I have been getting involved with the occupy bristol camp and have been interested by the range of responses i have had when i've told people about it so i thought i might write about why i'm doing this and why i think you should be too.
One of the main criticisms i've heard of the occupy movement is that people say it has no focus and no demands , this for me is actually its strength and i shall explain why. The problems we face are more complex than simple soundbites and we betray ourselves when we ask others to fix them for us. For me its our apathy that has got us here , thats not to say that politicans aren't venal lying scumbugs and that bankers greedy shits , but ultimately we let them do what they want. We have allowed , through our quest for an easy life , the corridors of power to become infested with greed that grows from a compost of bargains , retail therapy and speculation. Its because we have allowed ourselves to be seduced by the idea of something for nothing that we have coorporations pillaging our society. Its because we didn't care about the details of were our shiney things came from and didn't follow our niggling doubts about the fairness of our abundance. sorry if that seems harsh but deep down you know its true, but we can change.
The occupy movement attempts to address this not by asking for change but by making it happen , this is why we have no demands because we aren't asking we are telling . We are saying we've had enough of representatives with their own agendas being in charge , we want everyone to be directly involved and aware.
This was the original model of greek democracy , literaly people power. In ancient Athens this worked because all the people who had a stake had a say , we can improve on their model though as women and slaves where excluded which cannot stand today , women obviously must be included and the slaves are machines not humans. What made it work in greece was the level of education and awareness of the people in the agora and this is what the occupy movement is about.
People aren't involved in democracy because party politics clouds understanding of the issues with petty squabbles and the daft idea that the vast diversity of modern life could effectively be represented by choosing one or other ideology every 5 years. Its insulting to have our lives reduced to what's little more than the flip of a coin. I cannot watch current affairs programs without wanting to scream at the television and a cannot vote for my chosen ideology because of our contorted electoral system turning my vote into a vote for second place.
We have been stripped of any other means to resist than civil disobedience and are being setup to erupt in violent protest so that a right wing crackdown can crush resistance. For me the London riots where a total setup to create a mandate for violent police responses. Big demonstrations will not work , we need to stop asking for change and start making it happen.
so by not issuing demands we undermine the government , we are saying , we are not letting you decide any more. we are stand at the brink of global war for resources that if left unchecked will destroy everything we cherish . None of the politicians are brave enough to take the measures to stop it , mostly because it would involve them and their funders admitting some responsibility for it and loosing their personal fortunes. we are making the new world order and it needs a proper mandate from the people.
why do we have to live in world of competition , unfairness and inequality when we have enough for everyone if shared it properly ? we spend vast amounts of our resources protecting our resources from people that we could be sharing them with openly in such abundance that it wouldn't matter. instead the greed of the few has been allowed to dominate and infect every aspect of our lives , this is an horrific waste and is not in any way civilised.
The occupy bristol camp that i have been involved with works on a non-hierarchical basis and while this takes some getting used to it has very positive effects on the people involved. when i first arrived i noticed that there where quite a few very drunk homeless people in the camp and this worried me because i thought they would not be productive. As time has gone on i've seen some of these people develop from what looked like hopeless wrecks to articulate and deft facilitators of meetings. what was the magic ingedient ? involvement , people listened to them and treated them as people and they have started to become people again , obviously it will take more than this but its a start.
we all suffer from a lack of involvement in our lives and this makes us insular and afraid of our own thoughts , this in turn puts us off finding out what really happens and this ignorance empowers our oppressors. By going to occupy i have never felt so involved in life , we are making decisions and discussing our future. nobody says a flat 'no' there must be reasons and consensus to ensure we all move forward together with a proper mandate. this can be a tortuous process and it often takes a long time to make even simple resolution but when its made we all know why and can move on to the next stage. In a hierachical structure decisions are often made as a show of power and supported in the hope of obtaining future influence instead of on the merits of the actual issue. this means that decisions routinely represent the wishes of the leaders and more diverse opinions are rarely heard let alone presented as an option.
The occupy movement won't change the world overnight but unless we show politicans that we will replace them if they ignore us they will carry on selling us out and we will deserve it.
so please please please please please , get involved in your nearest occupy camp and find out for yourself what is going on. don't come and tell us how to make it better , come and make it better yourself . It may not be within your comfort zone and you may well be stretched to the limits of your patience and endurance but you will feel the beginnings of taking control of your life and being connected to the vast majority of humans who want a just , honest , sustainable world , this is what we are here to do .
find your nearest occupy at http://occupytogether.com