Ms. Simon walked to Paris from Orleans. Like many tent city upstarts, she had been depressed. But joining the Don’t-Accept-It group changed that: “I felt I was being controlled by events, by everything, and that I had no say over this. Doing something, thinking independently, I felt a great new sense of energy.”
In tent cities at City University in Paris this summer, or in Madrid and Athens – where youth unemployment tops 40 percent – one heard the tropes of “99 percent” and Occupy Wall St: The economic system is stacked against ordinary people whose taxes are used to bail out banks and states coffers for bad decisions they didn’t make. Meanwhile, European austerity policies are eviscerating jobs.
Some here think they are at a European Woodstock or a transplanted Arab spring. Some young people wear masks – there’s a lot of “radical chic” – but there are also a lot of grandparents. Some talk about changing the world, some just want a job. They live on the Web, follow social networks, connect to kindred spirits in India, in Madison, Wisc., in Tunis, in Israel and Brussels. They don’t discuss strategies of violence. Many predicted this summer their disillusionment would jump the Atlantic and hit Wall Street. Few believed them.
On Oct. 15, there is planned global demonstration.