Wall Street Crapshoot

Posted on October 13, 2011


If you read the news from the States, the  The Occupy Wall Street movement, beginning with a sit-in at Wall Street, is acting as a touch-paper for widespread anger at the people, institutions and decision-making that has led the US into a spiral of economic despair.  This is clearly nagging at something deep within the American psyche, evidenced not only by the number of people who are protesting, but also by the level of violence used by police to move off passive protest. But while the Movement is seeing itself being replicated in Spain and Greece as well as across the US, here in the United Kingdom it is as if there was no Wall Street.

I have not seen a single television shot of the sit-in, nor has it made the front pages of any newspaper as far as I am aware.  It is only through direct-action websites like Avaaaz that I am getting my  regular news on this extraordinary movement.  In fact, I find in a US based media outlet, reference to a London sister protest due to occur this Saturday, but nowhere is this being reported here in London.

Instead or perhaps in spite of this, the press today in this country is focussed on the crisis in Syria and Libya (far enough away for us to be captivated but not too worried), poor treatment of people through the health system (tsk tsk – everyone has a story to tell don’t they), banning of a football player for three matches (how could they!  how could he?!!) and the Government’s anti-obesity strategy (basically – stop eating so much all you fatties), oh and let’s not forget the poor boy who got his arm ripped off in a washing machine (horrifying – let’s ban all washing machines – NOW!).  One would think that there was no global economic crisis today.  How is this so? It was only days ago when The One Show told everyone they may as well curl up in a corner and die, it was that bad.  But today, we are clearly having something that could well be termed a Crisis Risk-Abated Pause – a CRAP.

It is easy to feel some paranoia on this front. One wonders whether there is a collective CRAP being had by media outlets in the UK in some kind of common belief that it would be good for us to have a good old purge of noncontroversial news for a day.  Too much news about the GEC – that’s Global Economic Crisis to most – will just lead to a constipatory state, where we cannot escape or move on from GEC-related news.  So CRAP here we go!  Rather like the financial risk abatement measures themselves the CRAP is an intervention measure that pulls through like a bad curry.

All jokes aside  though – why is there no real reportage of the Wall St sit-in in Britain?  Is it not seen as relevent by editors here?  Is it being pushed of the front pages by domestic news?  Is it a fear that with protest and violence sweeping the Middle East, and frightening riots already experienced in the UK during the summer the country is more fragile than anyone wants to admit?

Can people-power bring to book an entire economic system, just like it has toppled governments right throughout the Middle East? Perhaps this is the thing that is making western governments lose their lunches  – the possibility that direct action will bring them all down as people decide they have experienced enough CRAP days to last a lifetime.

The level of anger that is being expressed against the excesses of power in parts of Europe is uncomfortably close to home.  Greeks are getting particularly cross at being sacked, having their pensions reduced, their retirement ages lifted and their institutions privatised.  Whether they brought this on their own heads or not, I think it is safe to say that while most politicians in Europe would prefer this to remain a Greek stereotype, there is very little to stop it becoming an English, French, German or Italian mode of expression.  Take away people’s pensions and they tend to get cranky.

So who knows how long we will remain in comparative darkness under a banal pile of dung in Britain, but I bet the daylight will reveal some startling and surprising manifestations.