What began as small protest in New York City on September 17, 2011 voicing opposition to corporate greed and government corruption has amassed into a global soapbox of anti-government, anti-corporate, and, according to some, anti-capitalist sentiments. The widening protest has highlighted growing discontent in the general population with state governments perceived inability to reconcile rapidly increasing sovereign debt, growing wealth divides, social instability, and high unemployment. Mirroring the sentiment of Tahrir Square from Egypt’s revolution earlier this year, Occupy Wall Street has sought to extend solidarity protests throughout the global community.
In recent weeks the protests have popped up in many major American cities as well as major financial centers across the world. In the United States, demonstrations have appeared in major financial districts of Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Denver, stretching all the way into Northern California as well as Los Angeles and San Diego. The website for the de facto organizers of the protest, occupywallst.org, claim that the protests have stretched to “over 100 U.S. cities and over 1,500 cities worldwide. “
Many of these worldwide protests began prior to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in the United States. The demonstrations currently being held are remnants of the on-going “Arab Spring” which toppled governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and are threatening stability in Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen.
In Europe, protests in Greece, Spain, England, and France have largely been in response to domestic austerity plans to relieve sovereign debt, which is currently threatening European Union monetary policy. While the protests on this continent find their progeny in differing social and economic circumstances, organizers have sought to draw analogous links to the demands of the protestors as well as the responses of the states in which they are taking place.
Occupywallst.org states that the demonstrations are against the “corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations (have) over the democratic process.” The vague message promoted by these protests may be the most dynamic aspect of the movement as it does not attempt to polarize political ideologies so much as it attempts to frame everyone in the general population as a beneficiary of it goals. It is in this manner that broad strokes generalizing about the failures of the democratic system are able to resonate with anyone listening.
Critics of the protests have cited a noticeable lack of uniformed demand as a detriment to the movement’s effectiveness. The lack of coherence may appear to hinder the movement’s ability to succeed, however, the shear plurality of issues that are present display the massive scope of the greater issue and perhaps strengthen the protester’s stance that the structures created to remedy these issues have failed in their mandate.