Thursday, 9 February 2012


I thought it would be interesting to start a discussion on the Occupy protests that have currently made themselves so prevalant. What is your view on the movement? Is capitalism the lesser of all the evils? What do you think Karl Marx would have to say about this -- and is it simply just a cry out for communism?


Ever since the Occupy protests started on September the 17th of last year, the movement has grown exponentially. There are well over 2000 occupy groups, spanning over around 80 countries. The first widely known occupy protest was held in New York, by a group going by the name of 'Occupy Wall Street.'

You may have heard of the Occupy protests, seen them on the news -- but what is it really all about?

The movement is innately anti-capitalist. The slogan "we are the 99%" is in reference to the top one percent of earners owning most of the wealth-- and therefore holding the most power. We can see this in effect quite vividly in America, where the top 1% of earners own around 35% of the country's wealth and the top 20% own, staggeringly, around 80% of the country's wealth.

The goal of the movement is to, in general, empower the lower classes by redistributing the world's wealth. Even a small fraction of the earnings of the top 1% would be enough to help a lot of services and a lot of people. People from the movement believe that it is unfair or even unjust that the balance of wealth is so skewed. Therefore, the movement is very much in favour of ideas such as The Robin Hood Tax.

Read More
The Occupy Movement on Wikipedia
The Robin Hood Tax

The Occupy Nottingham Camp Site

Nottingham has its own Occupy protest camp, which has been there for some time. The camp is currently situated in the Old Market Square near the fountains. They have even set up an information tent where you can drop in and ask them questions.

Occupy Nottingham
Occupy Nottingham on Facebook


  1. This is a great post Adam - and certainly a debate that we need to get going on this blog!

    My view is that although the Occupy Movement have a point - in that bankers are paid far too much for what they do - I am not sure what, exactly, that they are trying to occupy. From a contemporary Marxist perspective captialism doesn't exist in the way that, say, a person or a bank exists. It is better conceived as an 'abstract system' of accumulation - and it can only be changed by reforming or changing this system.

    Complaining about 'greedy bankers' - although welcome in a way - kind of misses the point.

    Neil T

  2. I would argue that the Occupy Movement is not innately anti-capitalist, rather it is heavily critical of capitalism in its contemporary form which I would describe as neo-feudalism. The aim of the initial Occupy Wall Street protest was to raise awareness of and protest against (the easy to complain about) wealth disparity, but more significantly to highlight both the lack of any legal repercussions for those who brought about the ongoing global economic crisis and the disproportionate influence of corporations on democracy.

    The division between corporations and governments is becoming increasingly blurred and we can't help but consider who really holds the power. Many sovereign nations have had their fiscal policies determined by the reckless behaviour that led to the 2008 liquidity crisis and now we see that to claw their way out governments must determine the priorities of their budgets in order to appease the money markets and ratings agencies who's subjective judgement in a press release can bankrupt a nation.

    Obviously their has to be a degree of interaction between markets and government in a capitalist world but the ingredients for an excellent conspiracy theory are handed upon a plate at the moment. The new European Central Bank President Mario
    Draghi, the new Prime Minister of Italy Mario Monti
    and the new Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos are all ex high level Goldman Sachs employees. The list doesn't even stop there with, for example, ex-employees now Irish finance officials determining their nation's bail out terms. The Goldman Sachs connection is food for a conspiracy but when elected prime ministers of major supposed democracies are forced out and replaced by unelected technocrats backed by big business the idea of neo-feudalism makes itself brazenly apparent.

    This is what I see the occupy movement protesting against. They were occupying Wall Street as a visual message that their streets belong to all citizens and not just the corporate elite. The various meanings of the term occupy as both a physical and intellectual activity perhaps account for its adoption by many diverse groups. The lack of defined objectives or central leadership, however, is in my opinion the movements greatest strength. It allows for an inclusive and developing debate that I believe is perhaps different from past protest movements. The movement is extremely widespread across the world due to internet access, particularly social networks which are of strategic benefit for organising protests but more importantly for disseminating information to even the most restricted regions of the world e.g. China and Arab nations. It is hard to say why the Arab Spring suddenly occurred after so many years of oppression other than that its citizens through access to information became aware of the power of solidarity.

    To conclude, I would say that the Occupy movement is about raising awareness and making information freely accessible rather than concentrating on particular objectives. (as you say Adam there is an information tent in the square). Twitter posts tagged with #Occupy cover a wider range of issues but generally seek to expose power relations between business and government and the consequent injustices that may cause. Obviously we may each have varying perceptions of the potential success and aims of this movement, but as they have done us the courtesy of being included in the 99% I personally hope that its aim is to allow for the open debate of opinions rather than, as with a pure revolution, to impose new ones.

    (If anyone is interested in the debate on corporations committing what should be crimes but being allowed to get away with it by governments I highly recommend The Keiser Report on the freeview channel Russia Today (its in English!). Slightly sensational and light hearted but well referenced source wise and illuminating for this debate on the web of connections between banking, finance and the corridors of power.)