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Against Inequality

By Prachi Gupta

The eminent liberal scholar, Francis Fukoyama wrote his popular article “The End Of History” celebrating the triumph of liberalism throughout the world calling it an ideal situation, in 1992. But that ceases to be the case with demonstrations in and around Europe gaining momentum and garnering support from people and leaders alike. Popularly known as “the Occupy Wall Street Protests”, these protests began in late September 2011 in New York City and made their way to countries in Europe and parts of Asia. The movement has been largely peaceful and non- violent and has witnessed people from middle and lower middle class sections raising their voices against the unjust and unequal capitalistic growth pattern.

    The indulgence of western liberal democracies in corruption amongst government officials, corporate groups and the media has caused a huge uproar. The influence of lobbyists, and environmental degradation caused by unrestricted capitalistic exploitation has led to mass unemployment, inflation and consequent poverty and unequal growth pattern. Taking inspiration from the “Arab spring”, protesters have called for the occupation of Wall Street and demonstrations around government institutions. The significant slogan of the movement, “We are the 99%” signifies the biased development where only 1% of the population is benefitted by the nexus between the government, corporates and lobbyists.

The major cries among the protestors such as ‘No, we will not pay for your crisis’ and ‘I care about you’ invoke the values and ethics that underlie the structure of a democracy. Policies like privatizing education and social security, deregulation, slashing public services coupled with the unfettered greed of the corporate groups has completely neglected the circumstances the workers and unemployed middle class people. Down on the streets, people are adamant for a long lasting protest, with their tents fixed in open parks and churches. Protesters have been largely targeting global summits such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the G8 summits that only last for a week and are inconclusive and transient. 

Prominent leaders, such as American President Barack Obama, have shown faith and support for the protest calling it a reflection of the frustration amongst people. Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh has said that it signifies a warning about the governance. Others who do not see a bright corollary to this movement believe that it is ‘silly’ to protest against capitalism and that it will end as peacefully as it started. 

However, with the movement turning global and consolidating support, the probability of fruitful results is expected. Whatever may be the course of this on-going movement, it has certainly put a big question mark over the viability and implications of biased policy making. There is a requirement for effective mechanisms to look into corruption. Laws and policies proving an equitable distribution of wealth among the masses such as taxation on luxuries and not basics, expansion of government subsidies and employment programmes, and reducing the involvement of lobbyists in policy mediation are the need of the hour. This ‘End of History’, with these movements and protests, apparently doesn’t seem to be a smooth one.

 

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