web analytics

A global test of non-violent protest

Written By: - Date published: 7:07 am, October 20th, 2011 - 24 comments
Categories: activism, capitalism, class war, International - Tags: ,

The most visible manifestation of the 1% are bankers – and the Occupation movement has them worried. I wouldn’t have believed this report, for example, but it includes video evidence to back up its claims:

The banks fight back: Customers locked in and arrested after attempting to close their accounts in Occupy Wall Street protests

Banks across America appear to be fighting the growing protest against income disparity and rising fees as the Occupy Wall Street movement spreads worldwide.

A series of videos filmed across the U.S. in New York City; Santa Cruz, California and St Louis, Missouri, show customers staging protests and mass account closures.

However, footage has emerged showing what appears to be dozens of Citibank and Bank of America customers denied requests to close their accounts, some even being arrested after alleged clashes with branch managers. …

In some cases this has been badly handled.  Refusing customers access to close their accounts just turns a minor protest into a big story.  Losing a few accounts isn’t fatal, losing the public relations battle will be.  In other signs of panic:

How Wall Street is responding, or not, to protests

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Since the Occupy Wall Street movement kicked off last month, big banks and their employees seem to have made a point of ignoring it, with some privately writing it off as no more than a badly organized nuisance.

But as the protest has expanded from a few hundred people in a little park in Lower Manhattan to thousands across at least two dozen cities, gaining support from labor unions, celebrities and politicians, it has become harder to ignore. …

“I think this thing will continue to grow,” said Robert Siegfried, a partner who works with financial clients at the communications firm Kekst & Co. “Wall Street is just a term here that represents the huge disparity in income levels and distribution of wealth in this country. For anyone to dismiss it, that’s a terrible underestimation of the sentiment behind this phenomena.” …

Richard Plansky, a senior managing director at the security firm Kroll, said the protests have led to heightened awareness among financial executives whom Kroll protects. “It’s fair to say they’re concerned,” he said, noting that there has been a greater focus on security for Wall Street executives in the aftermath of the 2007-2009 financial crisis. …

With the exception of Rome (and a few incidents by infiltrators trying to discredit the movement) Occupation protests have been peaceful. The movement knows full well that violence would discredit them in the eyes of the majority. The commitment to non-violence is wise, principled, and optimistic.

But will it be effective? Will the 1% just ignore the Occupation movement and carry on as usual? This is quickly shaping up as the biggest ever, world wide test of the efficacy of non-violent protest (civil disobedience, passive resistance, call it what you will).

Those in power would do very well to heed this test, and respond to the Occupation’s concerns in concrete, significant and visible ways. If they don’t, then I fear that the next mass protest movement, when it comes, will have no reason to reach for any tool except violence.

The inequalities in our societies have become too vast to endure. Wealth must be created more sustainably and shared more evenly. Let’s hope that the 1% will have the wisdom to act now, and choose the peaceful solution. While there’s still time.

24 comments on “A global test of non-violent protest ”

  1. Kevin Welsh 1

    While I remember, how did your 5:15 on Tuesday go, PeteG?

    • See here Kevin: Occupy Dunedin

      And here: Who is occupying Dunedin?Mana and Greens?

      How much is genuine “Occupy” protest? And how much is undercover political campaigning?

      • mickysavage 1.1.1

        Copied and pasted from open mike in response to an equally inane comment by Petey.

        Hold the front page … the Occupy protest is … gasp … POLITICAL!!!
        FFS Pete of course it is political.  It is addressing glaring weaknesses in the world’s economy and political system.
        The fact that the group may not have let you spout UF policy is a sign of their intelligence and competence.  

        • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1

          great minds mate lol

        • Pete George 1.1.1.2

          I had no intention of promoting UF policy. I wanted to promote a better grassroots connection with politics which is exactly what people in the Octagon said they were interested in. And it’s the opposite of how Labour operate.

          • McFlock 1.1.1.2.1

            “I had no intention of promoting UF policy. ”

            Lucky, that.

          • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.2.2

            I wanted to promote a better grassroots connection with politics which is exactly what people in the Octagon said they were interested in. And it’s the opposite of how Labour operate.

            Screw you mate, Labour party members and candidates have spoken at EVERY Occupy protest in NZ, United Future has NOT.

            What liar you are perfect for parliament.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.2

        The Occupy protests are overt political action PG. And that makes it more relevant, not less.

        The iron grip that the top 1% have on our global political-economic system is the most dire of political issues facing the world.

