Occupy London is 50 days old – now it's time to Occupy Everywhere

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Mon Dec 5 23:37:35 GMT 2011

Occupy London is 50 days old – now it's time to Occupy Everywhere
We're undeterred by recent criticism, and 
determined to rise to the challenge of accountability – unlike the banks

Naomi Colvin and Bryn Phillips - guardian.co.uk, 
Sunday 4 December 2011 18.30 GMT

Occupy London is 50 days old on Monday and it's 
time to take stock. Unlike those occupations 
across the world that started off small and were 
able to expand gradually, our occupation was born 
in the full glare of the media on 15 October, a 
"big bang" launch that meant we had to hit the 
ground running. Since then we have expanded to 
three sites across three London boroughs, each of 
which is a hive of activity. We currently have 39 
working groups based at St Paul's alone, 
operating across topic areas as diverse as direct 
democracy, outreach and sanitation.

As a non-hierarchical movement, Occupy is 
inextricably a joint endeavour. Everyone who 
joins us – even for an evening – holds equal 
decision-making weight. At the same time, for 
those of us who are fully immersed in the 
process, Occupy is a challenging full-time job 
that is often combined with other commitments. 
Seeing the sacrifices people make to keep this project going has been humbling.

Over the last week or so, there have been a 
variety of news stories – some better intentioned 
than others – challenging us to aspire to even 
higher levels of efficiency, transparency and 
accountability. We take it as a compliment that, 
after only seven weeks, we are regarded as 
significant enough to warrant the kind of tough 
questioning that much more powerful organisations 
find hard to respond to. Unlike them, we intend to rise to the challenge.

Contrary to reports, there has been no expenses 
scandal at St Paul's. It is true that our finance 
team has stepped down, but certainly not due to 
any kind of impropriety. One of the lessons of 
horizontal decision-making is that everyone in 
the community needs to take responsibility for 
the occasional hiccups in our system. Members of 
the old finance team are very involved in 
discussions about what the new system should look 
like; they're also helping to make sure that 
donations are handled responsibly in the interim period.

Proposals for our reconfigured finance team are 
being debated. Ideas on the table include asking 
working groups to become more responsible for 
raising and allocating funds, and increasing 
participation in the finance team to ensure that 
more of the on site population understands what 
it is they do, and to ensure that our accounts are published regularly.

We have made this journey over just seven weeks 
with limited resources. Is the financial industry 
also up to the challenge of transparency and 
openness? We already know about the position of 
the City of London Corporation: they've had the 
last thousand years to publish their accounts, 
but refuse to publicly discuss the issue.

If a week is a long time in politics, then seven 
weeks is an age in terms of the news cycle. It's 
natural that the mainstream media focus on 
moments of perceived conflict and drama – but 
when people ask us if we haven't already made our 
point, we see the result these emphases have on 
people's expectations. Unfortunately, as even 
George Osborne has admitted this week, the 
financial crisis is not going away. The need not 
only to highlight problems but to identify new 
ways forward, could not be clearer. We need to 
build new civic institutions to shield us from 
the excesses of government policy and to defend 
us from the ravages of the market. Our work is not nearly done.

Occupy London has an incredible headquarters at 
St Paul's, but our movement is bigger than any 
one site. We know it's away from central London 
that the impact of the recession is being felt 
hardest. Moving forward, we intend to prove 
ourselves with acts of community outreach like 
our "public repossession" "bank of ideas" in 
Hackney, to create a truly "big" society. Local 
groups that have lost their funding are already 
reconvening in our corridors as we help them in carrying out their vital work.

All over the world, the public is waking up to 
the fact that the crises of unregulated finance, 
broken democracy and corrupt institutions will 
not be solved by those who caused them. Occupy 
London invites those who feel similarly to take 
the movement into their own communities: it's time to Occupy Everywhere.
+44 (0)7786 952037
"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."

"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic 
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung

Fear not therefore: for there is nothing covered 
that shall not be revealed; and nothing hid that 
shall not be made known. What I tell you in 
darkness, that speak ye in the light and what ye 
hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. Matthew 10:26-27

Die Pride and Envie; Flesh, take the poor's advice.
Covetousnesse be gon: Come, Truth and Love arise.
Patience take the Crown; throw Anger out of dores:
Cast out Hypocrisie and Lust, which follows whores:
Then England sit in rest; Thy sorrows will have end;
Thy Sons will live in peace, and each will be a friend.

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