Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Thoughts on the Occupy movement.

I have to admit I was a bit skeptical at first at seeing the start of the protests. My first thoughts were probably the same as many: Why do people think that standing around shouting things is going to make even the slightest difference?

This was followed up with the more practical question of: How can these people afford to be spending the foreseeable future living in central London? I doubt my bank balance would afford me more than a couple of weeks - even if I was living in a tent.

But despite these questions, as things have advanced and I have learned more about what is going on in the movement and how they are organised, I have found my support for them, and indeed their ideals, growing.

Oddly enough, the thing I like most about them is the same thing that seems to annoy the mainstream media more than anything else. Which is that they seem to have no fixed aims or agenda. Instead they have turned up to say that there is something very wrong with the way things are being done at the moment. Something wrong in the heart of the way things are run in our countries. They're not offering a defined solution, but instead are giving a voice to a thought that many people have: This can't be the only way! And yet that is what we are told. It's what most of us have been conditioned to believe in many cases: That the system we have now is the best of all the bad choice. But is that the truth? Maybe it was at one point, but the world has moved on since the times of Adam Smith - capitalism and politics have moved on to something far beyond what was imagined. What's so wrong with standing up and questioning if there is another way that things can be done?

My doubts about our system come when I look at what's been happening with the Euro and Greece. Most governments and newspapers looking to see how this all seeing beast the we must worship – namely “THE MARKET” - will react to the choices that are made. Yet there seems to be much less concern as to how people are reacting. Likewise in government, where it it often feels that this “MARKET” creature is in charge of ratifying all decisions made by minsters and I can't help but wonder when did this all start? When the markets start to trump democracy?

The other complaint I have often heard against the protesters is that they should follow proper political process. That they should put up candidates for election and have the people vote on what they want and I would agree with this, but for the rigged system of politics that we have. Yes things are far better than they are in say China, Iran or many other countries around the world. But these two party systems, both in the UK and USA, that are both swamped with money contributed by “THE MARKET” are hardly fully fledged bastions of true democracy. Nor is the first past the post system by which people are elected, or the whips by which they are controlled. As such, new parties and small groups have little chance of success in a game where the rules are made by the bigger parties.

So will I be pitching a tent in the capital? Well... no. In part because I couldn't afford it and in part because I live in China - I doubt that sort of thing would go down well in Beijing (It is good to grateful of the freedoms we do have). But I am supportive of what the protesters are doing. It's true that they might not have the right answers, but at least they are there asking the right questions.

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