Occupy Movement

Occupy Movement


At the backdrop of the Arab spring in May 30, 2011 the Indignados in Spain began pitching protests camps in the country as a response to the economic turmoil that was facing the common people (36). In June, 2011, the Adbusters Media Foundation started the calls for Occupy Movement of the Wall Street as sign of people’s backlash to ever expanding wealth gap between the rich and the poor in America and a general slow response of legal redress to the credit crunch that had began impacting hard on the American society (11). Zuccoti Park in lower Manhattan in New York became the pioneer ground of the Occupy Wall Street Movement to take off in September 17, 2011 with the protest slogal ‘We are the 99%’ (45). Dean (12) remarked that the federal’s swipe at the Zuccotti Park’s maiden camps was not anything larger than a salient statement that the occupiers had made to the whole American society as well as the international community.He added that the movement in itself remains a key point in debates concerning the economy in America even if people had been driven out of the streets by the police.

Occupy Movement in America

            Occupy Movement in America took from lower Manhattan region with the participants camping at Zuccotti Park in New York in protests of the iron fist hold of the large corporations, wealthy individuals and the general failure of the Wall Street in cushioning people from the 2008 financial meltdown. The people had a feeling that they had been receded to the periphery of oblivion because of what they perceived as greed of a few individuals who are controlling the economy of the US (36).  And just when somebody would think the wealth gap is only an American phenomenon, Occupy movement spread to other capitals across the world at an exponential speed that baffled many. Dean (12) also argued that global interconnectedness in the economy and the pervasive wealth inequalities across many jurisdictions gave an impetus to the spread of the movement. People anywhere, from the Far East to the Middle East, Africa to Europe and Americas have stories that ring similar economic undertones of inequalities and the excesses with which the rich control the economy to the detriment of the poor across the world (Dean 12).


The central themes that the common people sought signify was the inequality that exists between 1% of the rich Americans and the rest. In keeping in light the inequality nexus, Dean (12) argued that most of the members of the 1% class control a huge hunk of the nation’s income and apparently of the country’s political class are part of the 1% who is in control of most of the nation’s wealth. The Congressional Budget Office Report (CBO) (page) indicated that 1% of the rich Americans have had such a huge increase in their income over the last few years estimated at a 275% growth while that for the Americans in the middle income groups have only increased by 40%. The general trend in the economic development had therefore placed the few rich Americans in a better position than the lower income group counterparts. The haves who belonged to the 1% population of America included a number of business organizations, individuals, insurance firms and other multinational companies. A part form the inequalities NewYork Times (2012) noted that other grievances that formed the common grievances to which the people staged the protests were due to what people looked at as excessive power of the corporations, businesses and banks.


The demonstrations spread from the epicenter that was Zuccotti Park to other cities in different states including the city of Los Angeles Oakland, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and other cities across the world. New York Times (2012) further indicated that even some of the largest universities across the US. Issues of economic and social issues are some of the most salient topic within the political and especially in the US where most social and economic issues tend to divide the country along party lines. Similar to other issues, New York Times (2012) noted that the there was an easily discernible difference in the nature of response to the protests from the Republicans and the Democrats. Although the Democrats offered what was described as cautious support to the movement, the Republicans were largely critical of the movement according to Dean (13, some of the Republicans branded the protesters as people who were paving a path way to class logger heads in the country.

Troubles for the US economy can be contracted to the period between 1979 and 2007 when economic statistics grew in much skewed figures. Mishe and Bivens (1) indicated that between the periods alone the top 1% of the Americans took a whole 59.9% all the gains made in the economic growth followed by the 90% at the bottom with a paltry gains of only 8.6%. In essence, the economic growth in america trickles down in the most minimal rate to the middle class and the poor at the lowest rate in terms of capital income and the median wages as well. Part of this skewed growth in economy led the people to rise in the furor. Fortunately, the voice of the powerless and the 99% was far reaching to even people who were watching the unfolding events with it epicenter at Zuccoti Park. O’Rourke (7) cited opinions polls Gallup, the Time Magazine, and CBS/New York Tines that all indicated that many Americans approved of the grievances of the Occupiers of Zuccoti Park at varying percentages.

