Today, 24 Nov 2011, is the day of “The General Strike” in Portugal. The country’s transportation system has been 90% shut down to protest many of the same things that are at issue here in the US.
Unemployment, the crushing cost of education, the role of the banks in economic manipulation, and the role of politicians who seem to be in the control of corporate interests have caused Portugal, as well as Greece, Italy, Spain, and Ireland to come perilously close to the precipice of insolvency.
This is no different than what the Occupy movement is protesting on the street as we write and it appears that these demonstrations will continue throughout the coming year. Here or there one cannot force people into bankruptcy, foreclosure, and debt yet to come through education loans that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
The most ominous is the lack of jobs to enable these debts to be paid and the prospects of declining Medicare and Social Security funding here and similar cuts in Portugal. In Switzerland the Portuguese consulates are on strike (http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/specials/swiss_franc/Portuguese_embassy_staff_strike_over_franc.html?cid=31035070).
You may find it odd that I am blogging about issues so far away. I used to live in Portugal in the 1970s and recognize that greed and the attitude of financial workers to take advantage of easy money because of the “I won’t be here, you won’t be here” mentality that permitted liar’s loans to be solicited and collateralized investment products to be sold. Wall Street had been selling heroin to children with no fear of come back. Now the “children” realize how much in the thrall of the 1% they have been.
Here, the mentality of the police has been conditioned by post-9/11 hubris that enables Zimbardo-like sadism rather than identification with the demonstrators, with whom they have more in common than the the trustees who enable them.
Let us, then, have a moment of reflection and solidarity with the movements from here to Syria and beyond who live and die for principle.