Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Arab Spring Comes to Wall Street

Apparently the spirit of revolution can come back to life in the United States.  However, this time around the model seems to have less to do with throwing tea into Boston Harbor and more to do with storming the Bastille or confronting Marie Antoinette over the need for bread.  I am still trying to assess who is finding this newsworthy.  However, because the parallel to the Arab Spring is so obvious, I was not surprised that I should read about it first on Al Jazeera English.  Here is how they presented the story:

Building on the momentum of the Arab Spring movements, protesters in the US are gathering in New York City's financial district in a bid to show mass resistance against the dominance of the country's financial system.

What started as an online campaign has translated into action on the ground, with protest organisers calling for thousands of people to "occupy Wall Street" on Saturday.

"On the 17th of September, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up beds, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months," organisers wrote on the website.

"Like our brothers and sisters in Egypt, Greece, Spain, and Iceland, we plan to use the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic of mass occupation to restore democracy in America. We also encourage the use of nonviolence to achieve our ends and maximize the safety of all participants."

The leaderless movement includes hacktivist group Anonymous among the protesters. The group released a video online calling on people to take to the streets on September 17.

Similar to the structure of the hacktivist group itself there is no defined central authority, but Twitter accounts like @AnonOps are hubs of information for those attending the protests in person and virtually.

It will be interesting to see how many of the people they wish to confront are actually there on Saturday.  While it is true that a lot of these folks now work 24/7, it is just as true that they can be at home with a laptop as easily as sitting at a workstation on Wall Street.  What will probably matter more is just how long the protestors plan to hold their ground.  The game plan may be that there will be a lot of reporters on hand by the time it is Monday morning, and which time I suspect that the media are going to need a lot of technology to delete a lot of expletives!

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