Wednesday, November 02, 2011

#Occupy and the Banksters: Abolition or Modification?

"Apologies for Inconvenience" - @occupyLSX
There is a nice balance between abolition and modification that applies to both the Occupy camps and to their target, the City of London.

Generic "anti-capitalists" might demand the abolition of the whole bang shoot of the City and the money markets.  This  absolutist solution would be resisted absolutely by the plutocrats, and they would use their superior force (the met Police) to clear the camps and repress dissent. Result: much unpleasantness that could lead to violent demonstrations further down the road, which could even, in the worst case, result in a right wing coup.

The alternative is to modify the City and the money markets through a series of reforms designed to address the deficit by closing tax loopholes and havens globally. It would start by removing the special privileges of the City by making them just another local authority through a simple amendment to the Local Government Act 1972.

The same choice applies to the camps. The authorities can try to abolish the camps through violent policing, causing anger, resentment, and social disorder. (see above).

Alternatively, they could tolerate the camps, and set up continuous round-table talks between representatives of Parliament and representatives of the people. These speakers could be chosen by ballot or even by sortition, and could feed back to the people. Maybe we need to set up a People's Parliament to collect and prioritise the feelings and ideas of the people. The talks would be long-term and continuous, and entirely equal. No more the talking down from "experts" through the media. Recent history has shown the human failings of MPs, newspapers and bankers. It is clear that the authorities do not have a solution to what is going on in the world, and that their claim to "authority" is severely compromised. They actually need help from the people, who after all are the ultimate authority in a democracy.

So we have a clear choice: either both sides take an absolutist approach, which leads to violence and disaster, or a relativist approach, which leads to dialogue, reform and a peaceful solution.

It is clear which approach sensible people would prefer.


Belette said...

> The same choice applies to the camps. The authorities can try to abolish the camps through violent policing

There does indeed seem to be an assumption that any attempt to clear the camp would result in violence. I'm presuming that means that, if the Church got a court order requiring the protesters to leave, you think that they would refuse to obey this lawful order (citing some higher law perhaps), the police would move in to remove them forcibly, and the protesters would then resist, causing violence, which would then be blamed on the police.

I'm probably caricaturing what you think, so could you clarify?

DocRichard said...

Hi Belette
I would say your scenario is roughly right. The higher principle is our democratic right to protest. We know from Iraq that 1000000+ on the streets for a day can havezero impact on policy makers, because it all goes home for tea at 5 o'clock, in traditional British fashion. Therefore we have to stay on. and it's working - the a national discussion has started on inequality &c. (In this regard, it is a bit like climate change - we have science on our side (Spirit Level, Wilkinson & Pickett), while the conservatives have their usual weapons of mockery and trivia on their side.

The unique point about this protest, world wide, from teheran to bristol, is its non-violent nature. yet we know from past bitter experience (e.g. climate Camp) that some officers have no scruples about using violence against peaceful non-rioting demonstrators.

If britain can show the political maturity to tolerate the camps and initiate a national dialogue of some sort, we will set an example to the world. If violence is used, how will cameron be able to condemn violence in syria &c?

thanks for your interest.

Richard ("Anonymous" because bloody Google ha forgotten who I am. Again)

PS what do you think of my proposal that we focus on criticising the climate sceptics' hypothesis of low CS (click on climate sensitivity label)