Friday, November 25, 2011

Winter Carnival: Justice is Possible

So word is getting out about this and I wanted to talk about my ideas.

This is no anemic little interfaith thing I am planning where people make points and don't really listen to each other and nothing is accomplished.  This is big.  Go big or go home.  In the words of Keith Richards: "[I]f you don't make bold moves, you don't get fucking anywhere."  So let's meet at our Cathedrals and spend the long cold winter engaging with each other to create a plan to make a better world.  And since we will be working together to bring more joy to our lives and health to our souls, let us first start with a celebration.

Imagine that the people of Britain came together in the cold dark winter and planned for a new Spring.  Imagine your streets flooded with the people of your part of England or Scotland or Wales.  Imagine children, elders, soldiers, Anonymous, Occupiers, The Greens and all people of faith or no faith rising to their feet as one and venturing out into the cold to hold a candle, to walk and hold a candle and be willing to bring more light into the world.  There is much work to be done, but the work has begun.  Surely that is a reason for celebrating!  People are out in the streets clamoring for justice.  It's not all the people, and a lot of people are looking on from the sidelines unimpressed, but still, I think everyone is into the idea of a more just world where secured our children's health by securing the health of the planet, remaking corporations in our image, making our lives more about what they should be about and less about the endless chase of getting and spending that exhausts us and lines the pockets of others.  Let's debate whether we should outlaw interest rates.  Let us engage.  Truly this could be the Church Universal's finest hour. 

Or it need not be the Church.  We could leave the campers.  The Bank of Ideas and those fruitful camps are likely to get somewhere.  But they are cold and pre-occupied with camping, they are set upon with legal proceedings, they must govern their own community.  Let us help them and take them into our communities and let each person decide whether they will stand up and be counted among those who believe justice is possible.  If everyone stands up for that and goes to their Winter Carnival, we will be the visionary populace who embraced change and made it smooth and fair.  Let us move swiftly.  The ghetto stands with its gates ominously open. 

For surely, as a start, as the simplest thing we can all agree on, and as a big wonderful reason for a party is that justice is possible. 

Justice is possible.  We can agree that some of the old ways are no good anymore, can't we?  That we need a better way of caring for each other and the planet than the constraints of corporations?  Surely when the government and the universities must eternally be supplicants to corporations, we must transform them.  We could start at the Carnival with a bonfire of Corporate Charters.  And not just corporations, we can burn in effigy the instruments of war, the instruments of destruction of our planet . . . I am also thinking that it would be brilliant to burn Tony Blair in effigy at the Winter Carnival, not a move endorsed by the Church, to be sure, but one that Anonymous could do somewhere nearby.  I mean, of all the elite who have hurt this nation, surely he is the symbol of all that is wrong with the old order, with his ten houses and his unjust war and his twenty-seven million dollars to run a bullshit interfaith foundation that says whatever Rupert Murdoch and Goldman Sachs want it to.  That picture of him dressed in white on the banks of the River Jordan as godparent to Rupert's child made me ill.  Didn't it make you ill?  Because this wonderful spirit of God that he co-opted is actually so much bigger and more wonderful than this greedy money worshiper Blair could ever conceive.  Church, if that is true come out and show us.  Open your doors and call all the people.

And if you do not feel called by the Church, if you do not have, in the words of one planner of this event, "one religious bone in your body", then come to engage and partake and tell your views of a better world.  Come for your children.  If you don't come, the world will not be beautiful enough for them.  

by Douglas Rushkoff: the best analysis so far of Occupy AND a poem!

