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October 25, 2011 at 1:04 pm #80901DJPParticipant
As its probably the topic of the month, and in an attempt to get some more life into these forums I thought I’d start a topic about the various ‘Occupy’ camps that are happening in cities across the world.
Now typically a cynic about such things, obviously they have no clear programme or direction, I think it is too easy to be overly dismissive.
Peoples understand of the capitalist system and their position in it doesn’t develop immediately and all at once. For instance my own personal ‘political’ awaking has its roots in the ‘Reclaim the Streets’ / direct action movements of the late nineties. The existence of things and a questioning attitude on my part (eg ‘why do I have to spend my time working at a job I don’t like so someone can make a profit out of me being there?’) led me into a journey through various strands of anti-capitalist literature. Through the situationists, who where the source for many RTS slogans, I came across Marx and through the internet eventually stumbled onto the SPGB.
I think an encouraging thing about the ‘occupy’ slogans is that they show some sort of class consciousness ‘We are the 99%’ unfortunately for most I think the 1% means bankers, not the capitalist class in general.
So what should we be doing? I think it is important that site of the ‘communist horizon’ is not lost again. There will be umpteen reformist ‘solutions’ presented by this movement. Our job, as always, is to make sure that socialist world communism remains on the agenda.
There was / is a small camp in Norwich near where I live. I went down initially to paper sell, but in the end found that a better approach was just to talk to people without directly trying to sell the standard and just ask them why they where there..
Anyway, there’s some short thoughts. Anymore?October 25, 2011 at 7:34 pm #86316
John Bissett reports that he visited the Occupy Newcastle camp and even passed a night there. He found the campers were mainly Green types, but open to discussion and ideas. During the day talks and discussions are organised (during the night most go home).October 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm #86317CescoParticipant
Hi All,I agree with you guys, we should not be dismissive. However, the lack of social awareness, or in traditional terms class consciousness, will determine the usual reactionary and reformist solutions to the old flaws of the capitalist system. I fear that the dominat class’ ideology will work well in covering up the historical materialistic analysis of capitalism and that those Occupy-people will end up like all the other petit bourgeois movements. Now the question is, is it worth trying to introduce the basis of Marxism and Socialism into such middle class oriented movement or is it better to expose ourselves with such demostrations?October 28, 2011 at 8:49 pm #86318AnonymousInactive
I am at once heartened and disheartened by the Occupy Movements. Positives:It is raising at least some awareness about political issues and their direct effect on everyday life, for years this has been ignored by the masses. It is introducing discussion and quite radical ideas about no leaders, about the issue of money and a money-based system, etc.It is drawing attention to the vast inequalities of the system with the rich getting richer etc.It is peaceful on the whole and clearly set-out as non-violent. Negatives:It is to me VERY wooly in its thinking so far as I have read, with no clear goals and a wishy-washy message filtring through to the general public who are after all the real 99%.Whilst many worldwide movements have got into the heart of the business communities, in the UK we have muddled around the steps of St Paul’s instead which is hardly striking at the heart of the business hubs – I’d have thought Canary Wharf would’ve been better if LSX was inaccessable?I have my concerns that rather than a mass, ground-up movement it is in the UK just attracting the usual suspects who make up most demonstrations, almost professional protesters like Peter Tatchel and the like demanding the same kind of inept reforms they always come up with. But that’s just my take on it……….October 29, 2011 at 10:18 am #86319
I think they should be commended for their refusal to follow political leaders. I’m sure that there is a lot of pressure from the media etc for them to adopt leaders, but so far so good.
If they have no clear goals that could mean that they still have open minds and that they are wary of following the same old tried, tested and failed reformist formulae. Again, there must be immense pressure for them adopt a program. Again, I think they should be commended for taking their time and discussing seriously and democratically in the hope of finding a solution.
