Why Occupy Wall Street is Green
(And why it’s just plain right.)
The protesters at Occupy Wall Street have been criticized for being a scruffy bunch of hippies with no clear central message. Indeed, if interviewed they usually preface their answers by explaining how their movement is a broad tent: grass roots, without leaders and based on a variety of premises and complaints. In short, there is no one key demand that functions in the way that anti-Vietnam War sentiments galvanized the protest movements of the 1960s.
The US is entrenched in two wars, neither, of which have a definitive end in sight. There is increasing class inequality on a global scale due to a succession of financial and political policies designed to increase and consolidate wealth in the hands of the richest. That small wealthiest percent in turn possess an inordinate amount of political power, which they may use to progressively enhance their riches and thereby gain more power in a sort of preposterously greedy positive feedback loop.
Republicans to the rescue: Ironically, the best sound bite to encapsulate the goals of Occupy Wall Street has come from one of its detractors, GOP Congressman Peter King of New York, who stated during a radio talk show:
I remember what happened in the 1960s when the Left wing took to the streets, and somehow the media glorified them and it ended up shaping policy. We can’t allow that to happen.
To resurrect an erstwhile and oft-mocked political slogan of America’s neo-liberal (or ‘Stalinist’ if you know absolutely nothing about politics or history) president: Yes we can!
That result of the Left ‘shaping policy’ would be great compared to the undemocratic, irresponsible, ecologically destructive, soul-sapping trend of deregulation and income gap widening that’s been going on since 1980.
Here’s a nice quote from a piece in Earth Times:
The belief that higher corporate profits will somehow create jobs has proven itself a pipe dream. Wall Street profits rose 720% between 2007 and 2009 (yes, you’re reading that correctly) while unemployment rose by 102%. Are we to believe that we just need to wait a few more years, and these jobs will magically appear? Furthermore, are we to accept that our environmental crisis will halt until corporations decide to take on that challenge at some unspecified point in the future?
That’s right: the same ideology that gives corporations more rights than human beings also encourages those corporations to destroy the environment with unprecedented vigor, and then tells them that they aren’t doing any such thing, i.e., climate change is a scam orchestrated by a socialist world government plot. [Strange, somehow the governments of the world almost unanimously swing to the Right, yet we’re meant to believe the global Left controls all scientific bodies on Earth.]
Lest I dither further, here’s what some prominent Greens are saying about Occupy Wall Street, which it turns out isn’t just a noble picnic of so-called hippies and anarchists, but is rather proving to be the big tent it always said it was.
Matt Petersen of Global Green, USA writes in the Huffington Post:
What is heartening about OWS is we are beginning to see the environmental movement join in, but it still seems to remain truly grass-roots. Our friends Bill McKibben and May Boeve at 350.org, who lead a global grassroots movement to fight climate change, have been at the forefront. McKibben conducted a climate teach-in this weekend for the protesters.
An article from Treehugger from way back near the start of OWS, puts some substantial Green pro-protest arguments forward:
[…] pervasive joblessness is a byproduct of the systematic dismantling of the American manufacturing base under the ideological pretext of free market absolutism and neoliberal globalization, an economic system disconnected from place and person. Re-localizing, re-regionalizing our economies, focusing on domestic needs first and export needs second, whether in so-called developing or developed nations (both inadequate words) is key factor in making our communities more environmentally resilient, more climate resilient, and in supporting local economies and jobs.
And then there’s the oily elephant in the room, covered in oil and blowing crude from its gas pump-shaped trunk, shaping policies, fueling wars, polluting the land and sea, and changing the climate. (It’s oil).
In closing, leave it to Naomi Klein, that sassy pin-up of the anti-globalization Left, to really bring it home:
The point is, today everyone can see that the system is deeply unjust and careening out of control. Unfettered greed has trashed the global economy. And we are trashing the natural world. We are overfishing our oceans, polluting our water with fracking and deepwater drilling, turning to the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet, like the Alberta tar sands. The atmosphere can’t absorb the amount of carbon we are putting into it, creating dangerous warming. The new normal is serial disasters: economic and ecological.
Read Naomi Klein’s entire piece in the Guardian.
Thank you, Naomi. And thank you, hippies, anarchists, Adbusters and Republican Congressmen for your fantastic work. Tomorrow I will post something about the protests in Europe.