Sunday, 11 March 2012

6 Ways the Occupy Movement is Continuing in 2012

With most of the camps now gone, Occupy in the UK is still very much alive and well and continuing in various different forms. Here I present six of the more successful and promising Occupy Phase 2 activities that have arisen over the last few months. I'm sure there's probably a lot more, so if you have anything you'd like to add, feel free to comment below.

1. Move Your Money
It's a simple message: Don't like the big High Street banks that gambled with our money and lend to companies involved in arms manufacturing and environmental devastation? Then don't give them any!

There are a lot of other banks and financial institutions out there who are pretty good. These include many Credit Unions and also ethical banks and building societies such as The Co-operative/Brittania, Nationwide and Triodos in the UK. For more information on the UK Move Your Money Campaign visit and for the US campaign visit

Many individual Occupiers I know have already moved their money, or plan to in the near future. Also, street and social media campaigns to spread the word are being undertaken by various Occupations and individuals. Some Occupations are also attempting to persuade councils and businesses to move their money by creating dialogue with them or through petitions - see here for the petition to get Bath and North East Somerset Council to move from NatWest to an ethical bank, and also my previous blog entry Do the Right Thing - Move Your Money!

2. People's Assemblies
As well as the protest element of Occupy, there was also a strong element of working as democratically as possible. Consensus decision-making, a form of direct democracy, was used in the General Assemblies of many Occupations throughout the world, although there were those who didn't get on so well with it and much has been written by critics on the flaws of this system. But even so, I'm of the opinion that it is a good place to start, and there's nothing that says it can't be modified. What many people agree on is that this current form of representative democracy has led to corruption and hasn't always represented the people - so we need alternatives. See here for more information on consensus decision-making, and also my previous blog entry Moving Beyond this Representative Democracy

People's Assemblies don't necessarily need a camp or people opposed to the excesses of capitalism to function - they can, and by their definition, should be open to everyone. They can be successfully set up in a local area to discuss local, national and global issues, and to formulate ideas and proposals. From this, action could be taken, which may include petitions, events, dialogue with authorities etc. with the backing of a group of people who want to see changes. It's also conceivable that a representative from a People's Assembly could be elected to a council seat - or even as a Member of Parliament. If we're going to remain as a representative democracy, lets at least get people who will act on behalf of their constituents' wishes.

See the Bath People's Assembly website for an example of a successful People's Assembly, with minutes and more information (an improved website is currently in the works), and also the worldwide People's Assemblies Network website. A World to Win has an excellent article on the need for People's Assemblies here.

3. Pop-up Occupations
Easy one this - Occupy somewhere for a day, or a few hours. There's many variations of this being trialled or talked about, including temporary encampments, occupying banks, setting up a stall in town or putting up a marquee for the purposes of a gathering. Be as creative as you can - perhaps even include art, music, street theatre or costumes.

Pop-up Occupations can be used to highlight a single issue, such as a company not paying their taxes. Leaflets could be handed out or someone could give a talk on a particular subject. There could even be temporary small-scale versions of the Tent City University that was formerly the centrepiece of Occupy LSX.

So far, Occupy has largely impacted on the big cities and towns - try bringing the movement to smaller towns and villages, or places like out-of-town shopping centres and supermarkets. It's also a good idea to check who owns the land you are occupying, as these days many shopping centres and some streets are owned by a private corporation, who may send the security guards out.

Occupy Bath recently re-occupied Queen Square for a day to cook a meal - free for anyone to partake in - and to re-group - see my blog entry Occupy Bath and Bristol - January 2012.

4. Talks and Presentations
The Occupy Movement was among the biggest news stories of 2011 and early 2012, and it's still a hot topic in the news. Lots of places want to know more. Last week there was a talk on the Occupy Movement at Bath University, and just yesterday there was a debate amongst post-graduate students at Bath University, for which two of Occupy Bath attended. Occupy London had the idea of going to give talks in schools and universities - see this news article.

There are also other avenues to explore, such as debating societies, academic institutes, political parties, university societies, campaign groups, speakers' corners, religious groups and other clubs and societies.

5. Working with Other Groups, Movements and Campaigns
Occupy is a mix-bag of people from different backgrounds, and many people involved have links to other campaigns. Occupy has already forged links with other campaigns and organisations with similar views, such as UK Uncut, Move Your Money and The Quakers. Some camps have also collaborated with other groups on certain issues, often on a local level. Realistically speaking, Occupy won't change the world on its own, but by working together with everyone else that is trying to change the world, there might be a chance. Looking to the future, we would have a better chance through networking and collaborating with other groups and individuals on areas that we see eye-to-eye on.

Many organisations came down to Occupy Bath to offer their support, from local businesses to campaign organisations to political parties. I'm sure this is same for many other occupations. Those still involved in Occupy, or who want to be involved, could go and speak to them and hopefully find common ground and ways forward.

In a previous blog entry, The Ongoing War Against the Corrupt Financial Elite, I explored the concept that many protests and campaigns throughout the years and in the modern age are all fighting different battles of the same war.

6. Occupy the Vote
In America, the Occupy the Vote campaign is attempting to rid the nation of the two-party system and is supporting Independent candidates - which outnumber those running under the banner of Republican or Democrat - and attempting to eliminate the "wasted vote" mentality, which has hindered Independents and many of the smaller political parties for decades. In the UK, MPs don't actually have to keep any of their election pledges, and sometimes this is down to the three-line whip - an instruction given to MPs of a particular party by those higher up in the party, which if they do not follow, expulsion is on the cards.

Getting an Independent majority is not just a pipe-dream. On a local level, a group called Independents for Frome were able to get a majority on Frome Town Council, thus taking the control out of the hands of the big political parties and allowing the new Councillors, in their own words, to make the town "cleaner and greener" and to create "openness and involvement in decision making". Their story is an inspiring one, and I urge anyone with an interest in alternative politics to read it:

Further Reading:

What Has Occupy Been Up To? 6 Great Actions You Can't Miss This Spring:


This is a semi-sequel to a blog entry I wrote way back in November entitled 10 Ways to Support the Occupy Movement if You're Not Camping, from which I have had a lot of positive feedback, and to this day remains by far my highest-viewed effort. I hope that this can be as useful to other Occupations as that one was.

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