I was a little ranty with my blog post yesterday so I’ll try keep this short..
I went along to the Occupy Sydney rally today. We met at Town Hall at noon, heard some speeches, walked to Martin Place under police escort, then heard some more speeches. I went along to add a head to the count. The march was peaceful, the crowd in very good spirits and police presence was visible but discrete. There were a number of unions attending but no sign of any political parties (yeah, I’m referring to the green triangles). I’d put the numbers of attendees at 1,500 – 2,000. I left well before things got heated (language warning for this link. And a breach of Godwin’s law).
The Occupy movement is very much in its infancy so it remains to be seen if it will last. Call me a pessimist (I prefer the term realist) but I see the Occupy movement becoming the 2010’s equivalent of the late 90’s anti-globalisation movement: a coalition of far left individuals and groups bringing a plethora of issues and grievances, all united under some vague slogan. Globalisation then, Occupy now. Same difference really. Which is a real pity.
I think the Occupy movement raises some serious issues – that’s why I attended. We’re still feeling the impact of the 2007 GFC, there’s the belief that those most responsible have gotten off scott free, I’m not aware of many steps taken to ensure we don’t see a repeat of the crisis, and despite us riding out the crisis our wage disparity between rich and poor continues to widen without any mainstream calls to arrest the divide. The movement I saw today is not staying on message though. I heard talks decrying the NT Intervention and Israeli incursions into Gaza. Seriously, what the hell? It waters down the already wafer-thin Occupy message and, like the anti-globalisation movement, isn’t going to get anyone else besides the already highly-radicalised participants on board. I’ve spoken to friends and work colleagues about the Occupy movement and people are genuinely baffled about what it stands for. I’m still a little baffled and I attended the rally! Let’s see if over time the movement can be galvanised into a serious political force or whether, in the words of one online commentator, it fades into irrelevance.
And on that cheery note here are some photos from the day: