The #ows (occupy wall street) meme has arrived in London. I know this because yesterday I was part of an "amorphous horizontal non-hierarchical collective" having a "mutually beneficial shared discourse" about how we can really "sort those f*ckers out". It was a bit of fun.
The 'occupy the London stock exchange general meeting' was on Westminster bridge during the "block the bridge" protest designed to highlight a Government bill which critics say is aimed at selling off parts of the NHS. As a result there were about 800 or so mostly NHS employees all stood on Westminster Bridge chanting earnestly "Whose NHS? Our NHS". On either side of them were rows of police with nightsticks looking ready for a bit of hippy bashing if necessary...
I'd read on twitter that there was to be a meeting there, to organise the occupation which will take place on Saturday the 15th of October, Paternoster Square London. At first the people involved were a bit tricky to locate amongst this big crowd of leftys, despite someone handing out leaflets advertising the occupation itself. I took a leaflet off someone wearing an anonymous mask and got the impression he didn't realise there was a meeting about it going on there at all. He was too busy telling me "we are all anonymous, everyone here". Frankly, people like that get right up my nose. You're wearing a mask, get over yourself, I don't want to join your silly cult*.
We eventually located them by their chant: "We are the 99%, we are the 99%!". At core this is the idea which lies behind both the 'occupy wall street' campaign and now the forthcoming situation in London. It's not clear if this has always been the case but as the movement gathers pace it has slowly found a voice. The history of the wall street occuptation is more a story of inarticulate rage directed at the financial system. The protest there was organised by an advert in a leftwing magazine. The people who posted that advert are influenced by the French situationists in that their aim was only really to give people a "situation" which would act as a lightning rod for those who want "change". What that "change" is comes once the metaphorical snowball has begun rolling.
By the time we arrived where this meeting was, within the crowd, they'd divided up into groups. The intent was to talk about "society and how we should move forward," explained a nice middle class bloke who was very friendly and keen to help us fit in. There were three sets of hand signals the groups were using: "jazz hands, limp wrists and crossed arms". The first meant you agreed with the speaker and the other two seemed to mean you didn't or were not sure.
We sat down under a banner (you tube clip above) and listened to lots of student types talking mostly utter b*ll*cks.
Once that was over people fed their thoughts back to the main group using a megaphone and the "human mic" technique where the crowd repeats the sentences uttered by the speaker. This provided a reference to the original protests where the human mic technique was used out of necessity because the wall street protestors were not allowed megaphones or amplification devices**.
I can't pretend I'm not excited about the forthcoming occupation. I'm not saying I support it but I am very sympathetic to inarticulate rage directed at the financial system. I am reminded of the famous chinese curse which runs "may you live in interesting times".
Previous blog entries which might be interesting and relate to this:
Rule by Terror revolution in France and the human rights act.
*Years ago I used to post on the forum 4chan. Anonymous, the idea, formed there. It's very influenced by, Discordianism, but I doubt the self rightious moralist who was wearing a mask and trying to impress me with his imagined mystique knows that.
**Human mic technique in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8Q73yjRVhE