Roemer: Occupy movement offers hope for start of fundamental change

15 October 2011

Roemer: Occupy movement offers hope for start of fundamental change

The Occupy movement arrived today in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam the 99% succeeded in occupying the whole of the Beursplein – the square outside the stock exchange – with more than 1,400 people from throughout the country. The turn-out was so big that it quickly became evident that no trams would be able to pass through the neighbouring Damrak. Amongst those present was SP leader Emile Roemer: 'I’m really pleased that here, and throughout the world, so many people are standing up for the wholesale change which absolutely must occur. Those responsible for the crisis must be dealt with, the financial system transformed, and the bill charged to the right address, which isn’t that of these people here. I hope that this is the beginning of a fundamental change.'

Take a look at the photo-report. Click here for full screen.

By midday the Beursplein was filled with a motley crew discussing, making music, and protesting against the unequal division in the world. Usually politicians would address the crowd via a microphone, but with the Occupy movement things are quite different. Via the loudspeakers, anyone can share their views. “The banks lead the governments, but we aren’t going to allow ourselves any longer to be threatened, we won’t take it any more!” And “I’m grateful to those in power for making us so angry that are all of us motivated to change things.”
As well as the activists there were many people who came to the Beursplein who hadn’t been on a demonstration in a very long time, such as Max van der Werff from Arnhem, who wanted to resist the ‘VOC mentality’, a reference to the Netherlands’ colonial period controversially invoked a few years ago by centre-right Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkanende. Seen by Balkenende as a symbol of dynamism, most people, in the Netherlands and beyond, would see the ‘VOC’ – the Dutch East India Company – as a symbol of rapacity and greed. “It’s all about shameless self-enrichment,” said Max van der Werff, “but at the same time playing the hypocritical priest. Our system must be thoroughly restructured. Usually this kind of movement is started by political parties, but now things are different, and that gives me hope.”

In the framework of the Occupy movement Netherlands’ ‘Action 1’, the SP distributed leaflets with the following text:


The financial markets have become detached from the real economy.
Neoliberalism has freed capital at the global level. Freed it from the obligation to put the general interest at the centre.
From the early eighties, all of the reins necessary to restrain the financial markets have been released.
Liberalisation was what this was called, and it was the zeitgeist which demanded it. But total freedom for the wolves means death for the sheep.
The financial markets should serve the real economy, for it is in the real economy that our food is produced, our houses are built, and everything is made that is vital to our wellbeing.
The financial markets produce nothing, unless it’s the bubbles in the economy which burst periodically, costing us billions. The fact that annually on the stock exchanges more is ‘earned’ than by all of the people between them with hard work, is further proof of the perverse character of our system.
The zeitgeist is being transformed. Every intelligent person can see that there is something fundamentally wrong with our system.
The revenue from the system goes to the private sector, but if the system comes unstuck, then the community has to cough up to cover the cost.
Globally people are rising in resistance against an unjust system that has gone on too long. The 21st Century demands a new system, a modern system that does justice to human dignity, equality and solidarity.

The financial markets must be curbed!

  • Split the banks into savings banks and business banks.
  • Introduce a bank tax so that those responsible can contribute to the costs.
  • Abolish bonuses for all bank staff.
  • Introduce a tax on financial transactions involving rapid capital movements. (Tobintax).
  • Ban financial speculation.

Together we will work for all of this.

Emile Roemer,
SP parliamentary chair

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