The media panned the people who set up camps in the centre of cities under the Occupy Wall Street banner. But the people who chose to protest by sleeping on concrete pavements have done more to deepen the debate about the global economic crisis than the feather-bedded academics who are paid to think about these things. That’s a fair conclusion to draw from the statement by the Financial Times, which admits that the OWS activists “have altered the terms of the political debate”.
For the FT to bestow that accolade on the OWS campaign is remarkable. The arch voice of capitalism acknowledges that “At the heart of the renewed debate are three issues: finances, corporate governance, and taxation. These are the questions raised by the ‘occupy’ movement” (Dec 28, 2011).
A pity the editorial writer had to add the barb that the movement suffered from “intellectual incoherence”. The real incoherence comes from the pundits who claim to be making sense of the economic mess – some of whom are the architects of the continuing chaos in the markets.
It’s true that the people camping in public spaces do not offer solutions. But why should we expect them to do so, when politicians and their consultants are still incapable of presenting the public with a coherent account of the downfall of the western economies in terms that lead to solutions?
Provoke the Politicians
We have to hope that the OWS protestors sustain their cause through the winter months. They need time to provoke the politicians into some straight thinking – and that won’t happen overnight.
There is a solution to the instability associated with the market economy. It is occasionally alluded to in the columns of the FT: but not sufficiently sustained to penetrate the layers of prejudice which protect the privileged people who profit from the defects in the structure of the capitalist economy.
The FT identifies the three issues: finance, corporate governance, and taxation. The big prize goes to the OWS camp that first raises the banner that sloganises the doctrine that links these three elements into the correct solution.