Archive for the ‘St Paul’s in-the-Camp’ Category

PostCapitalism: Envisaging a Shared Future

November 3, 2015
St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral

Paul Mason signing PostCapitalism

Paul Mason signing PostCapitalism

Paul Mason discussing PostCapitalism, the conclusions of a shared economy not the analysis, at St Paul’s in the City of London, under the auspices of St Paul’s Institute.

St Paul’s within the heart of the City of London. Does capitalism have a heart?

A couple of years ago, Occupy were camped outside offering a different narrative.

Capitalism is a complex system. Every complex system adapts to its environment, and in doing so, modifies its environment. There comes though a point when it can no longer adapt, it breaks downs, flips to another state, dies and its niche occupied by another complex system.

Below St Paul’s, lies a Roman Temple dedicated to Diana. St Paul’s is built on the site of a medieval cathedral.

The Roman Temple was built by military occupiers, probably using slave labour. The medieval cathedral by a feudal system. Wren’s St Paul’s built by mercantile capital.

Capitalism is not set in stone, though the City of London would have us believe so. Mercantile capitalism was followed by industrial capitalism, now we have financial capitalism.

Capital used to finance innovation, invest in productive systems, this generated wealth, from which we all benefited. Now we have financial capitalism, money is invested to create money, silly money chases silly projects like Uber and AirBnB.

Post-WWII we had growth through the 1950s and 1960s. It came to an abrupt end in 1973.

We are seeing boom and bust, bubbles, but no real growth. Crisis follows crisis. We are not seeing innovation.

Marxist Theory of Value, land, capital and labour, determines price. We now have a fourth factor, knowledge, intellectual property.

We have global monopolies, the like of which we have never seen. Companies like Apple. It costs 99 cents to download a track, because that is what Apple says it will cost. It is not determined by the market. Same applies to an iPhone. Apple uses its monopoly position to determine the price.

But this is not sustainable. Knowledge is free, it can be freely reproduced.

Check out FairPhone, or One Plus One or One Plus Two. Contrast with the latest offering from Apple or Samsung.

The price of stuff is tending to zero. Price is a signal on which the market functions. If the price is zero, the market can not function.

We need to move to open co-ops, a sharing, collaborative, gift economy, where we all contribute to the global commons, and draw upon the global commons.

Linux was created by collaborative effort, as was Apache. The internet runs on Linux and Apache, on Open Source Software, the world’s supercomputers run on Linux.

We can achieve more through collaboration, sharing, cooperating. Hierarchical systems are not efficient cannot easily adapt, networked systems are efficient, can rapidly adapt.

The share of wages of the global economy is declining. It is being driven by credit, confected money. If workers lack money in their pocket to spend, we are heading to crunch time.

Many jobs are robotic in nature can and should be replaced by robots. Freeing people to pursue more productive lives. This would necessitate a Basic Wage, sufficient to live on.

Agora is a bar in a quiet plaza in Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife. It is difficult to sit on ones own, people draw one into their conservations. These are externalities, which makes Agora an interesting place to be. Agora benefits because sells more drinks. Contrast this with facebook, we all contribute, we are the product, we produce the content,  facebook then profits, it captures and privatises the externalities.

Ann Pettifor gave a synopsis of PostCapitalism, but in her criticism, showed she had read but not understood. She confused Uber and AirBnB with the sharing economy. A common mistake.

Uber is a cowboy, unregulated taxi operation which offers unfair competition to legitimate taxi operators. The drivers take all the risks, Uber creams off the profits, and pays no tax.

Uber is often used as an example for what is referred to as the sharing economy, but in reality, and and there are many other examples, we have surfs working for apps.

Ann Pettifor is correct to raise her grave concern at this rapidly growing sector of the economy, but should not confuse it with the sharing gift economy, collaborative commons.

Phillip Blond seemed to have completely lost the plot. He talked of morality, bringing justice and fair play into the world. He did not understand the concept of artificial scarcity, monopoly, which forces up the price of what should be freely available. He talked of expensive art. His point though that all could be producers, was relevant. In the sharing, collaborative commons, we all have the opportunity to become producers and consumers, often making our own unique contribution.

Elizabeth Oldfield chaired the meeting. One of her rare interjections was to ask Ann Pettifor the meaning of rentier economy. Earning money from money, not from hard graft, getting your hands dirty, not from labour or the land.

Why is your book not free?