A significant number of the last decade college graduates have largely identified with the Occupy movement than in any other place. Dean (13) noted that many of the students graduating from colleges are facing the slimmest chances of making any worthwhile incomes form the wage labor market. Shierholz, Sabadish and Wething (para 1-2) noted  that up to four years preceding the recession that began in 2008 in the US, the rate of unemployment has soared, remaining at the rate of 8% and even more throughout the period.

The staggering figures of the national unemployment rate has taken its toll on young people especially the under 52 years in age who faces an unemployment rate of 16.4% that puts many of the young graduates at risks of not getting a job as soon as they come out of college. Between April 2010 and March 2012, young people between the age of 17-20 faced a staggering rate of unemployment that hit 31.1% only 1.6% down from what it was in 2010. On the other hand, college graduates between the ages of 21-24 years faced a 10.4% unemployment rate in 2010 reducing by 1% in 2011 but underemployment among the same subset population hit 19.8% in 2010. To underscore more problems for the same category of the demographics a majority of the young graduates have been earning lower wages than what they used to before turn of millennium 2000, a decline that  Shierholz, Sabadish and Wething (para 11) estimated at 11.1% for young high school graduates with that of college graduates having declined with up to 5.4%. Other economic fragilities that are have been and probably will continue to face people graduating in America the recession time include; dismal job opportunities for career advancement, higher chances of earning less into the next decade (Shierholz, Sabadish and Wething, para 12-14). The cost of obtaining a college diploma or degree for young people have also gone up forcing a larger number to secure loans that are predisposed to defaulting in repaying within the appropriate time.


It was not therefore a coincidence that a great many numbers of such college and high school graduates found Occupy movement in the US a good avenue to articulate their plight. The statistics is also an indicator that the government and the large investors in the country have tended to care more for the rich than the poor in the American society. At this point one goes back to the day of Civil Rights Movement when Martin Luther King Led Memphis striking workers to fight for what rightfully belongs to them. Zuccotti Park crowds were just reminders to the economists that a very important segment in the society that seem forgotten have medical bill, educational expenses, and other bills to take care of too.

Occupy Wall Street Movement in the US gave local people who have borne inequality for years spanning back to the period 1979 to 2007 when the economic melt down started in the US. The furor passed the salient message that the rich Americans have not shared the gains out of the economic growths that followed the period after World War II.

Lack of Instrumental Trade Unions

            The 2011 take off Occupy Wall Street Movement also rang the bells of lack of trade unions that could help to articulate people’s grievances in the Labor Market. Dean (14) noted that the trade unions would have helped workers in voicing the concerns of the people working and the middle income group in America, unfortunately, they have constantly been on the decline. Corporate America seem to have been operating in many people could probably be said to have been disfranchised of political means to express their needs hence the Corporations and rich individuals in the top 1% must have had a field day in propagating policies that only helped to hurt majority of the lower class and middle income groups.

The other notable aspect of Occupy Wall Street Movement in the US portrayed that working and middle class Americans lack a formal and an instrumental tool that they could use in a more formal context to address their grievances. Dean (14) added that only the fewer Americans who can afford the campaign money through donations or the high paid lobbyist have the instruments fro addressing their grievances.

Failed Political Hopes

The building and rebuilding the political hopes with the past electioneering campaigns seemed to have hit a snag when the first people moved in Zuccotti Park in the Manhattan area to occupy the Wall Street. The movement had rang the bell that decision makers at the Capitol Hill could be ages behind the actual changes that have taken place in the economy of America. Dean (14) argued that the electorate in America had been made to believe develop perennial hope in political promises and constant failures of different regimes in fulfilling the electorate concern of getting an administration that can actually reverse the order of the things as they are currently. At this point one could actually reflect back to the Obama’s winning vote in the 2008 presidential election. A lot of reforms were made then to the electorate but only three years into the presidency, the hope had waned giving way to protest by the people. Dean (14) noted that the change platform over which Obama won the presidency as the 44th president of America has largely remained an alien term in Washington among the economic policy makers.

