So farewell to the Occupy London protest at St Paul’s Cathedral. Four and half months of sitting in tents proving that activism can be stationary or is that simply another way of describing inactivism.
The protesters were evicted by police and bailiffs at 3am and complained that they had been betrayed by St Paul’s Cathedral, which gave the go ahead after a high court decision. If you happen to be drawing up a list of people who have stayed their welcome I’d suggest Occupy London as candidates. Hardly an act of betrayal. That party was long over.
The camp at St Paul’s started out as an effective piece of protest and did exactly what it set out to do in highlighting corporate greed, and successfully raise awareness of a popular issue, but that was back in Sunny October when we saw now former Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser intervene to turn police away and later resign.
As December came around and they were still there they started to look not unlike a group without direction, purpose or any activity. It was unclear what they were doing there or where they were going.
You almost had the impression that they wanted to go, but couldn’t just pack up and go; couldn’t just shuffle off the stage as what would be the point? At least today they go their eviction, with riot police, and the hand of the state.
On its website the Occupy London Stock Exchange says this is “only the beginning” and that “the movement would continue”:
“The natural question to rush to in these moments is: ‘what next?’ In the short term, there will be a GA at 7pm on Tuesday by the steps of St Paul’s,” it said.
“In the medium term, it is only right that people will need time to rest, reflect and recharge, to take stock and learn the lessons of the past four and a half months. But be assured that plans are already afoot: plans of some ambition, employing a diversity of tactics and delivered with the aplomb you would expect from us. All will be revealed in time. May is one of our favourite months.”
The beginning of what who knows as in the four and half months the “loosely cooperative, occasionally quarrelling” group of people quickly ran out of political steam and never seemed to progress much beyond, nor agree on much more than one thing, or one word really, and that was “occupy”, which although is a single word is more of a slogan than an idea and it didn’t prove to have a great many sides to it.
The Occupy London camp had to find some way to be evolve in engage in political action that involved something more than sloganeering writ large.