I commented on #occupyLSX’s statement

Occupy London have released a statement and invited comment. I’ve reproduced my comment on it here, in case anyone’s interested.

Congratulations on occupying!

Your statement is shaping up well, although in my opinion some of the alternatives you propose are not quite attacking the root of the problem: fairer taxation and stopping cuts would still maintain a broken system and therefore only be papering over cracks.

My major concern, though, is about point 2: “We are of all ethnicities, backgrounds, genders, generations, sexualities dis/abilities and faiths. We stand together with occupations all over the world.”

It is commendable that you have people present from all walks of life, but the biggest hurdle now is to make Occupy London a safe space for these people. Too often, occupation-based movements fall prey to reflecting the prejudices in a corrupt system. It is therefore imperative that you commit towards making the voices of the oppressed and vulnerable heard: the women, the disabled, people from ethnic minorities, youths and the elderly, queer people–too often, even in a well meaning occupation, these people are silenced by the privileged majority. In order to build the better world that you seek, it is utterly necessary that you address these issues within your own movement.

In point 7, you say “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.” Here, you are talking only of unfair wealth distribution. I believe that you should add to this point, or point 2 above, that you also aim to address other forms of oppression: capitalism is not the only oppressive force which harms people.

I am concerned that you are already travelling in the direction of excluding marginalised voices from your movement. Mere hours after the occupation began, you gave platform to Julian Assange. Other women have expressed concernsabout this: we are not comfortable with a man who has not been cleared from rape charges being warmly invited and adulated into the movement.

Please do not dismiss these concerns, and please distance yourselves from Assange. Concerns about giving a platform to a suspected rapist are legitimate, and to dismiss these concerns will make many feel unwelcome from a movement which reflects the same prejudices as the rest of society.

You have a golden opportunity here to be part of lasting change. Don’t let yourselves become oppressors.

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5 responses to “I commented on #occupyLSX’s statement

  • wc

    There are other forms of repression yes, but this movement is (and imo should definitely remain focussed) on capitalism. My critique is that is not anti-capitalist enough. It has a danger of being co-opted and indeed becoming useful to the elites it opposed due to its focus on regulations, fairer taxes and so on.

    I agree with you in many ways, but focussing on other forms of oppression will imo make it more issue based (more easily liberalised) NGO-chic with some ‘Make bailouts history’ thrown in. Although, there should be no compromise on addressing oppression and inequality WITHIN the occupation as you mention. (…and obviously assange should fuck off)

    It is my firm belief that the emancipation of women (for example) will never come without the emancipation of the class. This should be primary.

    Good critique though comrade.

    • stavvers

      Ultimately, I agree with you, though I think in order to topple capitalism and the class structure, we also need to work on ending other oppressions: they’re the cards on which it is stacked, and if we pull them out, it will wobble.

      Certainly, at the very least, any movement must work on this shit in its own back garden. Pragmatically, it’s important for gaining members. Morally, it’s the only right thing to do.

  • Rebecca Devitt

    I think this may be incredibly obvious to others, nevertheless, it isn’t to me, please could someone explain what alternatives there are to capitalism apart from communism or bartering/exchange of goods and services for agreed equal value. Agree we need something else, but what? I left school when I was 16 so, like many people keen to be involved in change, need ideas spelt out so I know what people are on about. All I know is communism massively dissinsentivising/reduces whole population to povertyand has alwways come hand in hand with dictatorship and lack of freedoms including freedom of speech. Bartering is very primitive and wo0uld not allow large industries/companies to trade. What are the alternatives?

    • jon

      Instead of Private Capitalism or State Communism we should extend and defend the Commons. The land, banks, railways, etc should be held in common under the democratic control of the community. Stop turning everything into a commodity to sell. We should leave things better than we found them. http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/resource/reclaiming-commons#index
      Consume Less, Share More, Enjoy Life.

    • wc

      Looking for a ready made alternative existing somewhere is not the task i don;t believe. It is the recognition that people’s material needs can and should be addressed with the abundance of resources we hold on the planet (currently hoarded by the few) and a recognition that because of the logic of capitalism it has no way of addressing this.

      The common ‘ownership’ of resources (the commons as another contributer says) to provide the material needs of the population.

      In a word, this is communism. It is anti-authoritarian,, anti-capitalist, anti-state, pro-people. (not stalinism)

      No-one has a blueprint but capitalism IS crisis, always has been. it must be changed and it will be…

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