Silence on ‘Occupy’
THE CARIBBEAN’S DEPENDENCE on Western media has resulted in a colonially induced silence on the “Occupy Wall Street” protests in the United States.
When contrasted with the wall-to-wall coverage which attended the so-called Arab Spring protests, the truth of this assertion is amplified.
In the case of the Arab uprisings, there was enthusiastic coverage, given the perception that the political and ideological objectives of the protests were shared by rulers to the north.
The Occupy Wall Street protest is now too close for comfort. Indeed, if we were to rely on regional reporting, we would never know that the protests have been running unbroken for one month.
Nor would we know that what we are witnessing may be a decisive turning point in people’s willingness to tolerate the inhumanity of neo-liberalism and perhaps capitalism itself. Nor indeed, that as of Saturday, October 15, it transformed itself into a global movement.
This is inexcusable. The very fact that such a process of political mobilization has taken place in the United States, the centre of global capitalism, is news in and of itself. Its significance lies in its very occurrence.
In addition, coming several decades after the civil rights and anti-war protests of the 1960s, the resurgence of a new generation, in the middle of a global economic crisis and located deep in the very bowel of the wounded beast, should not be flippantly brushed aside.
It is clear, however, that the narrative that is emerging around the protests is proving uncomfortable to those who wish to preserve the existing order. New alliances are being forged between the old veterans of the civil rights movement and the new generation of anti-neoliberal protesters.
Following the brazen protests of the “tea party” right-wing ideologues, the left, after remaining silent, is now responding in kind. The beginnings of a global movement of the proletariat, conscious of itself “as a class for itself”, is now a reality.
Further, the crisis of capitalism continues with no end in sight, and in the midst of layoffs, house repossessions, homelessness and growing poverty, the legitimacy of the protest action is undisputed.
All of this suggests that the struggle against global neo-liberalism has now entered a new and perhaps decisive phase.
Whether we like it or not, the Caribbean is not immune to the objective logic of the forces which have given rise to this global movement.
Indeed, the very meaning of globalization implies that the lines between centre and periphery have been blurred.
It should come as no surprise when, in the days and weeks ahead, the Caribbean working class joins the ranks of protesters against mature and decaying capitalism. Already the legitimate points of entry present themselves, from CLICO to rising crime.
Its very inevitability should compel our newsmen to offer maximum coverage.
• Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus specializing in regional affairs. Email [email protected]