"Facing it, always facing it, that's the way to get through. Face it."-Joseph Conrad.
Monday, 5 December 2011
Some Thoughts on Occupy London
'Occupy London has an incredible headquarters at St Paul's, but our movement is bigger than any one site. We know it's away from central London that the impact of the recession is being felt hardest. Moving forward, we intend to prove ourselves with acts of community outreach like our "public repossession" "bank of ideas" in Hackney, to create a truly "big" society. Local groups that have lost their funding are already reconvening in our corridors as we help them in carrying out their vital work.
All over the world, the public is waking up to the fact that the crises of unregulated finance, broken democracy and corrupt institutions will not be solved by those who caused them. Occupy London invites those who feel similarly to take the movement into their own communities: it's time to Occupy Everywhere'.
Occupy London will achieve nothing as it is largely based on the myth of counter culture. It appears as though radical Brighton has just pitched up on the doorstep of St Paul's cathedral to move centre stage so as to seek attention for loony theories that would be ignored if there was no economic crisis.
I went there just over a week ago. The Occupy London squatters are predominantly cranks and depend on the "image" as opposed to the word and debating serious alternatives and constructive proposals. The slogans-"The Revolution will Not be Branded" will be next years corporate coffee mug motto.
Face facts: unless there is a united alternative based on drafting manifestos and conducting vigorous open discussion on this, as have radical reformers throughout English history, such media "events" as Occupy London are merely transient outgrowths of a consumer society of spectacles.
The silliest slogan is the one regarding the 99% versus the elite 1%, a tawdry piece of marketed populism that neatly evades the fact that a vast number of Britons bought into New Labour's debt fuelled consumer boom. No consumer was forced to take out the loans to spend greedily.
The complaints about the expenditure on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars likewise never take into consideration they are resource wars. The vast majority of consumers do not want war but they want to drive their cars and maintain the energy intensive lifestyles that make these wars inevitable.
The need in 2012 is to eschew the infantile idea that the world is in chaos because of "Them" as opposed to "Us" only as the economy has tanked out now. Few, apart from those who make a career from protest or are on the fringes of society with nothing to lose anyway, were that interested in this populist guff before the crisis of 2008.
Unless there is this willingness to confront unpleasant realities and be honest about the over dependence of Britain upon easy credit and cheap oil, the acceptance that this is not merely the consequence of rapacious politicians and elites, then there is little prospect of sane and civilised responses to crisis.
Obviously, the Wars are paid from our taxes and paid for with lives. Yet they are being fought to preserve lower, falling or at least stable oil prices no less than propping up dictatorships is where it's in Britain's interests. Oil is one thing the market cannot regulate.
In fact, arguments need to be made with regards energy alternatives to oil and first it needs to be understood that resource wars are about not just corporate profits but the addiction to oil in a consumer economy. This should be foremost on any political agenda for constructive reform.
But that would mean having to eschew the moronic feel good rhetoric of the 99% versus the 1% in a toytown revolutionary scenario that bears all the hallmarks of the infantile consumer society that has begotten the Occupy London "movement". As with the elites, pop stars and PR people, it's all about us.
The fact that laptop anarchists wear a V for vendetta comic book Guido Fawkes masks proves this and suggests a blurring between fact and fiction that the best advertisers in the world and the arch PR manipulators could not contrive. Counter culture is consumer culture and consumerism could lead to what J G Ballard called "elective psychopathology".
As regards the Occupy London have to understand it's really all about them, "feel good protest" and "identity". What John Osborne with regards protests in the 1960s called "we-ing" about. They are symptoms of the diseased society of which they affect to be the cure.