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Picture credit: Sophia Loukaides/Frontline Club
Can the Occupy LSX movements in London and around the world be linked to the uprisings during the Arab Spring?
This was just one of the issues that divided both the panel and the audience at last night’s “#Occupy – What do they want?” discussion, which was chaired by Kevin Marsh, director of OffspinMedia and former editor of BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.
“It is utterly offensive to equate Occupy LSX’ big-state rich kids and crusties with freedom fighters of the Arab Spring,” argued journalist and author Daniel Ben-Ami, who went on to criticise the protesters in the US who “have been occupying Wall Street since September and it’s still not clear what they want.”
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange argued that what the protesters want is “clear and simple”: “They want equality, justice and equality in front of the law. How do they get? That’s the hard part.”
Accountant and economist Richard Murphy responded that while it’s true the movement’s claims are still unclear and “messy” he argued that it was because it reflected “reality”.
“We’ve had materialism running wild to left and liberalism doing the same in the opposite direction. They both created a geography of dissent; we are now looking for real alternatives,” he said, “you ask me if I agree with what’s happening at St. Paul’s? Yes I do. Those people have put forward the choice we are being denied.”
Assange supported Murphy’s views and criticised the media for failing to create the conditions for debate and expression of ideas that social media had facilitated:
“We are all affected, not only the 99 per cent. And this is also thanks to the incredible improvement of technology in media,” he said. “Why didn’t this happen five years ago? Because only now there is a mechanism to react, to create an ‘external communication’ able to match against the ‘internal’ one of Goldman Sachs and financial markets.” Continue reading