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Occupy 26/06/2012

June 24, 2012

We had two great speakers for the GA yesterday, but, and i’s a big but, there were only six people there.  As a consequence there has been a debate raging on our internal mail about why ordinary people are no longer interested in Occupy.  It’s my contention that it’s because we have been too inward looking, as a consequence of which we set up  a series of GA’s under the umbrella ‘Creating Alternatives’ and have invited speakers to contribute.  The first one, last week, attracted 60 people, so all seemed well, this week…….six.  Now I am being told, in no uncertain terms, that this is because people have lost interest, it is my contention that it is us who mistook a marathon for a sprint and imagined instant gratification and results.  I only feel able to offer a couple of my responses to these mails and would be interested in your feedback.  So here goes………………………

Mail 1

Occupiers created the buzz that encouraged the public to take a look, then stay to hear more.  It’s a fact of human nature that other humans are curious about a crowd.  They stop to find out if what’s going on interests them – in a non-commital sort of way.  If it does interest them they stay for longer so the numbers increase and more people stop to listen. So……..

it has to relate to them in some way
it has to be safe, ordinary people don’t want to, unexpectedly, find themselves in a direct action
ideally it has to suggest something they might do.  Their first tentative step to standing up to be counted.
Just agreeing, via a proposal, is an example of that first step.
I feel there are a lot of occupiers who are impatient to make the change we want to see, and frustrated by the lack of progress, but, as I have understood, Occupy is not a campaign making incremental change to achieve a single issue objective. It is a movement trying to encourage people to articulate their distress at the gross inequality and injustice that keeps the people of the world in an almost permanent state of anxiety about themselves, their children and their grandchildren.  Lest we forget this includes people who are apparently ‘well-off’ but who are, I hazard, even more aware of how fragile it all is.
Ends
Mail 2
I think it’s obvious that there are a lot of other things on a Saturday. (This in response to the previous mail which suggested numbers were dwindling due to all the other direct actions taking place on Saturdays) I’m not really clear what’s being said about this.  The ‘other things’ are events organised by groups other than Occupy.

Occupy presented a clear statement of intent which indicated to me that it was concerned with touching the lives of ordinary people who were not  currently involved in the process of challenging the 1%.
UK Uncut, the Coalition of Resistance,  Artists of the Resistance, Stop the War and so and and so forth were active, and have been active, in some instances for a long time.  Many of these groups, over many years, have organised excellent actions, imaginative actions, well devised actions, and there have been marches, and demonstrations and public disorder. Each time these things have been undertaken with commitment and enthusiasm and continue to be undertaken in that spirit and, I am sure, are exhilarating to people new to them and hopeful for a positive outcome for everyone involved, some of whom have gone through the rigours of the court system, fines and prison to clearly state their conviction.
However, as is clear, these things do not affect the status quo in any visible way.  So the Occupy movement had, I thought, embarked on a different way of approaching things, not instead of all the splendid single issue groups that continue to work so hard to make the change we want to see, but to complement it by encouraging the apparently quiescent ordinary person to get involved, express their concerns about a broken system, politicians they neither trust or respect, corporations and financiers exploiting not only the people of the world but the very resources we rely on for our continued survival.
That’s what Occupy is about for me, and I will continue to try and engage people in our process.
Ends
I would be interested to know if that’s what Occupy suggested to you, or not.
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