On October 15, there was a massive wave of international solidarity protests with the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City. Hundreds of thousands of workers and young people marched in over 900 cities in 80 countries to show their anger at capitalism and inequality.
While the size of the demonstrations has not reached the 15-20 million during the antiwar rallies in March 2003, they clearly indicated a new political consciousness and willingness to struggle against the current conditions of more cuts and mass unemployment.
With signs saying “We Are the 99%” in Madrid, Cairo, Santiago or in Taiwan, this movement reflects the growing understanding of the international character of the crisis of capitalism. Here are some highlights.
In Madrid, the birthplace of the “indignados” movement, half a million people demonstrated. In Barcelona there were 400,000 with tens of thousands in other cities across Spain. They were protesting the savage economic crisis of capitalism and the avalanche of cuts and attacks on living standards by the government, while there is a widespread feeling that none of the establishment parties are willing or capable of dealing with the crisis.
In Portugal, an estimated 100,000 protesters marched in Lisbon with tens of thousands more in Porto and other cities. Showing their increasing determination to fight back, thousands stormed past riot police to occupy the steps leading to parliament, in scenes not seen since the Portuguese Revolution in 1974. In response to the pressure of below the CGTP union federation announced a general strike against the government.
Italy and Germany
In Italy, there was a gigantic demonstration of 300,000 in Rome. The protest was concentrated against the European Bank, austerity measures, the payment of the debt and the dictatorship of the banks. The FIOM metal workers union contingent marched under the slogans “We must stop them! We will not pay your debt.”
In Germany, over 10,000 people marched at Alenxanderplatz in Berlin and a similar number demonstrated in Frankfurt.
In Chile, hundreds of thousands of youth and workers demonstrated for the past month for the right to decent education. Thousands participated in October 15 solidarity events.
After three years of the unfolding capitalist crisis, big business and the corporate political parties have shown their inability to offer any alternative to the misery, poverty and mass unemployment for the vast majority. This rebellion is against the efforts of the elites to make workers and youth pay for the failure of their system. At the center of this movement is the demand for fundamental change, a “revolution” as the Spanish youth movement expresses this demand.
Events in Egypt, Spain and Greece have shown that without a powerful socialist organization capable of showing a way out of the misery of capitalism, the old elites will try to stay in power and sit out the protests.