Brian Edwards Media

The Occupy Protests – Cause or Opportunity?

 

While I have absolutely no doubt that the Occupy protestors against global corporate greed and the ever-increasing gap between the world’s rich and poor are correct in their analysis and that their anger is justified, I’m less impressed by their methods.

The logic of tent-squatting in civic squares eludes me. It serves merely to annoy and alienate the general public, whose support the squatters presumably want.

More importantly, it cannot achieve its aim which is to remedy entrenched global injustice through small scale local action. If you were to ask the protestors what they actually want New Zealanders to do, other than joining them in their protest, I doubt that you would get a coherent answer. 

An even more interesting question might be: what would have to happen, either globally or in New Zealand,  for you to be sufficiently satisfied to voluntarily end your protest, remove your tents and go away?  I’m reasonably confident that nothing they might propose would be remotely within the realms of possibility. It follows that this sort of protest action can have no foreseeable end, since there is no feasible way for the citizenry or local or national government to meet their demands. If all they are going to do is say, ‘This is really bad and it’s got to be fixed, and we’re not moving until it is,’ they will be squatting in their tents for years and quite possibly for the rest of their lifetimes.

This in turn serves, rightly or wrongly, to promote the view that someone who has the time to sit in a tent for days, weeks, months and possibly years, cannot be a very productive citizen and may indeed be protesting on the public purse.

What the protestors may not realise is that their aim of reducing the gap between rich and poor is supported by left-wing political parties both in this country and around the world and that those parties are much more likely to bring about the sort of structural economic changes which they want than squatting in tents in civic squares and getting up the noses of other people.

More probably they have contempt for traditional party politics and dismiss the democratic process as corrupt and serving the interests of the privileged few. It would be interesting to know how many of them belong to a political party and how many vote.

I detect a note of cynicism on my part in that last comment. But watching and listening to the protestors on television, I cannot help wondering whether they see entrenched global inequity as an opportunity as a much as a cause.

,

48 Comments:

  1. To me, the fundamental reason to protest is to win hearts and minds. The Occupy protest I think had the reverse effect and therefore can only be seen as an abject failure. I can’t help but think that most of the protesters were members of Rent-a-Mob who have nothing better to do with their time. Your article is excellent.

  2. It would be interesting to know how many of them belong to a political party…

    Some Greens were initially involved but they seemed to withdraw when they saw the prospects – the initial spokesperson in Dunedin was a Green (also a Norml) but seems to have gone.

    Mana supporters were also actively involved. Bradford and Minto were prominent from the first day in Auckland. There was division in Dunedin as the Mana flag was flown for weeks in the Octagon.

    The Unite union had a significant presence. Other unions were also involved, one day in Dunedin they marched from the Octagon to PACT on a multi union march and protest, then turned around and marched back to the Octagon on an Occupy march.

    Socialist Aoteroa were prominent (at least in Auckland and Dunedin). Their flag flew in the Octagon.

    Mana, Unite and Socialist Aoteroa can be sometimes hard to differentiate. Same people. It’s hard to know whether they initiated Occupy in NZ or jumped quickly on the opportunity.

  3. The creative triune in life consists of “thought then word, then deed”. What has happened with the “occupy movement” around the world is that we’ve had the “thought and deed” process but without the “word” for it to coalesce around.
    So to me without any real economic improvements, once the necessary “words” are written (books will appear very very soon), then this whole movement will be back with far more focus than before and why? Because the underlying frustration with a blindly expanding political and financial system incapable of change or even self governance will simply not go away. Uncontrolled or guided. it will soon run amuk again. There is also a generational division feeling about the “Occupy” movement that is another matter completely.
    Either way, it will be back!