A good question. When we create, we draw upon what went before. Working for the Channel 4 and before that the BBC, public money has paid for the work.

We could also ask, why Penguin, why a big corporate publisher? Why not Zed Books, a small publisher, a co-operative, is that not more in keeping with the ideals of PostCapitalism? The Global Minotour is published by Zed Books, as is Change Everything. Or why not publish Unbound Books, which crowd funds books? It could be argued exposure, Penguin gets books on the shelves. But does not a book like PostCapitalism spread by word of mouth?

A hardback, a real book, real costs, paper, trees, shipping, warehousing, shelving, booksellers. With an e-book, the costs are zero. The costs of the servers written off years ago. Robots convert to appropriate download formats. Any publisher that charges more than a pound is blatantly ripping people off.

hardback

  • Foyles — £16-99
  • Guardian Live — £15-00
  • Penguin — £14-00
  • Amazon — £11-89

e-book

  • Kindle — £9-99
  • Kobo — £9-99
  • Google Play — £9-99

A couple of years ago, Paulo Coelho offered his entire back catalogue at 99 cents an e-book, a book for the price of a song. Downloads shot up by several thousand percent.

Jeremy Rifkin received a lot of stick for the high price for the e-book of The Zero Marginal Cost Society, a book the entire thesis the collaborative economy and the cost of stuff tending to zero.

Contrast with Sacred Economics, available for free download, pay what you wish, accept it as a gift from the author. What will you gift in return?

Or Europe after the Minotaur, an update of The Global Minotaur, available as a free download.

Phillip Blond spoke of friendship.

In the sharing economy, everything has a story, a social interaction involved. Not an anonymous purchase in exchange for cash.

I gave a friend a special 25th anniversary limited edition of The Alchemist. I have never before seen someone jump for joy. She did, when she looked inside and saw it was signed, not only signed but signed to her. She could not contain her joy, she ran across the road to tell her mother.

Would she have had the same joy had she bought a copy for cash? Yes, she would have had the pleasure of reading but one copy would be no different to another, replaceable if you have the cash.

If I go away, I do not load a Kobo Reader (far better than Kindle), I take real books. When I have read, I give them away.

I have bought four copies of PostCapitalism. I gave my orignal copy away to my friend. Ten days ago, on my way to Yanis Varoufakis in conversation with Paul Mason, I bought a copy of PostCapitalism to replace the one I had given away. At the venue I bought a copy, then a second copy, of The Global Minotaur. Sadly I did not get them signed. This evening, I brought along my copy of PostCapitalism, and bought two more. One signed for me, two to be given away as gifts.

Having bought four copies, should I not be entitled to free e-books?

Every book should have a unique code, use it to download the e-book. You have already paid for the book, the only difference is the format within which you read the book.

If I give my work away free, should others profit from my work?

Michel Bauwens, founder of P2P Foundation and leading advocate of the sharing economy, has suggested a new type of  licencing agreement. Contribute to the commons, from which all can freely draw, but if for-profit draw then they pay a contribution.

Those not familiar with the sharing, collaborative economy, are dismissive, think it will not work, they often give music as an example, people will not pay they will abuse the system.

Bandcamp shows they are wrong. Musicians will release their work, often at low price with people opting to pay what they think it is worth. Fans will willingly pay more than the asking price.

Sita Sings the Blues was released without the usual copyright restrictions. People can show, they are trusted to pay the producer.

In the spirit of the gift economy, tickets were free. Less than one hundred tickets still available the day before. On the night, not a single ticket left, 2,500 people. What will be their contribution to the gift economy, having accepted a gift? Mine, you have just read.

An ideal follow up meeting would be Paul Mason in conversation with Michel Bauwens discussing the sharing, collaborative economy.

Paul Mason is author of PostCapitalism and economics editor of Channel 4 news.

Sacred Economics

February 3, 2014
Tenerife sunset sea wall Puerto de la Cruz

Tenerife sunset sea wall Puerto de la Cruz

We’ve all been given a gift, the gift of life. What we do with our lives is our gift back. — Edo

And what greater service shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving? — Kahil Gibran

The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed. — Mahatma Gandhi

Usury is not allowed in Christianity. Mediaeval theologians performed somersaults to enable usury.

Usury is not allowed in Islam. We now have Islamic banks that redefine usury.

