Tag Archives: values

What’s Occupy about, again?

DISCLAIMER: what follows is just one person’s opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of other Occupiers!

One of the things that attracted me to Occupy is the fact that it is not a ‘single-issue’ campaign. It not only acknowledges the interconnections between issues but actively uncovers, investigates and highlights them. I come from an environmentalist perspective… it was only a year or so ago that I realised how impossible it is to focus purely on the natural world when the attacks on it are rooted in economic and political machinations. Now I want to delve deeper into untangling the unholy mess we’ve made and while economics is a big part of the picture, it isn’t the only part.

Lobbying of politicians by big business; power-mongering by the 1%; gambling and game-playing by financiers; rapacious consumption and correlating ecological destruction; muzzling and oppression of the majority; warping of democracy; secrecy and lies in the corridors of power; war for profit… all these are pieces of the rather nasty jigsaw-puzzle picture of our world.

I do believe that Occupy should focus on causes rather symptoms – I’d rather try to bring down the government than march against the Welfare Reform Bill or house an alcoholic – but I see the root cause of the current unjust systems as being something deeper than the government or our economic house of cards. The bottom line is a screwed up value system that puts profit before people, before planet. Our priorities are all wrong, all over the world. Almost. There are still tribal cultures that favour collaboration over competition and we should emulate them.

I believe that Occupy should be pointing out real-life, practical alternatives to the exploitative and destructive groove that many of us are stuck in. Transition towns, co-operative networks, eco-villages, permaculture projects, guerilla gardening, indymedia, Move-Your-Money and money-free experiments (freecycle, LETS etc) are all occurring already. Some are new, some not. Occupy doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel but can shine a light on these initiatives and use them to demonstrate that our desire to live in a world of social and economic justice and environmental sustainability is not a ridiculous fantasy.

If there was global political will to make the world a better place, it could be done. Politicians must be made to serve the people or be cast aside (true democracy). The 1% need to be taught how to share and if they won’t be taught they must be forced (end tax havens and tax avoidance). Those at the head of giant companies and financial institutions must be held accountable for their actions (investigate, name-and-shame, boycott, blockade, occupy). Lobbying, control of the media and funding of research/think-tanks must be transparent (do it all again).

There’s so much for Occupy to do. It’s all inextricably connected and while it doesn’t form a neat sound-bite, I’ve found that it isn’t difficult to explain to anyone willing to spend five minutes with me. Usually, after a minute, they’ve begun to join in, to explain it to me. We the 99% are not stupid, just tired from struggling against injustice. The recent ‘austerity measures’ have kicked many into awareness. Occupy has added a dash of hope that things can change, that it is possible to challenge the powerful.

We need to keep that up. Spread hope, educate, listen, practice and highlight alternatives to the current system, shame and inflict pain on the powerful, tread lightly on the earth and tend our global networks. Revolutionise banking, okay. But we’re bigger than that and we can do more.

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Ten Commitments

Thanks to C.F-D., a regular day-visitor to OccupyLSX, for this idea.

Democracy, equality, inclusivity, respect, honesty and free-flow of information are central tenets of the OccupyLSX camp and many Occupations worldwide. By committing ourselves to the following ten principles of behaviour, I believe we’d make our camp a more pleasant, safe and productive space… and potentially a model for wider society. If the whole world signed up to these TEN COMMITMENTS, imagine what kind of place it might become…

These Commitments have not been agreed by OccupyLSX. I read them out at a General Assembly and received a warm response but on a second reading failed to achieve consensus. The Strategy Working Group is now considering how to present such a code of values as part of the Occupy strategy.


1. We aim to provide for basic human needs (for example food, clean water, shelter, warmth, security, community, education, leisure, meaningful pursuits) and to nurture the best qualities of humanity (for example co-operation, compassion, creativity).

2. We respect each other and members of our wider communities.

3. Individuals and groups have responsibility to their wider communities.

4. Individuals and groups take responsibility for caring for their immediate and wider environment.

5. We strive to achieve the best possible balance between the needs, rights and responsibilities of individuals.

6. We agree to work transparently and to act with honesty and integrity.

7. We are committed to achieving real democracy, in which every voice is listened to.

8. We believe that decisions are best informed by knowledge, hence we aim to provide and encourage education, research and skill-shares.

9. We aim to remain peaceful in all situations.

10. We aim to create a just, fair and equal society which does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexuality, class, nationality, ability or belief system – so long as the belief system is in accordance with the values contained in these commitments.

Comments welcome.

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