I’ve been observing the Occupy movement with great interest over the past month.
Whilst it’s extremely interesting to note how an online movement has moved into the physical and gone worldwide, it’s been even more interesting to see how society and government has responded.
Whilst I don’t support all the concerns and issues raised by occupy (and there are always a number of other groups trying to push their own agenda via the occupy movement to add to the confusion) I believe that protests like this were inevitable and are going to worsen over the next few decades, if not leading to major riots.
The simple fact is that my generation feels disenfranchised with the world – many of us have large student loans to start our working lives with and our future prospects are to work for years to pay those off, then work for 10+ years just to pay off a home loan on a first house – whilst renting and paying the baby boomers a small fortune just so that we can be allowed to live in run down rental housing stock.
Meanwhile political parties are predominately being run by a generation removed – one that doesn’t understand the pressures of all this debt, doesn’t understand the importance of freedom of information and freedom of the internet and is busy passing laws that impacts on our way of life (eg legalisting against file sharing to protect a business model that doesn’t meet our needs).
I’m fortunate enough that I’m in a good position, thanks in part to my own efforts in IT/computing, but also thanks to my parents putting pretty much all their money for a decade into private education so I was taught well and pushed to my limits academically.
But even with the advantages of a good education, no university loan and a good wage, I’ve still got to be careful with what I spend and buying a house is still a pretty damn big deal. I have no idea how people on much lower salaries survive, especially those with families to support.
Lack of purpose or mirror for society?
One of the major complaints about occupy I’ve heard, is that there’s a lack of specific demands, or targetable goals. But in many ways, this is actually achieving far more.
There was an interesting article on the Occupy Oakland protest on APN/nzherald, where it goes into detail about how city officials want to shutdown the protest after several deaths.
It seems that the city officials would rather push those issues back out of the public spot light – let the war veteran kill himself at home where nobody will notice, ignore the high suicide rate amongst youths, ignore the high drug use and fact that the so called “war on drugs” has failed to solve the problem of substance abuse.
I think this is one of the best things to come out of occupy – it’s pushing the issues that we normally hide away, out of the public light, back out.
When people shoot themselves in tents, we should be asking ourselves “how did we go so wrong that this seemed like a better alternative than living?”.
As police run down and beat protesters and as councils demand their removal from public land why aren’t we asking “what happened to the right to protest?”.
The heavy handed police responses are pretty intense, I was in Melbourne (Australia) during the major police raid on the protesters who just a day before had been calmly hanging around in a park with various banners causing minor impact and protesting peacefully.
The following day upon pressure from the mayor, numerous cars, numerous police and even a few mounted police ended up “evicting” the protesters from the park and resulting in what can best be described as a borderline punch up/riot getting pushed through the city of Melbourne.
Is Occupy Right?
Regardless whether you believe they should just “go get a job” (to which many would say, “yes please, can you provide me with some jobs to apply for?”), or whether you believe they’re just a bunch of hippies with crazy unworkable ideas; at the very least, their protest should make you consider whether society is still as democratic and as free as we like to consider it.
Because maybe it’s not. And maybe society is alienating the younger generation at the expense of the older.