The whole array of protests that took place across the world in imitation of the Wall Street Occupiers showed that the USA still set the fashion, but it also showed that the people were increasingly having doubts about capitalism itself, and thus were questioning its very basis as their underlying philosophy of life. Though the protests have not translated into national movements, they all reflected unease about the role of capitalism. At the same time, the original Wall Street movement was itself derivative, owing itself to Aprils protest in Spain, which in turn owed themselves to the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring may have been against Arab regimes that were not just brutal, but also insulting, yet the underlying causes were supposed to be economic. It was, to a large extent, because young people had lost hope, and would either not have jobs at all, or would find themselves overqualified for the ones they did get. Then there was rampant inflation, and that too for a populace used to cheapness of goods relative to their wages. These economic motives were also present in the leaders of the capitalist countries, like the USA and the UK. While previously it had generally been accepted that the market would rule supreme, it seems that was no longer acceptable to the common man. Another factor was numbers. There are lots of people out there losing their jobs, and the number of those unemployed is rising, while so are prices. People are angry, and thus took this opportunity to vent their emotion. However, their venting of emotion has turned into one of the most widespread and worldwide expressions of distrust in capitalism it has ever seen. On Saturday, there were protests in 951 cities in 82 countries. Thus, though this was symbolically an American protest, it was wider than that, much wider. And one of the reasons that the protests symbolism was enhanced by Wall Street was not because it is the centre of American capitalism, but a symbol of the domination of American capitalism of the world. There is the possibility that the Wall Street protest may merely set the political fashion, just as did the protests of spring 1968, which started in France and led to the fall of President Charles de Gaulle. The protests that year, in Pakistan, led to the exit of Ayub Khan early in 1969, though he was merely replaced by another military dictator, not an elected President as in France. However, the Wall Street protesters are pleading for an improvement in capitalism, not seeking an alternative. Perhaps, that reflects the success of the idea, that those criticising it can see no other alternative. Now that communism has collapsed. The only other belief system to challenge it is Islam, and it is also symptomatic that the main Western fear of the Arab Spring is that the collapse of the existing regimes will let in the Islamists. The corollary is that the hostility to Israel will increase. What the West would not like to happen is for the Muslims to realise that they possess the alternative, which is virtually the last ideology left standing, because Christianity is completely integrated within the capitalist system, and Hinduism, through India, is doing its best to do the same. The war on terror is about the refusal of Islam to do the same. The crusades may have been about Christianity fighting Islam, but the war on terror is about Islam not fitting in with capitalism. One very good reason not to do so would be that capitalisms main argument - that it works - is not true. Leaving aside what capitalism does to human values, as an economic system, it has shown strains in recent times which make it seem that it cannot fulfil the peoples needs. And not just of the countries of the Third World, which are behind the West, but also of the masses of the West. Those masses have not just experienced economic damage that may well blight their futures, but have not yet dealt with the problems of the political system. The first question is what to do about the insatiable need of the competitors for public office for money. The power of money is how special interests, primarily corporate, buy up legislatures and executives. The corporations, which do not owe loyalty to any country, funnel this money to the political class, but it seems that the result is the Wall Street protest going worldwide. In the meanwhile, the legislatures have provided taxpayers money to corporations. The Wall Street protesters have objected to the corporations power in the USA, primarily because they have broken their compact with them. The ability to deliver more and more prosperity, and an ever-improving lifestyle, so important to the American Dream, or rather the Capitalist Dream, is threatened by the corporations. This leads to the questioning of the political system underpinning it, that of modern democracy, which is supposedly based on making 'Man the measure of all things. Another thing that has been sacrificed is the complaisance of the ordinary citizen, which is one of the pillars of the contract: The complaisance of the ordinary man in the elites political dominance, which gives him some scraps in order to use the legislature for profit-making by the corporations, which are owned by the elite. Another reason for the Wall Street protests is the fading for most people of the American Dream that hard work will get you up top. This is the dream offered by capitalism, that anyone born in a log cabin (or black.) can become President. However, those engaged in protests feel that inherited wealth has now made the USA too rigid, and created the sort of 'glass ceiling that generations of migrants left the 'Old World to escape. However, the 'Dream cannot be restored because it is a mirage. The protests in the rest of the world at the passing of the American Dream are about the societies in which they are happening, and not the USA. Islam offers an alternative developmental model, based on a different governance model, which the world needs for two reasons. First, it cannot afford to concede capitalism, red in tooth and claw, a monopoly, especially since the brief period since the demise of communism it has enjoyed one, and it has shown its dysfunctional nature. Second, it faces a whole host of new challenges, for which capitalism is not ready, but which are real enough. These are mainly challenges to the environment. Capitalism itself is moving towards the alternative energy sources, which are seen as the method whereby people may power their lifestyles in a way that will not destroy the environment in which they live. However, at the Wall Street protests, there were plenty of sandal-wearing, scraggly-bearded, health-food fanatics to give the impression that the protests were not mainstream. One of the main problems that the Government of Pakistan has to guard against is that of fashion. As noted, a Pakistani government has already been brought down when the countrys youth followed international political fashion. Ironically, the ultimate beneficiary, after an intervening military ruler and the loss of half the country, was the PPP, now ruling. The status quo cannot last, and the PPP is now part of it, not against it, as it was in 1971. The writer is a veteran journalist and founding member as well as Executive Editor of The Nation. Email: maniazi@nation.com.pk