At the risk of repeating myself, I want to put yesterday’s post in a wider context:
As spring makes demonstrating less uncomfortable, Europeans are taking to the streets by the tens of thousands to protest the austerity measures their leaders have come up with to combat the crisis induced by the 2008 financial debacle.
In a tribute to the movement that began more than a year ago in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and and is still on-going, yesterday, tens of thousands, fed up with 25% unemployment, gathered in Madrid’s main square, Puerta del Sol and and in 80 other cities across Spain.
In London, hundreds of protesters gathered outside St Paul's Cathedral, where an Occupy protest camp was removed in February, and marched peacefully through the financial district.
Smaller protests have taken place in the Portuguese capital Lisbon and in Germany's financial centre, Frankfurt. German demonstrations come as the 13.2 million people eligible to vote for the state legislature in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous and industrialized state, elect a new regional government. Not all Germans agree with Chancellor Merkel's austerity measures, which have included greater freedom to fire workers, putting about one fourth in temp positions.
1,000 marchers converged on Tel Aviv to protest the cost of living, with marches also reported in other Israeli cities. Prime Minister Netanyahu has just consolidated his power by bringing the main opposition party Kadima on board, none too soon to undertake domestic reforms. Fareed Zakaria noted today that he can no longer invoke the fragility of his support to delay making peace with the Palestinians, while Iran’s Ahmedinejad noted that this failure represents a greater danger to Israel than any military attack.
The common thread in all these situations is epitomized by the oft heard criticism of the international Occupy Movement of failing to offer concrete proposals for change. But at this point popular pressure, combined with brutal government crackdowns, may make the emphasis on reform too little, too late.
If you think this is an exaggeration, Iraq Veterans Against the War are circulating an on-line petition asking the commander of the Illinois National Guard to refrain from sending in the National guard when they gather for the NATO Summit, where they will as I wrote yesterday:
“.....ceremoniously return our NATO service medals to denounce the disastrous 11-year war in Afghanistan.
The Illinois National Guard Deputy Director of Domestic Operations recently stated publicly that he stands ready to deploy National Guard troops on peaceful NATO protesters.
Send an email to Major General L. Enyart, head of the Illinois National Guard, and urge him not to activate troops against fellow veterans.”
A few minutes after I signed the petition and hit ‘send’ I received the following email:
‘Symantec Mail Security detected prohibited content in a message sent from your address. (SYM:13657982411663453303).'
It was from the IL-ExchangeService@ng.army.mil, Recipient, MG Enyart.
When I went to look for the Vets’ email in my inbox, it had been remotely moved to the trash.
While European protesters have inherited a long tradition of solidarity, the heritage of American activists emphasizes individualism. As a result, the latter campaigned for changes to SOPA in the name of the free sharing of artistic works. It was, it seems, less motivated to prevent the Patriot Act from assimilating citizen organizing through “wire, oral and electronic communications’ to terrorism, which brings us back to the beginning of this post.