Dig down into any problem today, and you find money and greed is the root cause:

  • pollution — money and greed
  • banking crisis — money and greed
  • extremes of wealth and poverty — money and greed

How do we value

  • clean air
  • a butterfly
  • an ancient woodland
  • music that sends a shiver down our spine
  • a rainbow
  • a sunset

Is Man a machine, whose sole purpose is to engage in mindless consumption?

How do we see a mountain. To one a sacred site where the gods reside, to a another, a repository of minerals. Two viewpoints, two entirely different, diametrically opposite and conflicting outcomes.

Too many people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

We are a part of nature. As soon as we see ourselves apart from nature, we put a price on nature, we no longer value nature.

When we put a price on nature, we think we can exploit nature, control nature.

Have we been able to control

  • the floods that hit England
  • the Polar Vortex that hit North America
  • the typhoon that hit the Philippines
  • the tsunami that hit Asia
  • the volcano that engulfed Pompeii

Money is a means of exchange, it saves us having to barter, the trouble of finding someone who has what we need, who wants what we have.

Money the root of all evil? In Love Wins, Rob Bell says not. It is how you acquired, what you do with it. Wealth becomes a verb, not a noun. Possessions in themselves, have no value, it is what we do with them.

When a rich man asks Jesus about eternal life, he tells him he has as much chance of getting into heaven as passing through the eye of a needle. He tells him to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor. In other words, put your wealth to some good. He does not tell the poor to give up what little they have.

In Revelations, the people are removing their crowns.

One of the essays in Dark Mountain 4 describes a society in which status is determined not by the wealth you have accumulated but by the gifts you distribute.

A criticism levelled at the Occupy movement, and a decade before at the Anti-Globalisation moment, was that you are showing what is wrong, but you have no solutions. Those critics, usually those with a vested interest in maintaining the existing power structures, could not be more wrong. Had they attended Occupy St Paul’s, they would have found many many ideas and solutions being discussed, the same in Tahrir Square when Hosni Mubarak was toppled from power. What they will not find is one solution, the solution, yet another failed -ism.

Look at a tropical rainforest or an old growth forest and then compare it with a degraded ecosystem. In the first you will find many species each occupying its particular niche, each contributing to the web of life, each maintaining the whole, which creates the right living conditions for all. A degraded ecosystem, a few species.

The world today, the man-made world, resembles the degraded ecosystem, a lack of diversity. We need to celebrate diversity, a multifaceted approach, a network approach, localism, create more resilient systems that can withstand sudden shocks.

Charles Eisenstein, in keeping with his idea of a Gift Economy, gift to others with no expectation of return, you can purchase Sacred Economics from a bookshop (if you can find), download as an e-book (pay what you wish), or download for free.

Bandcamp in part, operates in this way. You can listen as often as you wish, you are encouraged to share, sometimes download for free or pay a low minimum price, pay what you wish. And surprisingly it works, people are willing to pay, and if they share, more people discover the music. A complete contrast to the greedy Big Record Labels, who rip off everyone and criminalise those who dare to share.

Steph Bradley spent six moons walking around the country, sharing and collecting tales of what is possible, what people are trying, and collecting together in Tales of Our Times.

Serendipity: And thanks to Steph Bradley for sharing Sacred Economics in Following Dreams.

Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth.

Top Story in A Special Gift Daily (Sunday 16 March 2014).

Cops off Campus

December 11, 2013

Not since the heyday of student protest in the late 1960s, early 1970s, have we seen student activism as we are now seeing. After decades of apathy, the students have finally woken, albeit late in the day, there is something wrong, very wrong in the world today.

And the authorities are running scared.

Adam Ramsey has documented the state of play, from up and down the country, and that may well be the tip of the iceberg.

What is university security for? One would hope it is to protect students, not to be used as an army of private security thugs at the beck and call of university authorities to beat up students.

From her vantage point in the library, looking out onto Malet Street, Alice Gambell has seen an increasing repressive police presence. The smallest, peaceful demonstration, and van loads of police turn up, often outnumbering the students. Understandable, students find this very intimidating, which no doubt is the intention.

I spend most of my time in the Birkbeck library with my head in books trying to understand the intricacies of the law. I sit in my usual place every day, a window seat overlooking Senate House and Malet Street, and when my concentration lapses I stare out of the window watching the day unfold. This means I get to see a lot of what is going on campus. I have seen all the protests go past Senate House, heard the Samba band rousing the crowd, watched various causes gather at Malet Street and listened to the speeches on the steps of SOAS. Even though all of these occasions may have distracted me from my studies it has always excited me to see so many different people coming together to stand up for what they believe in, it gives me hope.

