Occupy Tokyo – We Are the 99%

Sharing their pain: Participants in the “Occupy Tokyo” rally demonstrate solidarity with their counterparts in New York City during a gathering at Mikawadai Park in the Roppongi entertainment district Saturday. SATOKO KAWASAKI PHOTO

by Robert Moorehead

The Arab Spring turns westward to the United States, and now across the Pacific to Japan, as protestors are occupying public spaces to demand a more just distribution of wealth. In the United States, protestors have decried the dramatic concentration of wealth in the top one percent of the country’s population. While the US holds much of the world’s wealth, recent decades have seen this wealth concentrated in the hands of a select few, while much of the country struggles with long-term unemployment, a housing crisis, and growing poverty. While the nation’s political debate has focused on whether millionaires and billionaires should receive new tax breaks, and how large those tax breaks should be, protestors have occupied a park near Wall Street, demanding a new social contract that focuses on the needs of the many, rather than acquiescing to the luxuries of the few. Protests have also spread across the United States, and to Tokyo, where protestors have added demands for a safer energy supply.

Mass media in the United States have largely ignored the protests, despite the arrests of hundreds of demonstrators. However, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites have filled the void. Gil Scott-Heron told us 41 years ago to not sit back and wait for the revolution to come to us via corporate-run mass media. Instead, “the revolution will not be televised.”

“You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out …
Because the revolution will not be televised.”

But will it be Tweeted? Will it be live-streamed over the Internet? Can social networking sites sidestep the mass media and “televise” the revolution, even if mass media ignore it?

Are you the 99%? Or the 1%?

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