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The protesters have been criticized for being “disorganized,” and “lacking focus.” Indeed, there are several interests represented there: protests against corporate greed epitomized on Wall Street; financial mismanagement or outright malfeasance; unemployment and poverty; climate change and environmental degradation.
But there is a clear message that arises from this, and it’s easy to see. “We are the 99 percent,” the protesters repeat. And they’re protesting one thing: injustice.
This really is an “American Autumn,” inspired at least partly by the Arab Spring. Like the protesters in Tunisia and Egypt, they are gathering in the locus of U.S. power. It’s not Washington (although there may be plans for similar protests there and in other cities, as well). In the U.S., the shots are called by the money interests, and those are centred in Manhattan.
It’s telling that the media that is owned by corporations that are traded on the New York Stock Exchange have given short shrift to the Occupy Wall Streeters. But they will have to start paying attention, because this protest isn’t going to just go away. It’s into its third week, and it’s growing and spreading.
The 99 percent are protesting the actions of the one percent who control so much of the U.S., its economy and its politics and laws. The moneyed one percent have commandeered the laws of the U.S. to their own benefit, and to detriment of the 99, probably since the U.S. was formed; however, that bias has been obvious since the Reagan years, the slashing of social service budgets, the outsourcing of jobs and whole industries to anywhere that poverty and lax labour laws reduce costs, and tax breaks for the one percent. This regimen became egregiously blatant under W. Bush.
The 99 percent are the true representatives of the Tea Party of 1773, not the collection of dupes who now call themselves the Tea Party. In 1773, the Boston colonists who threw tea into Boston harbour were not protesting a tax so much as the injustice of the way it was applied. Their slogan was, remember, “no taxation without representation.”
Today’s Occupy Wall Streeters are protesting the economic and financial policies engineered by and for the financeer class. The tax policies do not represent their interests. Middle- and lower-class Americans are getting poorer, and have been for a long time.
The one percent had better pay attention.