What next after Occupy LSX?
Within the next few days we shall know whether members of London Occupy will be able to appeal against a court order to dismantle their three-month-old camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral.
But whatever the outcome, the Occupy movement is already on to its next stage – known as ‘Occupy 2.0’.
This will involve creating a central hub online where the different working groups can pool their resources, skills and expertise, and coordinate actions and statements at a national and international level. ‘We are looking at global actions, co-coordinating people around the world,’ says Occupy member Jamie Kelsey-Fry.
Few can have imagined that the physical Occupy LSX camp outside St Paul’s could have lasted so long. Already back in October some campers were looking ahead.
‘I see myself staying for the long haul, but I think there is more than just the occupation,’ said a man called Bear, part of tranquility team maintaining security at the St Paul’s camp. ‘This is not the be-all-and-end-all. This has to be the seed that grows into a new tree, the fruits of which will hopefully be a democracy that is more representative. That is what I hope for and I am willing to commit my life to.’
One of the chief aims of Occupy 2.0 will be outreach: to move beyond the idea of a tented occupation and ‘towards the 99 per cent’ – the people who have supported the aims of Occupy but have not been able to take part physically.
This could involve contacting groups in neighbourhoods in advance of ‘pop-up’ camps, when a particular building or town hall becomes the scene of a protest or occupation. There would also be a sharing of political and democratic skills – how to organize a People’s Assembly, for example – and teach-ins with invited experts. This is something that was well developed at Tent City University outside St Paul’s and in the now evicted Bank of Ideas in Sun Street.
As Occupy member Naomi Colvin said of Tent City University: ‘The quality of our lecture programme here blows my tiny mind. It stands up to any academic institution in the world. People who are 18 should come where to get educated instead of paying £9,000 a year in a university.’
Occupy 2.0 will also include ‘teach-outs’, says Jamie Kelsey Fry, with educational tours of local sites where significant events took place in the history of ‘power from below’. Already Jamie’s been going into schools to talk about Occupy as part of a citizenship programme. And there are plans for a ‘walk for democracy’ round all 33 boroughs of London, staying in a different place each night.
The spirit and power of Occupy LSX lives on – whatever happens to the physical camp. In the words of Occupy member Anthony Timmons: ‘This movement is too strong. There too much going wrong with the world. It’s a movement that growing, that’s not just of the usual suspects. This is one of the most genuinely internationalist movements that has happened in my lifetime.’
One of the linchpins of St Paul’s camp proves the point about ‘usual suspects’.
Italian chef Alesandro Petruzzi, organizing a kitchen that provided 1,500 meals a day, insisted: ‘I’m not political. I’m a trained chef. I know about health and safety. I decided to volunteer because this is something moral for me. I just want to be a good citizen.’
For much more about the fight for a fair economy – including roadmap for how to get there – check out the March issue of New Internationalist.