First they ignore you, then they laugh at you…
It seems like suddenly I’m posting daily, not sure why that is. Today’s post has kind of written itself through the feeds. It started with word that the OccupyTogether movement now lays claim to 66 ‘occupations’ in America and around the wider world, and is set to touch down at the London Stock Exchange on October 15th.
In the last few hours it’s scored another big win, with news that the support of the 200,000-strong New York Transit Workers Union is behind them. That could spell a major escalation in terms of the number of people out on the streets come the weekend.
Now that mainstream media – AKA ‘MSM’ – is starting to cover the story, it’s doing so in the form of predictably withering and contemptuous commentary, criticising the movement for its incoherent demands and unclear objectives, amidst a more broadly derogatory critique of the protesters’ general manner and disposition. All in all, the MSM and wider establishment seem to be playing their part in proceedings to the letter:
The reality is that much of what has happened so far has gone the way of the protesters, and they deserve some credit for that. Mark Engler has this erudite assessment of ‘five things #OccupyWallStreet has done right’. Engler understands the distinction articulated in the clip below by Michael Hudson, between the real economy, an economy of producers, and a parasitic and predatory financial services sector:
It’s a topical distinction, having been a central theme of Ed Milliband’s keynote earlier in the week at the Labour conference. Whatever your misgivings about Milliband, there are plenty of Labour supporters who will be encouraged by the idea that the party could return to the ground it traditionally occupied before ‘New Labour’ moved it so unequivocally to the right.
The reality is that many of us now understand that it is not within the power of any UK party leader to fundamentally change the nature of their constituency, that being the Square Mile. Hence the corporatocracy we now inhabit, an authoritarian private school in which Cameron, Clegg and Milliband must squabble perpetually over who gets to be Head Boy. This is the essence of #OccupyTogether as I understand it, that the power to effect those kind of changes resides exclusively in the hands of the masses, acting not as a well-meaning electorate but as a media-styled mob.
If the MSM are busy casting the crowds in one light, we can feel confident that culture-jamming ‘hacktivist’ groups Anonymous and Adbusters will keep busy flooding the airwaves with streams of their own: word is that the protests have already seen 1.77 million live video streams served 553,000 visitors, generating a total of 30 million viewer minutes.
I ran into one such edit earlier in the day, featuring footage from the streets of New York under a suitably moody piece of music. What really struck me was a speech that kicks in about halfway through, one I’ve never heard before, from The Great Dictator. It’s an amazing piece of screen-writing, and some remarkable oratory from a man known by most as the pre-eminent silent movie star: