Occupy LSX was always a raggedy, unstable vessel but she had a fantastic crew and was sailing through beautiful waters. Over time, one by one, crew members lowered themselves into little dinghies and onto rafts and paddled away to enticing islands and shorelines. Some rested there, others built new villages or reinvigorated tired communities, all the while spreading the Occupy message about creating a better world. Meanwhile, some of us remained on board OLSX, to read the maps and mop the decks and to fly the Occupy London flag.
Time passed. Much good work was done as we sailed through increasingly choppy seas. Many rafts were built and launched by passionate and inspirational voyagers. Unfortunately this meant that there were fewer and fewer active members of crew on board the flagship. Those residing on board but contributing little began to raid the stores and vomit on the decks. Stowaways clambered from the holds and ran riot over the rigging. Amidst mutiny the ship was boarded by pirates who pissed on the navigation charts.
Remaining true-crew members made several valiant efforts to get back on course but these failed. On a few occasions it was suggested that the Occupy flag be lowered, rolled up and paddled away to the island of Finsbury, allowing the pirates to raise their own skull and crossbones. A flurry of excitement amongst like-minded souls came to little and all movements towards the flagpole were repelled.
OLSX has been a pirate ship in disguise for the last couple of weeks. Those guarding the ship’s bounty – the jewels, the scrolls, the finest rum – have been sitting atop the treasure chest clinging to each other while beating off attacks from drunks and thieves. Repeatedly the attackers have turned on each other, leaving the guardians to develop their gallows’ humour. Meanwhile, one or two passengers discuss philosophy on the upper deck, absurdly oblivious to the uproar below.
It’s been fun but it can’t go on.
After today’s rejection of the OLSX court appeals, I’d like to see Occupy London make a strategic choice to remove itself from St Paul’s, with dignity. The OLSX camp has served the purpose of getting the Occupy message out and it is time to move on to mobile and fluid variations of Occupy, with Finsbury Square eco-village as our low-key base for now.
St Paul’s has been our womb. Being born is scary, we’ll be vulnerable… but I have every faith that we’ll survive and grow strong. We need to learn to walk before May Day, when we’ll be setting off on a two-month stroll around the boroughs of London, connecting with neighbourhoods and sharing experiences with other members of the disenfranchised 99%… who will perhaps be inspired to rise up and Occupy in the future.
It may be that we leave behind at St Paul’s a political statement – people with nowhere to go and no purpose, camping out and hungry in the shadow of our grandest church next to one of the centres of world finance. Perhaps the City, the Church, charities and religious groups would like to take over from Occupy in providing for those people. We could leave behind a small crew of volunteers to act as interim welfare workers and to explain that this is no longer a political protest but a refugee camp.
Nomads often settle in one spot for a season to make use of what resources are there at that time. We’ve had our winter at St Paul’s. We made use of the media, of public curiosity and support, of the fact that members of the church were on our side. Nomads don’t drain resources to the point where they’ll never regrow. The season is done, it’s time to pack up and roam over new pastures, in readiness for the abundance of Spring. March is just days away. Green shoots are sprouting.
Occupy 2.0 is happening already. Occupy 2.0 is targeting multinational corporations, taking General Assemblies on tour, teaching Citizenship classes, making music at Occupation Records, providing quality alternative media with The Occupied Times, empowering children through Rockupy, connecting with communities on the Boroughs’ Walk… Occupy will continue to challenge the privatisation of public space, the restriction of the right to protest, shady lobbying, the undemocratic nature of the City of London and injustices wherever we find them. We have tricks up our sleeves and will leave no stone unturned. Come and join us!