Ted Barnes

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The Anti-Corporation Movement Around the World.

In America, we are starting to see a large citizen push-back to the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the world. On a larger scale, these types of protests and movements are popping up all over the free world. We see similar movements in Australia, Greece, and all over Europe for that matter. A recent call to arms released by the "Occupy Wall Street" movement said this:

"We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent."

Simple and profound, this statement documents the beginning of what can be described as a revolution. Class-warfare is brewing. This movement is catching steam quickly.

Questions to guide the debate:
1 - Is this the beginning to true social reform?
2 - What can this type of protest and movement achieve?
3 - Is "class-warfare" a reality or fabricated?
4 - Is this an anti-capitalism movement?
5 - What are the consequences of challenging establishments like Wall Street?

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    Oct 4 2011: this is a perfect, but brief answer:
    http://imgur.com/O1Bgj

    and here is some details

    1. maybe, but as of now, completely misguided. to actually address the real problem, some learning is needed.
    2. attention
    3. there are no classes. it is a marxian idea, and it was never true.
    4. surely. that's the problem with it. the problem they have is not capitalism, but statism. they want to solve it with more statism.
    5. nothing, as long as the real problem is fixed, which is government policy.
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      Oct 5 2011: 1 - Well, I wouldn't call it completely misguided. There has been a fair amount of corruption to our capitalistic values and the people are angry. They just don't know exactly what they want.

      2 - Agreed.

      3 - There are no classes? This isn't true. Classes are not just a Marxian idea, and there are definitely multiple classes in a republic.

      4 - I don't believe they are protesting statism. I don't think the states' role in politics have anything to do with these movements. Capitalism is in part what's being protested, but I think it's more about the merger of democracy and capitalism. It seems to me that it's more about Corporations invading the government and buying policies and leaders that push their agendas and interests to obtain more money and pay less in the process.

      5 - which government policies are we talking about here? If it's things like SuperPACS then I completely agree. The question was "What are the consequences of challenging establishments like Wall Street?" It is a broad question and can be interpreted in a number of ways, but I don't think nothing fits the next statement of "as long as the real problem is fixed" very well. What if it isn't?
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        Oct 5 2011: 1. corruption inside a company does not have to concern us. it is the owner's problem. corruption between authorities and companies concerns us. i blame the authorities.

        3. there are no classes. you can arbitrarily classify people, but such classifications will always be rude and almost meaningless.

        4. sure they are not. i said, the problems they want to solve are problems caused by statism. but they don't realize that. they attack capitalism, as they think capitalism is the problem.

        5. "welfare" programs, war on drugs, high taxes, state monopolies, the fed, the fiat money system. as long as these are in place, symptoms will appear in the form of huge money laundering and money extracting corporations. if you attack these corporations, you bite the stick instead of the man who holds it.
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          Oct 5 2011: 1- Corruption inside a company does concern us if it is a company that deals directly with our lives and our money. Take AIG, CitiBank, any health insurance and pharmaceutical company for instance, and think about the implications or corruption in those industries.

          3 - We won't see eye to eye on this. In my opinion, there are classes in every type of society. Those classes are generally broken down by economy or power structures. No matter how rude these classifications are, they still do hold meaning.

          4 - I think you are wrong about what these protests are about. It's more about special interest groups controlling policies, and the wealthiest people in the world controlling the direction of the country. Capitalism, ultimately, is the root of the problem, but we should leave that for another debate.

          5 - You aren't making the correlation. The corporations push their interests through lobbying and many other things. Money and the few ultra-powerful corporations have their hand in everything governmental and therein lies the problem. The stick and the man holding it are the same now.
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        Oct 5 2011: 1. no it does not, as you can simply not make business with them, and that's it. citibank is corrupt? cancel your account, move to another bank.

        3. tell me a class, and tell me the defining characteristics. be sure that the definition is precise, that is, it includes all members, and excludes all non-members.

        4. i think i didn't make myself clear enough. the wall street protests are anti capitalist, and they do think, as you, that capitalism is the root of the problem. and i say that this is wrong.

