The Empire Strikes Back

Human Wrongs Watch

By Silvia Swinden* – Pressenza 

London – New York, London, Zurich… Not a glamorous multinational but a seemingly coordinated action to evict protesters from campsites. “Health and Safety” reasons. Too many “vulnerable” people. Concerns from local businesses. Public Highway legislation… Why is it not spelt out? Occupations are drawing undue attention to the corrupt and dehumanising practices of the Financial Sector.

Image: Mrwho00tm | Wikimedia Commons

Apart from being spaces of interchange and learning – like Tent City University at Occupy the London Stock Exchange lectures and workshops – the Occupations have been keeping the behaviour of the financial sector in the public eye.

Too many times news is news for a day or two and then something else takes over. Instead, for the past two months the Media has been full of articles about those responsible for the economic and existential crisis gripping humanity.

Hedge Funds, Vulture Funds, Speculation…

Explanations about hedge funds and vulture funds’ immoral speculation, Credit Rating Agencies playing fast and loose with countries’ ability to repay their loans – by increasing the cost of borrowing when they lose their “AAA rating” – Banks’ use of the taxpayers’ bailouts to continue paying themselves obscene bonuses whilst not contributing to the real economy and, more fundamentally, the warped logic of “Money as Debt” already mentioned in a previous article, it has all been available to the public in the mainstream Media.

The British Prime Minister dislikes this style of protest: according to the BBC “David Cameron has told senior MPs he does not think the protest at St Paul’s Cathedral is constructive.

On Two Feet?

The prime minister said there was a fundamental right to protest but it should be “on two feet”, not in a tent.” Or, in other words, in a way that draws little attention and is thoroughly ineffective.

It reminds me of Silo’s 1991 prophetic words “…no one will interfere with protest or nonconformity about minor things, provided that people express themselves through the appropriate channels.

As long as they do not confuse liberty with license, citizens may gather (in small numbers, for reasons of hygiene), and may even express themselves outdoors (provided that they do not disturb others with noise pollution or publicity materials that could deface the municipality…” Letters to my Friends


The protesters are clear enough: “OWS [Occupy Wall Street]. Such a movement cannot be evicted. Some politicians may physically remove us from public spaces — our spaces — and, physically, they may succeed. But we are engaged in a battle over ideas.

Our idea is that our political structures should serve us, the people — all of us, not just those who have amassed great wealth and power.

The System Forces

We believe that is a highly popular idea, and that is why so many people have come so quickly to identify with Occupy Wall Street and the 99% movement.” Occupy London statement of support for Occupy Wall Street.

These spaces have fulfilled the role of bringing together many groups and movements that had been quite successfully atomised by the individualistic and competitive ethos of the present system, to which nobody, no matter how clear one’s ideology, is completely immune.

These spaces have been free. An unspoken limitation to the right of assembly has been the increasing cost of venues to carry out such basic democratic right.

In other words, the system forces organisations to collect large amounts of money – dedicating to it precious time and human resources that could have been used for their specific aims, or they are destined to disappear.

Writing Another Chapter in the History of Change

These spaces have been a creative brewing vessel for the practice of nonviolence.

From ways to assent or dissent in assemblies without interrupting the speaker to basic human interaction, and the form of protest itself, civil disobedience that rejects the limitations imposed by local authorities and private corporations on the use of land, the Occupy movement is writing another chapter in the largely unknown history of change through the use of the methodology of nonviolence.

It seems that the provocation is now gathering momentum and many will be tempted to take the bait and resist the Police, the evictions, the dismantling of camps in a violent manner. If so, much will be lost.

Non Violence!

Violence cannot be a tool to fight the system, not just because it is morally wrong, but also because it is the very methodology of the inhuman system in which we are submerged.

To justify violence for one side is to justify it for anybody else, and so the system thrives on guerrilla movements, terrorism, popular violent uprisings and wars.

With the justification of self-defence, the need to calm down a situation, punish those responsible for atrocities and/or simply “preventing” further violence military budgets are inflated, police forces get the go ahead for more and more restrictive and draconian practices, and painfully achieved human rights legislation gets bypassed.

True dissidents of the present brutal system do not play its violent game but make a void to its violence, for opposing it by imitating its methods is tantamount to maintaining it.

“I just got back from Zuccotti Square, where people were truly elated and happy to be back home, like some called it, after a supreme court judge ruled they could go back to the park. Nevertheless, they cannot have tarps or tents, I heard the judge didn’t really say they couldn’t have sleeping bags, so…

The police, on the other hand, looked bored in their riot gear and stone faces… although some were actually smiling at the people. Anyway, on 17/11/11 there will be many and diverse direct, nonviolent actions throughout the city, marking the 2nd month of Occupy Wall Street. These activities have been planed for a while now.”

*Silvia Swinden: Author of “From Monkey Sapiens to Homo Intentional: The Phenomenology of the Nonviolent Revolution” – Adonis & Abbey, London. This report was first published on Nov. 16 by Pressenza. Go to Original.

2011 Human Wrongs Watch

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