I have been so busy with life over the last few weeks that I don’t have time to take part in some of the “occupy” protests that are going on around the globe. I suppose that I am part of the 99% and that I should be railing against the 1%. Needless to say, I don’t really feel that way but the “occupy” protesters have something going on.
I am always a little bit reticent to get on the bandwagon of relatively rich protesters in the Western world when we have people starving to death in the Third World. I don’t think the occupy protests have much to do with the Arab spring. However, if the occupy protests grow any larger, it could get real messy.
If you don’t know what I mean you have not been watching the news lately. Earlier this year a group of protesters took to occupying Wall Street as a way to protest corporate greed. It has morphed into a whole bunch of different other causes now with the 1% and the 99% taking center stage. Protests have spread around the world and some have turned violent like in Europe.
In Canada we have had protests in Toronto with roaming bands of disaffected snarling traffic and gaining media attention. It is been encouraged a little bit by unsuspecting politicians who have said the wrong thing. It is always the cheap vote getting tactic to attack Wall Street or the rich. Our politics is full of people doing that. Even President Obama got into the mix, being asked a question about the occupy Wall Street group last week. He said something to the extent that everybody has some issues with what goes on with Wall Street and many took that for tacit support for the occupy protests.
The 1% versus the 99% argument doesn’t hold much weight with me. For instance I don’t think we want to live in a socialist society where everything is split equally. What happens in societies like that is that corruption usually is rampant because human nature is such that we want more and more. There is nothing particularly good about capitalism either because of the income disparities across society. What I like is capitalism mixed with some type of social responsibility where the less fortunate and people who are disabled are supported by the rest of society. We are debating utopia here and usually there’s not too much to that. We live in an imperfect world. Let’s get used to it.
I had a little bit of debate about the occupy protest last week on twitter. As many of you know I have led a few protests in my life. In 2006 I helped lead many protests regarding some problems we had in the Canadian farming industry. In April of that year I helped lead 10,000 Canadian farmers on Parliament Hill. That number makes these occupy protests in Canada look negligible. However, they were highly organized and were not organic. In other words we had a specific cause and we had specific numbers to get on Parliament Hill. We did that. In the age before social media, it was quite the accomplishment.
The occupy protesters have much broader goals, almost the flavor of the day. That might not be their intention, but as more people join the movement there will be a potpourri of causes put into the mix. I had a friend of mine complain the other night on twitter that the occupy Wall Street group had some Maoist signs present. He said where is the social justice with that with Mao being responsible for the death of 40 million Chinese. I questioned him about that, but he backed it up with some pretty good documentation. The point is it looks like the occupy movement is being infiltrated by anybody who has the cause of the day.
Of course my great friend, mentor and editor John Gardner should be leading the charge for the occupy movement. John has got some great economic ideas, which he passes by me from time to time. I don’t necessarily agree with John’s economics but I do admire his passion. The occupy movement is something that he is been waiting for at least since 1969. Regardless of how long we have been waiting the occupy movement should not be ignored. If critical mass continues, it could really change our society.
On the other hand, if nothing happens, it’ll be the same old thing. Protesters come and go, but in the end the world stays the same.