        5. corporations lobby where? in washington. there are two sides of this coin, if washington is not corrupt, corporations can do nothing. if you don't want flies all around your flat, you don't let meat rot on the table. government loots a truckload of money out of people, and spends it generously among its minions. corporations would be stupid not to go there for a share. the problem is not their attitude.
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          Oct 5 2011: Well is it not possible to put this protest in as one part of the capitalist equation. You have X number of corporations behaving in a certain way. If that way is contrary to the beliefs and standards of so many people they protest. This drives up cost for the company ( by providing transportation problems) and, or drives down profits (by providing negative exposure thus prompting less people to use these products. Many of those protesting don't have stock in these companies, yet are still effected by them. I would agree those who have investments in these companies should have a larger sway on how they are run, but still there is a balance where if they do cross certain lines they may find themselves facing repercussion. Agree with them or not you have to admit dealing with protesters is part of dealing with free markets.
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          Oct 6 2011: 1 - There are companies in which we have no control over choosing. See pharmaceutical companies, or CDO swapping insurance companies for for further info.That's not the point though. The point is these corporations are enacting their own governmental policies on the citizens. It is in effect, a corporate government. They push their money through all the avenues they can to increase the overall bottom line of their companies and line their pockets through policy changes that allow them to become too big to fail. The opposite of Robin Hood. Steal from the poor, to make the rich richer.

          3 - The middle class is any class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economicaly between the working class and upper class. It's not me who is defining these classes my friend. Economic classes and power classes have been defined for a long time

          4 - Then we agree to disagree on this point.

          5 - Ah, a classic argument for lobbyists. First let me say that I agree with you in part. The government is corrupt. But it's not just that corporations roll in to benefit off this corruption, they actively get members of their boards, CEOs, etc to infiltrate the highest levels of government to enact policies that benefit themselves and their companies. They bankroll a candidate's campaign that they have bought to push their special interest agendas. (See "Citizens United Act 2010"). This is not just a case of corrupt government being capitalized on. It is direct infiltration and manipulation to serve a goal of greed.
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        Oct 6 2011: 1, why is there companies we can't avoid? pharmaceuticals offer drugs. you can take other drugs, if you don't like. ah, you mean the FDA haven't approved other drugs? this is a government problem, not a market problem. "CDO swapping insurance companies" can not be avoided because...? what are "governmental policies" that companies can "enact"?

        3. so you define the middle class as being in the middle, above the working class and below the upper class? that is not very satisfying. what is the working class? what is the upper class? is an actor in the middle class? how about a top level brain surgeon? a broker? what these people have in common? what are their common interests? what makes them a class?

        5. argument for lobbyists? somehow i don't think they share my vision that we should stop government getting that much money to waste. nor they share my opinion that parties should make their campaign financing public, or else they should get no votes.
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    Oct 9 2011: The world expert on psychopaths, Robert Hare PhD, comments on corporations.

    http://youtu.be/ui9C6xVpVf0
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    Oct 7 2011: 1) I really hope so but I fear that people are easily distracted, refocused and intimidated.

    2)The most important thing it accomplishes is awareness. People who never stopped to consider the issues because of busy lives will stop and see what the hubbub is about. This might make them realize that it is not just conspiracy theories that do not affect their own lives. That this is serious and it is threatening to average middle class people.

    3) I hate to call it class warfare because people who are prepared to exploit others and not see their humanity have no "class' in my world view. I think though, that it is a percentage of humanity with power, prestige and financial influence (who may also fit the definition of psychopaths in its true definition) who have stepped on the heads of other people to become the 'upper crusty' group (yes they are crusty in my opinion) who have high jacked governments and corporations to steer the bulk of humanity. They need to be confronted and 'we the people. need to prevail or many more will die in starvation and agony.