The University of London is probably one of the most pluralistic environments I have ever been a part of, with people from so many different backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, sexualities and identities studying every day, coming together and joining in a constant dialogue. Being part of this environment has led me to learn about many different issues and ideas and made me, a person coming from a background of very little education and cultural diversity, a better, more worldly and confident person.

From the beginning of the year from my seat in the library overlooking Bloomsbury, I started to notice a police presence on campus. At first I thought it was a one off instance, but then I stated to notice them on a regular basis. Every time I was walking around campus or staring out of the window they were there. I saw them every day, sitting in vans next to Senate house, loitering around the Hari Krishna lunch queue, walking up and down Malet Street. This disturbed me and I found it oppressive.

I started to notice that whenever any political activity started to stir around campus the police were there like a shot. I am not talking about any “violent and intimidating” activity, as has been suggested by University of London’s Chris Cobb. This was simply the same political activity that I have been used to seeing since I started university here.

Even the smallest, and I am sorry to say meekest, of demos had a large oppressive police presence, with huge police vans next to it. Why are they here I kept thinking, what do they want, why are they looming over a tiny group of people who are standing there peacefully protesting about causes and issues for which they believe in? Causes and issues which have been taught by our lecturers, by the University of London. Lecturers that teach us to be critical of the law, of the police, of oppressive Government policy, of capitalism, of neo-liberalism and how all of these things have created so many injustices in the world.

Was it just me I thought, am I just being paranoid? I soon would out that it was not just me. When I started talking to other students they had noticed it too; they felt paranoid, oppressed; worried that their information had been recorded, it noted down that they were “political” and therefore to be watched. Who had authorised this? Who has decided that enthusiastic students were a threat that needed to be curtailed? It seems that our universities that teach us to be critical of the world around us and to stand up and fight for what believe in are now scared of the fact that they have taught us too much.

I started engaging with other students, listening to people I have never spoken to talking about the police always being on campus, butting into their conversations when I heard them talking about it, saying “excuse me, but have you noticed too?” and “yes” they would say, and we would all agree that something needs to be done about it. The university has become more oppressive, more restrictive and the university condoning a constant police presence on campus has made us want to fight back against it.

Before anyone starts thinking oh but you’re all just middle class white students that don’t like it when it happens to you. No we are not. We are students from so many different backgrounds, so many different races, some of us may be middle class, but some of us are poor, some of us have experienced police oppression outside our campuses, some of us have come from communities where there is police brutality, some of us have been arrested and some of us have been to prison.

Yes the university may be a different environment to that on the streets in London, but what is happening within our campus is testament to what is happening elsewhere: surveillance, social control, breeding a culture of fear, silence and oppression by attempts to curtail any form of dissent, political action and dialogue.

The fight back against police presence on campus is not just about cops on campus. We stand in solidarity for all who have been oppressed by the police. It does not invalidate our fight because we are university students. The university has enabled us in the past to stand up for what we believe and voice our issues in a safe space. By taking that away from us you radicalise us even more. I will no longer be watching from the window. I will be standing there on Wednesday and we won’t stop until we regain our Universities and our communities as places of free expression.

Last week, a peaceful demo in Malet Street. Left to its own devices, it would have taken place, the students then dispersed. But no, van loads of police turn up.

Now either the commanding officer is incredibly stupid, or this is a deliberate act of provocation.

Do the police have nothing better to do? As we all know, report a crime, and the police are too busy, lack the resources, to turn up.

Excellent analysis in The Guardian by Laura Penny.

The reason for the repression, is simple, fear. The authorities fear it will spread. Only their repression is counter-productive, it is waking students and others out of their stupor.

But they are too late. The students are already supporting the workers. They even crowd sourced to raise the money, to support the lowest paid workers. In turn, Unite, has given the students their full backing.

Today, a big Cops Off Campus protest took place.

Where was the mainstream reporting? Yet another media blackout.

When we see people take to the streets in Tahrir Square, in Gezi Park, in Kiev, we are told it is democracy. When it takes place in London, a deafening silence.

BBC Radio 4, on their flagship evening news programmes, on their ten o’clock news, on the midnight news, mention of Kiev, not a mention, not a murmur, of what is happening in London.

