On Saturday i occupied Christchurch, which is weird considering i actually live here.
i have followed the Occupy movement via Adbusters and Anonymous for some time and when the global day of occupying places came i was keen as. Unfortunately others around me did not feel the same way so it was just myself and my daughter who turned up. i felt strongly about turning up. You can blog and tweet and post and 'like' for ever, but in the end if you weren't there you weren't there, as Gertrude Stein almost said.
i had expected a post modernist gig but in the end it was fairly standard stuff. Took me back in years ...A smattering of older woman from the peace movement, Maori and Pasifika women, lots of dreadlocks, the usual intense young man with floppy hair and a megaphone. There were a few V for Vendetta masks. There was an open mic. People said more or less inspiring or useful things. A vote was held about party politics being kept out of it, but that didn't deter certain people with gold rosettes extolling the apparent genius of Milton Friedman.
At three we marched, and marched and marched - up to Westfield Mall which is the nearest Christchurch still has to a bastion of consumerism. We ran the gauntlet of sneering teenagers and got tooted at a lot, both friendly-like and not. By then there were over two hundred of us. There were some good placards. i liked 'The beginning is nigh' and 'I like kittens'. There was chanting of course. The intense young man with the floppy hair and the megaphone got the hang of spelling 'Occupy'* and the tautology club chanted 'The people united will never be divided'. By the trip back to the park we were Occupying, people were tired. i lost track of the chanting a bit. Was it 'Whoring Greeks'? or 'Boring Greens'? Oh, right, it was 'Foreign Greed'. Got it.
The atmosphere was festive and there were dear little dogs. There was no police presence to speak of, but just in case we were issued with small leaflets telling us what to do if arrested. Now, Android has an app for that called 'I'm getting arrested' (there really is an app for everything).#
Some days on, the occupation has continued and there is a live feed on facebook. Food not Bombs have brought hot chocolate. People seem cheerful and determined. All the Occupy groups in New Zealand are keeping in touch. Maybe something will come of it.
i went because several times in my life i have seen world events that indicated strongly to me that major social dn political change was imminent and imperative. And every time i have been wrong. The last time was in 2008 when i was in Malaysia and the economy of the west just collapsed. i watched this from the perspective of mainstream South East Asian media and marvelled. At last the impetus had arrived and with Obama on the horizon there was a chance we could finally take a thoughtful look at our values and our principles. i have always known our political and financial institutions are not capable of helping us with the exigencies of this age. Now, presumably it was becoming apparent to others that we needed to do things differently. i have said, humans made this. There is nothing natural or inevitable or given about these systems. They were made by people in power who had ideas and made decisions. There are many different ways to organise ourselves and our resources. We can make something new.
Of course i was wrong again. It was business as usual - more so really. i should have known that any real direction comes from the grass roots, from the 99%. And, here we are. It's not cohesive or measured but it really is getting bigger and it does seem to be diverse and thoughtful and educated, and it is attracting some serious commentary. So i can get out of the way or i can lend a hand, 'cos perhaps at last the times really are a'changin'.
* Only one 'o', sweetie
# Imagine this:
Officer: You are under arrest.
Me: But i don't have the app for that! Wait! Can i download it?
The App: You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to download any relevant or appropriate app....