Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Occupy the UK. That's at Least What The Shittro Thinks (Guest Blog)

This a guest blog from a fellow Occupier who I've known since Day 1 of Occupy Bristol, and at 18 years of age he has a better grasp of politics and protest movements than many people twice his age. His weekly newspaper "The Shittro" can be found at http://theshittro.blogspot.com/, blending relevant politics with profanity and humour. More righteous ranting from Standing Stone coming later in the month.

EDIT: Standing Stone's Blog has returned the favour by writing a piece for The Shittro: "By the people, for the people - An Introduction to People's Assemblies" http://theshittro.blogspot.com/2012/03/shittro-v6-is-here.html

Hello there, and welcome to The Shittro. The newspaper of an 18 year old Occupier who makes it his job once a week to construct a word document containing news which is always well researched and opinionated. I have decided to come out as The Shittro and explain why I think Occupying the UK is the way forward.

Every day we hear the news of cuts, privatisation, reform, war and injustice. Who is doing anything about it? No-one is. Only the Occupy movement has drawn up the resistance to so many different things under one banner. We have brought things such as tax evasion, illegal wars, inequality in society and slave labour together so we can fight a battle in which we are slowly winning. I say that because people are starting to wake up to the injustice. I've been awake to what's been happening for a while. I started in Occupy Bristol on 15th October 2011 on a bright Saturday at College Green (when it was still green). We sat there until January protesting against the corporate greed and corruption while informing people of what the reality of the world was. We met some very nice people but then we found out that not everyone agreed with our aims and decided to personally attack or harm us in some way which is fine, I mean, people can attack the people in the camp but they can't get us to go away.

The reason I occupied was because I felt it was my civic duty to do so. David Cameron talks of his ideas of Big Society, the community running things. That's essentially what we did, we ran our own community (with a little help from the public!). The fact that we were able to keep what could be described as an anarchist society running for 3 months is amazing. Nothing like that had ever been tried in Bristol before so it was great to see it work. We worked under a system of direct democracy in which everyone had a vote on issues brought before a General Assembly in which the whole camp were able to take part in. The voting was consensus decision making which had again never been fully tried on the scale that we were using it with. The most successful use of consensus decision making is when Occupy have used it. So many camps across the world have used this system and many of them are still active today! Without it, we would have come crashing down and our protest would have been ineffective.

Other things which make us effective is the way people naturally work when put into a group like this. There were people that automatically sat down and decided what they were going to do to make their part in the camp successful. I tried out for the media team at Occupy Bristol but then I found that finance was more my thing so I did that for a week. I learned how to manage finances for the first time in my life using a real organisation’s money and I had to record it all in a book and report it back every GA. People found that as a result, we were very transparent. Transparency is something we aim for at Occupy. We feel that in order to gain the trust of the public, we must tell the public what we are doing when they aren't around. People would give us donations and it was my job to record them and allocate where the money should be spent. It was then found that I did this incorrectly to the person that took over. To this day, I don't understand what went wrong with that, but the fact that I had tried and appeared to be so successful at the role prompted people to trust me with similar positions again. At the moment, I am acting as a media/networking person who relays information to and from other occupy sites about Bristol. In Bath, I don't really have a responsibility but I'll talk about that in a minute.

My role in Occupy Bath was a short one, but I quickly learned the ropes of Bath and learned how to be an effective team player. Bath was a lot smaller than the Bristol camp, having about 2/3 of the people that were on site at Bristol. Bath would often have problems with people staying over at the camp and it was the case that people had to sit by themselves manning the camp for the whole day because no one could turn up to relieve them. That kind of camp couldn't be sustained which is why we decided to close it on December 8th and had the final camp meeting to organise logistics on December 9th to pack up by December 10th.

The reaction from people at Bath was very similar to those from Bristol. We still got the abuse and the mockery although there was a different class of people at Bath. I met two students from St Brendan’s College in Bristol who came over to talk to me. They were nice guys who had come over to talk to me about why we were there. I tried explaining it but it was obvious they didn't see the full picture and had a very one sided argument about things. For example, we discussed tuition fees and a few other things. I said most universities were charging £9000 to which they claimed was wrong. They then claimed the bankers had not committed any crimes and then they claimed that the Vickers report was going to solve everything. I was not feeling up to my prime that day so I stormed off, doubting whether what I was saying was right. It turns out that I was! I counted all of the universities that were charging £9000 to which at the time was 57 which is a large majority. I then looked up the Vickers report to which it said ring-fencing between investment banks and high street banks was needed. So does that mean they were right? No, ring-fencing just means limiting the amount of money that can go through, not eliminating it meaning from 2019, the rules will just get slightly stricter. So in fact, the students were ill informed and looking for a fight, which unfortunately, they had. As I said, I do regret acting like a spoilt child, but in my defence, they were being small minded. What else could have I done if they weren't listening to me? I agreed to look these things up but when I pointed these things out to them they pretended like nothing had happened. I'm not saying I was in the right, but then again, they weren't either.

The fact is, my experience of Occupy has been to inform, persuade and argue. Three things that I am good at because I am doing A Level English Language at college. Doing it in real life to real people can be difficult when people aren't willing to listen. They claim we have the wrong end of the stick when in reality, if people do the research themselves, they would find that we are in fact the ones who are right. But people feel that they don't have to do this extra research because what they are being told is right. Well guess what, it's not right what we are being told, it stinks. It's so full of bullshit it's hard not to scream at people that believe it. It's really easy to turn around to someone and ask them 'so what's your opinion on fractional reserve banking?' They don't know obviously, but it's the fact that people don't know how the money system works which is the worrying thing. In fact, more people know who the latest singer is on the chart then they do their local MP or even who messed up the economy.

So what am I going to do about this? Well, after remembering my experiences I want to shout and scream and go blue in the face at people for not listening but I know that won't help. I will continue to offer peaceful resistance to what is going on in this country and just because a bigot tells me that I am wrong doesn't mean I am going to stop and become ignorant again. I am 18 and I am writing this stuff, doesn't that mean something? Isn't it good that I am getting off my arse and contributing to the debate? Apparently not. People would rather me get wasted so they can complain about me doing nothing rather than doing something. People that complain that I am protesting don't have a leg to stand on. They are the ones who are consenting to the government ripping us off daily and they are the ones who need to stand up and say 'this isn't right'. I don't care what your political views are, I don't care of your age, gender, sexuality, height, weight, appearance, skin colour, origin or any other feature, get out there and protest! If you understand what is happening you have to say something. If you don't, your rights are going to be eroded away like the NHS.

If you are interested in writing a Guest Blog for Standing Stone's Blog, relating to the Occupy Movement, environment, other protest movements, or your visions and ideas for the future, get in touch at standingstonesblog@hotmail.co.uk . No commercial requests please.

Previous post on Occupy Bath: Moving Beyond this Representative Democracy

No comments:

Post a Comment