There was an amusing Channel 4 News last night in which the increasingly tongue tied anchor Jon Snow fumbled through an attempt to raise the Occupy London movement from the slurry of its own failure.
The night before the protestors had, at long last, been removed from the increasingly fetid steps of St Paul’s. A few arrests, a few photographs, and very few regrets. The posturing poltroons and their pantomime protest have scattered and the sanitation workers have move in. What has been achieved?
Less than nothing.
The protesters have only succeeded in setting back the anti-capitalist movement to what it was before the banks went bust. The efforts of the campers have been counterproductive, degenerating politically irrelevant street theatre for late winter tourists.
Consciousness raised? Everyone knew about the banks and the inequities of the economic system long before self-important hippies who have forgotten that the sixties were a long time ago decided to educate us. Those of us in the real world have to grapple with negative equity, university fees, unemployment and a health system which is falling apart, we don’t need middle class revolutionaries to tells the system is inherently unfair.
The people energised? At first, with the uncritical backing of the mass media the support amongst non-participants was considerable. But as time went on people began looking to the Occupy movement for answers or a way out of this economic morass, and solutions came there none.
A new way forward was shown? Only if you want to live in a drug riddled commune with no sanitation and open to random violence, all wrapped around with endless ‘right on’ committee meetings and earnest discussion about saving civilisation through hand knitted yoghurt. Never mind the smell feel the sincerity.
At least they made an impact, didn’t they? The only actual impact they made was to help cripple the chapter of St Paul’s, the very people who were on their side and challenging the ethics of our banking system in the first place. Give the Occupy movement a revolver and show them their foot and all they see is a target. But never mind, at least Giles Fraser got a job with the Guardian.
Occupy London found that their encampment had become a magnet for down and outs, alcoholics, drug addicts and those with mental health problems. Wisely the inhabitants of the camp advertised for mental health professionals to help them cope with this situation. They were presented with a very real human problem in their midst and realised that it was beyond them so they brought in people who knew what they were doing. All very sensible.
However, presented with the complexities of international finance, meta-economic principles and global political infrastructures they retreated into slogans, silly masks and face paint and thinking sincerely good thoughts.
There are very real problems in society, political, economic and social. Treating these problems as the launching pad for self-indulgent theatrics is counter productive. Any dyed in the wool capitalist would support the Occupy movement. Despite the fawning support of the Jon Snows of the media world all they have achieved is to convince Joe Public that there is no credible alternative to the guys who screwed up the system in the first place. They even make our politicians look vaguely sensible.
To effect change it is necessary to eschew the attractions of posturing and get down to the hard work of grappling with economic systems and trying to understand the complexities of inter-reacting political motivations and the complexities of effecting widespread cultural change. But then, I don’t suppose that makes good television.