      • Ari 1.1.3

        The occupy- movement is political and grassroots democratic. Anyone who opposes corporate greed is welcome to join in, even if they voted National. That you get some messages that particular interest groups support, or that many people involved support genuine left-wing parties, should be of no surprise to anyone- it’s a movement against corporate greed.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Huge two day general strike in Greece

    This has NOT been non violent.

    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/10/201110190538784585.html

  3. freedom 3

    a very fair and coherent piece in today’s Stuff Dom.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/5811574/Occupy-Wall-St-has-message-for-Kiwis

    there is also another article on the Stuff pages that has a more predictable ‘look at the loonies’ article,
    but as the bankers say, we will take what we can get.

    • Carol 3.1

      And another focused on one of the occupyAuckland campers:

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/auckland-city-harbour-news/5811841/Occupier-wants-a-new-system-in-place

      The 19-year-old Mt Eden software tester, who won’t reveal his surname, joined the Occupy Auckland movement on the weekend saying decision-making is not being made for the people intended.

      He has no plans to leave until the movement has been heard.

      “I’m here because of the way the world is run – by the people with all the money – and they are making the decisions for the minority groups who have no say. This is fundamentally wrong,” he says.
      […]
      “I thought that what is going on there is just as bad here,” he says.

      “I’ve watched the 300 or so bills passed by the government in its term – that’s a bill every two days – and it just doesn’t add up.”

      Rogan says he needs to have a voice on issues that affect him and others.

      “I’m not happy with my fears not being heard, people being discriminated against and the way people are being treated by those in power.”

      But Rogan says there is a way in which people can live peacefully in a democracy.

      “We’ve got a system that we can put in place that will work for everyone,” he says.

      This is a system that has no single leader or governing body of its general assembly and everyone’s voice is equal.

      I’m not quite sure of Rogan’s use of the word minority here. Maybe powerless groups would be a better term?

      PS: this all reminds me of when I was inspired by learning about anarcho-syndacalism in my 20s (in the 70s). I saw this kind of process in the women’s liberation movement (linked to other left groups and campaigns) in the late 70s and early 80s. My hopes for this kind of a process were defeated as Thatcherism and neoliberalism began to bite. I came to think that such leaderless decentralised networks are relatively powerless in the face of the power of interlinked state and financial power.

      • mike 3.1.1

        “My hopes for this kind of a process were defeated as Thatcherism and neoliberalism began to bite. I came to think that such leaderless decentralised networks are relatively powerless in the face of the power of interlinked state and financial power.”

        Hi Carol, I’m interested to hear more about this. How were such networks made powerless, what were the obstacles? Were active strategies used against them or were they merely ineffective?

        “Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.”
        Benito Mussolini

  4. Sanctuary 4

    Does anyone think the absolute demand for non-violence in these protests extends to the repression power of the state? If you think “no, there is every chance the police will eventually violently repress the occupy wall street movement” The apparatus of repression is at the disposal of the 1%. they won’t hesitate to use it if challenged in a meaningful way.

    How can any movement be non-violent if only one side is determined to stick to those rules?

    • Carol 4.1

      This reminds me of last night’s ep of Harry’s Law on TV One

      http://tvnz.co.nz/harrys-law/index-group-4354287

      A programme that mixes some subversives elements, with the old Hollywood trope of principled individuals taking on the inequalities in society (ultimately, I suppose, reinforcing mainstream US ideals of democracy, indivualism and free speech).

      Harriet and her team have gven up lucrative law careeers to work in a very poor urban area. A local woman asks to be represented. At 87 years old, with no previous criminal record, she has used a gun to hold up and rob a local liquor store.

      The woman says she did it because she had no other way to get money. She had survived for a while on benefits til that ran out. Then she begged money from locals, til that ran out. Then, seeing the stimulus packages given to Wall St banks, she wrote to her congressman and asked for HER stimulus. He sent her back a form, asking for a donation for his campaign. So the woman selected the liquor store to rob because she saw the owner as a pusher of alcohol to underage drinkers.

      The prosecution lawyer said, finding her not guilty would give license to all 450,000 US people living in poverty to resort to armed robbery….. quite a thought! The jury found the woman not guilty, although, I thought this was a rather fanciful ending.

      PS: This episode must have been produced before the rise of the occupy movement.

    • Ari 4.2

      Non-violence has been so effective in the past precisely BECAUSE the other side is often willing to engage in violence to suppress dissent. Occupy Wall Street would never have become as big as it is if it weren’t for mace-happy police officers.

