Don’t Close Your Eyes

occupy_london

“Complacency is the worst enemy. If you grow complacent, you cease to think. If you cease to think, you cease to live” – Hugh MacDairmid

What kind of Britain has a no vote bound us to?

By David Graeber

You can tell a lot about the moral quality of a society by what is, and is not, considered news.

From last Tuesday, Parliament Square was wrapped in wire mesh. In one of the more surreal scenes in recent British political history, officers with trained German shepherds stand sentinel each day, at calculated distances across the lawn, surrounded by a giant box of fences, three metres high – all to ensure that no citizen enters to illegally practice democracy. Yet few major news outlets feel this is much of a story.

Occupy Democracy, a new incarnation of Occupy London, has attempted to use the space for an experiment in democratic organising. The idea was to turn Parliament Square back to the purposes to which it was, by most accounts, originally created: a place for public meetings and discussions, with an eye to bringing all the issues ignored by politicians in Westminster back into public debate. Seminars and assemblies were planned, colourful bamboo towers and sound systems put in place, to be followed by a temporary library, kitchen and toilets.

There was no plan to turn this into a permanent tent city, which are now explicitly illegal. True, this law is very selectively enforced; Metropolitan police regularly react with a wink and a smile if citizens camp on the street while queuing overnight for the latest iPhone. But to do it in furtherance of democratic expression is absolutely forbidden. Try it, and you can expect to immediately see your tent torn down and if you try even the most passive resistance you’re likely to be arrested. So organisers settled on a symbolic 24-hour presence, even if it meant sleeping on the grass under cardboard boxes in the autumn rain.

The police response can only be described as hysterical. Tarpaulins used to sit on the grass were said to be illegal, and when activists tried to sit on them they were attacked by scores of officers. Activists say they had limbs twisted and officers stuck thumbs into nerve endings as “pain compliance”. Pizza boxes were declared illegal structures and confiscatedand commanders even sent officers to stand over activists at night telling them it was illegal to close their eyes.

Finally, the fences went up, and the guard dogs appeared – ostensibly, for what officers insisted was scheduled cleaning that happened to continue each day of the occupation. Hundreds of participants were thus pushed into the tiny green strip to the north of the Churchill statue, and even then, it seemed like every time they sat down for a seminar on financial reform or planning a response to the housing crisis, they were interrupted by some new pretext for police intervention – someone had an “illegal” megaphone, there was what looked like camping equipment, some regulation might have been violated – and squads of police once again stormed in.

One could speak of many things here: the obvious embarrassment of the police, compared with the perseverance and cheerful good humour of the occupiers, who continually grew in numbers and spirit as the repression increased. But what I really want to talk about is the reaction of the media.

Read the full article by David Graeber here.



Categories: Occupy

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17 replies

  1. Thanks i’ll not close my eyes!

    Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

  2. We are ruled by Westminster right wing governments including Labour, aided by a sympathetic MSM which has resulted in the slow demise of democracy.

  3. The ruling establishment and authorities are completely at a loss as to the rise in public interest and hostility towards austerity measures. Austerity is not working and the reaction from large parts of the population is to look for alternatives and for more inclusive ways of running and managing society. The only reaction from the establishment is to try and block or ignore the growing movements forming. This reaction is short sighted and can only do harm. It would be wise for our ‘ivory tower’ leaders to listen and to partake in the growing consensus that is developing. The “we know best” mentality of our politicians is outdated.

  4. We don’t have freedom of anything anymore in this country and those in charge know they have the biggest stick (at the moment). There will be change one day and a lot of people won’t forget the willing hands that they engaged in their stasi like tyranny. I thought Erich Mielke was dead???????

  5. No freedom to speak out = DICTATORSHIP

  6. The sad reflection is that few are awake and aware of what is happening. Controlled by msm and more interested in Great British Bake off and other mindless content.

  7. We had the chance to change it all and it showed me how many were rotten apples,the three “main parties” as claimed by themselves,all wanted Scotland to vote no and now they are making certain of ruling indefinitely,yes those who voted no voted against democracy,and wanted privilege and titles to always rule over us.The police force is now an extension of the government (sic) and will be used more and more to control us citizens,there is going to be a rising for we don’t like dictators,even by committee dictators are still dictators.How they retain power is simple they control the press and therefore the minds of the people,they wont allow proportionate representation and this keeps those three together really as one big Westminster Party.

  8. There’s nothing for it really, we have to find an advocate strong enough to present a UDI to the Government.
    If peaceful demonstrations for Democracy are declared illegal, insidious police practices against single female so called perpetrators tolerated and being thrusted towards extinction by a Government so out of control it thinks it is invincible then I don’t see how we have any other choice.
    I’ve told my family that if anything happens to me it will have been at the Government’s command, not an accident, but not to give up. I wasn’t put on this earth to shovel shite and I’ve made sure I haven’t, but I can’t stand back any longer when everyday we are hearing more and more horror stories of what our dear Government are capable of and are doing.
    If we don’t make a stand soon we will be living in a Dictatorship. I think things are sliding away a bit too quickly to wait for the elections next year, they are sure to be a farce anyway………if the Government have got anything to do with It.
    We must act now !

  9. We now seem to live in an increasingly extreme right wing police state where the media is controlled and censored. Scotland still has a chance to get out of this ASAP with Independence.

  10. Haven’t seen much written about the so-called gagging law and what its effects might be in the run-up to the 2015 and 2016 elections. Bella?

  11. It has never been so clear as it has since the campaign and referendum just how “controlled” we all are. In their eyes we lost the vote and so the control continues, no particular surprise then. The question really now is, how do we create another opportunity to get out of here?

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