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Occupy Movement

Single Issues Versus the Holistic Approach

What is the way forward: trying to deal with separate problems one by one or dealing with their common cause?

The World Socialist Movement, of which the Socialist Party of Great Britain is a part, is a global movement committed to a fundamental change in the way we, the vast majority, live. Simply put the objective is common ownership and democratic control of the world’s resources and the abolition of the wages system. This requires, first and foremost, a much deeper and wider understanding by the worldwide community of the underlying reasons necessitating such a radical change; second, a recognition of the common threads linking the numerous single issues, thus enabling and strengthening a holistic approach; and third, a thorough understanding of an outcome which goes way beyond anything on offer from mainstream politicians anywhere in the world.

Winstanley, Marx and Henry George

The Occupy movement has led to the ideas of these thinkers being discussed again at public meetings.

To mark the first anniversary of the Occupy camp at St Paul’s London Occupy organised a series of ‘New Putney Debates’ in October and November. Some took place in the same church in Putney as the original 1647 debates in Cromwell’s army. Two were devoted to the question of land.

The first, on 1 November on ‘Land and Democracy,’ was billed as:

‘Nearly 400 years ago the Diggers described the Earth as a ‘common storehouse for all’ and objected to land being kept in the hands of a few. Are landowners still oppressing the people today, and how should we respond?’

One response was given by Natalie Bennett, the new Leader of the Green Party, who argued her party’s case for a tax on land values. She quoted Churchill (when he was a Liberal Cabinet minister before WW1) and Henry George as favouring this.

Power to the 99 Percent

Is the first anniversary of the Occupy Movement this month something to celebrate? With a bit of perspective, we can now look at its tangible achievements and limitations.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana, The Life of Reason (1905).

The background to 2011 was one of weak class consciousness, let alone socialist consciousness. Inequality remained firmly off the political agenda. The message from the millionaire ruling class was “We're all in this together”. Ed Milliband's challenge to the austerity myth was merely that the cuts were too deep and too fast. Little surprise then that cuts to welfare were implemented relatively free of political impediments.

Then in Spain, protests calling for “Real Democracy Now!” and to “Take the Square” formed the inspiration for Adbusters magazine to call for similar protests in the United States.  It asked, “What is our one demand?”

Party News

Summer School

THIRTY-FIVE attended the annual Socialist Party Summer School in Birmingham over the weekend of 6-8 July. The theme of the school was Protest. Janet Surman opened with a talk on the Arab Spring as seen from her ring-side seat in nearby Turkey. She observed that, despite employing some violence, the dictatorships in

Egypt and Tunisia had not been able to maintain themselves in the face of mass and essentially peaceful popular opposition.

Mike Foster described the increased, and increasing, powers that the police in this country have been given in recent years to deal with demonstrations including infiltrating protest groups. A discussion arose out of his description of last year’s riots as “mindless”. Some challenged this on the grounds that, whereas the riots certainly had no theoretical content or political programme, they were nevertheless a practical criticism of present-day society.

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