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.
October 17, 2011