Occupy asked the right questions. The Great Recession ravaged the people at the bottom of society, while governments have spent trillions of pounds protecting the ones at the top. Some have called Occupy anti-capitalist, but its target has mainly been the incestuous relationship between big business and the state. Rightly so. We have a corporatist system, where taxpayers bail out powerful firms from losses, prolonging the recession. Bank bailouts and quantitative easing represented a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers to the richest part of society. The thick tangle of economic regulation in developed economies helps to protect large, established firms against upstart challengers. All of this contributes towards a growing income inequality and the stagnant global economy. Occupy’s answers may be asinine, but they have mostly focused on the questions. It’s a good thing that someone is asking them.
Sam Bowman is policy director at the Adam Smith Institute.
It’s now clear that Occupy’s claim to represent “the 99 per cent” was hyperbolic claptrap. The real story of Occupy has been its utter failure to win ordinary people to its cause. That’s probably because its “cause” consisted of little more than berating the masses for foolishly falling for consumerism. As befits a movement founded by the superbly snobbish radical magazine Adbusters (which describes consumers as an “army of zombies”), Occupy was always more concerned with attacking the “chumps and tarts” of consumer society than with putting forward a serious political programme. It claimed the working classes had been “emotionally brainwashed” by capitalism, and thus it fell to enlightened, purple-haired Occupiers from impeccably middle-class backgrounds to prise open our ignorant eyes. The fizzling-out of Occupy over the past year is a consequence of the fact that, at root, it loathed “the 99 per cent”.
Brendan O’Neil is editor of spiked online.