Yes, I've been there. I had to. I am for change. I wrote about things Occupy people are fighting against (and for) in my essay about the financial crisis back in 2008 (see my "Ana Almighty" article in The Vienna Review, December 2008). I wrote about it in my second book "Knockout" - let's hope it will come out soon.
I was excited to witness Occupy Wall Street. But it made me sad.
First, the whole neighborhood is under a blockade and there are more policemen and securities than traders. Walking through Wall Street felt like walking through Zagreb during the war - especially during an air raid. That was last year, before Occupy. It is even worse now. How fair and innocent can the financial sector be if it needs an army of policemen to protect it?
Second, Occupy Wall Street is actually Occupy Zuccotti Park - the protesters are squashed together in a tiny park away from the Wall Street and surrounded by Mc Donald's and Burger King and a million of police cars. There are more police cars then protesters. It looked like they were put there, where they don't disturb, and left until they lose the drive and just leave. And this is what will happen. It reminded me of Uni Brennt, the protest that started at the University of Vienna in 2009 and spread through Europe. Universities were occupied for months. There were workshops, work groups; famous intellectuals talked and supported, media covered. Students were left to protest until they lost the drive. Nothing has changed.
Don't ask me how to make a change. I don't know. Maybe we should all just quit our jobs in the same time.
Unfortunately, the danger is that with every try like this, which ends up in just dying away, people lose hope. Hope in their power and hope in their ability to change things. When we lose hope, we can take a triple dose of anti depressants and turn into robots. And this is exactly what the system needs.
And last, yesterday I found a large article about the big Occupy protests in Okland on the home page of Austrian daily newspaper Der Standard. Then I looked into LA Times. NY Times. Huffington Post. No one covered them. For the US media - and thus US public - they have never happened.
Yes, I'm sad. Still, the fact that so many people recognize problems, have a critical mind, want to find solutions, are willing to protest and say NO MORE - that is hope.