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Discordians don't join groups


I attended the protests at St Paul's last weekend, after blogging about the meeting held to organise it the week before.

As I've said previously, I have a lot of sympathy with rage directed towards the financial system. I think probably most people do. Here's an earlier entry which touches on my personal views regarding lending money with interest. However, I'm unsure I like the tone of a lot of the protesters. They seem naive and more than a little half witted. Perhaps this is just down to the nature of big groups of people. There's not much you can do if someone sticks up a sign telling everyone what you, as a member of the crowd, advocate.

I wandered about talking to people for quite some time on Sunday night having already done a radio show where I think it probably came across that I had no sympathy whatsoever for them. The truth of the matter is slightly more complex. I am both supporting and criticising them.

I disagree that "Capitalism IS Crisis" or that "The People Are Too Big To Fail" or even that they are "The 99%". However, I agree that it's beyond mad that we bailed out the banks with our own money so they could then refuse to lend us it back. That's clearly insane. Furthermore I agree that politicians need to take more responsibility for such decisions. It's no good just looking at us forlornly and acting as if there was no alternative course of action.

Finally, and without reservation, it's good to see people doing something which expresses the entirely fair anger most people feel about the situation. Banks have one job: look after our money. That's it. They failed. Not us.



NM

Occupy the London stock exchange

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".

NM


Previous blog entries which might be interesting and relate to this:

Rule by Terror revolution in France and the human rights act.

The Awakening.

*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

Beware the poiticians and their celebrity friends who want you to "blame the media".

According to some people "the media" has either caused or magnified every problem in this country. I've heard it blamed for the obesity epidemic, the rise in anoerexia, the war in Iraq, the strong anti war sentiment in the UK, the rise of political correctness, the fact people rubbish political correctness, etc, etc, etc. In fact I honestly can't think of a problem our nation faces which hasn't at some point or other had some chuff bumble on about how they "blame the media".

This culture of blame is damaging to those who indulge in it and feeds the power of the people who it is intended to attack. Think of the final scene in, The Wizard Of Oz. "The media" is, at its worst, the machine which distracts Dorothy and her friends. When used by the likes of politicians or big business it allows them, the real villains, to hide behind a curtain of confusion. Furthermore once your focus is upon that machine, there's an all powerful version of these characters being projected at you which will frighten anyone but Toto the dog. Thus the media is here, at worst, a distraction made more powerful by your attention. However, that is not the full picture and those who think it is have merely been successfully distracted. If you remember the story, the dog pulls aside the magician's curtain to reveal the truth. What is Toto the dog here, if not a fearless newshound who sniffs out the truth?

This is the inherent problem with blaming "the media" as a collective. It conflates a massive group of people who do not have the same agenda or act as one on any issue. It ignores the benefits of a free press, which without question we have in this country. It pretends that those who speak about the expenses scandal, the WMD scandal and even the phone hacking scandal found out about such things by virtue of their own ingenuity. They didn't, they heard about it through "the media".

However, and here's the bit many people do not seem to understand, although Toto the dog and the Wizard of Oz's media machine are not the same thing you cannot have one without the other. Why? Because no one wants to watch Toto the dog being worthy all the time. He's boring. That big machine over there in the corner of the room is proper cool man, look at it! There's smoke coming off it and stuff, it's ace. The fact it gets an audience means it can make money and it also means when Toto runs over to it, they're looking in the right direction and give a toss about his "scoop".

This brings me to the "phone hacking scandal" which has, without question, not gone away. There's an article about it in this morning's Telegraph. It's being pushed by incredibly powerful people who are frankly sick of Toto the dog. They're trying to make you think they're attacking The Wizard's all powerful celebrity machine but only an idiot (or a celebrity) would buy that. In fact that machine is so big and profitable you can easily slice a few bits off it and throw them to the baying crowd without much worry.

In this vein they brought you the head of, The News Of The World, to help frame the debate in their favour. The crowd cheered this spectacle in much the same way as they might have first greeted the guillotine during the French revolution. Like those crowds, who got a thrill watching the "great and the good" of France meet a grizly end, those who parrot the mantra of "I blame the media" are also driven on by jealousy, I suspect. Celebrity culture and jealousy walk hand in hand. The lungs of those who "blame the media" usually belong to bitter and disgruntled media studies students, unfamous wannabies and tarnished celebrities. Those of them with the sense to realise what has happened will find their cheers ring hollow later on, I think, when Toto gets a taste and the inevitable consequence of "blaming the media" asserts itself.

How about this mantra, it's one that is far more fruitful but weirdly less fashionable: I blame the politicians?

Make no mistake, the real criminals in all of this are WITHOUT QUESTION the politicians who right now are rolling out their guillotines. They want to licence journalists. This is a dreadful idea. We are told it is designed to make journalists more 'trustworthy'. Ask yourself this, from whose perspective? Trustworthy from the perspective of those behind the curtain, the poiticians. I say you should NEVER trust a politician. Allowing them to choose who you can trust is equally absurd. The public already licence their journalists, thank you very much. We CHOOSE to pay attention to them or not. Our attention gives them a licence to communicate with us. If they lose it their licence is revoked.

Some politicians do not understand this because they think people are so stupid that they're actually controlled by the media. The media machine pays lip service to this idea because it gives them access to real power. Power which is granted to them by people who are at core incredibly vain and arrogant. Politics has been described as 'showbusiness for ugly people' and the truth is that a flattering media profile or two can make them appear from a distance to be less repulsive than they actually are.

I'll leave the final word to, John Kampfner, the Chief Executive of Index on Censorship, as reported by "the media":

“If we look over the past decade – from Iraq, to the behaviour of bankers - journalists have found out too little about those with power because of our restrictive libel and privacy laws. Journalism is too weak, not too strong.”

Quote from The Telegraph article linked to.

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