And even on Ukraine, we are not told it is EU, and now US, meddling, that is destabilising the country.

The people have lost all confidence in the political class, who with a few rare exceptions, are there to line their own pockets, get their snouts stuck well and truly in the trough.

We should not forget students and citizens in Greece, who are fighting similar battles and facing similar repression.

Student protest

December 10, 2013

Following decades of student apathy, the campuses are a stirring.

students leaving Cornwallis building following student sit-in at University of Kent at Canterbury  March 1970

students leaving Cornwallis building following student sit-in at University of Kent at Canterbury March 1970

The height of student protest was the late 1960s, early 1970s, then nada.

Centres of student radicalism, Kent and Sussex.

At Kent, students occupied the Cornwallis building and occupied it for weeks. The issues were student files and lack of accountability. The Free University of Canterbury in Kent was declared.

From the heyday of the late 1960s, early 1970s, nada, decades of student apathy, universities turned from centres of academic excellence to bums-on-seats businesses.

We see Coke machines, Starbucks, Subway on campuses. They would not have got a look in during the late 1960s, early 1970s.

Are universities and students no longer capable of running their own coffee bars, are those placing the contracts getting backhanders?

If you want an on-campus quality coffee shop (which immediately rules out Starbucks, Costa and Caffe Nero), then invite a local entrepreneur to run it, engage a skilled barista, train the students on the art of coffee making (it might be the only job they can find on graduating), serve quality coffee, quality food, occasional live music in the evening, a quiet area to sit and study.

UK Uncut and Occupy have shown the way forward, it is only through protest and occupation we move the agenda forward. Last month Civil Society walked out of the Climate Talks in protest at the hijacking by Big Oil, Big Coal.

Protest has become imaginative.

There has also been the expected brutal backlash.

New York last year we saw police brutality against Occupy New York. On a student campus, peaceful students were pinned to the ground and pepper spray sprayed into their eyes.

This year there has been police brutality against students at London University, at Sussex there has been intimidation by the Vice Chancellor.

At Sussex, the students are protesting at privatisation. The response of the Vice Chancellor has been heavy handed and completely over the top.

On Wednesday evening, after coming home from work, I found an email in my inbox from the vice-chancellor of my university. It told me that I was suspended from the University of Sussex, meaning I am unable to go on to campus, attend classes, or be involved with any societies and campaigns. I am unable to access teaching, resources, or even attend my doctor’s surgery.

If the Vice Chancellor of Sussex thinks intimating students, will stop protest, then he is not fit for purpose and should resign with immediate effect. It goes without saying, the suspended students should be reinstated forthwith, and receive an unconditional apology.

The university authorities lacked even the common courtesy to call the students in, they were sent an e-mail.

Please sign the petition calling for the suspended students to be reinstated and add your voice calling for the Vice Chancellor to resign.

At the University of London, an occupation was broken up by security thugs and Met Police using extreme violence, one student punched in the face and knocked to the ground, others report being physically attacked by security thugs and police.

We are still investigating what happened inside, but initial reports indicate that protesters were assaulted by both police and security: thrown to the ground, kicked and punched, and dragged to the ground by their hair.

The level of police force that we have seen in the last couple of days is totally unprecedented on university campuses. It appears pre-planned. It is as if they are reacting to a riot situation — taking the level of force — and using it against students protesting on a university campus.

Michael Chessum, president of the University of London Union, was arrested on his way home for organising an unauthorised protest against the forced closure by the university authorities of the London Student Union building.

The demonstration Michael helped organise in his role as ULU President was peaceful and part of a proud history of student dissent. The students protest didn’t even leave the pavement for goodness sake!

Is it Turkey, Egypt or England? It is becoming increasingly difficult to tell. Authoritarian rule, zero tolerance of dissent, violent repression.

A Cops off Campus National Day of Action has been called for Wednesday 11 December 2013. The Cops off Campus protest will take place at the University of London and campuses across the country.

In the past month universities across the country have been subject to unprecedented levels of violence from the police, targeting a resurgent wave of activism against the privatisation of the university system.

Across the country, students are initiating a vibrant, popular, winnable fight for democratic and public universities, free from exploitation and repression. We cannot be beaten if we stand together.

If you cannot protest on a university campus against policies of the university where can one protest? Are universities not meant to be bastions of free thought?

