Protests all over the world

The Occupy Wall Street Movement - Part 2

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The Occupy Wall Street Movement - Part 2

Who would have believed that the dictatorships ruling the Arab world would fall one by one or that protests against capitalism would emerge in the West? What has really been shocking is the Western demonstrations against the economic policies of the world’s greatest powers. Instead of occupying, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, Americans are now occupying Wall Street. It seems they have finally woken up and now seen the real world they are living in.

What is presented below is the continuation of a selection of the discussion which was held in the presence of Dr. Ahmad Hanif, who is a Canadian intellectual, and Dr. Ali Pour Muhammadi, who is a lecturer at the Howza and University of Qom. Dr. Muhammadi has a doctorate in Western philosophy from the University of Tehran and the University of Austria. Dr. Hanif, who was influenced by Imam Khomeini’s movement and as a result converted to Islam, has studied in Canadian universities.

How are the protestors spreading information? How are the demonstrations organized? What role do television channels play?
Dr. Pour Muhammadi: “In the beginning email and internet sites such as Facebook and twitter were used. However now they are also giving out leaflets and putting up posters. Nonetheless Twitter is the most used tool in spreading information.”

How have the police forces reacted to this movement? Have there been many confrontations or even lives lost?
Dr. Pour Muhammadi:“We have witnessed the aggressive treatment of the police forces in different American states. On the 30th of September the police accused the people of obstructing traffic, and as a result 700 people were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge. No other significant event seems to have taken place apart from yesterday when two people were killed. The police forces claim they were suicides. The police try not to confront the protests directly and use the excuse of obstruction of roads and traffic to stop the protestors. They have been quite aggressive but what is important is that there has been no ban on protesting.

How did this movement spread so quickly through America and other countries?
Dr. Pour Muhammadi: “On the 17th of September, eighty people gathered in Zuccotti Park and started protesting. On the 30th of September 15,000 people participated in the demonstration on the Brooklyn bridge in Wall Street. In this demonstration 700 people were charged with obstruction of traffic and arrested, but many were released soon afterwards. The demonstrators made the Occupy Wall Street Movement global and asked the world to join them in their fight against corruption and injustice. As a result protests were seen in 15,000 cities and around 82 countries. The most important demonstration took place in Rome, where it led to violence.”

What does the movement aim to achieve?
Dr. Pour Muhammadi:“There are many views in circulation regarding the aim of these demonstrations. However the pamphlets that have been spread out seem to follow no certain aim. Nevertheless there does seem to be one view which all the protestors are supporting and that is that they want to eradicate financial corruption and want to put a stop to the the corrupt inducing relationship between the politicians and investors.”  

Is it to the disadvantage of the protestors that this movement is not following one particular aim and that it is unclear what they want?
Dr. Hanif: “Some say that the Occupy Wall Street movement will not be successful because they do not have a united aim and ideology, and the protestors have varied opinions. Some are fighting for the environment; some for financial corruptness and some are even political and want a reform in elections. However many political philosophers hold that this is what makes the movement strong. It is an opportunity for people who think they are being neglected by their governments to show and fight for their needs. They have now found a chance to go to the streets and express their beliefs. Some intellectuals in political science call this a Direct Democracy, in other words a democracy with no leader. This protest is very similar to the Protest Movement of the hippies in the sixties; it has no clear purpose but many people who wished to protest about other matters joined in. This movement is having an effect on the American political and financial system.”

Can you talk of the nature of this movement? Is it an anti-shareholder movement or an anti-Liberalism movement?
Dr. Hanif: “This movement is an extraordinary movement because it does not have a significant face or outlook. Although Jews and Muslims are participating, it is not a religious movement. It is not a racially biased movement as there are many black and white people taking part. It is also not attributed to a particular political ideal, and cannot be called a Socialist movement as some of those who consist of ‘the 1%’ have attended the demonstrations. The Wall Street Movement is a movement which represents the wants and requirements of all the American people. According to a poll taken by the New York Times, 57% of the people support this movement. That’s around 167 million people, which is more than half the population of America. Furthermore it cannot be said that the other half oppose this movement, they are just unsure what decision they want to take.

Is this movement protesting against financial injustice or a political system? Or is trying to find an alternative?
Dr. Hanif:“What we need to know is that this movement is not against Wall Street or Capitalism. This movement is no way against Shareholders but also is not in support of Capitalism. Maybe we can say that this movement is looking for an alternative.”

What is the Alternative?
Dr. Hanif:“They have not yet decided on an alternative, but I believe they are going after the Kings System. What they want is clear to some extent; they want financial problems to be solved and the problem with jobs to be dealt with. Due to the fact that these political and financial circumstances started from the time of Thatcher and Reagan, they should return to the system that was in place before them, which is a mixture of Capitalism and Socialism.

Dr. Pour Muhammadi:“When Zezek was asked what they are trying to achieve, he said that they do not know what they are after, but they know that the current situation was not a good one. He also said that they are not dreamers, and aren’t floating around in their imagination, but that they have just woken up from their nightmare. He also added that these movements have been influenced by the uprisings in the Arab world, and that they don’t want to change everything but they are witnessing a structure which is systematically destroying itself. Zezec also states a sentence which is like a philosophical prediction of the future and should be reflected on: ‘I am not going to say which alternative we want but there is no longer a taboo. We are witnessing a system which is ruining itself and is going towards total destruction.’”

To be continued....