At the time of this writing, Occupy Vancouver’s tent camp is no more. Across North America, the remaining occupations are under siege from law enforcement and negative press, to say nothing of harsh weather. Is the global flareup from October 15 just a historical flash in the pan, and its tagline, “We Are the 99 Percent” destined to become a forgettable political cliché? Or is there something necessary and new animating the “Occupy Everywhere” movement that will take on new forms in the future?
On a chilly early November day, one of the Occupy Vancouver organizers described how he joined the movement. “I used to be one of the one percent and made a lot of money,” said Suresh Fernando. “I was stockbroker at Scotia Macleod, lived at Wall Center, drove a beamer, all that kind of fancy stuff. I was never happy.” He says he went through a “spiritual transformation” over the past few years, a change that took him to the grounds of the Vancouver Art Gallery on October 15, the day of global solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. Fernando has been on and off the site ever since.
The corporate state is comparable to a cruise ship with a disintegrating hull. The crew is trying half-heartedly to plug the leaks, while the officers are pulling boards from steerage to redecorate the ballroom. Off in the distance, we can see the lights of small vessels picking up people thrown from the ship. I will argue below that the occupations have performed, in part, like rescue vessels – jury-rigged rafts bound together with determination and awareness. ...
Six inches from the riot policeman's shield outside the Greek parliament last Friday, a tall, pale boy was shouting at a man who could have been his uncle:
"It's your generation that brought us to this point, but it's mine that has to pay for it. You have to take responsibility for what's happening here."
"Traitors! Collaborators! We're Greeks. You're beating up your mothers and your sisters."
"They've drunk our blood, we don't have anything to eat. They've sold us to the Germans. My child owes money, they're about to take her house. I hope they all get cancer."
When you ask people on the street if they would rather Greece went bankrupt than submit to further measures, many now point out that it is already bankrupt, that public sector workers have gone unpaid for months, that hospitals have no supplies, that the poor are being wrung dry in order to pay the banks. "Let's get it over with," a woman who works for the education ministry said to me. ...
Why, then, have large sections of the Greek elite clung so hard to the fantasy that a new loan deal can "save" the country? ...
The trouble with historical metaphors is that they can obscure the present: what's really at stake here is not Greece's identity but Europe's. All eyes are fixed on Athens, but the way out of the crisis requires a choice about what kind of Europe we want. The one we have now, with its deep structural inequalities and its rigid adherence to a failed economic ideology, protects neither democracy nor human rights. Stiff-necked and punitive, it prefers to eat its children.
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More than 45,000 protesters, some lobbing firebombs and clashing with tear gas-armed police, took to the streets of Athens on Sunday as the Greek Parliament voted 199 to 74 to pass a deeply unpopular austerity bill on Sunday, in an effort to secure a second bailout of €130 billion from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
The bill, which promises €3.3 billion in swingeing cuts to pensions, wages, and jobs and was effectively a vote to stay in the euro, is part of Greece’s on-going attempts to prove that it can and will stick to the terms of the multi-billion euro bailout package. But it remains to be seen whether EU finance ministers actually believe Greece will follow through – especially as Athens burns and popular unrest spreads to other Greek cities. ...
Greece sees tougher terms than post-WWII Germany did. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, writing at The Telegraph, pointed out that in 1953, post-World War II Germany got a better deal – significant debt forgiveness – than Greece is getting now. Greece’s PM Papademos declared that a default would result in a “disastrous adventure”, and living standards would crumb;e – but, argued Evans-Pritchard, “remaining in EMU is also a disastrous adventure, and living standards will certainly collapse.” ...
Jim comment: Actually the best comparison is Germany, 1929-1933.
In separate letters to Washington policy-makers, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney complain that sweeping reforms under the so-called “Volcker rule” would reach well beyond their intended scope.
And in some cases, because of the differences between the two countries, the impact could be greater in Canada, making savings through mutual funds and borrowing more expensive.
“The rule, as currently drafted, would have an unprecedented extraterritorial reach and significant cross-border effects ... given the close inter-linkages between the Canadian and U.S. financial systems,” Flaherty wrote Monday.
The changes, which seek to separate the traditional deposit-taking functions of banks from their more risky investment operations, are part of wider reforms being proposed to limit risk-taking by U.S. banks in response to the abuses that led to the 2008 recession. ...
Other countries have also lodged protests, including the United Kingdom and Japan.
Paul Volcker, a former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman, was expected to issue a defence of his proposal, which has also come under attack from U.S. financial institutions, later in the day.