The reason we are seeing this clampdown, is that authorities are paranoid at protest. They realise that the reaction, not only of students, but of Civil Society, is that enough is enough, they have had enough of Austerity, and see it for what it really is, Shock Doctrine, an excuse for slash and burn of public services, of cutting welfare.

We are seeing not only brutal crackdown, we are also seeing a failure of the mainstream media to report.

Last month two protests took place in London. There was a deafening silence from the mainstream media.

Originally published on Medium.

Istanbul park protests sow the seeds of a Turkish spring

June 1, 2013

A protest in a small Istanbul park has become a lightning rod for grievances against the government, and it could be explosive.

Taksim Gezi Park protest in Istanbul

Taksim Gezi Park protest in Istanbul

This morning, Turkish police surrounded protesters in Taksim Gezi park, the central square in Istanbul, blocked all exits and attacked them with chemical sprays and teargas.

An Occupy-style movement has taken off in Istanbul. The ostensible issue of conflict is modest. Protesters started gathering in the park on 27 May, to oppose its demolition as part of a redevelopment plan. But this is more than an environmental protest. It has become a lightning conductor for all the grievances accumulated against the government.

Police have waited until the early hours of each morning to attack, just as police in the US did when dealing with Occupy protesters. They set fire to the tents in which protesters were sleeping and showered them with pepper spray and teargas. A student had to undergo surgery after injuries to his genitals.

The occupiers adapted and started to wear homemade gas masks. More importantly, they called for solidarity. In response to yesterday’s assault, thousands of protesters turned up, including opposition politicians. But this morning’s attack allowed no defence or escape. The park, and the area around it, is still closed, and still under clouds of gas.

In April, a Justice and Development party (AKP) leader warned that the liberals who had supported them in the last decade would no longer do so. This was as good a sign as any that the repression would increase, as the neoliberal Islamist party forced through its modernisation agenda.

The AKP represents a peculiar type of conservative populism. Its bedrock, enriched immensely in the last decade, is the conservative Muslim bourgeoisie that first emerged as a result of Turgut Özal’s economic policies in the 1980s. But, while denying it is a religious party, it has used the politics of piety to gain a popular base and to strengthen the urban rightwing.

It has spent more than a decade in government building up its authority. The privatisation process has led to accelerated inequality, accompanied by repression. But it has also attracted floods of international investment, leading to growth rates of close to 5% a year. This has enabled the regime to pay off the last of its IMF loans, so that it was even in a position to offer the IMF $5bn to help with the Eurozone crisis in 2012.

In the meantime, the AKP has gradually consolidated its support within the state apparatus and media, and no longer needs its liberal backers. The Turkish military leadership has been compelled to accept the Islamists, having suffered a significant loss of power relative to other branches of the state such as the police and judiciary. While the erosion of the military’s power should be a gain for democracy, journalists have also ended up in jail on charges of plotting coup d’etats.

Of course, there is a history of coup plotting. And the government charged 86 people with plotting to bring down the government in 2008, as part of its investigation into the Turkish “deep state”. But it has been able to use this fear to conflate all opposition with anti-democratic instigation, and crush it ruthlessly. During this time, its vote has risen from 34.28% to 49.90%.

It has also demonstrated confidence in the way it has attempted to deal with the Kurdish question, and in its regional strategy. The government embarked on significant new negotiations with the Kurdish Workers party (PKK) in 2009, partly because it wants to forge a lucrative relationship with the Kurdish regional government in Iraq.

Under the AKP, Turkey has been increasing its relative autonomy from traditional supporters in the White House and Tel Aviv, forging close relations with Iran, Hezbollah and even – until recently – President Assad of Syria. This has been interpreted, hysterically, as “neo-Ottomanism”. It is simply an assertion of Turkey’s new power.

Thus strengthened, the government is on the offensive. It has never needed the left or the labour movement, which it has repressed. It no longer needs the liberals, as its attacks on women’s reproductive rights, and its imposition of alcohol-free zones, show.

This is the context in which a struggle over a small park in a congested city centre has become an emergency for the regime, and the basis for a potential Turkish spring.

— Richard Seymour

Published in The Guardian.

The attraction of Istanbul is the narrow streets, the independent shops, the bazaars and markets. The last thing Istanbul needs is a shopping mall. The last thing Istanbul needs is a park destroyed for a shopping mall.