  4. Researchers are starting to prove that children of poor parents have very little chance of one day becoming wealthy. As an egalitarian nation this must be seen as an attack on our core values. Neither Labour nor National had proposed any policies to deal with the widening poverty gap because both parties rely on home-owning baby boomers and their parents to get re-elected. Every time there is a “crisis” affecting the older generation both parties have chosen to pass the debt created on to future generations. Our grandchildren will be paying for the leaky home crisis, the Crown Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme, the $45 billion the government intends to borrow over the next five years and the $300 million a week National have borrowed since taking power. In the meantime they have bailed out wealthy investors while reducing taxes on the rich and increasing GST for the poor.
    Sitting in tents in Aotea Square has generated a lot of press coverage around these issues but unfortunately has also given space for venting by many of the other left-wing organisations. I attended the first General Assembly, held in Albert Park a week before the protests. I wasn’t going to camp out but wanted to offer my assistance. On arrival I was given a typed list of items that would be needed to set up the camp. Most major pieces of equipment were supplied by Unite etc. I then found out that contrary to what was written on their facebook page, the main political parties, unions etc had all had a secret meeting the night before and had already decided everything that the general assembly was meant to. They had already decided on Aotea Square as the protest site for example, when the reason for the meeting I was at was to make that decision. The meeting was run by union employees etc. I talked about having the protest somewhere else where there were actual financial organisations for example. Somewhere less likely to cause offence to the council than Aotea Square, which was used for events like Diwali etc. When I broached the subject I was treated like a pain in the neck. Most of us at the initial meeting were not seasoned protesters or from political organisations. John Minto, Sue Bradford etc weren’t there though. I also asked them to name spokespeople (not leaders but publicists) so that they could control their media and important visitors better but was voted down. I turned up on the first day of the protest and was impressed with the crowds. I was less impressed with all of the political party flags flying. The Occupy protests were never about Maori land rights for example. The Deputy Police Commissioner arrived and was greeted by a NORML protester who harangued him about drug laws, instead of a spokesperson talking about the movement. The occupation had a good buzz about it though. The longer it has gone on, the more paranoid the participants have become because everyone is sure there must be police or SIS plants within the group. Many of the best thinkers and organisers involved at the start have moved on. Those remaining are definitely committed to continue protesting and are discussing how best to do so. Most work and many have spent thousands of dollars to be involved. They have strict rules around not drinking and taking drugs. Most of the people who are “annoyed” at their protest are their political enemies. I hope they continue to draw attention to how our economic system no longer rewards individual effort and intelligence and instead rewards those with rich parents.

    BE: We clearly disagree on several points, Andre. It is quite untrue, for example, that Labour had no policies for dealing with these issues. CGT and increasing the retirement age were just two. However, I appreciate your (and others’) reasoned and reasonable) contributions to this debate. You might also like to have a look at my reply to Sam.

  5. I would guess voting left didnt really work out too well seeing as the democrats controlled congress, labour ran the UK and NZ when all these imbalances occurred. might as well go camping and opt out while the right wing governments sort out the mess they were Left with.

  6. @David. Whats happening now is the product of around fifty or so years of global financial and political philandering and manipulation. It has nothing at all to to do with any particular NZ parties 3 year tenure. Each three year term here has without doubt played a huge part in our eventual demise but the real drivers of this global mess are global, not local. Our problem is in not be able to think for ourselves. “Yes massa Jim, jus please don’t hit me agin sir!”

  7. For years there have been warnings that the gap between rich and poor was widening and that the vast majority of wealth was being concentrated amongst the few. Nobody cared to listen then. As was rightly pointed out above, the left did not exactly put in a stellar performance during the nineties or (and I hate myself for calling it this) the noughties.

    The media tends to be majority owned by corporations who benefit from the widening gap. As a result many, if not the majority, of the ‘general population’ will simply parrot the editorials of those papers. There have been huge, largely peaceful, protests against government actions in the past (for example against the war in Iraq) the end result of which was zilch. Sometimes being annoying, shocking, or even at times violent is a means of waking society up. The Arab spring might be an example.

    I am also not sure where the sudden obsession with protestors providing cost effective, coherent solutions to their grievances comes from. They protest to show us something is wrong, maybe we could ask our political leaders to listen and as a society propose solutions. The occupy movement is dealing with something far more complex than our tradition pay, conditions, antiwar protests. These people aren’t asking us to ‘not do x’ or demanding that we do Y. They are asking for a society to address the way it functions. A tiny example (oversimplified) might be that government debt skyrocketed as they bailed out numerous corporation and banks who had made bad decisions, whether by purchasing debt, or by providing credit to easily. Then another set of corporations (the ratings agencies) has come along to downgrade countries credit ratings due to unsustainable debt. The result being that countries find it harder and harder to get out of the rut.

