Like many, yesterday I opened an account with a local credit union. Bank Transfer Day appears to have attracted a lot of people. Though there is no link between those who suggested and planned Bank Transfer Day and the Occupy Wall Street movement, some have noted there is much in common between the two. I think there's much overlap in the participants (my own local #occupy group, for example, promoted Bank Transfer Day), but I think they're fundamentally different in approach.
The Bank Transfer Day Facebook information page states:
"If we shift our funds from the for-profit banking institutions in favor of not-for-profit credit unions before this date, we will send a clear message that conscious consumers won't support companies with unethical business practices."
This day is a reaction to "unethical business practices." The strategy is to hurt these businesses where they will notice -- financially. The tactic is to withdraw monies from them. Clear and straightforward. This is a call for for accountability and restitution from the corporations that blew up the economy of the U.S. This is a group of people who still believe in the banking system -- they just want banks to play by the rules that existed in this country some years ago. This group believes that a message sent within the system, i.e., monetary pressure, can persuade a change in the behavior of these errant institutions, which means that they believe the system can be changed from within the system itself.
The #occupy movement, of course, is famously NOT straightforward in its demands. As some have pointed out, the lack of demands is both a defensive strategy (so that corporate media can't pick apart individual demands) and a foundation for building a stronger movement -- inviting all people into a process to create demands to be published at a point when the movement is stronger.
But the #occupy movement has a number of outlets that broadcast its concerns. One of the most articulate is the Occupied Wall Street Journal, which provides a standard digest format of what the movement is doing. The Occupied Wall Street Journal issue #3, carries a revealing statement in a page 2 story called "A New World."
"What it is, the demand the 1% can't comprehend, is us... It is the world we are becoming... What can those who want democracy demand from the king, except his crown? Regime change is in the air. America is looking at itself, its place in the world, and who we are to be. This is not a demonstration. It's participation. Creation."
This is a movement of people who have given up hope that this system will change in response to anything except the pressure of all the dispossessed standing outside of it and saying "no," like the climactic scene in the film "V for Vendetta" in which thousands of people assemble in the public square to bring down an authoritarian regime. I have no comment as to whether that's feasible or not -- I don't know that it is or isn't.
This complete lack of faith in the system, I think, stems from the youngest part of the group, who feel that the promise of a better future has been robbed from them. This is the group of young people who worked for "hope and change" in 2008, only to see none. Their interactions with economic and political institutions has been uniformly negative.
That same issue of the Occupied Wall Street Journal also carried a short, un-credited editorial note:
"No list of demands
"We are speaking to each other, and listening. This occupation is first about participation.
"Tens of thousands of New Yorkers streamed into Foley Square on Wednesday -- labor unions rolled out, students walked out. The occupation of Wall Street grew to resemble the city we live in. What race, age, religion, occupation did we represent? None of them. All of them. Barricaded in by steel pens, surrounded by a thousand cops and NYPD helicopters above, we saw our power reflected in their need to control us. But just as this is our movement, it is our narrative too.
The exhausted political machines and their PR slicks are already seeking leaders to elevate, messages to claim, talking points to move on. They, more than anyone, will attempt to seize and shape this moment. They are racing to reach the front of the line. But how can they run out in front of something that is in front of them? They cannot. For Wall Street and Washington, the demand is not on them to give us something that isn't theirs to give. It's ours. It's on us. We aren't going anywhere. We just got here."
That's one difference between Bank Transfer Day and Occupy Wall Street right there: #OWS believes that change will come through confrontation based upon their power of numbers, not through messages sent through the system.
I am a professional in the computer field whose specialty is databases. I grew up, went to school in, and lived in New York for many years. I have lived in Florida for twenty years now, and it is a wonderful place to see and experience nature. I am (more...)