    4) No, not at all in my opinion. No one has a problem with capitalism per se. We have a huge problem with capitalism divorced from humanity. I personally have a huge problem with capitalism without conscience that I saw in my MBA. For example, companies who routinely aggressively sell condensed formula to new mothers in Africa when they know that those women have to walk miles for water and that the water to mix the formula is not clean. They allow these mothers to lose their own natural milk in the 'trial' period and put those babies lives not just at risk but at at likelihood of death for what small measly profit? (That is without even considering the case of the company which sent knowingly miss formulated formula (missing key nutrients for brain growth ) to Africa because they could not sell it in America.) These are heinous crimes under the disguise of capitalism.

    5) Who knows. Probably more PR for companies.
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    Oct 5 2011: I do not consider myself part of the 99 percent. I am also not among the 1 percent. I think the call to arms immaturely overstated. How can anyone rally around the following statement about the U.S. : "We are getting nothing (nothing??) while the other 1 percent is getting everything (everything??)" Strange politics.
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      Oct 6 2011: So let me guess, those lazy protesters should go out and get a job and stop whining about the greed and corruption because they can't do anything about it? I agree the statements are broad, but they have to be. Read some stats on wealth distribution in America at least. What you may find might make you a little more involved. Or maybe you just don't really care, and you have your piece of the pie and that's all your concerned about. 1/4th of America's children are now below the "poverty" level, wondering day to day if they are going to eat or not, while the CEO of corporations like GE, BP, BoA, among others are rolling in 50 million dollar BONUSES. If you are really interested go here: http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html , if you aren't, then why bother?
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    Oct 7 2011: 1. It can be a begining but without a leader or clear leadership......so end result uncertain.

    2. If civilzed we are really may be our tyrrany will become more cautious and change tactics for the time being.

    3. Class Struggle is a reality these are some proof which many will disagree and disregard... ... will also come up with campaign to falsify it. Successful class struggle needs well planned effort with sound leadership otherwise it fails. As it fails he who wants to disagree finds reason to disregard it.

    4.I don't think so, it's just a movement against ruthless progression of GREED based model, capitalism will evolve for it's survival. Besides most people involved will be happy with a small gain and give up , as it's mostly driven by middle class, who desire to go up and afraid of falling down as the character of the class. Only people who have nothing to lose can be desparate to make big change.

    5. They will change in their way until we change them in our way.
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    Oct 7 2011: whichever, those are just topics to guide the debate, not dictate it.
  • Oct 7 2011: I thought my first answer was a more colorful way of stating what is wrong and how to fix it. But... if you wish me to adhere to the list.

    1 - It is the beginning of something. (I don't know what is meant by "true social reform")
    2 - Populist reforms that further bankrupt people and their nations.
    3 - Class-warfare is a reality for the dimwitted.
    4 - It could be an anti-capitalism movement but it more a movement of ignorant peons against reality.
    5 - Only limited consequences to challenge institutions but unfathomable consequences if these institutions are suddenly removed.

    What main topic should we be debating? Because there are five listed above.
  • Oct 6 2011: "We are getting kicked out of our homes." The homes you could not afford but signed agreements to buy anyway.

    "We are denied quality medical care." Because you cannot pay for it.

    "We are suffering from environmental pollution." Because you possess a throwaway mentality.

    We are the 99 percent and we are spoiled with an entitlement mentality.

    Here is an idea. Stop complaining and invent something. Stop begging and do something creative. Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook. You can invent the next pet rock for all I care but do something that warrants reward through value creation.

    By complaining like this, one becomes a miniature tyrant.
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      Oct 6 2011: I think you missed the point Bob.
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      Oct 7 2011: Yes we all don't get the ailments we can afford.
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    Oct 6 2011: 1 - Is this the beginning to true social reform?
    I would say it will become a movement of true social reform as it matures. If we can continue the trend of making it more difficult to white-wash the information that people are receiving and hold each other responsible to objectivity of communicating information, we can begin to get the the source of corruption that goes on behind closed doors.
    2 - What can this type of protest and movement achieve?
    To me, it depends upon the overall perception of the movement. One wild card can indelibly damage the reputation of such a movement. Much like Muslim extremists have been a plague to millions of peaceful and loving Muslim people around the world.
    3 - Is "class-warfare" a reality or fabricated?
    It seems to be fabricated in part, but it needs that kind of hyperbole to cut through the din of media and distractions being put into the average citizens mind.
    4 - Is this an anti-capitalism movement?
    Not anti-capitalism, but maybe any materialism. I see it as refocusing the lens of society onto the human and the virtuous rather than the dollar sign and the profit margin.
    5 - What are the consequences of challenging establishments like Wall Street?
    I would say that economic dynamism and overall power as a country will plummet, as it should in my opinion.
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    Oct 5 2011: I consider myself part of the movement:

