October 23, 2011

Thoughts On Occupy Amsterdam

Spend a few hours yesterday and the week before on saturday at "Occupy Amsterdam." Especially last week was amazing since Beursplein 5, the square where the protests were held and which is right in front of the Dutch stock exchange, was pretty much packed with people. Police estimated that around 1500 people were present but they also mentioned that people come and go which to me sounds accurate on both accounts. In other words, the Occupy phenomenon which has spread across the globe has also manifested itself in Holland.

The latter is a little bit remarkable since Holland has one of the best social security and healthcare systems in the world, but seeing that austerity measures are being implemented, Dutch banks being bailed out, tremendous financial aid going to Greece, many people know what time it is. The Dutch taxpayer will get the bill just like in any other country. The government already announced that people will feel the new policies in their wallets and nobody thinks they are kidding. The bottom line is that many people realize the political and financial systems have failed to a large degree.

Visiting the event so far I'm also (pleasantly) surprised by the diversity of the protesters. Mainstream media has a tendency to label the protestors as coming from the left side of the political spectrum, which is simply not true. I've heard on more than one occasion right wing speakers who hint towards the meme of small government. People from all walks of life protested. Left, right, Christians, squatters, Anonymous and yes, I've also seen a few people speak who some would label as the lunatic fringe. Nonetheless, the essence here is that everyone is heard and everyone is allowed to speak. Democracy at its finest.

The only people I didn't see so far are the bankers themselves. Some politicians, namely from the Dutch Labour Party and Socialist Party did make an appearance on the 15th. Yes, they are of course from 'the left' and it would suit some right wing politicians to visit the protests as well but I guess they are afraid to get booed. How effective the demonstrations will be is anyone's guess. Personally, I don't anticipate any (radical) change soon but without a doubt it's constructive towards the future to let your voices be heard.

No comments: