these institutions as being the source of many global problems. While the previous global recession can immediately be linked to financial and political mismanagement of the economy, protestors also see how environmental concerns, the plight of aboriginal peoples, military actions, the stagnation of middle class incomes, the growth of impoverished underclasses in even the wealthiest nations and the continued success of dictators are all tied to a financial elite that holds undue influence over governments, democratic or not, whether international, national, regional or local.
The interests of a few include the senior executives
of major media and diversified corporations.

In Canada, stricter banking regulations protected our economy from the financial mismanagement that wounded much of the world's economy. However, the current government had advocated removing those restrictions, prior to the recession. Moreover, incomes have stagnated in Canada for more than a generation, although Canadian workers productivity has shown massive gains. Like people around the world, Canadian citizens have to work more and more to earn the same income, and this in an era of massive increase of corporate profit and GDP growth. Coupling this with environmental exploitation, this isn't seen as business development, but as a return a sort of technocratic feudalism. So many Canadians see these protests as the last, best hope for maintaining political and economic justice here and around the world.

Few believe that solutions to balancing human needs, environmental limitations and a sustainable economy will be simple, but all see this elite as being responsive only to its own narrow and short-sighted interests. Even those who consider themselves capitalists do not recognise this as anything but a kleptocracy. A kleptocracy that relies on the political class of various countries to act as partners or shills for policy that benefits the 1% to the detriment of the other 99%.

Certainly, you can find funny hats, and protestors that can only ramble incoherently. But these are a sliver of those that see the far reaching ramifications of a global class that plays Monopoly with the wealth produced by an increasingly disenfranchised majority. And unfortunately some believe that by allying themselves with the "1%" they will be allowed to join it. Yet their loyalty is exploited- we only have to look toward the behavior of some Police forces in their actions toward peaceful protest. But on closer examination the majority of the Occupy movement are citizens demanding democratic representation and economic opportunities that don't rely on onerous exploitation of people or the environment.
The police presence at Occupy Montréal was very visible, but
admirably subdued. For the most part, soldiers and police officers
are part of the 99% as much as these two women.

"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."
-E.M. Forster