Police evict Occupy Switzerland protesters from the Lindenhof

in Zurich, Nov. 14. The Swiss movement is receiving criticism

for being unwilling to challenge authority and risk being labeled

 anarchists and communists.


Wochenzeitung, Switzerland

Swiss Occupy Movement is Too Respectful of Authority


"The Swiss branch of the Occupy movement has always adhered to all rules and agreements and has tried to please everyone: the city, the police and the bankers. If the movement wants the chance to be more than just an appendage of the international protest movement, it now must find its own identity by going above and beyond the realm of the permissible."


By Carlos Hanimann


Translated By Stephanie Martin


November 11, 2011


Switzerland - Wochenzeitung - Original Article (German)

A member of 'Occupy Switzerland' demontrates injustice at the headquarters of Swiss banking giant USB, Nov. 3.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: New York judge backs the eviction of Occupy Wall Street from their camp at Zuccotti Park, Nov. 15, 00:01:52RealVideo

The message exuded revolutionary romanticism: Jean Ziegler’s voice - connected by telephone from Paris to Zürich’s Parade Square - aggressively proclaimed from the loudspeakers: “A liberation movement is born. You will be victorious.” That was on October 15, when roughly a thousand people occupied the banking square and protested against the excesses of capitalism - and for greater equality. 


A month later, there are still about 50 tents on the Lindenhof, which is in close proximity to Parade Square. On Monday the city of Zürich denied the squatters petition to remain at the Lindenhof “for 99 months.” The “Occupy” movement’s presence - at least its physical presence - had declined markedly over recent weeks. This weekend there was hardly 100 people at the rally on Parade Square. Was the “most important thing in the world,” (Naomi Klein) just a brief flicker?


In Switzerland, this danger does exist. The situation here is different from that in Madrid, Santiago de Chile, New York or Tel Aviv. In Britain, Greece, Chile, Spain and the United States, large portions of the middle class are suffering because of the economic consequences of the financial crisis and the belt-tightening of their respective governments. Social unrest is not surprising. But even in Switzerland, the structural effects of capitalism can be physically felt - albeit to a lesser extent and for different reasons. The most recent example is the pharmaceutical company Novartis, which is eliminating thousands of jobs despite earning huge profits.  



Elsewhere, high school and college students are joining with trade unionists, senior citizens, government workers, public employees and activists. Meanwhile, occupants at the idyllic Lindenhof seem like scattered gunpowder without explosive force which, although they believe they are taking dynamic action and despite enjoying considerable popular support, after a month hardly seem able to mobilize. Have they, as philosopher Slavoj Zizek warned in New York, fallen in love with themselves and with the “nice time we’re having here?”


The movement’s challenges are obvious: Capitalism is abstract and complex. Accordingly, the fight against it rarely takes concrete form.  Protest remains unfocused. The two-tier society highlighted by the Occupy movement - 99 versus one percent – is a catchy slogan, but it doesn’t do justice to the complexity of the problem. The Swiss movement lacks reference points - both local and personal: In New York City, for example, the Occupy movement attempted to prevent the planned opening of a Brooklyn branch of price-cutting discounter Walmart. There, the Occupy movement connects the large with the small and the abstract with the concrete. And even in Switzerland, there are possible points of departure: The layoffs at Novartis, rising rents, lower wages, and society's narrowing options.




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The occupiers of Lindenhof always stressed that they wanted to be a broad-based movement. They rejoice at every liberal or ex-U.S. Senator who embraces them. But for fear of being labeled “anarchists” or “communists," they’re keeping their distance from the left and disassociating themselves from serious demonstrations in front of the villa of Novartis President Daniel Vasella and outside parliament. But the reverse is also true: Neither leftist groups nor NGOs nor unions have joined the protests. Up to now, such a network has not been established.


The Swiss branch of the Occupy movement has always adhered to all rules and agreements and has tried to please everyone: the city, the police and the bankers. If the movement wants the chance to be more than just an appendage of the international protest movement, it now must find its own identity by going above and beyond the realm of the permissible in terms of protest. That also means having the courage to engage in civil disobedience - especially after being evicted from the Lindenhof. 



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US, Nov. 15, 8:32pm]


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