Saturday, October 22, 2011

Another World is Possible - Quinze Jours Occupy Dame Street

A good day, and a good day to take a break after. We had the second march today, which had been decided by acclaim at the first march last Saturday. That Saturday was also the global day of action, with over a million people on the streets worldwide, whereas this one was solely Occupy Dame Street and people in Ireland marching once again to say 'we want change'. I hoped we'd have a good turnout but there was no way to tell. Happily the attendance looked even bigger than last week, I conservatively estimated 1500 people, RTE put it at 2000.

I'd have liked to go on the march and probably could have, but ended up staying at the camp again to keep an eye on things, feeling the anticipation building, as more and more people arrived, many photographers among them. It also provided the opportunity to inflate the giant globe which I'd had last week but hadn't gotten the time to pump up, it is about 6 foot in diameter. This globe burst while being bounced in the air and then entirely enveloped me in sagging rubber strips at Bangface music festival about two years ago, where many such things are thrown into the crowd for their amusement, I immediately decided to take its dismal carcass home and resuscitate it. My plan was to subtly reintroduce to Occupy the slogan Another World Is Possible, which was so common during the alter-globalisation protests worldwide from 1999 - 2001, and which were the closest thing I've experienced to the people's movement currently sweeping the world. Those protests also emphasized playfulness, theatre, humour and satire - does anyone remember the Carnival for Global Justice in Dublin in 2000 for example? The giant papier mache heads of despised presidents and bankers? The numerous samba bands? Such fun is also present here but strengthening these aspects would certainly enhance all our efforts, and make the protests more entertaining, reaching more people.


Thus, with the help of a few friends, an electric pump and the relative calm before the march arrived we blew up the globe, leading to many puns about global inflation, groans which only worsened when we tied the world to (the gates of) the Central Bank. This large ball also entertained folks at the Burning Man Irish Decompression party a while back, when it burst within seconds, leading to some radical surgery involving duct tape. So, a battered world, much like our own. Inflate it we did, and a hastily chalked sign was affixed, reading indeed Another World Is Possible. Protest forebears, ye are not forgotten.


And then, the march arrived. There were lots of people, lots of signs, lots of photographers, but strangely I didn't feel quite the same energy as last Saturday. There were more chants of We Are - The 99%, more general joyfulness, and it seemed quite a bit bigger than last time. And then, Billy Bragg played. After, for example, linking to Unkie Dave's blog post, he'd come during the week and suggested to us that he play here, which was nice. And play from the back of a truck he did to a very enthusiastic mass of the 99%. And then he led the crowd singing The Internationale, hundreds of fists raised, silhouetted against the hulk of the Central Bank. And that was pretty cool.

At some point someone asked if they could set the world free (from its tether to the bank's gates) and then it bounced over the crowd, beaming its (slightly saggy but effective) message of Another World Is Possible to all and sundry. That was nice too.

Then we had a General Assembly. We'd spent a lot of time trying to thrash out the structure and themes for this particular G.A. over the previous two days, in other assemblies and in meetings, but perhaps unsurprisingly in the end it was mainly made up of dozens of people all getting a chance to share their experiences and views on a multitude of topics. People spoke about the bailouts, austerity measures, communities affected by the financial crisis (and cowboy developers), fracking, the positivity of being at Occupy Dame Street, the IMF, many other things, many informative and well-informed contributions. While there was little possibility for discussion as it was a forum for anyone to speak who wished to, it raised a lot of topics and gave ideas for both future assemblies and more specifically ways in which the movement could go forward. Sustaining what is already there and building what comes next are now the two crucial questions.


I was lucky enough (read: willing when most other folks weren't) to facilitate this G.A. alongside two wonderful women. There are a few other women who are centrally involved in the camp or in Real Democracy Now who have been very important participants in Occupy Dame Street, but it was noticeable how few women got up to speak during the G.A., even following our pleas for more female voices to be heard. I think the involvement of women in this movement is absolutely crucial, and those female voices often bring a different viewpoint and a different tone to the debate. I don't think it's coincidental that the tenor of this movement, with many women involved, and of its meetings and way of organising, is something very different to the 'stand and be shouted at' format of many previous protests and political efforts, which tend to be dominated by and to appeal mainly to young men, at least that's often the case in this country. The positivity, the respect, the search for alternatives, the lack of closed minded-ness and the commitment to real democracy of Occupy are all features that have drawn me to it, and which I think attract and are promoted by the women involved. So sisters, find your voices.

Otherwise there were the same problems at the camp today with people not volunteering or turning up for shifts, people being on security all night, people not respecting the no drink or drugs policy of the camp, general disorganisation and untidiness leading to things getting wrecked or lost, and above all still woefully inadequate systems of communication. I feel Occupy Dame Street has already succeeded enormously, but it is the inability to communicate effectively and have systems in place that enable people to do things and, most importantly, to bring new people in, that could bring it down, sooner rather than later. It is improving, and the lack of any dry, wind-sheltered space in which to even maintain a noticeboard is still a big problem, but I hope the movement, both those camped at the Central Bank and active online, can find ways to resolve these issues. People want to volunteer but there is no-one to help direct them where they're needed, people need relief from working 30 hours straight but there's no way to ensure others take over the responsibilities. I'm doing whatever I can in this regard as are many others but we really need more to keep it going. It is getting better, albeit slowly. We keep saying, it's a learning process, and it is, for everyone. But we really need to start doing our homework, and turning up to class. We can pull together to do something incredible; let's not let the lack of coordination pull us apart.



Blogger Snag Breac said...

The world is amazing! Great thing to bring!

Sunday, 23 October 2011 at 14:38:00 GMT+1  

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