written for the human microphone at Zuccotti Park

I am humbled and honored to be amplified by your voices.
You are not fighting against people, but against a machine.
It was put in place over 500 years ago.
By a wealthy elite – trying to repress a booming peer to peer economy.
Those people are all dead, but their program lives on.
They invented an operating system called central currency.
People who used to trade directly,
were now forced to borrow money from the king’s bank.
At interest.
The elite also invented software for that operating system.
It was called the chartered monopoly. Today we call it the corporation.
It is a program designed to extract value.
It has legal monopoly over its industries.
We are legally prohibited from creating and exchanging value
unless we do it through the corporation.
We cannot work unless we have a “job.”
We outsource our work, we outsource our savings, we outsource our borrowing, we outsource our investing – all instead of sourcing one another.
This 13th Century, printing-press era operating system
is incompatible with a 21st Century economy.
It is broken and dying. But it is still occupying our reality.
Too many are mistaking this operating system – for the way things are.
They see the Occupy Movement as the impediment.
We are not asking for wealth to be redistributed.
We are asking for the redistribution to STOP.
The Long Extraction is Over.
The peer to peer society is back.
We are ready to create and exchange value as people.
They say that the Occupy Movement has no leadership.
They are wrong.
You are the leaders
The rest of us are your followers.
What you do here – shows what we can do out there.
You are the classroom – we are the students
You are the experiment – we are the results.
You are the proposition – we are the resolution.
If you can sleep under tarps
the rest of us can tell your story to our children at bedtime
If you can resist the cops.
The rest of us can resist the market and the mall
If you can live on shared food
The rest of us can buy and grow local crops
If you can live with no money
The rest of us can start using alternative currencies
If you can stand firm in the streets
The rest of us can stand firm in our foreclosed homes
and stand with our neighbors in theirs.
If you can occupy Zucotti Park
The rest of us can occupy reality.
And by that same logic:
As the nights get colder,
as the Mayor grows less tolerant,
or as the police get more violent,
Remember that you have already won.
Whatever happens in this square,
the day you leave is not the day you have lost
it is not the day you have surrendered.
It is the day you have spread out.
It is the day you have declared a bigger battlefield.
It is the day you teachers and we students become the same.
It is the day we Occupy the World.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

We Must Love One Another Or Die: An Auden Poem (Happy Thanksgiving)

September 1, 1939  
by W. H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright 
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can 
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return. 

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire 
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Winter Carnival Proposal 2: Better than Pepper Spray!

Winter Carnival
General Proposal

This idea was presented to the National Occupation Conference General Assembly on 19 November 2011 and was the subject of a break-out discussion that night.

Whereas Occupy London has accomplished the beginning of a great moral awakening in Britain;

Whereas the Church of England, the Church Universal, people of many other faiths and people of no faith share the goals of a more moral marketplace and a more moral government put forth by the Occupation;

Whereas a public forum throughout all of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, is greatly to be desired by everyone who seeks to understand, decide and support the reforms necessary;

Whereas the spirit of the movement must spread beyond the camps or be in danger of diminishing;

AND FINALLY, whereas this is a land with a rich history of festivals:

THERE IS PROPOSED a Winter Carnival

There is proposed a great Winter Carnival, to roll through all of Britain from Cathedral to Cathedral.  These Cathedrals are our commonwealth and they and the national Church of England should be pressed into service in this time of injustice and moral crisis. 

Winter Carnival could have multiple components.

Candlelight Walk:   A symbolic candelit walk beginning at St. Paul’s could start the Carnival – a victory march that recognizes the triumph of awakening the Occupation has started.  The walk could go through London to St. Albans, Southwark, Westminster and beyond.  In each city, the Occupiers could arrive at the train station and be met by local supporters, local activists, people of faith and people in need.  They could then walk, holding candles, to the Cathedrals.  A spreading of light.

Putney Debates:  As in 1647, the Cathedrals could host debates or town meetings where the governmental and economic reform we seek could be refined, discussed, considered and our different options learned.  Occupy would invite Ken Costa in his position at St. Paul’s Institute to hold public meetings about the need for financial reform.  A constitution could be drafted by a travelling working group.

Occupation Tour:  Instead of camping in one location, the camps could go from town to town, following the Putney Debates and opening the Carnivals in each town.

Open Forums: at the carnival, all interested parties, including people of the churches, synagogues, mosques, the Occupy movements, people from political parties and interest groups and grass roots organizations, would come and talk about how to make change for the better. 

Reclaiming of Government: A walk from the Cathedral to the government buildings – the town halls – where people could hold a General Assembly, airing their grievances in this winter of our discontent.

Heritage:  Open the Cathedrals to the Occupiers and children and have history teachers explain the martyrs, and the historical role of the Church in securing greater liberty for the people.  Let us hear the stories of the martyrs and progress and reform.  Let us remember our own past together.    

Wine, Feasting and Song:  Local amateur bands could play, local suppliers could offer food, mittens and mulled wine and fairy lights, a celebration to raise our spirits and by raising our spirits raising our humanity.

Practical Help:  The touring Occupation could assist at local foodbanks, homeless shelters and elder care centres to bring attention to local cuts issues.

Natwest has come out with a glossy magazine for its Private Banking Clients!

Dear Natwest Private Magazine:

I received my Autumn issue this week and it sickened me. 

Why on earth do you think it is within your remit as a bank to publish lifestyle magazines when I already pay too much to bank with you?  

I pay an exorbitant amount for the privilege of banking with you and I find your private banking services to be sorely lacking.  Please become competent in your core services before you branch out and use my money to pay people to create something I do not want and did not ask for - namely, this magazine.  

