Protesters Will Occupy The TSX on October 15

Apparently a group has been formed that plans to occupy the Toronto Stock Exchange (more specifically, the intersection at King Street West and York Street) starting on October the 15th, obviously inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protesters.  The group calls themselves Occupy Toronto Market Exchange, and their site (still under construction) is located here. [Edit (10/07): Their site, hosted on Tumblr, has been shut down.  Their Facebook & Twitter pages are still operational, however.] As well, numerous Canadian cities including Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Montreal, Winnipeg and Regina have made Facebook pages calling people to protest, and several of these groups have already hosted meetings.

Occupy Toronto Market Exchange have already made several headlines (see here, here, and here), which is notable since the Wall Street protests have received minimal media exposure. I presume that their choice of starting date (which they address here) is motivated by the video by Anonymous which states that there will be protests all over the world on October 15th. Apparently, there are over 50 protest groups throughout Canada with pages on Facebook (see a spreadsheet here), and the total number of people could possibly exceed 300,000, since it has been growing at a rate of 20-25% since October 1 (Source).

Though OTME has not yet developed consensus on its raison d’être (and, to its credit, hesitates to speak on behalf of all of its members), the following may be taken as a tentative statement of intent (from here):

What we can say is this. OccupyToronto and OccupyWallStreet are about offering space for constant and consistent direct democratic action. While we understand that all of us have lives and things we’d rather be doing, it is crucial that if you support this movement, we ask you to offer whatever you can, be it time, knowledge, supplies, or an idea. Only through the shared efforts of the people, will we see any change. Only through constant pressure on banking institutions and the government will they learn that the people are speaking, and will continue until we are heard and obeyed.

According to this article, the main complaint against Occupy Wall Street (which will inevitably be brought against OTME as well) is “that it is leaderless and has dozens of different answers for ‘why are you here and what do you want?'”  Frankly, I admire that there is no defined leader (though there is a small group of organizers, which is more or less necessary if there is to be any hope of order), since it bypasses the metonymy of a charismatic leader, which leaves a group so susceptible to damage if the leader’s reputation is tarnished (as was the case with Julian Assange’s sexual assault scandal).  Furthermore, I would be much more worried about latent fascist tendencies among the protesters if they were to have a single goal; the group remains a subject group which creates for itself a multiplicity of desires, rather than a subjugated group which is bound to a narrow, one-dimensional goal.  Nevertheless, it would perhaps be very beneficial if representatives of OWS & OTME were to develop statements of intent which, as it were, spoke the language of those who are disinclined to even entertain the thought of an alternate society (a group which, I must admit, includes myself).

I have never been fully in favor of the OWS protesters, and have quite frankly been enraged with how nebulous and/or self-indulgent some of the individual protesters’ complaints have been (see the video here).  Nevertheless, I’ve come across some very specific and practical demands by OWS which are entirely realistic, such as (according to a comment here) removal of corporate personhood, public financing of political campaigns, and reinstatement of stiff financial regulations such as Glass-Steagall.

I wish I could do more than (in the manner of most intellectuals) supinely observe the proceedings, but quite frankly I can’t afford to step out of line and, as they say, get my hands dirty.  The most I can offer is to do my best to amass statistics, arguments, and possibilities for change, disseminating linguistic capital to the protesters in order to refine nebulous utopianisms into realpolitik.  For now I beg protesters to read my essay on where the Tottenham rioters went wrong, and learn from their mistakes. I don’t think that your protesting will amount to anything. Prove me wrong. Godspeed.

[Edit (10/04-5): CBC has published another article here on the protests which is quite hostile to both OWS and OTME, and there are several other articles focusing on OWS.  A manifesto is currently in development, though it seems that the administrators are waiting for consensus on demands by each of the protest movements around the world. This incompletion, however, does not prevent CBC from stating in the aforementioned hostile article that the manifesto “contain[s] little in the way of concrete demands or actionable changes.”  As well, the Twitter site for the OTME movement is here, their Facebook page is here, and the discussion board for the various protests throughout Canada can be found here.]

[Edit (10/07): OWS has released a collective statement which can be heard here. As well, OTME held their first general assembly in Berczy Park at 5:00pm today.]

[Edit (10/08): A report about Occupy Vancouver, including a link to Obama’s statement about OWS, can be found here.]


About Graham Joncas

We are a way for capital to know itself.

Posted on October 2, 2011, in Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thank you for including the link to my brief critique of the OWS movement. There are indeed latent fascist elements among the protesters; these are hardly well-defined, however, and include the classic misrecognition (described by Postone) of the abstract global domination of Capital as the “cosmopolitan,” abstract “financial” character of the Jew, qua personified Capital.

    Obviously, I am also skeptical about the potential of these demonstrations to amount to much more than an expression of generalized discontent with the existing order. Some of the more “practical,” concrete demands that the OWS activists have come up with, however, seem to amount to nothing more than reformism — piecemeal legislation within the framework of the existing state.

  2. Ah, I’ve seen some posts on Rejectamentalist Manifesto which referred to an upsurge of anti-semitism, but I never made that connection. Good intuition. I’ll keep an eye out for similar tendencies amongst the Canadian protesters.

    And I imagine that any protests that occur in Canada will be much less substantial than those of the US, hence whatever changes can be made must necessarily be ‘piecemeal’: we weren’t hit that hard by the recession, thanks to a good banking system (the best in the world) as well as the accumulation of massive amounts of household debt (about $1.5 trillion, I believe).

    The main complaint will likely be that the (extremely neoliberal) Conservative Party currently has a majority government, meaning that it can more or less carry through (or prevent) any legislative changes it wants, hence a lot of glaring issues are being entirely neglected. For example, there’s still a Catholic school board independent from the public school board (whereas there are no school boards for any other religion or denomination), a lack of clean water for native reserves (which has knocked Canada’s quality of life down from #1 on the list), and environmental standards which are notably below those of most other comparably developed nations.

    • Generally speaking, I agree. The United States is in its worst financial straits since 1973, if not the Great Depression. However, compared to the economic disenfranchisement that has been experienced in countries like Spain or Greece, or the political grievances throughout the Arab world, I do not believe that there is enough outrage to enact truly emancipatory political measures. I am interested to see how the “Occupy” tendency works out in Canada. Keep me posted about any interesting developments.

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