The Occupy Movement

See HERE for the provisional contents page of the study,

which gives you a proper chronology of sections.

Note: the content below is all in first draft format. It will change considerably during the time it takes for the study to be completed (especially by way of more academic support, generally). I post now ‘for interest’s sake’.


Numerous aspects of the Occupy Movement of 2011 and 2012[1] point toward resonance with the Orphic attitude, and towards direct resistance to aspects of purely Promethean paradigms. One of the main catch-phrases of the Movement was/is[2] “We are the 99%”, words that signify an awareness of the significantly uneven distribution of wealth that has been brought into existence via the globalization of advanced consumer industrial democracy and its debt-based monetary system. Focusing just on America, for example, a[3] online newspaper report of late 2011 states that “the richest 1% of the US population… own[s] a third of US net worth.” It tends to be the case that such statistics vary according to source, which is expectable considering the various different indices that can be taken into account when working out such a challenging statistic, but regardless of the differences between the various attempts to work out the exact statistics, the conclusion is unavoidable that the top 1% of the super-rich and -wealthy of America (and indeed the world) own and control more wealth and assets than the vast majority of the world’s population combined. The Occupy Movement was partly a response to such a skewed distribution of the world’s wealth, but more importantly, the movement was responding to the ethically reprehensible consequences of various actions of the super-elite and -wealthy, actions and consequences that have had global economic impacts that further benefit the 1% but deteriorate living conditions for the 99%. These issues are evident in what one of the official ‘Occupy’ pages[4] says about the movement: ‘Occupy’ was/is

fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to fight back against the richest 1% of people that are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.

An example of problematic actions perpetrated by what the Occupy Movement interchangeably called ‘the 1%’, ‘Wall Street’, ‘banksters’ or ‘Corporations’, was the economic crisis that started in 2008. Members of the Occupy Movement frequently point out that the crisis was orchestrated by the banking sector, a sector in which highly instrumental players of ‘the 1%’ reside. The economic crisis of 2008 is a complicated matter, but there are some very clear reasons for why it occurred, as summarised in the abstract of a 2009 paper by Michele Fratianni and Francesco Marchionne called ‘The Role of the Banks in the Subprime Financial Crisis’[5]:

[L]arge default rates on subprime mortgages cannot account for the severity of the [2008 financial] crisis. Rather, low-quality mortgages acted as an accelerant to the fire that spread through the entire financial system. The latter had become fragile as a result of several factors that are unique to this crisis: the transfer of assets from the balance sheets of banks to the markets, the creation of complex and opaque assets, the failure of ratings agencies to properly assess the risk of such assets, and the application of fair value accounting. To these novel factors, one must add the now standard failure of regulators and supervisors in spotting and correcting the emerging weaknesses. (2009: 1)

The above is support from the academic world of research that supports some of what was explored in Inside Job, a documentary that traces the role of the banks in the economic crisis. As stated in a[6] article, Inside Job focuses on a “villainous lineup that includes bankers, politicians (many of whom were previously bankers)[7], regulators, the credit ratings agencies and academics”. The article states that there “are plenty of economists who believed the banks understood what they were doing and supported deregulation”. The details of these kinds of issues are beyond the scope of this study, but one thing is obvious: when the banking industry falters – and Inside Job shows that the faltering of the banks prior to the 2008 crisis was deliberately orchestrated – it is the general public that has to ‘bail it out’, as pointed out by the academics Fratianni and Marchionne (Ibid): “the crisis persists and governments continue to inject vast amounts of public funds into banks.”[8] This is indicative of an economic system that is structured to favour the rich, and various issues from subsection 4.3. above come to the forefront, for example, that the realm of politics is indistinguishable from the realm of big business, as expressed by Noam Chomsky’s sentiments considered in the relevant section of this study. Members of the occupy movement rejected this type of ‘democracy’.

Furthermore, members of the Occupy Movement share/shared an acute awareness of the issue that was explored in section 2.9, namely the issue of how the phenomenon of endless growth is inherent in a capitalist debt-based monetary system and the impact such continued growth has on the environment. The following from[9] reveals the views of a prominent academic who took part in the Occupy movement; the themes and issues alluded to have been explored in earlier sections of this study:

For too long, Wall Street has been occupying the offices of our government, and the cloakrooms of our legislatures,” wrote Bill McKibben, co-founder of, in an email to supporters before the march. “They’ve been a constant presence, rewarded not with pepper spray in the face but with yet more loopholes and tax breaks and subsidies and contracts. You could even say Wall Street’s been occupying our atmosphere, since any attempt to do anything about climate change always run afoul of the biggest corporations on the planet. So it’s a damned good thing the tables have turned.

