What an ugly, disgraceful overreaction by the mayor and the City of Melbourne to the Occupy Melbourne group. When I hurried up to the City Square on Friday around 4.25 to catch a tram for Carlton the emptied square was cyclone fenced with riot police standing behind the wire. Further up Swanston Walk everyone was snapping this TV news scene with their smartphones:
The front line of coppers on horses faced a ragtag bunch of ferals waving Eureka flags — a pathetic illustration of overkill. I saw the tents in the square on the previous evening — a pretty desultory affair; one might even mistake it for a scruffy fringe component of the Melbourne Festival.
This was a parochial, thickheaded response. But back in the USA, the original movement has been deftly analysed by Andrew Sullivan, the megablogger who commands the Left of Right of Centre position in US commentary. His piece in Newsweek explains why he has finally come around to accepting the legitimacy of the Occupy Wall Streeters:
Because this is not the 1960s. These are not the children of the affluent acting out for sexual and personal liberation. They are the children of the golden years of hyped-up, unregulated, lightly taxed capitalism—now facing the same unemployment and austerity as the rest of the world. And that’s why polls have shown unusual support for the basic complaints of the hippies. The Occupy movement has, according to recent polling, significantly more general support than the Tea Party…Huge majorities agree that corporate special interests have too much clout in Washington, that inequality has gotten out of control, that taxes can and should be raised on the successful, that the gamblers of Wall Street deserve some direct comeuppance for the wreckage they have bestowed on the rest of us. Polling data do not show a salient cultural split between blue-collar whites and the countercultural drum circles in dozens of cities around America. And the facts are behind the majority position. Social and economic inequality is higher than it has been since the 1920s, and is showing no signs of declining.
One OWS sign caught my eye two weeks ago and has been pinging around my brain since, and in this Ask Me Anything video Sullivan says in passing, laughing in hilarity, that he has been obsessed with it. It makes total poetic sense to me. The system is screwed and unjustifiable. But we keep going, because it’s too hard to stop, too hard to change the climate of resigned to-hell-with-it.