As with the Arab Spring and the Spanish "indignantes" protests, the Occupy Wall Street campaing is a "grass roots" popular uprising, heavily reliant on social networking due to a mainstream media blackout. The movement is described on occupywalstreet.org as a non-violent "leaderless resistance movement" which was initially proposed by the Adbusters website and organised by a a collective of individuals. The stated aim of the protests is to end the corporatisation of America and restore legitimate democracy.
The origins of the movement can be traced back to the "Credit Crunch", which happened when the reckless gambling of a tiny deregulated financial sector elite caused global money markets to freeze up and created havoc in the stock markets. The US government response was to pour $trillions of taxpayers' money into the financial sector in order to recapitalise the system. the next step was to begin magicking up new money via money printing schemes called "qauntitative easing" in order to pour even more capital into the banks. Instead of using this unprecedented cash flow to support the US economy the financial sector used it to write down many of their toxic debts and continue to pay themselves obscene salaries and bonuses.
Instead of attaching strict lending conditions to these bailout funds and re-regulating the financial sector to discourage further speculative or ponzi style investments the US establishment simply handed over the cash and left responsibility for restabilising the economy with the financial sector elite that created the crisis in the first place.
|Thomas Jefferson, still right after more than 200 years.|
The rise of the neoliberals since the 1970s and the political acceptance of their mantra of "small-statism", privatisation, corporate deregulation and low taxation of the economic elite" eventually led to the destruction of the Roosevelt administration's financial stability reforms in 1999 when the Glass-Steagall 1933 Banking Act was repealed, allowing the banks to engage in dangerously speculative activities using the capital of the high street banks as equity. Another victory for the free-market neoliberals was another piece of Clinton administration legislation; the 2000 Commodity Futures Modernisation Act, which effectively deregulated the derivatives market.
The neoliberal response to the Enron scandal was as predictable as it was pathetic, instead of reconsidering the decision to deregulate the derivatives market, the authorities concentrated on creating show trials for Enron executives and the introduction of a whitewash response called the Sarbanes-Oxley Act which created Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, to supposedly improve the auditing regimes that had failed. PCAOB was incontestably a huge failure given the subsequent collapses of many larger financial institutions and the exposure of the astonishing levels of reckless speculative and ponzi style investment these institutions had been engaging in.
It is incontestable that post Enron regulation of the US financial sector remained inadequate given the failure of regulators to spot the dangers of a boom in sub-prime lending, Collateralised Debt Obligations and the astonishingly inaccurate AAA+ awards given to these financial products by the Credit Rating Agencies that took vast payments from the creators of these dodgy financial instruments in return for their glowing ratings.
It is not as if the failings of militant neoliberal dogmatism and their inadequate responses to their own crises were limited to the Enron scandal. In the outside world, other countries had suffered the devastating consequences of adhering to neoliberal economic theory imposed on them by the US based International Monetary Fund who imposed tough neoliberalisation conditions on their loans (privatisation, corporate tax cuts, globalisation, deregulation of the banking sector, welfare cuts, relinquishment of fiscal autonomy).
There are too many failings of neoliberalism to cover in the space of a single article but obvious examples can be seen in the Post-Communist neoliberalisation of Russia, the rise of the Oligarchs and the stifling of democracy, the 1997 South-East Asian economic crisis and the Argentine economic meltdown.
In the 1990s Argentina were the IMF's poster boys for their enthusiastic embrace of neoliberalism however the economy collapsed in 1999 and didn't recover until 2002 when the IMF neoliberal textbook was torn up and the government engaged in IMF opposed policies of debt restructuring, targeted taxation, reduction in unemployment, improvements to social welfare provision and massive scale infrastructure development projects which rapidly boosted the economy out of depression and gave it the stability to continue prospering throughout the Neoliberal Economic Crisis. Not only can neoliberalism be seen as the cause of the Argentine economic collapse, but the abandonment of IMF neoliberal dogma created the necessary conditions for their economic recovery.
All of these warnings were dismissed by the IMF and the neoliberal elite with contorted post hoc revisionist excuses and explanations. Instead of recognising the fundamental flaws in their favoured economic dogma, they simply covered up and carried on.
|The blame doesn't simply lie with greedy and reckless traders|
on Wall street, Washington based politicians and technocrats
are responsible for creating the deregulated trading
conditions that Wall Street bankers enjoy.
These neoliberal austerity measures have actually intensified the effects of the crisis. The "real economy" of the US has stagnated over the last three years, unemployment has risen and the discretionary income of ordinary working people that make up the vast majority of America has been slashed. Against a background of austerity, policies such as quantitative easing and the artificial lowering of interest rates have created stagflation, which hurts ordinary Americans by attacking the value of their wages, their savings and their pension schemes. Instead of stabilising the financial sector, the austerity response has led to increased stock market instability, with ordinary Americans paying the price once again.
One of the most shocking aspects of the neoliberal response to the credit crunch is the huge Tea Party movement, which resembled a "grass roots" movements of stereotypically stupid Americans until it was revealed that the whole thing has been funded and orchestrated by multi -billionaire neoliberal free-marketeers like the Koch brothers. The fact that hundreds of thousands of Americans have been signing up to a "more-of-the-same" movement has been frankly astonishing to outside observers, especially given the rise of genuine "grass roots" populist movements across the Middle-East, Europe and South America to oppose the further entrenchment of defunct neoliberal economic dogma.
Over the last few years coverage of the Tea Party and their harebrained ideologues has flooded the mainstream media of the world, however, now that a genuine grass roots movement has finally awoken, the mainstream media silence is deafening, although entirely predictable.
|Coverage of the London Riots exposed|
reporting bias in the corporate media.
In August 2011 a wave of nihilistic riots swept across England, creating a tidal wave of mainstream media coverage despite the fact that in terms of participation these events were absolutely tiny in comparison to the largely peaceful politicised protests. The mindless violence, arson and looting played into the hands of the UK neoliberal establishment elite, allowing them the excuse to openly propose draconian responses to public "disorder" including restrictions on the freedom of speech via the the shutting down of social networks.
The Wall Street protests have suffered an astonishing mainstream media blackout that would have been utterly unthinkable had the people involved been Tea Party campaigners or a bunch of mindless nihilists, however social networks and the blogosphere are alive with coverage and the movement continues to gain momentum.
|The Washington based IMF should be another target|
for American anti-neoliberal protesters.
Not only do the disenfranchised youth of America owe it to themselves to agitate for change in the economic system to end the defunct neoliberal heterodoxy, they must also remember that much of the rest of the world needs to be freed from the devastating effects of the ideologically driven, US supported imposition of toxic neoliberal economic dogma.
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