Directors Earnings up by 49%. Still wondering what the Occupy movement is all about?

01.11.2011 - London - Silvia Swinden

The Media’s favourite description of the Occupy movement is “anticapitalist” which does not even *begin* to describe what is taking place in hundreds of sites across the world. Society’s moral compass is not lost but alive and well and living in the Occupations.

The recent announcement that the Directors of the FTSE 100 companies have awarded themselves a 49% increase to an average of £2.7m, whilst the rest of the population make do with 1-2% or no job at all and ex-prime ministers like Thatcher and Blair are claiming huge expenses from the public purse for doing nothing very useful keep adding to the reasons for the occupation. Now debunked newspapers smears about empty tents and undisclosed “health and safety” concerns have only strengthened the protester’s resolve.

The City of London Corporation is seeking eviction of the campsite whilst St Paul’s Cathedral cannot reach consensus. In the last few days three resignations in response to criticisms from various Christian groups have shaken the famous London landmark (and the role of religion itself) to the core. It goes a bit like this: should it not be the responsibility of the Church to follow Christ’s example and expel the traders instead of the people? It also appears that St Paul was a tent maker. Some Christian groups have offered to form a ring of prayer around the camp in case the Police attempt to move the occupation. And there has been a multidenominational (various religions and atheists) meeting in the stairs, and a flash mob meditation.

It would be a pity if the Cathedral and Corporation of London’s shenanigans and legal threats distracted from the objective of the occupation, to raise awareness about growing social inequality and ruthless concentration by the financial sector. However, the occupation itself and the fact that it is a global phenomenon seems to be keeping the theme in the public eye, and there have been some very good articles in the mainstream media in recent days echoing the concerns of the Occupation, such as Polly Toynbee’s one for [The Guardian]( Some media criticisms have been surreal: calling the protesters jobless scroungers and then condemning them for abandoning their tens in the mornings to go to work. Others complained that the protest is not violent enough.

The Daily Show made an interesting point. Some of the people in the camps (not all, of course) are at the eccentric end of society. Perhaps there is a 1% of the population getting active, another 1% at the top being the target of the protests. The problem is that the other 98%, the more “normal” looking part, are still at home firmly glued to the telly, many of them sympathetic to the cause but too busy to even visit tent city, or perhaps make a stand in a different way, more suited to their style. The system keeps us busy so we feel we have neither the time nor the energy to try to change it, even when confronted with the evidence that it is not working.

One of the remarkable, if unexpected, side effects of the London occupation is the investigation into the undemocratic power structure of the City of London, completely dominated by big corporations thanks to up to now unchallenged anachronistic laws, as described by [George Mombiot]( Coincidentally (?) it has also come to light that Prince Charles has a kind of power of veto over legislation that may affect his financial interests:[The Guardian]( Investigations into corruption and shady deals by Ministers and government condoned tax dodging (UK Uncut is threatening legal action against Goldman Sachs over this) are warnings that the sewers are opening and we should prepare ourselves for more outrage, like spending £76bn on a New Trident (nuclear weapons) system whilst privatising and rationing the Health Service.

What is most hopeful, however, is that the tone in the campsites is jolly, optimistic, creative, spiritual, nonviolent, and although some express their anger, the majority spend their time setting up the basis for a new and positive society.

Categories: Europe, International, Opinions, Politics


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