    It is also a mistake to assume that these people do not know, or understand the subject matter. I don’t know about New Zealand but as a global movement it includes a number of very knowledgeable people with some great ideas. .

    I suppose the simple point is that most of us are in the 99. This is our cause as much as theirs. At least they are doing something.

    BE: Perhaps other defenders of the Occupy movement can take this as a reply to their major argument as well, Sam. That argument essentially has been that they didn’t expect to bring about actual change but to make us aware of the issue of global corporate greed and the increasing gap between rich and poor. My response is that it’s hard to imagine any thinking person not having already been aware of these issues. From the crash of the international financial sector, to the state bailouts of that sector to Gordon Gecko’s “Greed is good!” this topic has been in the public arena and on the public mind for years. It was a major issue in NZ during the last election. Labour’s Capital Gains Tax was intended as one means of narrowing the gap. We didn’t need people squatting in tents in public spaces to make us aware of these issues. The very suggestion is insulting. I have no doubt that many of the protesters were sincere and well-intentioned, but I very much doubt that their actions had any positive effect on what was already informed public opinion. Or possibly the very opposite effect to what they hoped to achieve.

  8. Thanks, Brian. Interesting thoughts.

    “If you were to ask the protestors what they actually want New Zealanders to do, other than joining them in their protest, I doubt that you would get a coherent answer”.

    They didn’t intend to be coherent in stating what they wanted. Or at least not in the way you, me, and most people mean.

    Instead, their aim was publicity and profile, for the long-term aim of “consciousness-raising”. So they will be satisfied they got what they wanted out of this exercise. It is about action – not dialogue and ideas – because they think they have the right ideas, and the only dialogue worth having is where they get to convince you to believe and act on it. It’s a form of secular evangelism and conversion.

    “More importantly, it cannot achieve its aim which is to remedy entrenched global injustice through small scale local action.”

    Maybe. However, these folks are operating on the principle, “think global – act local”.

    “I’m reasonably confident that nothing they might propose would be remotely within the realms of possibility.”

    True, but these folks have a tin air to that advice. Instead, they are words of compromise, sell-out, and ideological heresy.

    Like you, I may sound cynical. Nevertheless, when it comes to reporting on the ideas, motivations, and actions of the radical left, I don’t make the rules. I just report them…

  9. b.e..i am somewhat surprised at your un-nuanced view of a movement that is credited with the tone/timbre of obamas’ state of the nation address..

    ..and the insertion of cclass/inequality/greedy rich/1% vs 99% etc etc..

    ..and this is very early days..

    ..the beginnings of the first chapter of the book…

    ..i have been all over this occupy-thang like a rash…

    ..and my cache will answer many of the questions/uncertainties you clearly have..

    http://whoar.co.nz/?s=occupy

    (and..)

    “..It follows that this sort of protest action can have no foreseeable end, since there is no feasible way for the citizenry or local or national government to meet their demands…”

    would that also have been said about ending slavery/apartheid etc..etc..?

    (and..)

    “..What the protestors may not realise is that their aim of reducing the gap between rich and poor is supported by left-wing political parties both in this country and around the world and that those parties are much more likely to bring about the sort of structural economic changes which they want than squatting in tents in civic squares and getting up the noses of other people…”

    um..!…we have got where we are now under both national and labour..

    ..with labour marginally less guilty than national..

    .. clark didn’t fix poverty..she marginalised/stigmatised the poor with her working for some families..

    ..the environment got worse under clark…

    i mean..tell me what that govt did that was any good..?

    ..and to suggest to the 99% fighting back against the class war that has been waged on them these last decades..

    ..that they should look to labour/the elites/establishment to undo what has privileged them so much..

    ..evokes a snort of derision from them..at best..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  10. b.e..and in that link i sent you are occupy-manifestos..

    ..if that is yr wont..

    ..i really think you need to read a bit more widely on this topic..

    BE: “are showing all the signs/strains of one relying on the new zealand mainstream media..for yr worldview/analysis..”
    Have you read ANY of my posts? And why do you set your comments out in this annoying way?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  11. Spot on Mr Edwards.

  12. he might object..if people tried to ‘spot’ on him..

    ..people randomly rushing at him weilding hot knives..

