Prelude to an American Spring?

wallstreet_protest

The NYTimes reported a story, "Wall Street Protests Continue, With at Least 6 Arrested," in its blog a few days ago that reminded me of several past posts on this blog warning that the current social system was showing signs of strain. The protesters were demonstrating against "Wall Street," as a symbol of the unhealthy dominance of corporate America--"Big Corporations."

It was the third day of anticorporate protests that were promoted by a range of groups including AdbustersMedia Foundation, an advocacy group based in Canada, as well as a New York City group that called itself the General Assembly. Participants said that the demonstrations were meant to criticize a financial system that unfairly benefits corporations and the rich and undermines democracy.

One of the demonstrators spoke to the reporter, saying “There’s a major divide between the rich and the poor in this country. . . One in 10 people are unemployed and my vote is nullified by corporate lobbyists.” The Washington Post showed some photos of the scene. The event was still in progress four days later, but has attracted even less media coverage than it did on the first day. The stories I read were virtually only about the arrests being made, with little or no coverage of the nature of the protests.

If this had been a Tea Party crowd railing against "Big Government," I am sure the coverage would have been orders of magnitude larger, and arrests unlikely, based on just such recent events. "Big Government," at least the one we have, is not perfect as protector of our inalienable rights, but government is essential to protect us from the untrammeled excesses of "Big Business," and a political economy that feeds on and creates inequality.

Inequality is the superficial condition behind the demonstrations. The protestors signs indicate their awareness that the causes lie in the political economy and the way wealth becomes distributed. Hopefully, for those seeking sustainability as flourishing, this small event is a sign of what is coming. Changes wrought by inequality and excesses of power have most often have come through violent means. That this protest was peaceful, if emphatic, bodes well. My work on sustainability has made me skeptical about the potential for taking on entrenched power structure directly, but here is some evidence that challenges that skepticism.

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