Rage against Wall Street

Soumendra Mitra

A note of silent dichotomy exists between ‘peace’ and ‘powerlessness’. Peace (read as manufactured and submissive), which on many occasions is misunderstood as the rationale blueprint for the national character, can often derail the lofty ideals. The ‘Occupy Wall Street movement’ in many ways is the venting out of the jeering silence of the Supreme Court’s political ridicule to award the presidency to George W Bush in 2000. The absence of unruly after-effects through the silent acceptance of the Supreme Court’s decision was christened by the psephologists as the reality of democratic idealism. Instead of questioning the decision and the election fraud, the stoic acceptance was offered as evidence of the strength and resilience of the American democracy.

Eight years down the line, the sense of powerlessness was heightened by disastrous politics of Bush administration. The economic downturn and routing of investors’ faith, courtesy the sub-prime crisis, shook up the resilience of the American democracy. It was Barack Obama`s charismatic presidential campaign in 2008 which addressed this feeling of powerlessness, offering words of inspiration and hope to millions. Post the fan-fare, as the dust settled down, the cosmetic peace fell apart while maintaining a balancing act between budgetary cuts and fiscal adventurism. The economic downturn coupled with eluding political consensus and drop in the employment opportunities again revoked the sense of powerlessness among the voters.

The sense of manufactured peace and the angst against it is no longer the note of the Left for disenchantment against the Government. Subsequently, comparison between the Tea Party movement and the ongoing voicing out against the Wall Street is indeed evident. Despite its corporate associations and uncanny proximity to wealthy politicians, the Tea Party succeeded in giving a stern message to the unfluttered government and corporations. .

In this context, the Occupy Wall Street movement seems particularly notable. Appearing to be a popular venting out of expression against the corporate monopoly and larger than the life presence of the financial and banking sector, it has succeeded in capturing the world’s imagination.

What has been the most striking feature of this popular movement is its timing. The Obama administration, which already is caught between the devil and the deep sea, received a big set-back with the American Jobs Act going for a toss. The Democrats’ inability to bring to book the culprits of the sub-prime crisis and lending of a larger rope to the financial institutions to climb high on the Wall Street without caring much about the regulation and accountability have drawn the wrath of American citizens.

Unlike the uneasy peace which descended during the election fraud, followed by the Court’s skeptical decision, the Occupy Wall Street movement which already has branched out, is destined to put a mark on the US economy.

The outcome of quick legislative change as a reaction to it can easily be ruled out. And with the increased participation by the white-collar section, organized labour and a few Democrats, the hope for the movement becoming a real political hot potato cannot be ruled out. To put it in a layman’s perspective, the skepticism about the movement getting disappeared is quite unlikely.
Of the two extreme alternatives, the Occupy Wall Street might strike a middle course to create pressure for a political environment where free rides to financial elites will end up on more upfront questions and not silent acceptance. The movement might influence the reality of social justice coupled with economic epiphany, the wait of which for the US had been like ‘Waiting for Godot’ when the country goes to ballot next year.

However, back home in India where corporate crime and politics work hand in gloves, and which has offered harbingers of it to the world in the form of Rajas, Ramalinga Rajus, Sharad Kumars and many more, it will be interesting to see how much of buzz is generated when the anti-Wall like movement hits the Dalal Street on November 4.

For US one can say the rage against the Wall Street might serve the purpose of a political guillotine which will force the entire socio-political spectrum to adopt the idea of checked socialism, rather than unchecked and misplaced dividends of state backed corporate capitalism.

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