    http://www.ted.com/conversations/5989/money_doesn_t_exist_not_reall.html

    30 years from now, people could say, "Yeah, back in the early 2000's, people didn't limit income to 2 million dollars. The unchecked greed meant that corporations bought elections and raped the earth, rich people never felt rich because they didn't know they would always compare themselves with those who had more, and CEO's made 300 times what their employees made despite not being socially productive it all! People were starving in the midst of plenty, the infrastructure was crumbling, we were in a depression...it was terrible!"

    Here's to dreaming of a better world.
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    Oct 5 2011: As I always say worst protest is better than no protest.
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    Oct 4 2011: From today's Vancouver Sun

    He predicts the protests in Canada will be more subdued because of the Canadian economy’s relative strength, but, he cautioned, young Canadians are “just as vulnerable and just as worried about their future” as their American counterparts.

    The protesters say they are taking their cue from the pro-democracy movements of the Arab Spring that has sprung up across North Africa and the Middle East. They are planning to return to Wall Street on Wednesday.

    Canadian protests are also being arranged in Calgary, Vancouver, Victoria, Ottawa, Montreal, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, according to another website, Occupy Together.

    Organizers have asked activists to bring tarps, thermal blankets, sleeping bags, first aid kits and electrical generators to prepare for what could be a weeks-long stakeout akin the actions of protesters in the U.S.

    An "indefinite occupation" of Vancouver’s Art Gallery has been scheduled for Oct. 15, with online organizers telling activists bring their tents and sleeping bags.

    "It is time to come together and educate each other. We will stand in solidarity with these other movements and we will create a platform for people to speak and . . . provide an audience that will listen," the group wrote on its Facebook page.

    "Let them gawk, let them ask questions, let them wake up."

    Min Reyes, one of the Vancouver demonstration’s organizers, said “it was only a matter of time” before the protest came to Vancouver.

    Read more: http://www.canada.com/news/Occupy+Wall+Street+protests+spreading+Toronto+Calgary+Vancouver/5491191/story.html#ixzz1ZqnG7Ojx
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      Oct 5 2011: Interesting! Not too many reports of Canadian protests here in the states....but that isn't terribly surprising. I thought Canada was doing fairly well though in comparison to the crumbling global economy.
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      Oct 5 2011: Ah the infamous vancouver art galley. Just to give a point of reference for people, the art gallery hosts nearly every vancouver protest. There are protests there every weekend, and nearly every single day. The daily ones occur at 420pm, when the ongoing protesters to legalize marijuana, take a break to smoke a joint together. During the week those can be quite small, but on the weekend there is nearly always a crowd.

      Also, there are 30 organizers of the wall street protests. So if you see pictures of anything less then 30 people spending the night at the gallery, then you can consider the protest a failure. Perhaps "failure" is too strong of a word to use. They DID make the news, so that's a success.

      Perhaps my lack of caring over these protests, despite the fact that I support the issue, is that there is an ongoing teachers strike here. The teachers are still teaching currently, except refusing to do any non essential duties. In the news today was how the government is talking about locking the teachers out. Great to know that my government is considering what's best for the children, prior to making statements.
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    Oct 4 2011: 1) I hope so, but as far as I can tell, the majority of people view themselves as living in a socialist society. In america, that's still something which is being opposed. How can a social movement occur when people are opposed to socialist values?

