Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

The Digital Zeitgeist Behind Occupy Wall Street

Written by on .

Today, nobody knows how Occupy Wall Street or Occupy Together will develop. Will it even get stronger? Will it be one of those events again which hit the headlines for a short period of time and then lose attention?

At first glance the Occupy Wall Street movement occurs like a wave of protests from people who are deeply discontent with the current economic situation. If you analyze it more thoroughly you might come to the conclusion that growing inequality is the catalyst for these protests (and there are plenty of reasons for this, especially if you look at these graphs). But I think another “reality” comes into play which is expressed by the slogan „We are the 99 per cent“. It’s an economic issue since many Americans feel that they are disadvantaged compared to a minority of the wealthiest 1 per cent. But it’s also a political issue: people in the US and elsewhere feel that the 1 per cent together with politicians don’t listen to the 99 per cent and their needs. And this is simply not in accordance with the zeitgeist.

In the digitial era there is a constant shift between hierachies and networks. Allegiance must be earned and not commanded. People gather very quickly around a common interest using modern technologies. However, they are also quick to apt to organize protests against obvious drawbacks and it comes as no surprise that social media are a useful tool in this regard. The political elite doesn’t only have to earn its credibility every four or five years but also on a constant basis. The digital zeitgeist also implies openness in its various forms. Keywords are open government, open innovation or open source. An organization with a culture of openess is the Foundation for P2P Alternatives. It means that everybody can contribute to the economic, political or societal sphere. Michel Bauwens, founder of P2P Alternatives, puts it like this in a Tedx Talk: „So what I’m claiming is {…} that we are already now seeing the seeds of a new society within the old and this is what I call „Open Everything“.

An open society or open everything as Michel Bauwens calls it is necessarily opposed to a governance system that is supposedly working to benefit only the wealthiest one per cent of a society. Dubious back door deals, hidden lobbyism and of course corruption aren’t accepted by a society that has familarized itself with openness which is especially provided by the use of modern technologies. People are used to get directly in contact with others. Many people just don’t accept why it should be different with authorities.

In a blogpost about intercultural exchange I read this statement: „Challenging others and our own opinions and biases is vital to the progression of our society in every aspect“. And I think that this is what protesters in New York and in other cities around the world are demanding: an open dialogue between citizens and politics instead of a top-down monologue from politics (driven by economic interests) to the citizens.

Tags: , ,

Mario Wiedemann Twitter: mariosorg

#Digitalization, #ICT4Change, #OpenData, #NonProfits, #HumanRights. Co-Founder Future Challenges @fc__org.