Problems that I have had for years with online access and setting up of accounts have not been addressed by the multiple fly-by-night “personal bankers” who do not return phone calls or e-mails.  I have concluded that this is because you do not pay them or train them adequately.  I have also concluded that if your personal bankers were to give truly good advice, the first advice would be to cease to bank at Natwest.    

You have chosen to spend money that could go into improving your services on some sort of lifestyle magazine.  Is this glossy celebration of consumerism supposed to make me feel better about your exorbitant fees?  The writing is insipid and uninspired and the advice tired and useless.  Why are you giving my money to these writers and photographers? I think it is because you want to distract the proles with pretty pictures while you mismanage our money and do not do what we ask.  



Rachel Mariner

You can write to Natwest too at 

Monday, November 21, 2011

When Everyone Finds You Annoying, You Know You're Getting Somewhere

Yeah, OK, this is so far out of everyone's comfort zone that no one really likes it or understands it.  The poor activists have such a seige mentality (and you would too) they can't really get their heads around holding hands with the establishment and having a celebration of what they have done.  And the church has such a staid, status quo mentality, such a sense that the problems in the earth are overseas, that Christians regularly look at me as if I had gone insane again when I ask them about what their response to the Occupation is. 

We are all in our own ghettos, you know, we all live and move among the people we know, we tell them what we think and we know they will like it and we might be outraged or judgmental together in our ghetto, and we may have solidarity in our ghetto, but nothing changes. 

The Occupation is rife with lifelong activists.  These lifelong activists may win tiny victories, but largely they are in their marginalized ghettos and if the Occupation follows them, that is where they will be too.  And look, the church in England is in its marginalized ghetto as well, it's much whiter and maler and richer than the Occupation, but it is a timid and dying voice in our culture. 

It need not be that way.  Let's open the gates of our ghettos, shake hands, roll up our sleeves, light some candles and change the injustice rife in our world.  Not Africa, not America, not the Middle East.  Let's start here where we live. We seriously need to take the logs out of our own eyes.  It starts here or it doesn't happen.  I honestly think all these Christian organizations point to the problems overseas because it's easier to do that than to address the fundamental bloat of consumerism in their own backyard.  I am not buying any more goddamned toothbrushes for cute children in Liberia.  We have our own problems.  We have our own kind of moral famine going down.

This world is not good enough for my children.  It is not good enough for your children.  The government does not listen to the people and the function of the markets is to steal from us and from our earth more and more.  Real change requires real transformation and real transformation is icky and exhausting and a big headache and requires you to act outside your comfort zone.  But it is possible. That's what those cold and tired goofballs in tents have shown me. Look, the Farmer and the Cowman can be friends.  The people of this island even though they are obsessed with the past and protocol and other annoying things have really from time to time beat the government back into place.  They can do it now.  We can do it now.   

Saturday, November 19, 2011

John of Purton, Author of the Occupier's Prayer

The Occupier's Prayer

The other day, an old man came up to the microphone during the 1pm general assembly and asked if he could celebrate his upcoming 90th birthday on the site. The GA unanimously agreed. 

He then proceeded to read out the following prayer. He called it occupier's prayer:
LORD, make me an instrument of Thy power to combat evil;
Where there is sabotage of Thy creation; Let me strive to safeguard it.
Where greed seeks to destroy our moral heritage; Let me be first to oppose it.
Where power and money combine to undermine our community life; 
Let me hasten to affirm the supremacy of love of neighbour.
Where there is passivity and conformism to powers of darkness;
Give me courage to radiate the light of truth.

DIVINE MASTER, grant that I may not so much seek to live a quiet life as to join with others to    enhance life, not so much to grab as to give, not to evade my social duty as to shoulder it, and not to fear power as valiantly to strive with others that it shall serve worthy ends; for it is in striving to act with love that we affirm love, in devoting ourselves to noble causes that we are redeemed, and in giving ourselves utterly to the wellbeing of our neighbours, to the service of truth, beauty and the joy of Thy creation, we rise to the life immortal. Amen.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winter Carnival Proposal

Winter Carnival
General Proposal
13 November 2011–

Whereas Occupy London has accomplished the beginning of a great moral awakening in our land;

Whereas the Church has declared itself an ally of the people in the people’s quest to make their land more just;

Whereas the people of the camp are weary and need not face the long winter alone;

Whereas this movement is in its tender infancy and may be the work of decades;

Whereas this movement must next be strengthened by all who would lend their strength, whether those people are willing to camp or not;