The neoliberals of Washington were not in any slight way going to give Obama’s administration easy passage to overhaul the system. It is the ‘business as usual’ in the corporate world that saw people’s hopes reaching the breaking point. According Dean (15) unlike elsewhere where people to the street to protest against the corporate world, Americans were in part responding to an administration that they had elected to effect changes but seemingly turned in what had been in existence before. He added that people sought ways on how to express their needs outside investing their hopes in the normal political processes (15). It would be imperative to note that corporate politics in Washington based on Dean’s arguments is probably larger that the will of the electorate or even presidents who have largely campaigned on reformists platforms.

Revival of the Power of Organizing In the Universities

American Colleges and universities hold their places in the annals of history on the power of organizing. Occupy Wall Street Movement was replicated in some of the colleges across America as well. McCarthy (50) noted that many students in the US got an impetus in staging a backlash as well against the corporation that were being viewed to be at the center of perpetrating implicit inequality policies that was largely keeping many people in dejection and hopelessness. However, the college students’ response too Occupy Wall Street Movement largely based their movement to correspond with those of the populations that protested in American cities. Coherence and identification of definite goals that on campus protests seeks to achieve according to McCarthy (51) should be made to work in lieu with the off campus organizing. During Occupy Wall Street Movement, a significant number of participants in the cities of Oakland and New York participated. Some of the grievances that the students protested against included; staggering student’s educational loan debts, rising costs of tuition fees, demand for teach-ins among other needs (McCarthy, 53). Students participation in Occupy Wall Street Movement was indication the socio-economic turmoil majority of Americans were facing were pervasive and extended into the learning institutions.

Occupy Movement in Europe

Just like in America, Occupy Movements in Europe started just in quick succession after that the Wall Street’s Occupy Movement. Dean (15) noted that people in counties like Spain, Greece, London and Italy staged protests in response to the economic meltdown that was being felt and fast spreading across the world. Similar undertones that sparked the protests in Europe similar to those of the people in New York went into the encampment on the 17th of September in 2011. White the democratic had been largely calculative in their support of the movement in America, Dean (12) noted of the Republicans disapproval of the movement as people who were hell bent on causing conflicts between different classes in the US. A similar reaction from the political class in Europe was evident in what Gray (para 1) ironically labeled ‘utopian’ thinking among the protesters. The question the political pundits could be asking is; who could truly be utopist in their reasoning or action between government bureaucrats and the economists who could not see the sense of a salient issue worth their consideration.

Gray (para 1) still argued that political parties and the pervasive thinking of the neoliberal thinking of the market economists are in themselves custodians of the historical utopia that was causing more harm than good to the ordinary people. The common masses were making a genuine call to the established political thinking on economy to be reversed in order to spill the common good and share the risks evenly across different income groups.

Causes Of Occupy Movement in Europe

            In Europe, Gray (para 2) argued that the post World War II capitalistic ideals that became pervasive economic policies became largely responsible for the widening wealth disparity between low income earners and the rich classes in Europe. He blamed the opening up of free markets between the continents opened the path to self destruction because the targeted widened markets became vulnerable to changes in the world market at their least to their most devastating effects. In the US, for example Gray (Para 2) noted the economy is controlled by few people whose wealth holdings could be quite volatile in the face of adversities hence the debt servitude that has occurred in America since 2008 found its conduit of a minority but ended up affecting majority of Americans. In Europe however, Gray (para 2) argued that the melt down was one of the side effects of the common currency dream within the Europe bloc although there are other causes as well that are peculiar to different countries in Europe.

In Greece, aspirations towards adopting a single currency and austerity measures have largely remained some of the major driving factors to social problems that led to the furor. In other counties like Spain, widespread joblessness across different demographic groups led to the protests while in other countries moving up the social ladder based on income have largely become thwarted dreams because large public debts where even the ordinary people have been sucked in (Gray, para 3).


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