Occupy Ten Years On

Ten years' ago, today, on 15th October 2011, the Occupy camp at St Pauls Cathedral, London was set up.

The history of events is recorded here:


The initial plan was to Occupy Paternoster Square, the home of The London Stock Exchange, hence the initial name Occupy lsx. In the event, that plan was frustrated, so the campers retreated through an archway to the front courtyard on the western side of St Pauls Cathedral.

As it turned out this move had three, at least, consequenses.

First, the new site was far more in public view to passing traffic. Secondly, it drew the Dean and Chapter of St Pauls into reaction to the camp. Thirdly, the interaction with The Stock Exchange seems to have immediately been forgotten.

Camp was organised on a 'Working Group' basis with twice daily, I think, General Assemblies to use consensual decision making over matters as they arose. Support by the wider activist community was immediate: a kitchen and eating area was established in the area beside (and blocking) the side door to the Cathedral's crypt and restaurant such that, at a subsequent meeting in the rooms above the afore-mentioned arch, Cathedral representatives told us how cross they were at losing £2million Pounds'-worth of income.

One notable vignette associated with the 'Tranquility Work Group' was the capture of a nocturnal arsonist and the handing over of him (I think) to The City of London Police.

I was involved in two Work Groups and on one occasion, was asked to facilitate a particularly fractious General Assemby where a Camp tidy-up had been proposed. One faction was keen to tidy up: another group was indifferent to doing that work. As an 'Act of God' during that heated confrontation, a City work crew turned up un-announced so those of us keen to join in the clean up did so, while the others went off to sit and sup in the tea tent.

My involvement in the Occupy Faith Working Group was a happy time and, altough I never lived 'on camp', nor did I walk on the Faith Group's Pilgrimage from St Pauls to Canterbury, I was asked to be a panellist at the Conference that The University of Kent students organised at the end of the Pilgrimage and spent time at our field camp there; although some fellow Quakers gave me a bed and breakfast stop-over (I was homeless at the time).

The other Work Group that I was asked to join followed from a series of five co-learning, co-producing sessions at our Tent City University: on the cold paving stones at the western-end of Camp.

Those sessions were based upon the five articles that the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (the 'CCPA') has asked, and paid, me to write and which they published in their monthly magazine, 'The CCPA Monitor' during the winter of 2009-2010 and, as a 'CCPA Reader on Co-operative Socialism' in May 2010. This Reader is available as a free PDF in the papers' section at http:\\www.interestfreemoney.org where, it should be noted an old email address john@courtneidgeassociates.com is no longer operational. It has been replaced by courtj@myphone.coop .

That second Work Group was named 'The Occupy London Economics Working Group'.

It comprised a very middle-and upper-middle class group (and me) which, tellingly, met in the basement of the Starbucks Coffee Shop, close to our St Pauls Camp, but not on Camp itself. And certainly neither in the Camp tea tent or in our Tent City University tent: on the cold flagstones.

After many twists and turns, the Economics Working Group reduced down to twice-weekly open meetings in the Cafe Corridor at Friends House, Euston.

At the opening of Camp, a declaration was made and, fromthe Wikipedia page reads as follows:

On 16 October, a gathering of over 500 Occupy London protesters collectively agreed upon and issued the following 'Initial Statement':

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 30 November and the student action on 9 November, 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.The present economic system pollutes land, sea and air, is causing massive loss of natural species and environments, and is accelerating humanity towards irreversible climate change. We call for a positive, sustainable economic system that benefits present and future generations.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.

— occupylsx (Occupy London), Statement issued from the assembly on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral, reported in The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph[19]

Some time later, the Economics Working Group proposed a GA Process at St Pauls to, as it were, concretise this by adopting the plan for Co-operative Socialism, as contained in the CCPA Reader on Co-operative Socialism and, with due process that was agreed.

A relevant Ocvupy London page is here: https://occupylondon.org.uk/co-operative-socialism-by-john-courtneidge/

So, why did Occupy London end?

Firstly, our Economics Working Group stopped once I had been Decanted from Beckenham to Littlehampton in May 2019. Secondly, the Occupy Faith Working Group was always cold-shouldered by the St Pauls Institute at its Crypt and 'Under The Dome' events called 'The City for The Common Good'. Thirdly the Public School Boys and Grammar School Boys that had met at the basement of Starbucks drifted off to other hobbies. Finally, Covid, 'The Scam or The Reality'.

Was this inevitable?

I think yes.

There were six groups on Camp, two groups, each of three. First the three groups that wanted System Change: From Capitalism to 'something else. First, The Anarchists who wanted no Government, Church or State; many of whom sloped off to the free-tea and butties while Camp was being tidied, jeering at those doing the work. Second were the #woke Marxists who wanted to be the bosses in a New Marxist Communist Capitalism. Finally, we #truesocialists who supported the plan for #truesocialism by supporting the democratic and peaceful implementation of the plan for Co-operative Socialism: indeed, as a prelude to 'The Kingdom' that Jesus calls for.

The other set of three groups all wanted Capitalism to continue. But for the tax burden to be taken off their backs.

And loaded onto the backs of others.

First there were the Georgists, who wanted Landowners to pay a Land Value Taxation so that Income Tax could be abolished. Secondly, the Social Credit, Positive Money people who think that Sovereign-money creation is the magic bullet to cure all ills (such as Income Tax). And, thirdly, the anti-globalist/anti-Corporation crowd that want Company Tax to replace Income Tax.

And, of course, all backed up by well-funded, arriviste, 'academics' publishing their histories of Occupy: but never coming to Camp.

Let alone the Work Groups. Certainly never tidying, serving, cooking, washing up, getting their hans dirty: too much like drudgery for the North-London Liberal Élite!

So, is there life for Occupy yet?

Certainly: the next phase is to Occupy Parliament by setting up a New Camp that Occupies the entire Parliament Square/Whitehall/Westminster precinct: roads and as well as green spaces, allowing buses and Emergency vehicles only, at walking pace, access: no taxis, cars, delivery vehicles, bicycles, Police, horses, etc.

And demanding a People's Parliament: to abolisg The Monarchy and Aristocracy, empty out The House of Lords and repopulate it as a Second Chamber on a Randomocracy Basis with an Elected House of Commons that will debate, implement, annually audit for improvement the plan for Co-operative Socialism.

By Tuesday!