  5. freedom 5

    a great example of the selective use of force at play in today’s stage managed political arena
    http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/s320x320/305849_282007288487592_204904669531188_935240_1554332202_n.jpg

  6. Afewknowthetruth 6

    The corporate press in Taranaki are working hard to downplay, misrepresent and marginalise the awareness group.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/news/5818098/Protester-wants-to-change-system

    The issues being raised are not going to disappear, of course. Indeed, every day that passes all the predicaments the group are highlighting get worse.

    Fortunately, most people regarded the editorial by Gordon Brown, which attacked the group, as truly awful.

  7. mike 7

    Very interesting article written (apparently) by an investment manager who works with very wealthy US clients. He/She dissects the top 1% and points out that it is the top 0.1% or even top 0.01% who have the real money and real power. This is the problem. This combined with our apparent fondness for electing psychopathic ‘leaders’. (We might want to look at that one of these days.)

    The below should be printed and distributed at Occupy protests…

    “The picture is clear; entry into the top 0.5% and, particularly, the top 0.1% is usually the result of some association with the financial industry and its creations. I find it questionable as to whether the majority in this group actually adds value or simply diverts value from the US economy and business into its pockets and the pockets of the uber-wealthy who hire them. They are, of course, doing nothing illegal.

    I think it’s important to emphasize one of the dangers of wealth concentration: irresponsibility about the wider economic consequences of their actions by those at the top. Wall Street created the investment products that produced gross economic imbalances and the 2008 credit crisis. It wasn’t the hard-working 99.5%. Average people could only destroy themselves financially, not the economic system. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but the collapse was primarily due to the failure of complex mortgage derivatives, CDS credit swaps, cheap Fed money, lax regulation, compromised ratings agencies, government involvement in the mortgage market, the end of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, and insufficient bank capital. Only Wall Street could put the economy at risk and it had an excellent reason to do so: profit. It made huge profits in the build-up to the credit crisis and huge profits when it sold itself as “too big to fail” and received massive government and Federal Reserve bailouts. Most of the serious economic damage the U.S. is struggling with today was done by the top 0.1% and they benefited greatly from it.

    … I asked if her colleagues talked about or understood how much damage was created in the broader economy from their activities. Her answer was that no one talks about it in public but almost all understood and were unbelievably cynical, hoping to exit the system when they became rich enough…

    Not surprisingly, Wall Street and the top of corporate America are doing extremely well as of June 2011. For example, in Q1 of 2011, America’s top corporations reported 31% profit growth and a 31% reduction in taxes, the latter due to profit outsourcing to low tax rate countries. Somewhere around 40% of the profits in the S&P 500 come from overseas and stay overseas, with about half of these 500 top corporations having their headquarters in tax havens. If the corporations don’t repatriate their profits, they pay no U.S. taxes. The year 2010 was a record year for compensation on Wall Street, while corporate CEO compensation rose by over 30%, most Americans struggled. In 2010 a dozen major companies, including GE, Verizon, Boeing, Wells Fargo, and Fed Ex paid US tax rates between -0.7% and -9.2%. Production, employment, profits, and taxes have all been outsourced. Major U.S. corporations are currently lobbying to have another “tax-repatriation” window like that in 2004 where they can bring back corporate profits at a 5.25% tax rate versus the usual 35% US corporate tax rate. Ordinary working citizens with the lowest incomes are taxed at 10%.

    I could go on and on, but the bottom line is this: A highly complex set of laws and exemptions from laws and taxes has been put in place by those in the uppermost reaches of the U.S. financial system. It allows them to protect and increase their wealth and significantly affect the U.S. political and legislative processes. They have real power and real wealth. Ordinary citizens in the bottom 99.9% are largely not aware of these systems, do not understand how they work, are unlikely to participate in them, and have little likelihood of entering the top 0.5%, much less the top 0.1%. Moreover, those at the very top have no incentive whatsoever for revealing or changing the rules. I am not optimistic.”

    http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/investment_manager.html

    “…government involvement in the mortgage market…”

    trea·son   /ˈtrizən/ [tree-zuhn]

    1.the offense of acting to overthrow one’s government or to harm or kill its sovereign.
    2.a violation of allegiance to one’s sovereign or to one’s state.
    3.the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery
    3.the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery.
    3.the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery.

  8. Gosman 8

    “Those in power would do very well to heed this test, and respond to the Occupation’s concerns in concrete, significant and visible ways. If they don’t, then I fear that the next mass protest movement, when it comes, will have no reason to reach for any tool except violence.”

    Hmmmmm… so if government’s don’t cave in to the protesters demands now they will be responsible for protesters becoming violent. Isn’t that like some sort of veiled threat?

    Also maybe these proptesters could actually take advantage of the democratic processes in the countries they live in and vote for parties that support their aims and goals. A radical notion I know for some left leaning people.