    2) What CAN it achieve? Unlimited potential. Perhaps a better question, is what WILL it achieve? To that question, I believe it depends on how long the "depression" or "financial crisis" lasts for. As people return to work, they're likely to forget (or flat out ignore) any protests against the corporation that employs them.

    3) I only ever hear the term "class-warfare" used in american news/politics. I do not see any war, so I assume it is something fabricated. There is a "division by class", but I don't believe it can be stated as being the same as "class-warfare".

    4) Yes. As far as I can tell, socialism and capitalism are hold opposing policies. In capitalism, there is the "trickle down" effect, while in socialism it's a "trickle up" effect. Socialism works from the ground up, by helping the people. Capitalism works from the top down, by helping the businesses.

    5) Same answer as question two. The possible consequences are unlimited. What I believe will happen, is it'll turn into the typical "them vs me" mentality between protesters and police, and turn into nothing more then another mini riot. As a child, games usually have evolving rules, as the children try to make rules to suit themselves. My view as a child, as to allow my opponent do make all the rules that they wanted, because I would win anyways. That I would win the game, even with all the roadblocks that they put up. I hold the same view for protests. That it's possible to win, using the rules that are being placed upon you. Every time a protest turns violent, I stop paying attention to the message. If you need violence and gimmicks to get your message across, then the message isn't a solid one.
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      Oct 5 2011: Hi Mike thanks for responding!

      1 - Well, I don't think most Americans view themselves as living in a socialist society. I think most of them see the benefits of certain social programs however such as the police department, the fire department, and so on. I guess my question to you is do you think this is the beginning of a socialist movement?

      2 - See I don't know if it has unlimited potential or not. It seems kind of clustered and overbearing. Usually protests accomplish the specific issues that are being protested. Here, we see multiple huge issues being attacked at once and I just wonder how far it can actually go.

      3 - I think class-warfare is a decent name for it. Think about it. This movement starting, is it not a movement against the wealthiest class in the world being greedy and corrupting the government? Part of the beauty of the middle-class was that it allowed people to be comfortable and feel like they had earned a nice piece of the pie. Now with record poverty, people feel the pie has been eaten up by a few people in the rich class. This isn't the first time we have seen class warfare in history (aristocratic societies saw lots of this). The purposeful oppression of the rich class is another aspect to the class-warfare and perhaps a much deeper one.

      4 Capitalism purports that businesses are the people. Your answer to number 4 is oversimplified and maxim-ish. I'm not sure if it's a direct protest to capitalism as much as a protest to the corporate corruption of democracy.

      5 - I like the analogy but the logic is flawed. "If you need violence and gimmicks to get your message across, then the message isn't a solid one"..well, history says otherwise. Revolutions were generally not peaceful protests that followed the rules. I do agree, however, that this movement should stay above a them vs me mentality and get a clearer focus. The possible consequences are unlimited, you are right about that.
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        Oct 5 2011: 1) I meant people around the world viewed themselves as being socialists. I've asked the question before, but perhaps you'll have more information. Besides america, which other countries view themselves as being a democratic capitalism?

        2) I meant unlimited in the sense that there are so many variables and so many possible outcomes, that no one can predict with 100% accuracy what the outcome will be. We'll only know afterwards, when we look back upon what happened, and what occurred afterwards. I admit that I'm quite skeptical, so my personal view is that very little change will come about because of the protests.

        3) I like your explanation of the middle class being merged with the lower class. It's just that these protests don't feel like they are getting to the true root of the problem. I still feel that the mentality of capitalism is a larger factor in what's going on.

        4) I'm sorry but I'm not a political student, so you'll have to explain to me what you mean by "maxim-ish".

