Protesting against a concrete Bloc

It’s been ages since I’ve written a new post but I’ve been really busy at work – I’ve got a job! Finally, the system has given me an entry level job at the place I’ve been interning at.

But it’s this system I want to talk about. For the past several weeks, all over the world anti-capitalist demonstrators have set up camp in urban centres: protesting against bankers, McDonalds, tuition fees and bike shops that charge you to replace an inner tube. In London, a large camp has blossomed outside St. Pauls Cathedral, and for the most part people aren’t that displeased with it. A couple had to exit through the side door after their wedding, a religious leader at the catheral has resigned, and a few U-turns from the clergy at St. Pauls have been seen. Personally, I don’t care in the slightest if peaceful people decide to camp on bare concrete on a noisy street to voice their concerns about how badly the Government treats a large section of the population. Better them than me, anyway.

I’m currently living near the other camp in London – Finsbury Square. I went down there on Sunday to see what was going on – what it was all about and what people wanted. I was eager to find out what demands people occupying the square could articulate. I really embarrassed myself in the process, but we’ll get to that.

As I arrived, I looked at a board that listed the values of the protest movement. I was then approached by a middle aged man, who asked me where the bike repair station was. Confused, I pointed to the bike shop down the road and said he could probably get it done there. He then said, “no, don’t you guys do it for free here?” Realising that I was dressed as a 23 year old that could easily be roughing it in one of the tents laid out in front of me, I explained that I was just a visitor.

Intrigued, I walked onto the square and immediately saw a bloke repairing a bike. I went up to him and asked him what he was doing. His name was Ace McCloud, and he works as a night time liaison officer and does part time work where he can find it during the day. This was where the middle aged man had come to get his bike fixed. Ace works full time on site at Finsbury square fixing peoples bikes for free – partly because he wants to help the protest movement but mainly because he believes cycling is great because its free, it keeps you fit, its faster than the bus and it doesn’t spit CO2 into the atmosphere. I completely agreed, and let him know.

“The other week, right, this bloke comes up to me with a Boris Bike and asks me to fix his puncture. I said no, because his bikes got f***ing Barclays Bank plastered all over it!”

Fair enough. I liked Ace, because I like people with principles, and I loved the fact that he was dedicated to bikes.

Looking over to the other side of the Square, I could see a group of people all looking at an animated looking twenty-something, gesticulating and talking passionately about democracy and how it had gone to the dogs. Her name was Hannah, and she was a second year student. At the end we were allowed to ask questions and debate. I wanted to know what she actually wanted from the Government. She said she didn’t want anything from the Government. I didn’t want to embarrass myself further in this particular area, particularly since the people there were all presumably against the idea of a capitalist government.

Thinking that I could perhaps redeem myself (so self-conscious, I know), I asked her whether she agreed that we should withdraw our troops from Afghanistan so we could perhaps spend it on better education or free education. She frowned at me, and then said in a patronising tone: “You’re not getting it. It’s not about money, man. We need to RE-SOCIALISE. I don’t want to ban iPhones, I want every kid in the world to have one.” This confused me and faintly amused me. I listened to a bit more of her raving and then left.

Well, I don’t like it when bankers screw the country but I don’t know much about economics. I also think Marx and Engels were an incredibly intelligent duo, but it’s too late for Marxism. The world has developed the way it has and we have to make the best of it. More to the point, the protesters at St. Pauls and Finsbury Square, not to mention the rest of the world are a minority and their protests are valid, but I think pointless. A financial crisis is not enough to change the workings of the world – something far worse is needed. Climate change could do it – but not before a huge number of people in the developing world die from starvation. Its bleak but the rich need a kick up the bottom – but this inevitably means that the poor will get a bigger kick. When the water starts to run out in Australia, Greece and Italy become deserts, and parts of coastal European cities start to flood maybe our governments will start to change.

Olsoweir [has a job :D]

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