  9. r0b 9

     Isn’t that like some sort of veiled threat?

    It’s not a threat, it’s a warning.  Same as warning about the devastation that will be caused by climate change.

  10. Dr Terry Creagh 10

    Take a look at Australia, with a Labour Government if you please! The only violence is coming from the Left’s violent and anti-democratic (right to protest) police force. Such shame upon them!

    In the end, violent protest might (though undesirable) become a necessity. (What brought success to the French revolutio, or to Libyan rebels in whom we are rejoicing?

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Twenty highlights of 2020
    As we welcome in the new year, our focus is on continuing to keep New Zealanders safe and moving forward with our economic recovery. There’s a lot to get on with, but before we say a final goodbye to 2020, here’s a quick look back at some of the milestones ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Bay Cadets learn skills to protect environment
    Bay Conservation Cadets launched with first intake Supported with $3.5 million grant Part of $1.245b Jobs for Nature programme to accelerate recover from Covid Cadets will learn skills to protect and enhance environment Environment Minister David Parker today welcomed the first intake of cadets at the launch of the Bay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Cook Islanders to resume travel to New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown have announced passengers from the Cook Islands can resume quarantine-free travel into New Zealand from 21 January, enabling access to essential services such as health. “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ COVID ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Supporting communities and landowners to grow employment opportunities
    Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects, Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan has announced. It is estimated some 400-plus jobs will be created with employment opportunities in ecology, restoration, trapping, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Border exception for some returning international tertiary students
    The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students, degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception will allow students to return to New Zealand in stages from April 2021. “Our top priority continues ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Tiwai deal gives time for managed transition
    Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New member for APEC Business Advisory Council
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). The leader of each APEC economy appoints three private sector representatives to ABAC. ABAC provides advice to leaders annually on business priorities. “ABAC helps ensure that APEC’s work programme is informed by business community perspectives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Govt’s careful economic management recognised
    The Government’s prudent fiscal management and strong policy programme in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic have been acknowledged by the credit rating agency Fitch. Fitch has today affirmed New Zealand’s local currency rating at AA+ with a stable outlook and foreign currency rating at AA with a positive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Additional actions to keep COVID-19 out of NZ
    The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • 19 projects will clean up and protect waterways
    $36 million of Government funding alongside councils and others for 19 projects Investment will clean up and protect waterways and create local jobs Boots on the ground expected in Q2 of 2021 Funding part of the Jobs for Nature policy package A package of 19 projects will help clean up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand Government acknowledges 175th anniversary of Battle of Ruapekapeka
    The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Ruapekapeka represents an opportunity for all New Zealanders to reflect on the role these conflicts have had in creating our modern nation, says Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan. “The Battle at Te Ruapekapeka Pā, which took ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Better care for babies with tongue-tie
    Babies born with tongue-tie will be assessed and treated consistently under new guidelines released by the Ministry of Health, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. Around 5% to 10% of babies are born with a tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia, in New Zealand each year. At least half can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison over
    The prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison is over, with all remaining prisoners now safely and securely detained, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says. The majority of those involved in the event are members of the Mongols and Comancheros. Five of the men are deportees from Australia, with three subject to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Pre-departure COVID-19 test for travellers from the UK and the US from 15 January
    Travellers from the United Kingdom or the United States bound for New Zealand will be required to get a negative test result for COVID-19 before departing, and work is underway to extend the requirement to other long haul flights to New Zealand, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. “The new PCR test requirement, foreshadowed last ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • PM congratulates New Year Honour recipients
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has added her warm congratulations to the New Zealanders recognised for their contributions to their communities and the country in the New Year 2021 Honours List. “The past year has been one that few of us could have imagined. In spite of all the things that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • David Parker congratulates New Year 2021 Honours recipients
    Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment David Parker has congratulated two retired judges who have had their contributions to the country and their communities recognised in the New Year 2021 Honours list. The Hon Tony Randerson QC has been appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • New Year’s Honours highlights outstanding Pacific leadership through challenging year
    Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says the New Year’s Honours List 2021 highlights again the outstanding contribution made by Pacific people across Aotearoa. “We are acknowledging the work of 13 Pacific leaders in the New Year’s Honours, representing a number of sectors including health, education, community, sports, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Supporting seniors to embrace technology
    The Government’s investment in digital literacy training for seniors has led to more than 250 people participating so far, helping them stay connected. “COVID-19 has meant older New Zealanders are showing more interest in learning how to use technology like Zoom and Skype so they can to keep in touch ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago