Occupiers Are Democracy's 'Primal Scream'

From Tahrir Square to Wall Street, protesters feel society rigged, says Kristof
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2011 11:02 AM CDT
Demonstrators affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street rally in New York's Times Square, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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(Newser) – Don't underestimate the parallels between Tahrir Square and Occupy Wall Street, writes Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times. He's interviewed plenty of protesters in both locations, and he says that people's responses were largely the same, the feeling that a small ruling elite is rigging the game against 99% of people. The big difference, of course, is that American inequality isn't in the legal or political sense, as it is in undemocratic Egypt, but in economics. That economic inequality, however, is vast—far worse here than in Tunisia or Egypt.

"More broadly, there’s a growing sense that lopsided outcomes are a result of tycoons’ manipulating the system, lobbying for loopholes and getting away with murder," writes Kristof. After living in Communist China, Kristof says he's a big fan of capitalism and respects the importance of a strong banking system. However, the current level of inequality has grown into a "cancer," threatening the entire political order. And more seriously, inequality means less growth, more financial crises, and a higher divorce rate. In short, the Occupy Wall Street protests are, in the words of Al Gore, a “primal scream of democracy.”

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