FBI target Occupy Wall Street

December 28, 2012

FBI has been monitoring the activities of Occupy Wall Street.

This is nothing new for the FBI. They have previously targeted Civil Rights and Ant-War movements.

In the UK, Occupy London Stock Exchange were linked with terrorists.

When people campaign for democracy, a fairer society, they are treated as terrorists.

FBI should target real terrorists, the financial terrorists, the banks, the eco-terrorists, the coal and oil industry, the gun-totting killers, the psychos in the NRA.

What Is a Gift?

November 18, 2012

As the holiday season fast approaches, it has come to our attention that some of our city officials need some help understanding the concept of “gift.”

On Monday, NYCHA chairman John Rhea visited a public housing complex that had been without power, water, or heat since Hurricane Sandy. He told the residents they would be required to pay full rent despite having no services, but that they’d get a rent credit in January, calling it “a nice little Christmas present.”

It seems that Rhea needs a lesson in what constitutes a present and what doesn’t.

First, what a gift isn’t.

If you give someone something you stole from them, it’s not a gift. If you give someone money you owe them, it’s not a gift. If you wrongfully collect rent, knowing your tenants can legally refuse to pay because you’re not providing basic services, and then you give part of that rent back two months later — that’s certainly not a gift.

Got it? Good. Now, what a gift actually is.

If a city’s administration launches a coordinated attack on your movement, and then you come back to help save that city’s ass when its underfunded agencies find themselves helpless in the face of disaster — that’s a gift. If a city’s police force pepper-spray you, hit you with batons, and arrest you en masse for protesting Wall Street, and then, while that city (physically) bails out Wall Street, you pass out blankets to folks with no heat, develop a network of emergency shelters, and carry water up sixteen flights of stairs to public housing residents — that’s a gift. If a city violently evicts you from a park at which you provide free housing and medical care, and then you help provide it all over again when a storm renders thousands of new folks homeless — that’s a gift. A really, really nice one.

Last fall, the New York City mayor’s office and police department tried to shut down the Occupy Wall Street movement by every means at their disposal. This fall — working alongside many other grassroots groups, churches, and individuals to distribute donations and share resources with communities hit by the storm — Occupy has ended up doing the city’s job for them. While the city devoted huge efforts to making sure Wall Street could get back to work as quickly as possible, folks like these — who have never been given “presents” from the city — have stepped in to fill the void for everyone else.

For these people, such work is not a matter of gift-giving, but an act of common decency. They understand — unlike John Rhea — that food, medical attention, and livable housing are never “presents,” but basic human rights.

Visit interoccupy.net/occupysandy/ to help New York residents still struggling after Hurricane Sandy. The Yes Men’s new movie and platform explore how to take our democracy back.

Published in the Huffington Post.

Mitt Romney saw it as a photo opportunity. Occupy New York, rolled up their sleeves, got their hands dirty, were out on the street helping victims of Hurricane Sandy.

We are seeing a cultural shift taking place. From one direction Occupy, from the other those without work.

Occupy were right says senior Bank of England banker

October 31, 2012

Anyone who thinks the occupation outside St Paul’s had no impact should think again. Occupy were morally and intellectually right says Andrew Haldane, a member of the Bank of England financial policy committee.

Capitalism is Crisis

Capitalism is Crisis

Andrew Haldane, a member of the Bank’s financial policy committee, said the Occupy movement was correct in its attack on the international financial system.

The Occupy movement sprang up last year and staged significant demonstrations in both the City of London and New York, protesting about the unequal distribution of wealth and the influence of the financial services industry. Members of the movement occupied the grounds of St Paul’s and remained camped there for more than three months until police evicted them in February last year.

“Occupy has been successful in its efforts to popularise the problems of the global financial system for one very simple reason; they are right,” Mr Haldane said last night. Mr Haldane, the Bank’s executive director for financial stability, was speaking to Occupy Economics, an offshoot of the Occupy movement, at an event in central London.
In a speech entitled Socially Useful Banking, he said the protesters had helped bring about a “reformation” in financial services and the way they are regulated.

Partly because of the protests, he suggested, both bank executives and policymakers were persuaded that banks must behave in a more moral way, and take greater account of inequality in wider society.

“Occupy’s voice has been both loud and persuasive and policymakers have listened and are acting,” he said. “In fact, I want to argue that we are in the early stages of a reformation of finance, a reformation which Occupy has helped stir.”