    ..did you ask his permission before issuing yr clarion/norml-call..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  13. Although the excecution was somewhat lacking it still created publicity to a subject which is denied ,overlooked,and ignored by many.

  14. I mostly agree with Brian. He has the benefit of long perspective and wide political knowledge. Many typical voters would also say “get involved as an activist within a political party.” Occupy seems to have run its course in Aotearoa; now the protest is another unwelcome cost to ratepayers.

  15. First, thank you to Andre for an insightful and balanced summary of the history of Occupy Auckland. From what I have seen and heard, your account sounds accurate to me.

    To address Brian’s post though, I think the measure of success of this movement was never going to be policy outcomes or a new world order. As Peter, Sam, Kimbo and pjr have said: it was all about influencing the social discourse which defines the relationships between individuals, the state, and financial structures.

    Looked at in that light, I don’t think it’s a stretch to acknowledge some level of success. Particularly during the first four weeks or so.

    The problem is that, bearing that measure of success in mind, what is now happening with the movement is destroying anything that it may have achieved. It is no longer about corporate greed, financial regulation, or any of the plethora of causes one might want to attach to it. Instead it has become consumed by its own desire for self preservation.

    Freedom of expression is hugely important. It should always be defended, even if one doesn’t agree with the content of the expression. But if one wants their right to freedom of expression defended, they need to have something more to say than “we’re still here”.

    [My letter to the Mayor on the subject, if anyone’s interested: http://wp.me/p24p2t-4f ]

  16. Spoken like a Nat! They should all have a bath, and get a haircut and a job!

    The “occupy everything” protestors deserve credit for publicising the widening gap between rich and poor and the excessive greed of the financial markets but their movement is going nowhere. They don’t have the right to camp indefinitely wherever they want and they undermine themselves with their more extreme antics.

    We have a system for achieving the change they want, its called democracy and it involves forming a political party, creating a maniesto and standing for parliament. Go to it!

  17. Even if the government or any government were to agree and give the protestors what they want it would be all lies as that is what governments do best. We are seeing that with the national party they stated they would not sell state assets well that was a lie just to buy the votes. The protestors are wasting their time there are other ways far better

    BE: I’m clearly no defender of the National Party, but what they said was they would not sell the assets in their first term. They didn’t. My very extensive personal experience of politicians of all stripes doesn’t support your view of their inherent dishonesty.

  18. “The logic of tent-squatting in civic squares eludes me. It serves merely to annoy and alienate the general public, whose support the squatters presumably want”.

    Oh dear, Brian you are sounding so much like the oldies who used to chide us for wasting police time while protesting against nuclear weapons, apartheid and Vietnam.

    BE: That would be strange, Sarah, since I was protesting against all three myself. I’m not sure that this ageist personal insult does much for your case. Perhaps you could deal with the argument instead.

  19. “..And why do you set your comments out in this annoying way?..”

    et tu brian..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  20. The problem I have with this protest movement is the lack of any coherent argument or stated objectives, borne out by some of the ramblings of those supporting the movement. With the Bastion Point, Vietnam and South Africa protests there were clear objectives and an understanding of what the protests were about. Those protests achieved their objectives.

    The current mob has this woolly notion that the excesses of capitalism are bad and that we are in a mess because of those excesses. Well as Brian has pointed out you would need to be blind, deaf and dumb not to know this. How setting up a tent in Aotea Square is likely to change anything eludes me.

    The other problem I have is that the sans-culottes whilst raving at the evils of corporate greed, appear to have no problem at enjoying some of the pleasures of that corporate greed. They trot around with their toys – ipads/pods/phones and laptops made in third world countries at slave rates, consuming precious resources all for the greater enrichment of St Steve (for whom you no doubt shed copious tears)and other corporate leaders.

    The one thing in their favour is that they are not using much water whilst protesting since personal hygiene does not appear to be a priority.

    Anyway, Andre, Sam, Phillip et al, you carry on with your self indulgence and your patronising desire to educate the masses whilst us capitalist pigs work to support your indigent life style and pay to clear the squalor you leave behind. Some time I might even get a glimmer of a rational idea from you as to how we might change things that does not involve sitting in a tent.