Whereas the voice of all of the people of Great Britain must be heard in our great moral reform;

Whereas spirits are low and times are hard and the raising of our spirits and of our joy in our families and our relationships is a necessary step on this journey;

Whereas we have much to learn from each other and our history and heritage;

Whereas the people of Great Britain in order to go forward should stand proud in their heritage and their grand history of reformers;

Whereas a public forum throughout all of Great Britain, throughout all of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, is greatly to be desired by everyone who seeks to support this change;

AND FINALLY, whereas this is a land with a rich history of festivals:

THERE IS PROPOSED a Winter Carnival

There is proposed a great Winter Carnival, where we recognize the incredible victory of the camp in awakening our very souls and stirring passion and debate.  After a New Year’s Celebration in London to rival all New Year’s, the vision is that some part of  the camps would disperse, retaining a presence in St. Paul’s as they see fit.  But those who would could travel the length and breadth of Great Britain, sleeping in the Cathedrals, meeting with local supporters, marching through the dark streets in candelight, spreading the word, speaking and listening about how the people can work together to bring about a better life for our children.

I propose that such a Winter Carnival can be created by each Cathedral or place as they see fit.  I propose that it be financed by the Church.   I propose that at the carnival, all interested parties, including people of the churches and the Occupy movements, people from political parties and interest groups and grass roots organizations, would come and talk about how to make change for the better the first priority of everyone in Great Britain.  

Winter Carnival could have multiple components.

Let’s start with something very fun and uplifting.  Let’s open the Cathedrals to the camp and children and have history teachers explain the martyrs, and the historical role of the Church in securing greater liberty for the people.  Let us hear the stories of the wars.  Let us remember our own past together.     

Let the Occupation march with the Church and all who would from the Cathedrals to the buildings of the government, and stand together in support of each other in our mutual quest to reform a government out of control.  Let us march by candlelight to our public buildings and reclaim them as our own.  

Let’s have a carnival of ideas and public forums. Let us meet and inspire each other. And gently and with great love the Occupation can survive the winter.  Even the bankers need to learn they have nothing to fear from us. 

Winter Carnival Component Ideas

  1. Some proportion of the camp tour the UK, going Cathedral to Cathedral, starting in the New Year being part of local Winter Carnivals, creating a touring Occupation where they could stay in each Cathedral and meet with people of the churches and local people.  I see this as marching forth after a great initial victory.  We must be mindful of how we unfold, and I think it would be useful to stand back and ponder these things in our hearts and with our neighbours.  This serves the need I see for the UK Occupation to have the time and space and rest to take the next step.  This also would serve the need of strengthening support for the Occupation through people of faith – essentially relying on the Church for financial support for the tour. (It would make sense for Ken Costa and St. Paul’s Institute to join this tour, at least for selected dates, for town hall meetings about Costa’s mandate)

  1. Winter Carnival itself would take shape as an organically local event, organized by whomever stepped forward to do so, but hosted by the Church.  It could be a conference, a festival, or a party. It could be all three.  Some places may have many Christians.  Some places may have many activists.  Some places like Cambridge have think tanks and societies and groups.  Local political parties would be welcome.  There could be music and food and debate and lectures.

  1. Debate:  I do not think that it needs to be debated that our government is dysfunctional or our economic policies immoral.  I think a useful debate to have at everyone’s Winter Carnival is what the moral principles of a just government and economic system should be.  Let the church and the Occupation support each other thinking about that this winter.  

  1. This is a victory celebration, a party thrown by our allies, a beginning of a true grass roots building of a transformation of our society.  This is a chance to reclaim back our own lives and our own land and to give ourselves the voice we should have in our government that seems to have been taken away.  

  1. Although this proposal makes use of the Church as an ally, it is not meant in any way to contradict Point Two of the initial statement: “We are of all ethnicities, backgrounds, genders, generations, sexualities dis/abilities and faiths.”  This is not about making people Christian or not Christian, this is about atheists and theists both working together here on earth to curb a government filled with injustice.
  1. This proposal does assume that in order to fulfill Point 7 of the Initial Statement (“We want structural change towards authentic global equality.”), we must first take the logs out of our own eyes before we take the speck out of our neighbour’s.  We must make structural changes toward authentic equality here in our own land first before the change can be global. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Occupy LSX: not an anticapitalist protest, more like a murmuration

As long as we are a protest, we are defined by what we protest against.  We need not limit our imagination and boundaries in that way.  We need not let our anger sap our energy and cloud our judgment.  The General Assembly has agreed we are a movement, not a protest.  Yes, of course, anger at injustice brought us to the camp.  Watching the livestream of the students and the intimidation by the police, believe me, I felt it too.  But rage is not enough.  Rage cannot sustain us.  Rage might be in the DNA of this movement, but it is just that, DNA, the motivating blueprint, but not the plan.  The embodiment, the literal making a body from this DNA requires love and patience, love and patience to the person sitting next to you, to your co-worker, to your mailman, to yourself.