        5) You're right that a civil war or revolution is the ultimate form of a protest, but at this point I don't believe the protests have enough people. It sounds nice when people say "we are the 99%", but the 99% isn't showing up. The people who are showing up, are likely the same people who protest about everything else. How many people are showing up, that have never protested before?
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          Oct 5 2011: 1 - Iceland for one. The truth is, America was an experiment from the moment it was conceived. The father of American economics (Adam Smith) warned us about corporations that could potentially become tyrants if not kept in check. The foundation is based on greed and trade of self interests. For centuries, this system worked very well and helped America become one of the most prosperous nations on Earth. I am afraid though, that Adam Smith's dystopian vision of the tyrannical corporations controlling policies and determining moral values has come to fruition.

          2 - Nobody can predict the outcome of anything like this. Skepticism is noble, but I happen to believe these protests are the beginning of something much larger.

          3 - I can get behind that. You have to start small though and work your way up. In the last week there's been movements born from these protests like "Get Money Out" which has, as of right now, 105,000 supporters. This movement proposes an amendment to the constitution to separate money and special interests from politicians and policies. These types of specific movements are going to be the children and grandchildren of the "Occupy" movement.

          4 - Maxim - a short, pithy statement that serves as a motto or generalization of an idea.

          5 - "The people who are showing up, are likely the same people who protest about everything else. " is incorrect. Actually, we see all walks of life in this movement. Even Nobel Prize winners and Harvard educated economists. There are a lot of people showing up that have never protested before.
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        Oct 5 2011: 1) Iceland? But the elected party is named the "Social Democratic Alliance". For a long time now, I've viewed capitalism as a starting pointing, or a rung in the ladder as a country develops. One that then transitions into socialism as the wealth of the country increases, and the living conditions of the majority begin to find balance. The only reason that I can find as to why there has been no transition, is that capitalism is beneficial to the people who are promoting it. Namely the politicians, and the corporations who fund them. Of course I've never lived in america, so perhaps there is something that I'm missing. To me, it all just appears backwards.

        2) I would disagree that the protests are the beginning. They are certainly an important step though. I do have hope that it catches on, as it feels as if we are at a tipping point, where future power will either be held by the majority, or by a minority. Frankly I like democracy, and I'm not in favor of having it challenge just because the corporations have grown larger then governments.

        4) Ah, in that case I tend to use a lot of maxims. I like to start with a clean and simplified slate, and then add upon it. Rather then start with the complex and attempting to unravel it.

        5) I was thinking about this point today. I came to realize that I'm rather biased against protests due to the ones I viewed as a child. One of my fathers coworkers was killed by protesters. They used the same backwards logic as the ones who believe that animals are better off dead, then in captivity. Sabotaging logging equipment was common, but the protesters always gave warning to the company. At some point they chose not to, believing that loggers wouldn't log, if they were afraid of their safety. As a result a logger was killed when the chain of his saw impacted the metal spike embedded in a tree. There was also the result of my life long distrust of "protests". I'm fine with "movements", but dislike "protests".
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    Oct 4 2011: My own answers to my questions.

    1 - I sure hope so.

    2 - This is a tough question. I think most Americans are upset and disgruntled with an ineffective system of wealth distribution. I also don't think the wealthy corporations and people will be phased by the "99 percent" chanting at them. Unfortunately, I believe more drastic events on a larger scale will be necessary to clearly get the message across.

    3 - I think it is an obvious reality. We see it everywhere here in America from things as small as parking policies in cities, to as large as economic policies that allow companies like GE to pay virtually nothing in taxes. It works both ways as well. These protests sparking up around the country that originated in Wall Street are the beginning of the retaliation from the opposite spectrum. I think it's time for Rage Against the Machine to make some new music!

    4 - I've heard this all classified in the media as an anti-capitalism movement. I'm not sure it's that. I think most Americans believe in the free-market but also keeping greed in check. I think greed is really the basic problem that is being protested. The fact that greed and capitalism go hand in hand is a whole separate debate.

    5 - Depending on how far this goes, the consequences can be wide-ranging indeed. We could see absolutely nothing come out of this but some whiny people whining in the street for a little while and then dispersing back into their holes to whine in private. On the other end of the spectrum, we could elevation. We could see violent outbreaks, we could see an almost civil war with corporate military having to back up their people. This would an interesting time in history to possess a crystal ball.