Globalizing a May of Worldwide Protests

The month of May will be of great significance to the struggle between the privileged ranks of society and the precarious generations who are most exposed to impoverishing winds of the economic crisis. There has already been multiple spikes in social tensions over the past year. The mass protests by indignant Europeans, the United States Wisconsin and Occupy protests, the student strikes in Chile and Quebec, February’s unrest in Greece, all of these events failed to alter the degree of power held by the privileged ranks atop society, but these events have rallied strength behind new opposition forces like Occupy and Indignados, strength that is to be redeployed throughout May.

May 1st, long a traditional day of international protest, will have renewed energy this year with Occupy calling it a day without the 99%.  In Quebec, labor unions will join events held by the tens of thousands of striking university students. In the U.S., protests will span across the country’s length. There will be numerous actions taking place in New York City alone. Counting the more annualized May Day protests in Europe and South America, the day initiates a month of mobilizations.

On May 2nd  and 3rd, attention shifts to Catalonia where the Spanish authorities have been trying to stem the arrival of protesters for the European Central Bank summit in Barcelona. On May 12th, Spain’s indignados will retake the streets in a global day of protests called by the movement. Three days later, the movement plans to reoccupy the iconic Puerta del Sol to mark the movement’s one year anniversary. The NATO summit in Chicago on the 20th will draw further protests in the United States. This is but a brief summary of what’s on schedule for May.

This month is crucial for globalizing the act of protest. This is highly necessary in an age when globalized economic and political institutions overwhelm localized forms of resistance, whether they are indigenous groups, students or labor unions. However, we must not confuse global protests with the ultimate objective of globalizing protest. One country copying the protests of another is hardly a new phenomena. In 1848, it took only weeks for a revolution in France to be followed by revolutions in central Europe. Today, the challenge is not to replicate but to achieve the combinations of struggles.

Many will be provoked into the streets this May by shared economic conditions of unemployment and stagnant and declining wages. The scheduled protests across the globe will give participants a rush of strength and encouragement, but this is a momentary effect as months if not years pass between global days of actions. The movement has grown rapidly over the past year and May will demonstrate its growth, but the largest hurdle remains ahead. The practice of solidarity alone still maintains the isolation of protests to their individual countries while market forces alter economic conditions of the whole globe on a daily basis. The ultimate hurdle is to develop the globalized protest out of solidarity and into a common function for collective benefit. This common function can start with globalized policy demands to elevate people from both the developed and developing world.

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