It does seem to be a lot smaller than in other countries though. Perhaps it will grow with time.October 29, 2011 at 7:34 pm #86320AnonymousInactive
Perhaps I wrote unclearly, my error. What I mean by having no goals wasn’t a criticism from the following leaders or even indeed adopting past demands of other, failed, protests, but it seems there is nothing clear in where the movement is headed or indeed exactly what it is protesting about. Mostly, again from what I have read/seen, it is vaguely against the status quo and vaguely being reported as ‘anti-capitalist’ but that can mean anything and often not anti-capital as many seem to only want a fluffier, nicer way of being oppressed it would seem. Clear goals are a must at some point, and hopefully not just the usual set of ‘transitional demands’ loved by the Trots. None of this has to come out of any leadership or external influence. However, the longer the vagueries continue the more likely it is to get hi-jacked by one party or another or for leaders to emerge. Hopefully the courage to stop this happening will win through. I think here though British apathy and the snow may kill it off…..October 29, 2011 at 8:10 pm #86321
I agree that it’s fair to applaud people taking action which is essentially democratic and anti-capitalist.There are problems though as posters are outlining. What do the Occupiers want, and who are they going to place their trust in to guarantee them these things, whatever they are? If the 1% (bankers) are the problem, what about the ethical buying top man from Marks & Spencers, sourcing cotton from non-sweatshops (he also does voluntary work for the poor and is in a prayer group) – I guess it’s harder to be indignado at some capitalists. Occupying. I was under the impression that the Working Class already occupied the overwhelming majority of this country/world. We certainly occupy all the factories, schools, bank branches, RAF Squadrons, docks, car parks – We even have the alarm codes and keys to all the financial institutions, if we really want to focus on that enemy. It’s hardly the CEOs who turn up first thing in the morning and open the places up.Occupy London? Thanks, we already have it. We have the keys. Now what?October 29, 2011 at 9:17 pm #86322
We need to realise that the keys can be turned around. We need to know that we are locked in and which doors lead us to freedom.October 29, 2011 at 9:47 pm #86323
Can’t help liking your post, but my! quite vague language isn’t it. I’m tempted to try and cut through the romance and point a couple of things out:* The keys are fine as they are. They’re in the right hands. The owners wouldn’t know what to do with them anyway.* Would it be progress if someone really did come along and free the wage slaves?October 30, 2011 at 7:37 am #86324
Apparently a banner saying “Capitalism is crisis” has been replaced by one saying “What would Jesus do?”. At least that is what Friday’s Times “reported” (ie misinterpreted, distorted or simply made up to make a good story):”Other protestors claimed that the Occupy London message was not anti-capitalist, and removed a prominent banner bearing the slogan ‘Capitalism is crisis’. Sean Ganley, 34, an unemployed engineer from Northampton, said: ‘There are elements here co-opting the movement and we want to be dissociated from them. We don’t like obscene wealth but we’re not anti-capitalists.”I don’t know if this is true. It might be since, after all, it is possible to be against “obscene wealth” without being against capitalism. But if people are trying to co-opt the movement in this sense all the more reason for socialists to be there. I may go along on Monday to see if the “Capitalism is Crisis” banner which was there at the start is still there.October 30, 2011 at 9:50 am #86325
I’m going along in a couple of hours so I’ll report back.The Guardian also listed the radical christian groups who support the event. I think the positioning outside St Paul’s has given the whole thing an unfortunate religious edge to be honest. That sits perfectly with being anti-obscene wealth but not anti-capitalist, that’s the christian message in a nutshell.October 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm #86326Nannipieri wrote:Can’t help liking your post, but my! quite vague language isn’t it. I’m tempted to try and cut through the romance and point a couple of things out:
* The keys are fine as they are. They’re in the right hands. The owners wouldn’t know what to do with them anyway.
* Would it be progress if someone really did come along and free the wage slaves?
The Harriet Tubman quote is just something I was using for my signature. It would have been great if she’d said something like ‘I helped a thousand slaves to free themselves…..’, but she didn’t. It’s the bit about ‘if they only knew they were slaves’ that I like.
Ignore the post. It’s just a rusty old analogy about keys that doesn’t fit the lock. :~)October 31, 2011 at 10:38 am #86327
John Bisset texts from Newcastle:”Apparently, the general assembly meeting of occupy newcastle agreed last night it was socialist, which upset a few. In the meantime I have posted a defence of socialism on the relevant facebook page and offered to present a talk on socialism. Going back today with more bumpf to keep the pressure on.”The relevant facebook page is here (Occupy Newcastle and every city worldwide) where “Rabble Rouser” replies to Glen Jamin Calculus-Panges..October 31, 2011 at 2:10 pm #86328DJPParticipant
I wonder what they meant by ‘socialism’ however..October 31, 2011 at 8:13 pm #86329
After stuffing the November Standard into envelopes two of us went to St Pauls to see the occupation. I can confirm that the “Capitalism Is Crisis” banner that was there on the first day was not there any more and that the most prominent one was now “What would Jesus have thought?”.Managed to take some photos (like the one above) but can’t say I was impressed. There didn’t seem to be all that much “anti-capitalism” about except there was an SWP stall (but that’s pro-state capitalism) and, I nearly forgot, Chris Knight in a top hat announcing that capitalism was going to collapse tomorrow.We went to a lecture at the Tent City University and listened for a while to the lecturer until we realised that he was expounding the economic doctrines of … Henry George, an advocate of free market capitalism + a single tax on land values. There was also a banner for http://www.positivemoney.org.uk, another free market group. Unfortunately the photo of this did not come out, nor did the one of the poster supporting David Icke. We saw an empty Zeitgeist tent and left a copy of the Standard for former SPGB member Cliff who was supposed to be there.All this underlines the need for us to be there put the real anti-capitalism (and pro-socialism) case.
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