If crucial questions such as the allocation of resources, the social welfare provisions, the distribution of wealth are no longer the subject of real debates inside representative assemblies, why the surprise at the alienation of the young from mainstream politics or the huge disappointment with Obama and his global mimics? It is this that is forcing people out into the streets of more than 90 cities. The politicians refused to accept that the crisis of 2008 was related to the neo-liberal policies they had been pursuing since the 1980s. They assumed they could get away with carrying on as if nothing had happened, but the movements from below have challenged this assumption. The occupations and street protests against capitalism are in some ways analogous to the peasant Jacqueries (revolts) of preceding centuries. Unacceptable conditions lead to uprisings, which are then usually crushed or subside of their own accord. What is important is that they are often harbingers of what is yet to come if conditions remain the same. No movement can survive unless it creates a permanent democratic structure to maintain political continuity. The greater the popular support for any such movement the greater the need for some form of organisation.
Sunday Herald, October 23 2011