Occupy Wall Street: Where do we go from here?

The American dream seems to have become the ‘American scream’. Wall Street brokers and insurance men may have started the ball rolling but we are all in trouble now. So, what next? More of the same or time to do something different?

Communism failed twenty years ago and now capitalism driven by huge corporations seems to be going likewise. Ask yourself what the similarities are between them and the answer is obvious. Greed on the part of an already powerful elite. You have much, you want more. That is the problem plain and simple.

It was the British historian, politician and writer John Dalberg-Acton who wrote, “all power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” In other words, “I am right because I am powerful and I am powerful because I am right”. That sounds like the voice of many corporations and politicians right now…

The problem is that while I don’t believe in the notion of a Corporatocracy in the US, there are enough powerful people there to corrupt the democratic process and load the dice in their favour. The implications have fall-out for all of us, as we have seen since 2008 and it ain’t getting any better…

I am not a Libertarian in the American sense but they do say a few sensible things. In their Statement of Principles it says: “We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.”

It seems to me that they are right to challenge the State that has allowed us to get into this position, assuming that market economics are the answer to everything. Clearly that is not true. Where I part company with the Libertarians is the charming belief that we are all good at heart and if left to our own devices, will solve all of these problems. That is as naive as communism’s belief that all you had to do was smash Capitalism to bring about the Communist Utopia!

We have gone beyond the point where the vast majority of people in the developed world can go back to the land and live simple, agrarian lives but we should be doing things like:

* Suitably regulate all financial institutions
* Raise taxation on corporations
* Increase the level of energy from alternative and renewable sources
* Provide incentives to reduce the level of personal carbon footprints
* Disseminate political power to the lowest local level
* Fund national work schemes (a la FDR in the 1930’s)
* Withdraw US and allied forces from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan etc.
* End bailouts to corporations and manufacturers
* Invest more in education and health
* Cut back investment on the military
* Support the further development of high-value, high-tech industries

And how do we pay for this, at the same time as paying back the trillions of dollars currently owed by the governments of the world? I suggest we do for ourselves what the British government did for the debts of a dozen African countries a decade ago – write them off – or what Iceland did a year or so ago, declare bankruptcy and tell the creditors to “go hang”.

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About stevehollier

Steve Hollier is the editor of AZ Magazine, an English language lifestyle magazine based in Baku, Azerbaijan. He began his career working for a firm of stockbrokers in the City of London then went on to attend the University of Essex where he was awarded an MA in Sociology in 1984. After a career in arts and cultural development work, he became a freelance arts consultant, writer and photographer.
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