The global “Day of Rage” against the world’s financial system spread from cities in East Asia to Europe and North america; denouncing capitalism, inequality and economic crises, demonstrators voiced peaceful oppositions, except in the Eternal city.
In Rome, riots police were busy after “Black Bloc” protesters torched cars, attacked banks and hurled rocks. While most rallies around the world were relatively small and barely held up traffic, the Rome event drew tens of thousands of people through the city center for miles. Hundreds of hooded, masked demonstrators rampaged in some of the worst violence seen in the Italian capital in years. Following the political insecurity and instability seen in the barely survived vote of confidence for Prime Minster Berlusconi, the violence has illustrated the anomaly of Italy. In response to the blazing cars, broken bank and shop windows, destroyed signposts and destroyed lights, the police fired volley of tear gas and used water cannons to disperse militant protesters. Nevertheless, only 12 of the violent demonstrators were detained, allowing many to flee persecution. Evidently, the international day of solidarity served to illustrate the global dissatisfaction with the fiscal crises but it has also illustrated the usurpation of common goals by individuals for anarchic purposes.
“It is true that a lot of things have to be faced up to in the Western world and there have been too many debts built up by states, and clearly in the banking system a lot has gone wrong. However, protests won’t be the answer to that. The answer is for governments to control their debts and deficits. I’m afraid protesting in the streets is not going to solve the problem.” – William Hague, British Foreign Secretary
Despite more than 950 demonstrations held in more than 80 countries around the world, the rallies served to only gain slight sympathy. As seen in Italy, there is a disparity and lack of union among demonstrators in the growing global movement. Despite an overall message against corporate corruption and fiscal dysfunction, the movement has lacked organization and leadership. Moreover, the movement has served most effectively as a congregation of anarchists, punks, and radicals, desperate for media attention and violence. With such individuals and undermining true progress, but gaining widespread media attention, the wedge in the movement is clear. For instance, in Italy, many of the “Black Bloc” protesters used the “Day of Rage” as an excuse to target Berlusconi and use the mass demonstration for media coverage and an escape route. Following the violence, a small group of peaceful protesters gathered by a church in opposition to such violence, aggravated that the “Day of Rage” was stolen from them, and resolute to carry out their own sit-ins. The Occupy movement lacked cohesion in the US and that has only been escalated in global expansion. It has become a social calling for all people to voice opposition of any sort, with an overarching dissatisfaction with fiscal measures, which as stated before, has only gained slight sympathy.
The global “Day of Rage” has embodied a general disenchantment with the interdependent infrastructure of global markets. Though the response to the call for solidarity fluctuated in countries, the overall response did serve to sensationalize the movement through media assets, serving more as a symbolic message of pressure for reform. The Occupy protest movement that started with a few thousand people in New York’s financial district has led to a much publicized movement, as the 99% took to the streets worldwide against the greed and corruption of the 1%. The protesters, upset that billion of dollars in bank bailouts doled out during the recession has allowed banks to resume earning high profits while average citizens have had no relief from high unemployment and job insecurity, have reminded global leaders of the growing fate for society and the escalating problems therein.
“It is our task to make the world financial system much more solid…that is how I interpret part of the message that comes from this movement.” – Jean-Claude Trichet, European Central Bank President
Undoubtedly, the financial system cannot be left in such a fragile state, making reform and restructure obvious. Yet, the European Union has expended countless resources and bank rolls from many countries in bailouts, fiscal facilities (EFSF) and stricter regulating guidelines, with none culminating in a “miracle cure”. According to the European Central Bank President, the European Union’s treaty should be changed to prevent one Member State from destabilizing the rest of the block, and has urged EU leaders for stronger Euro-zone governance.
In retrospect, the growing anarchy of social aggression is a testament to the growing severity of the fiscal crises that has unionized the radicals, alienated the moderates, sensationalized social movements and exploded into violence and frustration, but no progress.