We are more like a murmuration of starlings, sweeping through the sky in arcs of unimaginable beauty, not planned by any one person, but acting and reacting not to any leader or any direction, but simply flying with the starlings around us.

Starlings move based on what the starling next to them is doing, and humans do the same thing. We must be moved by one another for something good to happen.  We cannot keep doing what we have always been doing and expect these other people at the camp to fix things.  We must be moved. 

We are not anticapitalist, we are pro justice.  We are pro earth.  We are pro human.  We are asking questions and looking for answers.  We know where we see injustice and we know where we see suffering, but we do not know everything.  Nor need we know everything to stand up for goodness. We do not have to understand derivative transactions to count ourselves in the Occupation.   We are transparent, accountable and democratic and we believe the system we have is broken.  How on earth could anyone disagree with that?  The majority of criticism I read in the press simply ignores these fundamental tenets and instead chooses ad hominem attacks really so infantile that they do not merit a response. 

How I see it, no one is in or out of the Occupy movement because they buy a latte from Starbucks, or because they have a job, or because they don't have a job.  They are not in or out because they sleep in a tent in London, or they don't sleep in a tent.    We are radically inclusive.  I am sitting downstairs in my pyjamas while my two kids sleep in their rooms.  Yes, middle class.  And in Cambridge.  Smug central!  Yet I am in. 

And all are welcome, all people.  No institution is trustworthy, no way of thinking is sacrosanct, no person should be excluded  We want everyone - landowners, conservatives, stakeholders in the financial system, shareholders, directors.  At least, I want everyone and I think we should want everyone.   We want ideas and we don't really care where they come from.  An idea, as Anonymous shows us, should be judged on its merit, not on the speaker. 

We need everyone because we need all ideas.  We don't know exactly what this is yet and what it is becoming and what will happen next.  People ask me every day how it is going and I have to say that this is not a product launch.  It is not a jury trial.  It is not a movie premiere or an IPO.  It is not something that has happened before, there is not really a metric for phenomenal social change in the technology age. So I don't know how it's going.  We probably won't have a clear answer on that for twenty years.   Yes, the women of Greenham common, the indignatos, the anti-nuke protesters, these are in our DNA too, but make no mistake,  they don't have all the answers either, and they/we don't have a plan.  I am not saying that these people are not brave and heroic.  I am saying that this is bigger than Greenham common.  It's bigger than Windscale.  It's bigger than Selma, already, and we have just begun.  It is history being made. 

And you are my nearby starlings.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's so obvious I shouldn't have to say it. - Comments on 9 November for the Middle Class

Thousands of students did not come to the protests against cuts to educational funding in London today because the police in London warned them the night before they planned to use rubber bullets on them. 
What in the Kent State hell have we come to here? 
The Prime Minister triples university fees and tries to privatize higher education - essentially seeking corporate sponsorship for university courses. 
And do the Chancellors of the Universities of Great Britain rise up in protest and disgust at the idea that the orientation and focus of what happens in the classroom should be what corporations want?  Do they?  No.  They are too busy sucking up to corporations themselves to get the latest Glaxo Smith Kline Drug Testing Facility/University Lab. 
And do the alumni of the universities rise up and express disgust that corporations have somehow made the agenda of the universities their decisions?  No. They are too busy serving corporations, shopping, spending, working, commuting in service to their mortgage, treading water, barely keeping up. 
 So the only people left to guard the idea of free inquiry into truth that is the beating heart of universities are these students, these people barely adults themselves, that is who we have left to send in this war against the corporations, in this fight for the souls of our universities and THEY are intimidated out of their right to protest by threats of violence.  Who is threatening them away from this essential work?  The police,  the very people who should be protecting them. What kind of shitty world do we live in? 
How long will we let every organizational unit of human identity go the hell because it has to suck up to money? The church, the government, the universities? I am disgusted at the weakness of our leaders. I am disgusted at our blindness.  I am disgusted at our apathy.  

