October 2011 was an interesting month.
On the 15th a day of co-ordinated demonstrations took place all around the
world, billed as a day proclaiming an international awakening of citizenship
against corrupt political systems. On that date over eight hundred and fifty
live events globally marked a day of uprising against governmental and public
On that day too - the “Occupy the London Stock Exchange” movement
began protest gatherings in front of St. Pauls Cathedral, addressed by Julian
Assange of Wikileaks amongst others. Later, on October 22nd, a second branch
of the movement appeared in Finsbury Square in the heart of London’s financial
district, and clusters of tents appeared in both locations (much to the annoyance
of the St. Pauls Cathedral church authorities), showing a determination by the
protesters that they were not about to go away.
The online journal Eastlondonlines confirmed that the spirit of this movement
was similar to that of the Asamblias of the Indignados and reported:
"The occupation itself feels different to other protests. The protesters
are diverse, inspired, committed and desperate to see real change. The movement
feels inclusive of different ideas and beliefs and experiencing real
direct democracy in the form of the General Assemblies is fulfilling
Even in staid, sober Switzerland, over a thousand people gathered in Zürich’s
Paradeplatz, the area around the large banks, to demonstrate against the power
of the world of finance, despite the fact that the banking and finance industries
were responsible for 142,000 jobs annually and accounted for seven percent of
the GDP of this small country. The tent encampments of Wall Street and St. Pauls
had now been replicated in the Lindenhof in the old city of Zürich and
in the Parc des Bastions in Geneva, where for the moment they were tolerated
if not welcomed.
The Occupy movement has now firmly set up shop in the world's financial centres
of New York, London, Frankfurt and Zürich.
There cannot be any doubt that these global protest movements are a mere flash
in the pan, for in reality they are becoming more and more established.
Certainly, many of the protestors appeared to lack focus or clarity of purpose,
and they were often moved by intuitive rather than intellectual forces, but
there is a definite air of expectation that this movement has a goal, the goal
is a global one and it can no longer be stopped.
Another drama began developing in London at the end of October as the authorities
at St. Pauls Cathedral and the Corporation of London both announced that they
would take legal action to evict the demonstrators and their “tent city”
which was camping on the doorstep of the Cathedral. The hapless church authorities
became confused after the resignation of three clerics and changed tack by coming
out in support of the protesters on moral grounds. After much soul-searching
the church had perhaps begun to realize what its true mission in life was. Even
Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, described the occupation as
an "expression of a widespread and deep exasperation with the financial
The Guardian columnist George Monbiot wrote a powerful article about the events
which had brought to light the real nature of the shadowy Corporation of London
and how it acts as a state within a state in the city of London – answerable
not to the UK government but to its own financial masters. Monbiot considered
that the medieval, unaccountable Corporation of London was ripe for protest
as it worked beyond the authority of parliament and undermined all attempts
to curb the excesses of finance.
After the Church’s change of heart the Corporation of London too agreed
not to attempt to take immediate legal action to evict the protesters but to
allow them to stay a couple of months at the least and to open up a dialogue
At a meeting between all three parties on November 2nd Tina Rothery, one of
the representatives of OccupyLSX who was present at the meeting commented: “We
are delighted. This is a great U-turn from the Corporation of London. And following
the backing of the Archbishop and St. Pauls, this is proving to be an exciting
time for our movement. Only on Tuesday morning, the Corporation was about to
attempt to evict us. Now they are offering a reprieve. However, we need to discuss
this offer with our General Assembly and amongst ourselves."
"Our cause – and that of the Occupy movement worldwide – is
to strive for social justice and fight for real democracy. We are pleased that
legal action is currently off the table and we intend to use this opportunity
and the growing momentum of our movement to tackle the iniquities of the financial
crisis and those that have caused it.”
A small but decisive step towards creating a movement for which Real Direct
Democracy Now is not only a necessary but increasingly a viable goal has
been taken and there is no going back until ultimately the global occupy movement
will be victorious in a way no one could have imagined – but that is a
story for another time.