Sunday, 30 October 2011

Unreasonable Protests: Progress at last.

To begin with, two quotations:

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
George Bernard Shaw

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
Jiddu Krishnamurti

I have been seriously concerned by the poor quality of press reporting of the Protests outside St Paul's. Those protests are an attempt to bring about a more democratic society - one in which businesses and people align their interests for long term good, rather than short term considerations.

With regards to debunking press myths:

1. St Paul's was forced to close because of the protests.
St Paul's voluntary decision to close has been described as a "hysterical overreaction" by the Bishop of Buckingham and many visitors and indeed Clergy have echoed this decision.

2. 90% of the Tents are empty
Again pure fabrication. Naturally, its quite difficult to spend two weeks in a tent, especially when you have outside commitments, family, girlfriends etc. But people do spend most of their nights in their tents. The 90% figure has been disowned by the City of London Police and the thermal imaging photos have been shown to be nonsense- for which the protesters are now suing the offending papers via the Press Complaints Commission.

3. Occupy London is an anticapitalist protest.
Going to have to rely on primary research to make this point. Some of the protesters see the problem as being capitalism, but they are definitely the minority. In general, the problem is seen as being 'corporatism' - which is to say enormous institutions that have become not just economically but politically powerful, and have used that power to line their own pockets and the expense of ordinary people. I cannot find the words 'Anti-Capitalist' on

There are many, many more, but I don't have time for them. These are the main ones. Some other things worth observing:

1. How many times have I heard "I am for the right to protest but" - and how often is this 'but' something along the lines of: "in this particular case they should be moved on/cleared out etc etc". Its somewhat hypocritical to claim you are for the right to protest but every time someone does, you are for their being removed/kettled etc!

2. I have never, ever, ever met such a diverse group of interesting people. Almost without exception, the people protesting are eager to learn and to listen - much more than can be said for the people desperately eager to dismiss the protesters without so much as spending half an hour listening to their diverse views, beliefs and aspirations for a more democratic country.

3. They have no specific manifesto. True. But then, the movement has existed for a couple of weeks. Other movements have had decades to build their demands and policy making infrastructure. Occupy London is just building that infrastructure now. What comes out may not be a specific list of demands, but may take the form of a set of proposals, or ideas intended to set the agenda rather than define precisely the exact laws that parliament should pass. But this reflects the facts that above everything else the protesters are democrats- and believe that no small group, even one so well meaning as themselves, should be able to define and dictate laws to the rest of us. Unlike parliamentarians, bankers and naysayers, they are at least consistent in this respect.

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