I am also dog tired and in a bad mood so I am going to put my son to bed.  But I ask you, dear reader, what do you think a university is for ? What does it protect?  Should it protect its endowment or should it protect free inquiry and knowledge?  Aren't you sick?  Doesn't this make you sick?  I can't pretend the world is not very very ill. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Winter Carnival

So I have been thinking about the next steps for the movement, how to envision change and development beyond New Year's, beyond the camp.  And I keep coming back to the practical need to play to our strengths.  And strange as the situation is, in the UK we find a great strength of our movement is the fact that the Church of England is on our side.  I also come back to Vinay Guptha's (@leashless) analysis of the movement, and that the camp should disband and regroup in Spring.  I also come back to George Lakoff's idea from the US that this movement is poweful not for the individual items on an agenda of reform, but as a moral movement, as a movement that recognizes that what is moral in the markets is a question that sorely deserves our time and our attention.  And I come back to St. Paul's mandate to Ken Costa and the public interest on the financial excesses of our time.  And coming back to all of these things talking to my parents today brought about this idea;

What if some proportion of people at the camp left the camp on New Year's Day to march forward in victory to all the parts of the UK?  What if they did that in connection with and conjunction with the church?  My idea is that the Cathedrals of Britain would open their doors to a Winter Carnival, where people from the Occupation and people from the churches and synagogues and temples could meet with the local people, could get to know each other, to start to build bridges between them.  We have the same problem to solve  - economic injustice - and Ken Costa same as the Occupation essentially has a mandate to figure it out.  Why not have a tour - the people of the camp can go from place to place, or local supporters can gather, and meet with Church officials and other interested parties - not to merge the churches and the movements, but to understand an alliance.  To the Occupation ,I say that these are the people organized for social justice outside of London and are such a valuable ally. 

It could be a totally fun one day party or overnight festival at the Cathedrals - our beautiful commonwealth, our Cathedrals - in the UK.  People could make a pilgrimage, on behalf of their beliefs in the OCcupation or in the church or in whatever they believe in - it would be a chance to explore our commonality.

Let us spend the winter in a joyous festival, a party in support of what we have done, a calling out to people all over Britain.  We don't want Ed Milliband and Ken Costa and Richard Chartes to do this work in a vacuum without the input of the people, and we don't want the Occupation to stutter or slow because the old paradigms prevent its growth.

If this is a moral movement, then this movement has a place for religious people, and the social justice that religious people yearn for is something that we too should support.  We can lend our voices to each other.  I am not saying invite only the churches and imams and Occupation, I am saying invite all who will come, like the parable of the Wedding guests.  Invite everyone and see who comes.  If UK Uncut or Anonymous want to come to the carnival, give them a place, let us have a public place full of expression and discussion and new connections.  Let us spend the long dark winter learning to love the people we share this island with, and let us come back in the Spring renewed and with hope. 

This could be one part of the Finsbury Square and St Paul's Occupations going on tour this winter - January and February, perhaps, around all the Cathedrals of Britain, with their new strange bedfellows the Christians, holding parties and speaking at churches or wherever they are asked and going forth, going forth, not retreating, but making the connections that will make the 99% possible and make this change real, lasting change.    I am thinking candlelight and parties, mulled wine and vaulted ceilings, new friends and new hope.  I am thinking something that is organized by the Occupation and funded by the Church (and maybe the Universities?).  A camp out inside each of Britain's remarkable Cathedrals could be a wonderful way to spend the winter.

We have hope, we need to spread that hope, and we will have more hope the more we can bring the glad tidings to the farthest reaches of this tiny island.  Look, if I thought there was a better strategic option than asking a number of hard-bitten secularists to befriend Christians, I would be pimping that one on this insignificant blog.  But oddly enough, I don't think there is. 

There could be music and dancing.  This could be a winter where we keep hope warm and we learn of the possibility of a better world from each other.  This carnival could celebrate our sameness and respect our differences.  We could reach out to the people and see what happens.  We could stand apart and together with our allies and bring about a shockingly better world. 

From the Preface to Transforming Capitalism from Within

"... Yet if the gross national product measures all of this, there is much that it does not include.  It measures neither the health of our children, the quality of their education, nor the joy of their play.  It measures neither the beauty of our poetry, nor the strength of our marriages.  It pays no heed to the intelligence of our public debate, nor the integrity of our public officials.  It measures neither our wisdom or our leaning, neither our wit, not our courage, neither our compassion nor our devotion to country.  It measures everything, in shor, except that which makes life worth living, and it can tell us everything about our country except those things that make us proud to be a part of it."

