In July, Adbusters, an anti-consumerist organisation, put out a call for protesters to occupy Wall Street, declaring: “It’s time for DEMOCRACY NOT CORPORATOCRACY.” Yesterday (17th September) saw that call answered with a demonstration in New York that sought to imitate those of the Arab Spring.
At the time of writing it would appear that demonstrators have set up camp and spent the night in Lower Manhattan amid a heavy police presence. The protest has been peaceful and perhaps as a consequence, largely ignored by the media. Indeed, the suspicion that there is a deliberate media ‘blackout’ has been one of the constant complaints from the protesters using the Twitter hash-tag #occupywallstreet.
There were also accusations that Twitter had effectively censored the #occupywallstreet hash-tag yesterday by stopping it from trending. Others complained that they found it difficult to get reception on their mobile phones in Manhattan, which would be remarkable in the such a plush part of New York.
This may all be conspiracy theory. Perhaps the demonstration isn’t considered sufficiently newsworthy by journalists. Maybe it just hasn’t attract the numbers. In fact,there are vastly varying claims about the attendance: from a few hundred to 50,000! Although, how many people would it take to catch the media’s eye. After all, it seems that it only takes one ‘tea-bagger’ to clear his or her throat and a microphone is thrust in front of them. But you’d be a fool to expect fair-play from the corporate media, although that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep asking for it.
Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how, and whether, the protest develops over the next few days; whether the USA is ready for a “Springtime’ of its own.
My initial reaction is to be sceptical. Trying to inspire Tahrir-style demonstrations in the USA might be difficult, because unlike Egyptians, there are probably sufficient numbers of Americans labouring under the illusion that they live in the greatest country in the world.
I’m no expert in this area but the USA looks to me like a country in serious economic decline, losing its influence in the world and militarily overstretched. In short, the model of America that many of us grew up with — world super-power; the American dream, land of hope and opportunity etc — is in its death-throes. And as Shakespeare once wrote, ‘Tis better playing with a lion’s whelp. Than with an old one dying.’
I have a terrible feeling that a declining USA will be an ugly affair — defined more by organisations like the nefarious Tea Party than Adbusters. I hope I’m wrong.