Occupy 2012

Looming evictions combine with a desire to stay fresh, engage more people and keep on kicking the system. There’s a vertiginous sense of standing on the brink of something massive, of making history… and a parallel fear that Occupy could stumble and disappear down a crack leaving only a cyber-echo and a few thousand flyers to remember us by. The one percent would surely like us to shut up and go home now but in assembly after assembly strident voices reject that idea. New Year resolve is strong.We’re here to stay.”

For some Occupiers it’s all about the tents. Symbolic tents, tents for practical reasons, strategic tents, even tents as costume for comedic effect. Tents allow a sustained presence and protest that has proved so much more effective than one-day marches and demonstrations. Tents make Occupy special and there’s no way all the tents will be packed up… and yet many envisage Occupy 2012 looking a little different.

Occupy is ingenious, Occupy is branching out in multiple directions. There are so many things wrong with the current system; so many methods of protesting and raising awareness; so many different priorities; a myriad potential solutions. Evolution, revolution, direct action, dialogue. There’s no need to choose one route, one tactic, one answer. Occupy is strong in its diversity. Occupy can and will mount attacks on all fronts. Peacefully.

There will be more occupations, of buildings and land. Outreach to schools and community groups will expand. Watch Occupy work with Transition communities, permaculturists and co-operatives to set up practical, grass-roots alternatives to current unsustainable systems. Finsbury Square may become the first Occupy eco-village. There will be solidarity actions alongside Unions, low-paid workers and students. Tent City Universities will go On Tour. There may be excursions into mainstream politics. Church liaisons are likely. Temple, mosque and synagogue liaisons too and perhaps a strengthening of links with the quietly radical Quakers. Look out for General Assemblies springing up in town squares and on village greens across the land.

Occupy London’s Criminal Investigation Unit will be delving into the dirty secrets of the corrupt and greedy elite. There are plans afoot for an Occupy festival and an Occupiers’ Handbook. A diploma in Occupied Economics was launched by Tent City University in the last days of 2011. Button badges and pop-up debates will tickle the fancies of city-workers and tourists. Flash mobs, street theatre and Occupy Circus will provide generous sprinklings of irreverent frolicsome fun and to balance that there’ll be more tough learning and hardship. Dedication and a commitment to the long-haul will be required for building the kinds of communities we dream of. Everyone – including the top dogs at the Cathedral but perhaps excluding the City of London Corporation – is keen for Occupy to keep a presence at St Paul’s, where we can keep the London Stock Exchange in our sights and maintain a steady pressure on the City.

The Occupy Movement is not going away. On the contrary, it’s a hydra sprouting new heads daily. Preparing for crisis, planning for Utopia.

Come, join us!

Sheffield will be hosting the UK National Occupy Gathering January 21-23.

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