This comment by McKibben was made in 2011, during the height of the occupation of places like Wall Street by members of the Occupy movement. However, McKibben’s final remark – that the tables have turned – did not refer to an ‘immediate’ event, as the comment seems to suggest, because since then, as stated in a[10] article of July 2015,

in the absence of any alternative model[11], the conditions for another crisis are being assembled. … The shadow banking system has been reassembled, and is now bigger than it was in 2008. New rules demanding banks hold more reserves have been watered down or delayed. Meanwhile, flushed with free money, the 1% has got richer.

The title of the article from which the above quote is taken is ‘The End of Capitalism has Begun’, a title that reveals a sentiment with which the Occupy movement in general certainly agreed. McKibben’s remark about the tables turning, then, must be understood in the sense of the ‘end of Capitalism’ being a process rather than being one exact event. In some ways, the Occupy Movement can be seen as the biggest and most influential uprising in history, and the impact of the movement has been widespread. In an interview[12], David Harvey has said the following of the widespread impact of ‘the Movement’:

I credit the Occupy movement with sparking that new conversation – a conversation that highlights the wealth inequalities all over the world. … It’s interesting that everybody knows what you’re talking about when you mention the “one per cent”. The issue of the one per cent is now on the agenda and given depth by studies like that of Thomas Piketty, in his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Joseph Sitglitz has a book on inequality, too, and several other economists are talking about it. Even the IMF is now saying that there is a danger that follows when inequality reaches a certain level. Even Obama is saying it. But Obama wouldn’t have said it if Occupy hadn’t done so first.

Harvey’s follows the above observations [Ibid] by pointing out immediately, however, that as far as actual policy goes – as in policy from the governmental sphere that has direct implications for what is permissible in terms of corporate action that furthers economic inequality, ecological degradation, etc. – little is being done. The reasons for such inaction from the political sphere are clear when one considers the content of Chapter 4.3. above, which is about the marriage of business and politics. The Occupy Movement may not have had an impact when it comes to the major political changes that would help to diminish the pernicious effects of Promethean corporatism, but certainly ‘the Movement’ can be credited with raising near-global awareness about the purely Promethean mechanisms (a fact that should be considered alongside section 2.2 above, Blessed Unrest) and furthering the search for Orphic systems.

To conclude this section, here follows a comment from Manual Castells in response to a question by Mason about how ‘big’ this cultural change is, a cultural change that partly manifested, physically for a while at least, in the Occupy Movement, and which the Occupy Movement played a large role in accelerating:

It is fundamental because it triggers a crisis of trust in the two big powers of our world: the political system and the financial system. People don’t trust where they put their money and they don’t trust those who they delegate in terms of their vote. All the statistics are there. It’s a dramatic crisis of trust and if there is no trust, there is no society. It’s simply institutions that still try to control citizens. But the main thing is the acceptance in their minds because nothing else is possible. So what we are not going to see is the economic collapse per se because societies cannot work in a social vacuum. If the economic institutions don’t work, if the financial institutions don’t work, the power relations that exist in society change the financial system in ways favoured to the financial system and it doesn’t collapse – people collapse, not the financial system. Then people realise two things: first, this financial system was built on completely unreliable mathematical models in fact, with the implication that we don’t count there; second, when we use the institutions that we have to control the financial system, to change it, to re-equilibrate it, the notion is the banks are going to be alright, we are not going to be alright…[13]


[1] The tents and camps that were explicit symbols of the Occupy Movement when it was manifesting in places like Wall Street and around St Paul’s Cathedral in front of the London Stock Exchange may no longer be erected, but as will be seen in this sub-section, the spirit of the phenomenon lives on.

[2] The activity at these sites suggests that the movement is on-going: and both accessed 13 August 2015.

[3] accessed 16 July 2015

[4] accessed 29 July 2015

[5] accessed 16 July 2015

[6] accessed 16 July 2015

[7] This point – that many politicians were previously bankers – speaks volumes for what was explored in section 4.3. about the marriage between business and politics.

[8] David Harvey also points to this in The Enigma of Capital. Reference lacking for now.

[9] accessed 16 July 2015

[10] accessed 29 July 2015

[11] At this point in this study, it should be clear that Promethean mechanisms prevent alternative models from arising.

[12] accessed 29 July 2015

[13] accessed 21 October 2015

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