Occupy Wall Street- London. What’s their positive vision for the future?

Occupy Wall Street- London. What’s their positive vision for the future?

Posted On: January 3, 2015
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On 18 October 2011 I went to visit the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters in London. I was inquisitive to go meet them to find out whether or not they had a viable positive alternative vision for the future. They were camped out in front of St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London, one of the world’s main financial centres. The protest had gone global within the previous few weeks and had caught my attention. The media reports which I had seen didn’t really give the protesters much opportunity to convey their story and focus mostly on analysts giving secondary soundbites and opinions. I decided to go to meet them to find out for myself.

Previous demonstrations of this type in London had never attracted my interest.  There was one exception to that back in the 1990s when I’d been sitting with a friend enjoying a glass of wine whilst people watching in Leicester Square and a large demonstration of very angry people were shepherded by police on right horses right past us. They had all looked rather angry, abusive and unapproachable.

This occasion is completely different. I was slightly apprehensive approaching St Paul’s wondering what the security situation would be. My fears couldn’t have been more misplaced. The atmosphere was like a carnival or country fete. People very friendly and very keen to speak to get their message across. In fact they were so well-organised that there was a special area for recycling rubbish and they seemed to be very serious about doing that properly. There was a library, an area for discussion and meetings. The atmosphere was so welcoming and open that I could see quite a few City-types in their pinstripe suits coming to listen and debate with the protesters. It felt to me to be a sign of a very healthy democracy.

At 1st I ran into Barnaby from an organisation called SIMPOL which stands for simultaneous grassroots global policy-making. It was founded by a chap called John Bunzl who has done an interview on the subject for the series. Barnaby described how SIMPOL works and why he felt it was necessary. Were immediately joined by Tom and veteran speaker at Hyde Park Corner, Danny. The 3 had an engaging debate which put the ideas to the test.

Lilly Anne spoke eloquently in favour of transparency and fairness. She believes that government should be more closely localized and tailored to the needs and values of the community. She would like much more opportunity for people to feedback to the government and being more responsive. She was also seeking funding to do a mobile body-piercing course so that she could work entrepreneurially and get off benefits.

One young man came because he was worried about government cuts affecting him. He suffers with cerebral palsy and communicated via a computer which he carried with him.

Naomi came from a pioneering co-operative in South East London to promote the idea of living in community with more community ownership. She feels that people need to take ownership of their environment, gaining land rights. They share ownership and management through a democratic process. They are doing their best with sustainable living. She finds that way of life dynamic. She felt people came to overcome the mistakes of capitalism, colonialism and imperialism and replace that with a more communal and sustainable way of life. She feels that taking ownership of ones life is the first step in that direction.

Richard was there to promote the “Green Love Revolution.”

Danny, who I’ve heard before at Speaker’s Corner, sees the financial crisis as an opportunity for people to undo our conditioning and become more conscious of our way of life. He thinks that globalisation has awakened people globally and they are finding their own conclusions. He believes the basic communist idea “from each according to his means to each according to his needs.” He believes that marriage is the most convenient way to create wage-slaves and is a property transaction. He thinks we should live in a world with a common identity as human beings.

My overall impression was that the protesters were a very genuine, well motivated and thoughtful bunch. They seem to be motivated by a strong desire for a better world: fairer, more just, global in identity and vision but very local and community-based in its realisation. Some of the people had ideas which they had put to the test by living them directly and finding both the strengths and weaknesses. Some of those will be pioneers of a future way of life. Of course there were many people with ideas which were self-contradictory or ideas which had been put to the test by utopian regimes in other countries with the result of tyranny and a lot of dead bodies. What did strike me as interesting, and was contrary to my prejudices, was that there wasn’t too much in the way of “class warfare”, entitlement mentality, victim mentality, jealousy, resentment or other wounded motivations.  All of the people I met were very positively motivated by strong sense that the world can be a much better place.

Above all I was really impressed by the Democratic nature of the protesters and of the public’s reaction to them. They seem to be genuine dialogue and thinking going on. All sorts of people who would not normally have met were meeting.

A few weeks later I happened upon St Ethelburgers’ church in the city of London. It’s an ancient church many hundreds of years old which was badly damaged by an IRA bomb in the 1990s. Since then it’s become a place for peace and reconciliation where they have an expertise in bringing different groups together for conflict resolution, healing and future visioning. At the chapter who was in charge and he told me that they were organising some sessions where the Occupy protesters were going to get to meet with business leaders to share their ideas.

My overall view was that the process was a positive thing because it was giving many people the opportunity to rethink the way we run our financial system and explore the values underlying. I don’t think anyone there had a blueprint for the future which could simply be rolled out. In fact if anything had the opportunity I’m pretty sure it would be a disaster. My feeling was that the best outcome would be if a lot of the existing institutions such as banks, regulators, business schools etc brought in some of the protesters in-house so as to cross- pollinate and catalyse the evolution.