The protesters had been right about bankers’ behaviour and the consequences of extremely high salaries and bonuses in the financial sector and other industries, he said.

“I do not just mean right in a moral sense,” he added.

“It is the analytical, every bit as much as the moral, ground that Occupy has taken. For the hard-headed facts suggest that, at the heart of the global financial crisis, were — and are — problems of deep and rising inequality.”

Mr Haldane concluded by telling the activists that they had helped bring about nothing less than a new financial order.

“If I am right and a new leaf is being turned, then Occupy will have played a key role in this fledgling financial reformation,” he said.

“You have put the arguments. You have helped win the debate.”

In the text of his speech distributed by the Bank last night, Mr Haldane made no reference to the techniques employed by the Occupy protesters.

The occupation of St Paul’s last year was controversial, and led to claims that the protesters were despoiling the cathedral’s grounds.

The protest ended after the Corporation of London won a legal order allowing the activists to be evicted.

Earlier this month, members of the group marked the first anniversary of the St Paul’s protest by entering the cathedral during a service and chaining themselves to the pulpit.

First published in The Telegraph.

First anniversary of Occupy London

October 15, 2012
throw the money changers out of the temple

throw the money changers out of the temple

To mark the first anniversary of Occupy London and the Camp outside St Paul’s, four women chained themselves the altar rail at St Paul’s last night during evensong.

What has the church done in the last year to fight poverty?

From my own observations, nothing.

Cant and hypocrisy of Bristol and Sheffield Cathedrals

January 6, 2012
Bristol Cathedral - Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us

Bristol Cathedral - Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us

The key issue is a theological one … what do we stand for as a Cathedral. Economic justice is the Number One issue in the Bible. — Giles Fraser, former Canon Chancellor St Paul’s Cathedral

One reason many do not like the church in particular and Christianity in general is the appalling cant and hypocrisy. Do as we preach, not as we do.

A religion of the poor and oppressed hijacked by Emperor Constantine to become the official state religion of a military empire. Overnight the oppressed became the oppressors. Religion turned into what it had always been, a tool to control the masses, not a means of liberation and salvation for the masses.

St Paul’s learned the hard way when Occupy London Stock Exchange turned up on their doorstep and St Paul’s decided to close for a week on bogus health and safety grounds. Having learnt the lesson the hard way, the clergy of St Paul’s are now working closely with the camp, having been forced to re-examine the core values of Christianity.

Lessons that have yet to be learnt by the administration at either Bristol Cathedral or Sheffield Cathedral. Both located amidst pockets of acute deprivation.

The Deans of both Cathedrals say they want their grounds back, that it is public space, are threatening eviction.

Are those in occupation not the public? Are they not engaging in wide discourse with the wider public? Have they not shown willingness to engage with the clergy of both cathedrals?

If there is a problem, then why are the clergy not talking to resolve it?

Why is Bristol Cathedral working in lockstep with the local council to mount an eviction? Since when has a local council represented local people, let alone acted for local people?

Sheffield Cathedral, a place for all people, unless you happen to be living in a tent as a protester, then pick up your tent and depart.

It is even claimed the camps are not making a difference. Jeremy Paxman made a similar crass comment on Newsnight two nights ago in his dumb preamble prior to an excellent interview with Giles Fraser, former Canon Chancellor at St Paul’s, when he said nothing has been achieved as it has not changed capitalism.

Nothing has changed?

Would Giles Fraser have been on Newsnight two nights ago? Would David Cameron yesterday have been saying action has to be taken against corporate tax dodgers? Would the issues raised by UK Uncut have been on Newsnight last night?

The entire political landscape has changed. The only reasons these issues of social justice and tax avoidance are being raised at all is thanks to St Paul’s in-the-Camp and the numerous camps across the country including Occupy Bristol and Occupy Sheffield and UK Uncut targeting tax dodgers like Sir Philip Green and Vodafone.

As Giles Fraser said two nights ago on Newsnight, minor issues of inconvenience in the greater realm of things are far less important than the issues being raised, issues which go to the core of Christianity and why churches like St Paul’s and our great cathedrals were built.

Giles Fraser was preceded by an odious woman from the Church of England General Synod, lacking in grace and lacking any understanding of the message of Jesus. People like her give all Christians a bad name.

College Green update
Sheffield Cathedral Media Release: Occupy Sheffield 5 January 2012
Occupy the New year!
The Occupation Continues