Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton did record business this year, as did luxury car sales. This is the bottom line of our current economic system. Draw your own conclusions. But think twice before suggesting Occupiers don’t have clear demands or don’t know what they’re talking about. When someone says “Occupy Wall Street has no clear demands what I hear is “I hope no one is listening to those kids at Occupy Wall Street.”
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now speaks with Asma Mahfouz, the girl who began the Tahrir Square revolution in Egypt, in Zucotti Park yesterday. Photo by Democracy Now.
Renegade brokers and police joining the demonstrators today, photo by Canadian filmmaker Velcrow Ripper (more here).
I just don’t feel like writing about design much these days, unless the definition of design is broadened very, very far.
The first video below features Amy Goodman and Pulitzer prizewinning journalist Chris Hedges of Truthdig talking about “Occupy Everywhere” on Charlie Rose’s show. (A previous post on Chris Hedges is here.)
Occupy Vancouver, which doesn’t always fully realize that our equivalent of Goldman Sachs/Wall Street banks is actually property speculation, should be directing energy against the BC government rather than the banks. (Non-Canadian readers may not know that banks are somewhat more regulated in Canada, thus saving us from the subprime mortgage idiocy.) But the Occupy Vancouver movement is still finding its way through complicated issues. Let’s hope the City of Vancouver follows Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s example in Calgary and everything stays peaceful.
One thing is for sure: this gap between rich and poor is inherently unstable. This is as true in B.C. as it is everywhere else. The income gap in British Columbia is one of the widest in Canada, and is getting by virtue of some very sketchy mechanisms. By the way, our recent fight against a predatory province-imposed casino in this town, effectively a regressive tax on the poor and vulnerable, is squarely a part of this same protest against the wealth divide.
Cities won’t be peaceful places again until this gap is narrowed. In the TED video at bottom, Richard Wilkinson looks at global data correlating income gaps with a society’s life expectancy, health, mental illness and many other factors. Notice that the USA, the advance guard of unregulated capitalism, comes out very, very badly in every parameter.
Either we’ll force these governments to re-regulate, or there’s going to be ongoing and widespread unrest. When I was in art school a long time ago a teacher of mine remarked one day in the cafeteria that we would soon see a massive gap between rich and poor, a feudal-type economic system, universal unrest and small scale warfare, gated communities and the rise of religious and market fundamentalism. So prescient. I have thought of this often over the years while witnessing things like massive concentration of ownership, the loss of the Tommy Douglas/Lester Pearson social safety net in Canada, and a crude, so-called free enterprise ideology take over every element of public and social life. While we retreat into our interiors.
I would like to nominate the protest sign—all the protest signs of this year’s worldwide uprisings, in general—as the pre-eminent design object of 2011. Most newsworthy, most useful, most creative, and it gives “mass-produced” a new meaning.
Vancouver begins its own Occupy protest on October 15, in solidarity as well as in protest against the wealth divide here at home. The gap between rich and poor in Canada is at its historic widest, and it’s nowhere wider than in British Columbia where more than a decade of rightwing policies and cuts have produced, among other tragedies, the worst child poverty rate in the country, and by a wide margin. Accelerating corporate ownership of our political process creates problems here too. Even if Canada’s greater regulation of banking has saved us from some of the catastrophes facing the US, the rapidly widening income gap means we are heading for trouble.
Those who mock or dismiss Occupy Wall Street—if anyone is still doing that—will probably regret it later.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
Mark Ruffalo, The Guardian: We are the 99 percent
Paul Krugman, New York Times, Panic of the Plutocrats
Naomi Klein, The Nation, Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now
Chris Hedges, Truthdig, Why the Elites are in Trouble
Douglas Rushkoff, CNN, Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don’t get it
Tristan Markle, The Mainlander, #OccupyVancouver? Look to Hong Kong housing activists for inspiration
Joe Romm, ThinkProgress, The Other 99% of Us Can’t Buy Our Way Out of the Impending Global Ponzi Scheme Collapse
Below, by an unknown phographer, a shot of a US veteran at the protest. (Please tell me if you know who shot this.) Sign should win a prize for best ever use of black electrical tape. “2nd time I’ve fought for my country – 1st time I’ve known my enemy.”
And from CNN‘s article “Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don’t get it”:
Update: a new photo of the sign at top, which now seems to be going viral: