John Robb: Occupy (Insert XYZ) – Capitalism’s Crisis

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John Robb

OCCUPY (Insert Your City Here): Protesting Capitalism's Crisis

Let me spool you up on what's going on with the Occupy movement.

It's an open source protest (there's lots about how open source protests and insurgencies work on this blog, in posts all the way back to 2004).  So, it's not like the protests you've seen in the past (just as the insurgency in Iraq was different than 20th Century insurgencies).

This protest is more like what we saw in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, etc.  You know, the protests that toppled governments.  The big difference between this protest and those protests is that it's not directed at governments.  It's aimed at companies.  Not just any companies, it's aimed at the banks that run/own the global economy.  The heart of the global Capitalist system.

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So, why have governments suffered disintermediation (either consciously or subconsciously by these protestors)?  This protest is ignoring governments and standard political processes because:

  • governments are much weaker than the global economy (they are bankrupt, hollow shells of what they were at the end of the Cold War),
  • they are too ineffectual and/or corrupt to change anything even if they are coerced (see the US, Ireland and Greece for recent examples),
  • too little will change even if the government changes parties (see the US for how lame politics and politicians have become).

What Occupy is Really About

The real reason we are seeing this movement right  now is because

Capitalism, the last great ideological system, is in crisis.

This isn't merely a crisis of outcomes (economic depression, financial panic, etc.), it's a crisis of BELIEF.  While people generally believe in the idea of capitalism, a critical mass of people now think that the global capitalist system we currently have is so badly run, so corrupt, so terrible at delivering results that it needs either a) a complete overhaul or b) we need to build something new.

In short, in its tiny way, this protest may be the start of a reformation of the church of capitalism.

A splintering that may change everything….  For better or worse depending on how well you did in the old, corrupt system.

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