it was intensely cold.me and my friend and comrade arrived later than we had planned.the temperature got worse.the camp site is smaller,largely i suspect not because of temperature but as the occupants have made increasing concessions to the authorities of st.pauls,the city of london and the forces of the state.i make no criticism of anyone at or involved in the occupation.they have always acted it appears with good grace and amongst their other undoubted skills have managed the mainstream media,those of the movement and their own media with real talent and aplomb.
much as the media and the rabid political class have used every means to attack occupy,i will not join in any of that criticism at all.
there were stilll plenty of people about and activity,although temperature,endurance and impending court action which could lead to eviction from 13/02/12 clearly take their toll.
during our brief visit,we delivered a small supply of wter to the food tent,which has always had good food supplies but lacks water and other liquids.alcohol is discouraged.the food smels good and clearly is good.i could see no sign of the welfare tent which had just opened when i last visited in early decemeber 2011,and could not find out about it-as ther was no-one to ask.
the university tent had 2 small groups of people who seemed to be planning or researching future educational events although i could not be certain about this.in the library tent i saw one man asleep and another selecting reading material who turned out to have been a homeless occupant.his story was that having serious health problems he had been housed by a london council who had subsequently taken the property backing saying that despite those problems he could manage on the street....in these temperatures!
in a move which i believe was to"cover their legal responsibilities"that same council referred him onto a major voluntary sector charity with a powerful reputation they deserve for the help they offer.he told me they were unable to help,which can do nothing but reinforce an already negative experience,especially as he said he observed from his attendance at other parts of the project,the organisation helping others on adaily basis.from the homeless persons perspective this must be gallling.i have my suspicions that in "covering"itself the council was dumping its responsibility on another actually less powerful and influential body,who were less able to help and alwasy dependent on their role as moral force rather than institution of the local and not so local state.
he told us he was leaving occupy in avfew takes to take up residenec in a flat in edinburgh,obtained after a 2 day wait and i believe only a previous short exploratory visit on the advice of afriend.he said he had no previous ties with edinburgh.i suspect thsi reflects both that housing need is greatest in the south east because of the way the british political economy works but also reflects the more powerful lefty/socialist reformist and nationalist traditions established in scotland.i find this sory tale appalling and typical.we have to organise this society differently.
eventualy we identified a library volunteer who seemed somewhat battered by the cold.what he said was useful but carried meno further forward in seeking to represent sos brent libraries and looking to discuss whether occupy could play a co-ordinating rolke in bringing library campaigns together nationally for aconference or to link up nationally.i would pesronally wish to argue for both.we then visited the information tent where i tried to pull the threads of my earlier and previious discussions together.the discussion wa interesting but i made no progress.
we went to unfreeze in the bnearest coffee house-a notorious multi national im afarid but where sometimes key activists can be sseen organising and networking via the new technologies.we the returned home.
i do not want to make criticism based on a visit of afew hours on adifficult day.in fact my comments are based on 3 visits totalling about 8-9 hours during which i spoke with a dozen peolle or so.it also uses my discussions with other activists directly or indirectly involved in occupy...london and others beyond it.
i make my criticism carefully and on a very limited basis.rather than being non or undemocratic because it never makes decisions.i would say it has an ultra form of democracy.the highest organ is the daily general assembley which happens at about 9-9.30am every day.not everyone present can go nor wants to go.this is largely choice or because some participants are occupied in their duties elsewhere.a friend and comrade says that decision making can also be wrecked by some who want to debate and redebate in epdantic detail that can alienate others.this is just one problem with any kind of emerging democracy.a lot is devolved to working groups although i dont doubt too these are not trouble free.again,i would say that such problems are not proof that it does not work but the kind of problem that is written into the subtext of any emerging form.the so-called bourgeoius/social/parliamentary democracy we are used to an needs regenearting,itself did not jump out of the box all neat clean and perfect.
occupy,as any struggle..is what democracy looks like.
it is however of some concerne that unless occupy are aware of other specific events,if a person from a particular campaign cannot be preesnt at a general assembley issues and actions can get missed.occupy supported the N30 strike-it could hardly do otherwise but because neither i nor anyother memeber of sosbrent libraries could be at a general assembley,they could not be called onto support our presence/demonstration at the high court,which i turn might have facilitated links to building a wider natiionally co-ordinated camapign around libraries.i beleiev it woukd have sytrengthened both sso brent librarise/library acmapiagns and occupy.to be fair,i tried talking to library volunteers perviously to ask thenm to raise it ata a general assembley but could simpky not make the connection with the neccessary individual.as they do not have the security of office space and facilities of the enighboruing enterprises,unsurprisngly energy gets dissipated,ideas lost.it simpky is how it is although we all need to build on and improve on this.
i would also sugest that there are alot of us easily won to supporting occupy but who cannot stay because of other commitements and issues.my poor health prevents me sleeping on the street and in the cold.others are committed to their own campaigns but see the sesnse of linking them.not alla workers can join becasuse the logic of doing so would actually be a weakening of the links into the depths of the community,in workplaces,trades unions.community organisations etc.i do not criticise without proposing improvements.id like to contribute to building that link,so i will be looking for ways to do it over the next few weeks,one way or another.i would welcome ideas and comntacts from anyone reading this.
after coffee,we went home.it was unfortunately too cold to stay for the 7pm occupy the night entertainment.i had another destination prearranged but it got so cold and snowed that i wa sunable to attend what the dickens when i got home-about which plkease read anoither of my postings.