 - Robert Kennedy, US Senator, Kansas City, 1968 J

Friday, November 4, 2011

Over to you, middle class, academia, churches, unions and activists

 It has been a complete rollercoaster of a week, I started brainstorming litigation strategy and ended up talking to a Rabbi.  It is so exhausting to think so hard about something, especially something as formless and new as our movement, the Occupation.  But now that there is a reprieve from a physical threat on the camp, it is time to plan our exit, or if the plan is never to exit, the plan must be to build bridges, wide and strong and beautiful, bridges that span St. Paul's Square and the Corporation of the City of London, that span out from the camp throughout London and all of England, Wales and Scotland, and maybe build bridges to every part of the world.

Occupy London has a special relationship with Occupy Wall Street, it does.  But our story is different from their story - our Occupation should span the EU and all the people of all the countries that need our aid.  Our Occupation is born from Madrid and Tahrir Square and even more ancient rebellions and has a different sort of feeling, our Occupation for reasons unknown to us now finds the Church of England a powerful ally.

The Occupation will only be successful if we enter into this new relationship with the Church of England and even the Corporation of the City of London with love and understanding.  We are in this together and we can work for the common good together. 

Somehow we must make new friends and build new bonds.  The Occupation is not the people at the camp, it is all of us.  If it is just the people at the camp, it is some kind of "them" who may be dismissed, who may succeed or fail without us.  But if we don't want them to fail, and I don't think any of us do, then we must consider them as us.  We all want more justice.  We all want the ills of the earth to be cured.  We don't want our loved ones to die violent deaths.  We want people not to suffer for lack of life's basic necessities.  We all want our governments to be sacred spaces full of extraordinary people devoted to service and not personal gain.  And all of us in our hearts would like to leave the world better for our children, not worse.  We can continue that work to meet these needs, or we can watch those other people get cold this winter. 

And you know what, the Corporation of the City of London actually already backs what some people think is ingenius environmental reform.  (It's called Contraction and Convergence)  They gave an award to Aubrey Mayer about this.

And St. Paul's is also doing all that work about the City anyway.  We can agree on things and work together.  But for that we need our churches and governments know that we would like to support the Occupation. 

A mum from my son's school gave me this book called Transforming Capitalism from Within written by  Jonathan Rushworth and Michael Schluter.  I am telling you, this book is simple and elegant and true.  It proposes ( could be stronger but a wonderful proposal) to run corporations on a relational model where the economic value of the corporation becomes tied to the wellbeing of its customers, employees, suppliers and environment.  And this guy who wrote it is some kind of Christian who goes to her church.  Look, we all are concerned already.  We are concerned but we are apart.  We need to get together and talk.  Ideas are out there.  I think that this book is really trying to run corporations along biblical principles, but I have to say, I don't really care where the good ideas come from if they are good ideas and neither should you.  A lot of people in a lot of churches in Britain care a lot about social justice and we should issue them a special invitation to St. Paul's - now that St. Paul's is open, we should ask them to have a Christmas conference in conjunction with the camp.   

I keep spouting these ideas, sorry, I wanted to write about how exhausting I find this.  I feel like the Grinch when his heart grew three sizes, but it is very tiring.  I mean, I had never really let myself think that the government had become immoral until I had a conversation with a man who has come to be the great John from the Media Tent.  He said that, and it resonated with all my frustration and rage and judgment.  Of course it was true and of course I believed it, but I had never admitted it to myself.  And that is when I began to open my heart, to occupy my own heart as suggested in that crucial Wall Street communication.  I didn't do it by choice.  But I began to let myself feel a little rage.  Injustice angers me.  I see it everywhere.  I see it as almost a byproduct of the bloat of consumerism, of the need for corporations to always show a material return.  And then it really was like I had swallowed the red pill in The Matrix.  THe fact that banks were advertising sweet choral numbers to my children enraged me.  The Liam Fox affair enraged me.  The reaction of the government to the riots enraged me.  And what that rage gave me was a thirst for justice, and I think a lot of people have it.  A lot of people are thirsty for justice.  But we have been lulled into a position where we feel powerless to act on that.  That consumer coma has got to go. And it is not just corporations and banks that need reform.  Inefficiency is in my estimation the biggest enemy of the euro.  And inefficiency is resident in labor and labor unions and needs to be transformed.  So what could happen and what needs to happen for this movement to move the earth to a better place is a constantly evolving set of ideas and feelings and this amazing new freedom in my imagination is pretty great.