  21. “..BE: That would be strange.. since I was protesting against all three myself…”

    which makes that/your un-nuanced/dismissive view on this modern popular uprising …which is so glaringly obviously needed..all the more surprising/puzzling…

    ..and i am unsure how you credit such an observation as ‘ageist personal insult’…

    ..phil(whoar.co.nz)

  22. “..“..And why do you set your comments out in this annoying way?..”

    1)..an almost visceral dislike if the effete comma..

    2)..equal disdain for the fake (class-system-booby-prize) honorific of the capital letter…

    3)..and we don’t write as speak..nor do we speak as we write..

    ..in my own little way..i am trying to blur those lines..

    ..to get clearer to the pauses/shambolic-nature of actual speech..

    (can i suggest you read it out loud..?..that may help…

    ..or think of it as eavesdropping on one side of a conversation..)

    ..and i learnt/practised to write for radio..

    ..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

    BE: Pretentious rubbish.

  23. Sorry, Phil, but if you talk the way you write, your audience must be in a catatonic trance.

  24. maybe ben..maybe..

    ..but hey..!

    ..at least that ‘catatonic-audience’ is global..eh..?

    ..google analytics tells me that in the last month my mumblings/news-aggregation at whoar was read in 91 countries..

    ..eh..?

    ..whoar..!

    ..ain’t that inter-webby thing wonderful..!

    (but locally..i am the ron paul of the web-world..heh..!..studiously ignored by all fellow practitioners..)

    ..so don’t be ‘sorry’ there ben..

    ..it’s all good..

    ..eh..?

    ..just that 91-countries stat makes me irredeemably-cheerful/gets me up @5.00am most mornings….

    ..optimistic even..

    ..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  25. I’d have to agree that while I share the Occupy movement’s ideals, the NZ movement has especially been let down by poor execution. For one thing, the original Occupy Wall St had the trade unions on side.

    If you want to see real civil disobedience, look no further than the ITF’s ‘port of convenience’ warning shot at Ports of Auckland. And not to mention Wikileaks and Anonymous – they succeeded in destroying the reputation of HB Gary Federal simply by leaking its dirty laundry on the Internet.

  26. You have been taken over by Phil Ure, beware unless you exclude him he will kill any intelligent discourse.
    He has been banned from most blogs because basically he kills debate through many many repetitive replies that have nothing to do with the original post. He has his own blog so leave him with that please please please.

    BE: I’m rapidly coming to the same conclusion. I’ll have a look at his blog and decide.

  27. “..BE: Pretentious rubbish…”

    of course..!

    what/who isn’t..?

    ..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  28. i mean..as shaw said..

    ‘..a little knowledge is dangerous..

    ..but it is the best we can hope for..”

    anyone claiming more is pretentious by default..

    ..eh..?

    ..’experts’..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  29. people feel marginalised and government have to figure it out. those marginalised don’t have the voice to protest so it would seem the occupy protesters are representing them – but are they? the protesters appear to be representing their own agendas in – not in orchestrated harmony to help the downtrodden and voiceless. get out to homes with books to read to youngsters, organise sports and crafts and hobbies that young people in arid homes are kept from. it is hard but connecting is where its at.

  30. so..bje..no wholesale tax-reform/dis-empowering corporations/banksters etc..?

    ..some macrame and a bit of ball-action will take care of things..?

    ..ya reckon..?

    ..that’ll be enough to reverse a thirty-year class-war against most of us by the 1%..?

    ..btw..b.e..

    what rate do you favour for a capital gains tax..?

    ..15%…?..or what workers pay in tax..?..

    ..that’s a real issue..isn’t it..?..how most politicians/elites/gatekeepers will have to vote against their own interests..eh.?

    ..given so many have investment-properties/trusts…w.h.y..eh..?

    ..it’s like asking turkeys to vote for xmas..

    ..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  31. for b.e/bje..

    (this is from a recent piece by naomi wolf..

    ..that i found today..

    ..that says it far better than i could..)

    “..Responding to climate change requires that we break every rule in the free-market playbook – and that we do so with great urgency.

    We will need to rebuild the public sphere – reverse privatizations – relocalize large parts of economies –

    – scale back overconsumption –

    – bring back long-term planning –

    – heavily regulate and tax corporations –

    – maybe even nationalize some of them –

    – cut military spending and recognize our debts to the global South.

