Demonstrations against financial greed sweep the world

By staff writers
16 Oct 2011

Millions of protesters in 82 countries and across nearly a thousand cities have taken to the streets to demonstrate against the bailing out of the rich, while those at the bottom end of society are expected to pay for a global economic crisis prompted by speculation and greed.

The 'Unite for Global Change' actions look set to continue throughout the week, with a new wave of demonstrations planned across Europe and the USA.

The activists "mean to limit the power of finance capital and build a more equal society", says BBC economics correspondent Paul Mason, who predicted the wave of unrest back in February. He wrote last night: "We've had nine months of political paralysis. And people have begun to feel the economic permafrost setting in."

"These protests are a powerful signal worldwide," says Mason. "Their mere existence shows that people are determined to 'think globally' about routes out of this crisis - at a time when economics is driving politicians down the route of national solutions. However marginalised they are politically - and in some countries, above all America and Greece, they have broken out of marginalisation - it is still a fact: in 1931, as the remnants of Globalisation 1.0 collapsed, there were no mass international protests against austerity. There were plenty of national, and indeed nationalist ones."

Today, he says, that has changed.

The inspiration behind the largest wave of popular protest against the effects of neoliberal capitalism in many years has been the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy America nonviolent actions, which have been taking place in the financial districts of the world's most prosperous nation for several weeks - largely under the radar of the US media, which first tried to ignore and then sought to ridicule the protests.

But the demonstrations have continued to capture the public imagination, as ordinary people in the West and beyond question the predominant message of corporate politicians and financial institutions that the rich must be bailed out and the poor must be made to pay in recessionary times.

For more than one month, demonstrators have occupied New York's Zuccotti Park, near the city's financial centre of Wall Street.

Worldwide protests sprung up in countries from New Zealand to Taiwan on Saturday 15 October, with activists using the internet and social networking sites to coordinate their activities.

The biggest largest demonstration took place in Rome, where police used tear gas and water cannon to repel hundreds of protesters.

In Britain the largest protests have been in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh. A section 60aa order - which gives officers the power to force people to remove masks covering their faces - is currently in place in the City of London, but demonstrators say they will not relent.

[Ekk/3]

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