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Occupy World - The Protest Against the Financial System Intensifies

by Jens Berger Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011 at 3:38 AM

Since the beginning of the financial crisis, governments from Berlin to Washington solemnly vowed to regulate the financial system more strongly, close the casino on the financial markets and call to account financially the speculators.for their inflicted damage. Deeds did not follow.


By Jens Berger

[This article published in:, October 13, 2011 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

On October 15, demonstrations against the excesses of financial capitalism will take place in 719 cities in 71 countries. People are finally waking up to “demonstrate” to politics that the speculators and fraudsters should be liable and pay for everything and the interests of financial management should not be served and the herd of speculators should not run roughshod on the markets. What began on May 15 in Madrid and spread like wildfire in the last weeks in the US could develop worldwide into a torrid fall. Even in Germany, there is enormous potential protest.

Since the beginning of the financial crisis, governments from Berlin to Washington solemnly vowed to regulate the financial system more rigorously, to close the casino on the financial markets and to call to account financially the unrestrained speculators for the damage they caused. Good roaring, lions – but no deeds followed the words. The linkages between politics and the financial industry are too close. The “monster” (Horst Koehler) cannot be tamed with fancy speeches and declarations of intent. Everyday that the casino is not closed, we must look on helplessly as the financial “markets” drive politics. Thus trust in democracy is lost more and more.

We stand by idly and watch how the financial system uses politics and the “Troika” of the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF, for example, in dictating a destructive austerity policy to whole countries. A generation of people are robbed of their perspectives and foundations of life. More and more we witness that this austerity policy is not limited to Greece and Portugal. For years, speculators and banks have driven politics according to their pleasure and whim. They do not stop at any national borders.

More and more people become outraged about this and resist. Not astonishingly, citizens worldwide are reaching for their last remedy in democracy and taking to the streets. That this is first happening now is astonishing.

If the pressure of the public could force a black-yellow coalition to a nuclear exodus, it should also be possible on principle to press the established parties to real reforms of the financial markets. However this unfortunately is not as “simple” as the comparison suggests.

In financial policy, “Fukushima” is the permanent state of affairs. The fact that speculators on the “markets” can set the whole European currency union on the card table and drive whole countries into bankruptcy is nothing less than a political super maximum credible accident (Super GAU).

Amazingly public perception is completely different. When the nuclear reactors in Japan were damaged, Iod-tablets were sold in Germany and the media was head over heels with catastrophe reporting. The Greens is a party that profited from the core meltdown of a false energy policy and the other parties fear for their power. Well-founded criticism of the financial system in Germany comes almost exclusively from the Left party (Die Linke) which however is either ignored or demonized by the media.

As with the financial crisis three years ago, we witness a far-reaching failure of the media in the aftershock of this crisis in the financial crisis of the states. They uncritically adopted the re-interpretation of the financial crisis into a “state debt crisis” by politics – guided by the banks that finally found a scapegoat in Greece and other countries with financial problems and want taxpayers to stand as surety for their misguided speculations. Politics agrees to this game once again.

More and more people see that only they can spoil or put a damper on this game and that the vicious spiral can only be stopped by pressure from below.

The “Occupy Movement” is often criticized for not naming any concrete goals. This criticism is rash. Did the 68-movement have a complete alternative program? Did the non-parliamentary opposition at that time know how to bring its goals to a common denominator? Nevertheless this movement brought many things into motion. Today very unfermented statements are heard in the “Occupy Movement.” This is unavoidable when an extremely heterogeneous political and worldview movement forms spontaneously without hierarchical decision-making structures and without centrally organized planning. Instead of criticizing this diversity – often perceived as naivety – this movement should be accompanied constructively. In the USA, unions and critical intellectuals like Paul Krugman, Joseph E. Stiglitz, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein have already joined the “Occupy Movement” and try to contribute their alternative ideas. In Germany, attac and some politicians on the left are in solidarity with the “Occupy Movement.” Where is the critical intelligentsia? Where are critical scholars and artists?

The smallest common denominator of this movement is important. This common denominator is the demand for an effective regulation of the financial markets, for curtailment of the power of the banks and finally the creation of a politics that doesn’t defend the interests of a financially-strong minority but represents the interests of the vast majority who are made liable for all these criminal intrigues and whose interests for social security and general prosperity were trampled in the last decades. Being in solidarity with this common denominator should not be difficult. Working ou9t complete detailed plans cannot be the task of a heterogeneous protest movement. The protest only shows the direction. Those with the necessary critical knowledge must propose the exact way and bring it into discussion.

This discussion process cannot be concluded from today to tomorrow. The history of the anti-nuclear power movement and the resistance to Stuttgart 21 demonstrate this. Still this development process could be the crux of the “Occupy Movement.” It cou9ld be simply overrun by the developments on the financial “markets” and politics and be driven into resignation. The fate of such “open” movements can be studied in the liberation movements in North Africa.

The situation is serious and time presses. This is not an argument against the protests. Rather this is an argument for directing the protests to concrete goals, setting them on a broader (mass) base and supporting them in solidarity. NachDenkSeiten welcomes this new protest movement because we see it as a beginning for a democratic counter-public. We want to make our contribution to strengthen this movement and help constructively in its discussion process.


Barber, Benjamin: Calling All Liberals: Time to Fight, The Nation, November 2011

Berman, Ari: How the Austerity Class Rules Washington, The Nation, November 2011

Brown, Ellen: Can the Fed Eliminate the Interests on Student Loan Debt? Oct 21, 2011,

Reich, Robert: The Austerity Death Trap, Oct 20, 2011,

Skidelsky, Robert: Recovery Before Reform,

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