While I genuinely admire the spirit of people who are prepared to sacrifice the comforts of home life to live in a tent pitched on concrete, next to a cathedral whose bells ring every fifteen minutes, it's impossible not to point out the utter silliness being spouted by some of the collective. It's very easy for me to make glib comments but then, when people are putting up stupid signs like this, they really are asking for it:
Let's be clear here: protesting about the iniquity of western capitalism is not on a par with the Arab Spring. It just isn't. To compare yourself to the people of Tahrir Square, who were standing up to a military dictatorship for basic political freedoms, is just insulting.
Or there's this one. I love this one.
Courtesy of - who else? - the Socialist Worker. "JOBS, HOMES & SERVICES NOT RACISM". Sorry, I had no idea that this was the choice we were facing. So let me make sure I understand: we are presented with a choice of, on one hand, jobs, homes & services or, on the other, racism? Well, if you put it like that I'll have to go with the former. Can't abide racism. Thanks for putting it so succinctly.
But ooh, ooh, we now have a manifesto of sorts from the Occupy London movement. Nine points in total. Shall we have a look at them? I've added a few thoughts of my own in italics.
#OccupyLSX initial statement
At today’s assembly of over 500 people on the steps of St Paul’s, #occupylsx collectively agreed the initial statement below. Please note, like all forms of direct democracy, the statement will always be a work in progress.
1 The current system is unsustainable. It is undemocratic and unjust. We need alternatives; this is where we work towards them. One of the nicest features of a democracy is the right to gather and make statements like this. Which, neatly, disproves your point about the current system being undemocratic. Funny eh? But yes, you mentioned alternatives and working towards them. OK, we're all ears. Hello? Are you still there?
2 We are of all ethnicities, backgrounds, genders, generations, sexualities dis/abilities and faiths. We stand together with occupations all over the world. OK. Get to the point.
3 We refuse to pay for the banks’ crisis. Which brings us back to alternatives. The alternative was wholesale collapse of the banking system with nothing else in place. This is why the banks were bailed out - an unpopular measure was taken because the other option was even worse. So now what?
4 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. I'll give you this one. No major objections. Although not sure I buy the line about government only representing corporations. But we'll move on.
5 We want regulators to be genuinely independent of the industries they regulate. No argument from me here. That would be a good thing. But what regulators and what industries are you talking about?
6 We support the strike on the 30th November and the student action on the 9th November, and actions to defend our health services, welfare, education and employment, and to stop wars and arms dealing. As is your democratic right. See point 1.
7 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. I can't object to this per se. That would be a good thing. So - what's the plan?
8 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. Hmmm. Bit vague this one. Which actions of our government? We were quite instrumental recently in supporting the Libyan uprising, for example. The Libyan people were quite oppressed and we helped them. Is it possible that sometimes, just sometimes, we are not the bad guys?
9 This is what democracy looks like. Come and join us! You're right. This is what democracy looks like! You have every right to do this, it's enshrined in law. Hell, even the canon chancellor of St. Paul's has given you his blessing to be there. There is absolutely zero chance of David Cameron sending in the tanks to crush your camp and shoot your ringleaders. Which is why any attempt to claim "solidarity" with the uprisings in the Middle East is so utterly fatuous.
So overall, I'll give you two, maybe three, of your nine points. Not bad.
The occupiers say they are there for the long haul. The temperature is meant to drop considerably towards the end of the week. The people gathered are still no nearer to their stated objective of occupying the stock exchange, but are still sticking it out. This is going to get very interesting....