Teach #Occupy a lesson

Whether it is a troll on twitter, a disgruntled passing banker or the media commentators, there are a couple of questions that come up again and again in relation to the occupy movement and #OccupyLSX in particular (as this is the one I have the most experience with).

What are their demands?
What is their solution?

Simply put, these are entirely the wrong questions and not the way to critically engage with #Occupy debate.

Let us first look at the call for demands. You would be mistaken for thinking that the occupation had taken the patch of land it inhabits hostage and that the media and critics are so enraged by this that they would like a list of demands issued so they can begin negotiations to get the precious land back. Yes, it is an occupation, but for the most part it is of land freely used by the public each day – that a section of the public have politicisced the space to encourage debate doesn’t seem to me to warrant such an over the top need for demands.

It is even more weird that demands are expected when seen in the context of the second question often posed. ‘Where is your solution?’ the critics often cry. If you recognise we haven’t got a single homogenous solution, why the expectation for a single mutually agreed list of demands. I have never known a diverse group of people to come together and agree on anything instantaneously, not least how best to address an issue such as ‘capitalism’ or even more simply what should be done about the finance sector.

Why then expect a united solution from the occupation? Your view on something is not irrelevant because you haven’t yet figured out how to stop it. I whole heartedly know capitalism to be an evil and brutal system and just because I may not agree with other anti-capitlists on how to get rid of it, or what to replace it with, does not, for me at least, mean that the fundemental problem with capitalism doens’t exist.

But perhaps the critics are looking for an argument they can engage critically with and that is why the insist on asking the wrong questions again and again. That is absolutely fine. In fact, for me, it is the only reason the camp holds any importance. There is probably no one in the world who I entirely agree with and if it were possible I would hope to encounter every single person and discuss what it is we disagree on so I could be exposed to their ideas. The occupation is a way of coming closer to encountering the huge number of ideas that exist. The media is simply not nuanced enough to facilitate the debate required to discuss these ideas and that is why you will only find your answers if you come to the camp and enage with it. Do so critically by all means – that is the only way in fact – but do so with a view to both teaching and learning.

I would love to have the debate, but ill thought out demands and solutions will get us nowhere.

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Teach #Occupy a lesson

One thought on “Teach #Occupy a lesson

  1. This is at least the third or fourth blogpost I’ve seen urging people to stop sniping from the sidelines and get involved with the occupy movement. Up until two weeks ago I would have probably said the same thing. As with everyone else, my activism is constrained by my other committments – and those other committments – like probably 99% of people – dont allow me to up stick and camp in the middle of a town centre.

    Nevertheless I wished Occupy well, and dropped by back and forth – a chat here, a GA there, but what I found increasingly concerned me. The politics of the camp was fuzzy to say the least, infused with conspiracy theorists and at least one self-declared neo-nazi, but after a serious incident at my local occupy a level of misogyny was unleashed the likes of which I havent seen in a long time.

    There appears to be a lack of critique going on within the Occupy movement, at least in Scotland. Straight white men dominate the camps and there appears to be no appreciation of power structures other than a very nieve “1% vs 99%. I can understand the lack of demands and solutions in terms of an anarchist approach of just building something and we will work it out as we go along – but that only works if you are actually building something better. As it is in both Occupy Edinburgh and Occupy Glasgow we see public space being taken over by groups which are undemocratic, unaccountable and non-inclusive of marginalised communities. Demanding that people put effort into engaging, is pointless. People are staying away from Occupies for very good reasons.

    Lets scrap occupying parks and squares and start occupying banks instead.

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