By Micah David Naziri
Frederick Douglass said “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
After Occupy, will we see violent resistance? This article, inspired by a variety of commentaries on the subject from which it draws, argues that Occupy was only the beginning, and the last, manifestation of peaceful resistance against the ever-widening chasm of inequality and desolation.
A report released early this year by the organization Oxfam International revealed that the combined income of the richest 100 people in the world is enough to end global poverty four times over, and that the gap between rich and poor has exploded by some 60% in the last 20 years. Rather than hinder this division, the recent global economic crisis has exacerbated it. Money does not disappear, you see, but tends to be translated up the income ladder in times of financial distress.
According to UNICEF, nearly half the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 a day. One billion children live in poverty, and 22,000 of them die each day because of it. More than one billion people lack access to adequate drinking water, and 400 million of those are children. Almost a billion people go hungry every day.
The incomes of 100 people out of the seven billion on the planet could fix that, and then fix it again, and then fix it again, and then fix it again. The exact total of the wealth of these individuals is actually something of a mystery, thanks to the tax havens they use to hide their fortunes. There are trillions of dollars squirrelled away in those havens – no one knows quite how much – and the subtraction of that money from the global economy has a direct and debilitating effect on the people not fortunate enough to be part of that elite 100.
In America alone, some $150 billion in tax revenue is lost each year because of these havens, money that could be used for education, food assistance programs, infrastructure repair and health care. Instead, Americans are told the country is going broke, and are force-fed austerity measures by the same politicians who passed the laws allowing the wealthy and corporations to wallow in treasure like Tolkien’s dwarves hiding under their mountain.
The recession being endured by the American people is becoming more a thing of fiction every day. The S&P 500 companies have been making money hand over fist under the Obama administration. The so-called “job creators” are doing just fine, but they don’t seem very interested in using the money they’ve hoarded to expand the job market. According to an analysis of some 2,300 companies by Bloomberg news, hiring by those companies has risen the least amount since 2010. At the same time, however, those companies are sitting on a cash stockpile of $1.73 trillion. With record profits like those, they can afford to hire people… But they aren’t, because they make more money that way…and there’s always offshore labor available if they need warm bodies to work on the extra-cheap.
The notorious war profiteer Kellog Brown & Root primly announced earlier this month that it will take thirteen years and half a billion dollars for them to wind down their operations in Iraq. They consider this money to be part of the $38 billion deal they made with the US Army back in 2001.
The Occupy Movement sought to draw a bright public circle around the terrible influence enjoyed by the few over the many. Mainstream opinion will say the movement collapsed due to its own inadequacies, but recent revelations reported on in the Political Blind Spot article “POLICE STATE: What We NOW KNOW About the Government Targeting the Occupy Movement” demonstrate how the movement was attacked and undermined by law enforcement, elements of “homeland security” ostensibly meant to be part of the federal government’s anti-terrorism programs, and by private security firms hired by corporations and wealthy individuals to keep “undesirables” out of sight and out of mind.
Occupy was only the beginning, but may very well have been the last manifestation of peaceful resistance against the ever-widening chasm of inequality and desolation. The noose is tightening around the necks of average people, and more become radicalized with each passing day. The wealthy would do well to take note of this, and voluntarily move to square the savage imbalance that drives billions around the world into furious despair. It does not have to be this way, and if it continues in this way, eventually the levee is going to break and when it does, peaceful revolution will be a thing of the past. As John F. Kennedy warned, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”