If 2,000 Tea Party activists descended on Wall Street, you would probably have an equal number of reporters there covering them. Yet 2,000 people did occupy Wall Street last Saturday. They weren’t carrying the banner of the Tea Party, the Gadsden flag with its coiled snake and the threat ‘Don’t Tread on Me’. Yet their message was clear: ‘We are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.’ They were there, mostly young, protesting the virtually unregulated speculation of Wall Street that caused the global financial meltdown.
One of New York’s better-known billionaires, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, commented on the protests: ‘You have a lot of kids graduating college, can’t find jobs. That’s what happened in Cairo. That’s what happened in Madrid. You don’t want those kinds of riots here.’
Riots? Is that really what the Arab Spring and the European protests are about? […]
I interviewed one of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest organisers. David Graeber teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London, and has authored several books – most recently, Debt: The First 5,000 Years. Graeber points out that, in the midst of the financial crash of 2008, enormous debts between banks were renegotiated. Yet only a fraction of troubled mortgages have gotten the same treatment. He said:
‘Debts between the very wealthy or between governments can always be renegotiated and always have been throughout world history. … It’s when you have debts owed by the poor to the rich that suddenly debts become a sacred obligation, more important than anything else. The idea of renegotiating them becomes unthinkable.’