Opinion: “Occupy Norwich” …
The strangest thing happened at the Occupy Norwich today; a man had his phone out and started to list the number of banks and business that had been occupied in other cities in the UK. The group of about 10 people around him all cheered and expressed general approval, dropping clichés into their
speech about “The Fight Back,” and “Tory Scum.” (You could tell that they were veteran “activists”.)
Then they all fell silent as one of the organisers jumped onto a soap box and started to organise a march to city hall. He gave a fairly standard speech, but ended it with“Don’t block the roads, don’t block the paths, remember the police are part of the 99%.”, I think he even went on to say “don’t annoy any one.”
The group, which moments before had been supporting the occupations nationally, smiled, cheered support and followed the slow moving crowd forward.
In their heads they really couldn’t see a contradiction at all.
And to be honest I think that quite nicely sums up what’s currently wrong with Occupy Norwich.
There was nothing stopping us that day from going to close down one or more of the tax dodging shops. 10 NCAG members closed down Vodaphone for a couple of hours. I didn’t really feel I could suggest that after being told not to block the roads. Maybe this would have led to us being attacked by the media, but you’re not going to change anything by doing what the papers want. A successful protest movement cannot organise itself in accordance with the preferences of the Daily Mail editorial board.
If we want to succeed, Occupy Norwich has to be very careful. We keep hearing that the police were part of the 99%, and of course that’s correct; by definition, most people are part of the 99%. But the fact that someone is part of the 99% doesn’t mean anything; if you had an abusive parent, they’re still part of your family, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hit them over the head with a big log.
As we were being told how lovely the police are, Occupy Wall Street was under attack. Solidarity is not a word, it’s an action.
If Occupy Norwich actually becomes successful then it risks suffering the same fate as the Anti- Fascist movement, the Animal Rights movements, and the Environmental movement. The “leadership”(or whoever the police consider to be the leaders) will be arrested, their houses, and the houses of their friends, will be raided. People will be arrested at work so that they lose their jobs. If it maintains its current attitude to the police then this will happen even sooner.
This is what the police do to political organisations; look at Antifa, look at the Animal Liberation Front, look at the Radical Green Movements.
Unsuccessful movements are left alone, or turned into stewards (see the SWP).
I guess what I am saying is that, while it’s true that the police are part of the 99%, so are paedophiles and mime artists; that doesn’t mean we should hand over our children and watch them “perform their art”.
If we want to succeed, Occupy Norwich is going to have to risk pissing some people off. It’s going to have to risk taking certain actions which may get it bad press, and when it does, it must fight back by putting its actions into context by explaining why it has acted the way it has.
If Occupy Norwich doesn’t do something, people will stop turning up. People won’t keep turning up to stand around outside and be preached at.
Unless we want to become a slightly sickening, self satisfied parody of the real “Occupy” movements, we have have to act, and now.
Occupy Norwich doesn’t simply need to take to the streets and chant. We need to take over buildings and fight back, otherwise we may as well simply stay at home.