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Sun never sets on anti-empire day of action

Published Oct 19, 2011 11:41 PM

Oct. 15 was the Global Day of Action against Wall Street greed.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

In international financial centers, big cities and small towns, protests swept through Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, Australasia, Canada and the U.S. Demonstrators in the hundreds of thousands protested corporate avarice, growing poverty, joblessness and austerity cutbacks.

These protests were inspired by many events. The Occupy Wall Street movement, which began in New York and spread throughout the United States, was a major catalyst. That website asserts that actions took place in 1,500 cities globally.

Manila, Philippines

This day of action was also inspired by the May 15 “Indignant” movement, which began with occupations throughout the Spanish state against austerity and high youth unemployment, and by the people’s movements in Egypt, Tunisia, Greece, Italy and Britain. Tahrir Square was on the minds and placards of many activists on Oct. 15.

The theme promoted by OWS, “We are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent,” was repeated everywhere. The 1 percent refers to the world’s wealthiest people.


These actions were spurred by the deepening worldwide capitalist economic crisis.

Although differing in form and slogans, the coordinated actions denounced the world’s bankers and their institutions and corporate owners for causing the crisis, for ruining economies and for their unmitigated greed. Demonstrators criticized them and their own governments for imposing austerity programs — laying off government workers and cutting vital social programs, thus relegating millions of people to impoverishment and joblessness.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Many deplored the trillions of dollars of government bailouts of banks, with nothing allotted to the masses of people, which has only increased economic inequities and escalated the global gap between rich and poor.

A number of protests went to the heart of the matter and aimed their fire at the capitalist system. A few even went further than that and promoted pro-socialist ideas.

Lisbon, Portugal

Banks denounced throughout Europe

The International Monetary Fund, the European Union and European Central Bank came under attack, especially in countries where they have required harsh austerity measures in return for bailouts or loans, as in Portugal, Spain, Greece and Ireland.

Some 50,000 marched in Lisbon, Portugal, carrying anti-IMF and anti-E.U. signs, just days after the right-wing government announced a tougher austerity budget. Thousands circled the National Assembly building as hundreds of youth broke through a police line to run inside and occupy it.

Hundreds of thousands marched in 80 cities in Spain, including in Barcelona and in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol where the May 15 movement began. “Euthanasia for the banks” was a popular slogan.

In Athens, site of nearly two years of class battles against IMF/E.U.-imposed layoffs and cutbacks, 4,000 marched. Banners read, “Greece is not for sale.”

Italian youth, unemployed and retirees denounced the IMF and their center-right government’s huge austerity cutbacks and criticized the European Central Bank for pumping funds into the commercial banks. The 200,000-strong protest in Rome attacked economic policies impoverishing workers and their families and assailed the 28 percent youth jobless rate.

Many marched with red flags and banners. A popular slogan was “People of Europe: Rise Up!”

Thousands denounced bankers as “the real looters” in a London demonstration named “Occupy the London Stock Exchange.”

Some 40,000 people marched in 50 German cities. In Berlin, 6,000 came out, some with banners calling for the end of capitalism. Some 5,000 protested in Frankfurt outside the ECB.

In Sarajevo, Bosnia’s capital, marchers carried pictures of revolutionary hero Che Guevara and communist-inspired red flags, which read, “Death to capitalism, freedom to the people.”

Red flags and banners flew in Stockholm, Sweden. Some read, “We refuse to pay for capitalism’s crisis.”

As the Paris demonstration took place, finance ministers and bankers from the Group of 20 were meeting there to discuss the “debt” crisis and which 50 banks would be funded — a focus of the G-20 conference in Cannes, France, Nov. 3-4.

Protests were also held in Dublin, Amsterdam, Zurich and Brussels.

Beginning of global anti-capitalist movement

Thousands marched in Latin America, deploring financial inequality and unemployment and calling for social justice. Large demonstrations took place in Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile.

In South Africa, anti-bank protests were held outside the Johannesburg Securities Exchange and in Cape Town. The economies of many African nations have been ravaged by the IMF and the World Bank.

Demonstrations in Asia varied in themes, with some aimed at U.S. imperialism, as in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Manila, the Philippines. There, a protest organized by BAYAN, Gabriela and others called for the United States to end its wars and remove its troops from the country.

“I want to tear down capitalism,” said Derrick Benig at a protest in the financial center of Hong Kong. His co-demonstrator, Lee Chun Wing, remarked, “Wealth is created by the workers and so should be shared with the workers as well.” (Bloomberg, Oct. 15)

The demonstration in Taiwan took place in the Taipei World Financial Center. Some socialists there assailed capitalism and sang the revolutionary anthem “The International.”

Tokyo marchers cried out against the dangers of nuclear power and called for jobs. Protests occurred in Mumbai, India, and Seoul, south Korea, among other Asian cities.

In Australasia, 3,000 came out in Auckland, New Zealand, while 2,000 protesters, including members of Indigenous groups, leftist organizations and labor unions, rallied outside the central Reserve Bank of Australia in Sydney. Others marched in Melbourne.

Canadian activists came out in 15 cities, including Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa. In Toronto signs read, “Arrest the 1 percent.” A recurrent theme there was solidarity with Indigenous peoples worldwide.

These protests are surely the beginnings of a new movement, which will only grow as the global capitalist crisis worsens and unemployment and economic inequality increase. It is inevitable.

Youth worldwide were in the forefront of the protests set in motion by OWS. Young people make up 81 million of the globally jobless 205 million, while tuition costs have skyrocketed. There are few jobs for youth, with many relegated to low-wage work. Many have no future.

The capitalist system can’t incorporate new workers into the international workforce. Coupled with increasing austerity cutbacks imposed by the IMF, E.U., the ECB and their own governments, the future looks grim, with more people impoverished, including immigrant workers, Indigenous populations and other oppressed groups.

Yet resistance is growing and will continue to develop as working-class communities, youth and students face new hardships. The material conditions faced by millions are raising people’s consciousness, spurring them to action, as shown on Oct. 15. There is growing, collective realization that struggle is essential — the only way to answer the crisis. Moreover, it must be a united struggle, inclusive of the most oppressed workers and their demands.

Young people and others are working to push the Oct. 15 successes further. While the Internet and other high-tech communication, including global social networking, vastly helped with organizing, the Occupied Wall Street’s website notes, “The rapid spread of the protests is a grass-roots response to the inequalities perpetuated by global financial system and transnational banks. More actions are coming.”

People the world over know the system isn’t working. Whether the word “capitalism” is mentioned or not, these developments have the potential to be the beginning of a global anti-capitalist movement. That’s moving in the right direction — toward a movement that fights for socialism, which is the only way out of the crisis.