To paraphrase Wall Street's Gordon Gekko: Greed is not good. Inspired by Occupy Wall Street, protesters in over 80 countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia took to the streets today to vent their frustrations with corporate greed and austerity measures.
In Rome, tens of thousands of demonstrators amassed as full-blown riots broke out, accompanied by typical riot mayhem, including Molotov cocktail-throwing, window-smashing, and car-torching. (Lighting cars on fire never stopped any bankers.) Peaceful demonstrators actually turned against the violent knuckleheads, along with police firing tear gas and water cannons.
In London, Wikileaks mastermind Julian Assange, who has been under house arrest for about ten months, addressed hundreds of people while standing on the steps of Saint Paul Cathedral, saying, "I ask that all of you demand that foreign bank accounts be opened up and made transparent, the same way that I today have been forced to be made transparent," before being escorted away by police.
In Sydney, around 2,000 fed-up individuals protested outside the central Reserve Bank of Australia, with the crowd cheering one speaker who shouted, "We're sick of corporate greed! Big banks, big corporate power standing over us and taking away our rights!" Similar rallies took place in countries like Canada, Germany, Japan, the Phillipines, Portugal, Sweden, South Africa, and Switzerland. Even in Seoul, South Korea, in the first stirrings of what I'm calling the "Kimchi Autumn," hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Deosku palace.
Many of the protests seem to have been coordinated, aside from Facebook and Twitter, by a group known as United for Global Change at the website 15october.net. Protesters also found encouragement from an online petition signed by 100 prominent authors, including Salman Rushdie, Jennifer Egan, and Michael Cunningham. There's been a lot of sound and fury, definitely signifying something, but what comes of all this loosely-organized discontent is anyone's guess.