It was about a year ago that the Occupy movement spread worldwide. Millions of people participated in the protest against global economic inequality. Their rallying point was that the top 1% is accumulating too much wealth, and primarily through exploitative means. There is vast evidence to support these claims. The world is not a very friendly place, I’m sure you already know. So I agreed with their cause and was interested to see how it would develop. I expected an anti-protester stance by the government and corporate world, but what truly shocked me was how the general public reacted. Ordinary people (not all, there was massive support) began bashing on the movement against corporate greed. Even some of my politically apathetic friends began posting “facebook bumper stickers” against the protesters. When the powers that be had enough and ordered the police in to smash the movement, those same people felt America had won some type of battle. In fact it did, but for who?
The Occupy movement failed to bring about any significant change to the global economic system. People are still being exploited for labor and the presidential debate hardly addresses the growing inequality of the 1%. Yet the movement brought to light a disturbing aspect of our government, that future mass protests will most likely be met by the same repressive actions and possibly be intensified. Furthermore, the violence shows that the government has clearly sided with Wall St. The fact that all this happened while our troops were off dying for “freedom” only adds to the hypocrisy of it all. Any meaningful social action against abusive government/corporate practices will be ignored in the least and will be met with raw violence if necessary. Keep in mind that the Occupy movement was largely a nonviolent movement.
Tiananmen Square Massacre, 1989. Chinese protesters rally against government/corporate corruption. This footage is a haunting reminder of the Police State any government could become. Warning: the following BBC broadcast was recorded live on location and contains graphic images of violence and death.
This is not an isolated incident. And if you care enough to read further into the history of Neoliberalism, you’ll find that the Occupy movement is actually a continuing development from what you just watched. A true democracy must tolerate the most unpopular protests or degrade into totalitarianism. Advocating official government repression silences all people.
The government’s decision to suppress the Occupy movement by police force rather than open debate has lead some people to question adherence to nonviolent tactics. In the face of increasing police aggression, a growing number of people are turning to Black Bloc. It is a protest tactic in which a unified mass all wear black clothing and conceal their identities. They use extreme measures such as graffiti, rioting, and destruction of private property, as forms of direct action against the corporate establishment. Mob mentality is preferred and the group is known to be strong advocates of Anarchism.
Whether Black Bloc is an effective protest tactic or counter intuitive to petitioning the government for authentic change is hotly debated. What remains certain is that methods like Black Bloc are a reaction to government’s reluctance to engage the people’s concerns of corporate abuse, and the outright assaults on peaceful protesters only encourage more people to turn away from pacifism. After the inadequate results of 2011’s massive Occupy movement and the government’s brutal repression tactics, the question of what protest means in the United States remains uncertain. The solutions will not materialize themselves from nothing. These Ideas will be born from rational and intelligent debate that is protected by our right to free speech. But all the free speech in the world means nothing if our minds are empty and lethargic. Read books, ask questions, seek out information, and challenge propaganda. Most importantly, see that there is a problem. Both sides will need to evolve as the growing, unresolved tension foreshadows the violent extremities of the not so distant past.
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