Feb 09 2011

Time for a USA Uncut – Part II – In The Nation

Posted by: Nick Shaxson in: Thoughts

Johann Hari has a brilliant article in The Nation (sorry, this is Feb 5, but I was travelling all last week, and still have to catch up), which starts like this:

“Imagine a parallel universe where the Great Crash of 2008 was followed by a Tea Party of a very different kind. Enraged citizens gather in every city, week after week—to demand the government finally regulate the behavior of corporations and the superrich, and force them to start paying taxes. The protesters shut down the shops and offices of the companies that have most aggressively ripped off the country. The swelling movement is made up of everyone from teenagers to pensioners. They surround branches of the banks that caused this crash and force them to close, with banners saying, You Caused This Crisis. Now YOU Pay.

As people see their fellow citizens acting in self-defense, these tax-the-rich protests spread to even the most conservative parts of the country. It becomes the most-discussed subject on Twitter. Even right-wing media outlets, sensing a startling effect on the public mood, begin to praise the uprising, and dig up damning facts on the tax dodgers.

Instead of the fake populism of the Tea Party, there is a movement based on real populism. It shows that there is an alternative to making the poor and the middle class pay for a crisis caused by the rich. It shifts the national conversation. Instead of letting the government cut our services and increase our taxes, the people demand that it cut the endless and lavish aid for the rich and make them pay the massive sums they dodge in taxes.

This may sound like a fantasy—but it has all happened. The name of this parallel universe is Britain.”

Hari, of course, is referring to my favourite protest movement, UK Uncut. (As it happens, I wrote something along these lines, entitled Time for a USA Uncut, in December. Though Hari has outdone me by miles here.)

It’s a long story, and currently only available on subscription, but well worth reading if you can get a copy. Really, it would seem logical that this is an issue whose time is come – and not just in the UK.

I’ve already quoted this at too much length, probably, but I can’t help leaving you with this further taster of what the article’s like:

“There has been an obsessive hunt by the media to discover who UK Uncut “really are.” They assume there must be secretive leaders pulling the strings somewhere. But the more I dug into the movement, the more I realized this is a misunderstanding. The old protest movements were modeled like businesses, with a CEO and a managing board. This protest movement, however, is shaped like a hive of bees, or like Twitter itself. There is no center. There is no leadership. There is just a shared determination not to be bilked, connected by tweets.”

Right on.

Leave a comment