- Created: Wednesday, 19 October 2011 09:37
The occupation at St Paul’s, in the heart of the City of London, and the wave of similar protests across the UK and Europe, are a sign of the inevitable resistance that is to come, as more and more sections of the working class see their living standards being sacrificed to pay for the capitalist crisis.
Inspired by the ongoing occupation of Wall Street in the US, thousands of protestors, including many of those involved in last year’s student protests and university occupations, descended on the City on Saturday 15 October with the aim of occupying the London Stock Exchange headquarters, symbol of Britain’s parasitic capitalism.
After being kettled for hours by the police, the protestors ended up gathered around the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, just a short distance from the stock exchange. Eventually, after further attacks by the police, the dean of St Paul’s told the police to withdraw and reduce their numbers. The protestors then set up camp around St Paul’s.
As we write this the occupation is in its fifth day. There are dozens of tents, a kitchen serving food, an information point and toilets. Each day there are general assemblies, at 1pm and 7pm. Debate and discussion are open to all and there have been none of the bullying, censoring tactics so common with the opportunist left seeking to control who can speak or sell literature. A free university has been set up, and FRFI activists are among those speaking.
An initial statement, agreed in the open meetings, read as follow:
- The current system is unsustainable. It is undemocratic and unjust. We need alternatives; this is where we work towards them.
- We are of all ethnicities, backgrounds, genders, generations, sexualities dis/abilities and faiths. We stand together with occupations all over the world.
- We refuse to pay for the banks’ crisis.
- We do not accept the cuts as either necessary or inevitable. We demand an end to global tax injustice and our democracy representing corporations instead of the people.
- We want regulators to be genuinely independent of the industries they regulate.
- We support the strike on the 30th November and the student action on the 9thNovember, and actions to defend our health services, welfare, education and employment, and to stop wars and arms dealing.
- We want structural change towards authentic global equality. The world’s resources must go towards caring for people and the planet, not the military, corporate profits or the rich.
- We stand in solidarity with the global oppressed and we call for an end to the actions of our government and others in causing this oppression.
- This is what democracy looks like. Come and join us!
No illusions in the police
There has been debate among the occupiers about what attitude to take towards the police. Some have argued that ‘they are just doing their job’ and are only workers in uniform. Others, rightly, recognise the police for what they are – armed servants of a brutal, imperialist state that exists to defend the interests of the rich. Based on our experience of political work on the streets, we say that occupiers should remain on their guard, nominate stewards to communicate with the police on essential matters and refuse to engage with them otherwise, no matter how friendly or unthreatening individual police appear. Remember Ian Tomlinson and all those killed by the police.
Open and democratic
On the evening of Tuesday 18 October, Trevor Rayne, from the editorial board of FRFI, spoke on the subject of Imperialism and War to an audience of more than 50 at the occupation’s ‘Tent University’. This coming Friday, at 6pm, Helen Yaffe, author of Che Guevara: The Economics of Revolution will speak at the Tent University. More FRFI talks are being planned. The occupiers are organising these and other talks in an open and democratic way. What a refreshing change from the usual stitch up we see at trade union and Stop the War demos!
That these vibrant protests have arisen outside of the trade unions and the traditional left will be no surprise to readers of FRFI. As always our task as revolutionaries is to challenge opportunists - those who seek to accommodate or reform the rotten imperialist system - to prevent them from diverting the movement.
New forces are organising, resisting and debating how we can defend ourselves, how to get rid of capitalism and imperialism and what the alternatives are. All socialists should support them and get involved. Capitalism is fracturing and we must hasten its downfall!
Occupy London stock Exchange website: http://occupylsx.org/