The Ulf Nilson column in Nordstjernan, November 2011.
We've heard it since September 17. Heard it in screams coming out of radio and television, read it in the newspapers and heard people discuss it.
We've also been informed that the occupiers sleep in tents in Zucotti Park, close to Wall Street. Well, that goes for the bulk of the demonstrating folks, although two of the organizers, Peter Dutro and Brad Spitzer, preferred nice rooms ($700 a piece) in a nearby hotel.
What is more important is, of course, that the Occupy Wall Street movement (if that is the word) is not a Manhattan phenomenon. Similar manifestations (if that is the word) have broken out in literally hundreds of cities in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Think of the demonstrations in Cairo (where Hosni Mubarak was toppled), in Tunisia and Damascus and for that matter Tripoli (where Moammar Kadhafi was killed).
Reading about the Wall Streeters and watching them—and the police around them—I came to think of things long past. In the 60s I covered the Black Protest Movement in the American south. I walked in marches (often pretty close to Martin Luther King) and experienced the victory—a victory won with the help of millions of decent white Americans. I remember killings, beatings and hateful words, but again, the black people (and common sense) prevailed. America got rid of segregation and became a better country for it.
I don't quite know and I think maybe nobody really knows what the protesters want. They claim that 1 percent (that's the boys and girls on Wall Street) control 99 percent of the wealth—which is rubbish. They want a better deal for the poor, which I do, too, without believing that sometimes violent demonstrations are going to solve that problem.
Indeed, what we are experiencing, I think, is the awesome power of the Internet. In the days of Martin Luther King, the word was spread by newspapers, radio and television. Today we can add Facebook, Twitter and dozens of other actors on the web. We've reached a point where EVERYTHING HAPPENS EVERYWHERE AT THE SAME TIME. The world is one world in a way we did not understands only a few decades ago. I don't know if a butterfly in Egypt can create a rainstorm in Minnesota, but I know that the men who rule China do not like their television to show people attacking authority, even if the authority is Wall Street, that symbol of capitalism.
Most likely, the Wall Street uprising will taper off. Most likely the rich will continue to be rich and the poor to be poor. And still, can anyone remember a more dramatic year than 2011?