I hope you all can join me.  I hope the Universities can join me.  I think the silence of our Universities with respect to the Occupation is truly a betrayal of their highest and best values.  These places, which are supposed to be citadels and guardians of truth of all varieties, have basically become corporate lapdogs, begging money from companies, tailoring their research priorities accordingly.  I went to hear the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge speak recently and he said that Universities aid society.  Really?  Because the last time I checked society wasn't doing that great.  I don't think that the average soldier in Afghanistan or rioter really feels Oxbridge is helping them with anything in their lives.  I think Universities should be bold and independent voices for truth and as such they need to report to Tent City University as soon as possible and share the highest and best learning on what needs to be done to heal the earth and reform the markets.

Why won't the London School of Economics provide a slate of reform proposals?  Or at least offered its considerable resources?  Why are the Universities pretend this isn't happening?  And when there is a consensus- for instance on the immediate application of the Tobin Tax - why is the government ignoring that? 

Well, one reason I have determined is stasis.  I have learned that protest in England has, well, a protest culture rather than a movement culture, and the protest culture is happily ignored by the powerful.  And then the protest culture becomes, just like the church and the government and every corporation, about sustaining itself rather than serving the people.  I could use nasty words like ghettoized in this respect, but it is not only the problem with the culture, there is a problem with the actions of the people in the culture right now. There is a percentage of hard core activists in the UK who are standing back rather than joining in.  And in part they are standing back because their thinking about their institutions and relationships really should be questioned as closely as we look at any bank.  There is stasis, there is status quo and therefore security.  But the most insecure position we can take for ourselves and our children in the coming years is to stay with the status quo.  So all these activists need to stand up.

But this takes such time and energy (trust me to complain always).  Time and energy that we need to keep up our income and parent our children.  I personally have never been so exhausted in my life.  It's not even that I am doing that much.  I am just trying to understand what is happening, what can happen and what should happen.  I want to keep this hope I feel alive.  I am in love with this idea that it is not too late for our generation.  I am very lucky to be working with Jeffrey Newman in the time I can devote to this, who runs the Earth Charter.  He is the one who pointed out to me the extraordinary connections in this post.

I have been responding to some criticism that the Occupation is useless because it does not have an agenda.  And today read the Occupation - which is now officially a movement and no longer a protest, interestingly - does not deserve our support because it is not global. I have an overwhelming respect for this speaker, Vinay Guptha.  But let me tell you, these guys at the camps kind of have a LOT going on.  These guys would love to be global.  In fact, many discussions about regulating banks and money express a concern that a remedy for global finance likely needs to be global.  They need people like you to help figure out how that could happen.  This guy Vinay has an amazing take on the issues.  He points out that to be in the 1% in this world of seven billion people you need only make $34,000 a year - £26,000. Suck on that.  It seems to me that if we want justice in the world we need to feed the hungry. 

I read a blog post about how narcissistic and ineffective blogging is as a thing.  That person may be right.  But that is what I have to offer, only these exhortations, only the electric thrill of my hope.  I hope it is something.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Response to Patrick Hayes

 Last night there was a debate about Occupy London and an observer (about whom I know nothing) wrote this piece:

So here is my response.  

Dear Patrick,

Did you notice that you called the words honesty, justice and equality "banal and platitudinous" in your piece?

You say the camp has no point because it has no specific agenda, yet to me the point of the camp is a kind of liberation from the tragic idea that words like honesty, justice and equality are just banal and platitudinous words with no meaning and no effect. 

What I see at the camp is the beginning of an understanding that honesty, justice and equality are in fact sacred words that have been trampled so much by getting and spending that you, an observer in good faith, can simply call them banal and platitudinous, as if they could never be real.

As a person who has made five trips to the camp, and who daily hears criticisms of the vagueness of the movement, may I point out that Occupy is not an event primarily for the media.  This is an authentic awakening of hearts and minds not really susceptible to an Outlook calendar. There is not a brand or a message,  it's not a movie premiere or a product launch or anything that is in our current lexicon of experience.  It is not interested in a political party:  just putting another horse in the same corrupt race.  To me it has been a kind of transformation just to imagine what authentic democracy could look like. 

So the Occupation has a lot going on. And it is enough now, to think and to stand and to begin.  I think it is enough for now that people essentially wake up and realize that the institutions we have created to serve people are just not fit for service.  For those institutions have dulled our imaginations and robbed us of our virtue to the point where we think equality, honesty and justice are simply banal and platitudinous words.   

If you are looking for an agenda,  let me suggest with all affection and respect that you spend some time considering - just considering - the idea that equality, honesty and justice are important, meaningful words that could reflect our human endeavors.  Let that idea take root in your heart and in your life and see what happens. 

Kind regards

Rachel Mariner