    Of course, none of this has a hope in hell of happening unless it is accompanied by a massive, broad-based effort to radically reduce the influence that corporations have over the political process.

    That means – at a minimum – publicly funded elections and stripping corporations of their status as “people” under the law.

    In short – climate change supercharges the pre-existing case for virtually every progressive demand on the books-

    – binding them into a coherent agenda based on a clear scientific imperative. …

    Climate change detonates the ideological scaffolding on which contemporary conservatism rests.

    There is simply no way to square a belief system that vilifies collective action and venerates total market freedom –

    – with a problem that demands collective action on an unprecedented scale –

    – and a dramatic reining in of the market forces that created and are deepening the crisis…”

    (see what i mean..?..

    ..this is what occupy is all about..

    ..what it is heralding..

    ..and isn’t..’Climate change detonates the ideological scaffolding on which contemporary conservatism rests.’ a great line..

    ..eh..?

    ..(wish i’d thought of that..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  32. “google analytics tells me that in the last month my mumblings/news-aggregation at whoar was read in 91 countries..”

    Your incoherent dribbling probably makes sense to those who speak Swahili or Serbo Croat.

  33. Fair comment BE.

    We have been aware of the inequality gap for a long time… yet somehow we are failing to get it all to change. I guess I am running out of ideas as far as using the democratic process, and am happy to seem some people take a more radical approach.

  34. @Ben: “Your incoherent dribbling probably makes sense to those who speak Swahili or Serbo Croat.”

    Nicely put, sir. Mr Ure’s rambling and poorly punctuated posts are difficult to read and add little to any intelligent discussion.

    Most website stats show visits from all over the world, but the obscure ones almost always turn out to be automated bots looking for sites to exploit. Mr Ure is welcome to believe that he has a dedicated following in Russia, Nigeria and Belarus. And I’d have to say that those automated bots probably make more sense of his ravings than any human ever could. The sad fact is that Mr Ure’s little whoar blog has a Google pagerank of ZERO – that provides an accurate measure of its international popularity.

  35. I generally like the variety of opinion of contributors to this blog, but please Brian can you put a restraint on Phil Ures ramblings. Is he carrying out some type of writing survey to see how readers react, does he think he really is an intellectual or is he just being annoying? It would be ok if his concepts were worth commenting on, but it is just egocentric rubbish. As for whats left of the occupy group – probably a few passionate diehards who truely understand the nature of the origin of the occupy protest, but there does appear to be a majority (of the few that are left) who are anti-establishment individuals who see this an an opportunity to break the law.

  36. Sam: “We have been aware of the inequality gap for a long time…”

    Some questions for you, Sam. Who are the ‘we’? Is it only those parked in tents who have undergone this great enlightenment?

    And how long have you been aware of this gap? From your postings I suspect you are barely out of nappies.

    It may come as a shock to you, but even those like Mr Edwards and me, who are both in our dotage (BE, please pardon he sexist crap) were aware 50 years ago of this gap. In some ways the gap was worse then because it was not as well publicised and those at the bottom of the heap did not complain.

    I suggest you study the work of the great social reformers of the 19th century. They were well aware of the equality gap but they did something about it. They did not pitch a tent, wring their hands and go around crying ‘woe is me’. Read some social history.

    You may possibly be aware of a hymn, “All Things Bright and Beautiful”. What you probably do not know is that it used to contain the lines, long since expunged by the Anglican Church, “the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, God made the high and lowly and ordered their estate.”

    My point is that there has been an equality gap ever since mankind walked on this earth. Thank God though, there have always been people prepared to do something practical to help close that gap. These people do not peck away at their keyboards and issue patronising sermons; they do something worthwhile.

    I have previously been warned by JC not to lapse into personal abuse so I must be careful, but you and your friends give me a sharp pain in a delicate region. Grow up and do something useful with your life.

  37. @Ben: Greed and capitalism overlap, but they’re not one and the same. Also, back in your day, crass materialism wasn’t the quasi-religion that it is today, and heavy industry back then was an unwritten social compact.

    The targets are easy to identify – financiers and politicians who think they’re a law unto themselves, and preach austerity in public but practice excess in private. In other words, socialism for the rich.

    The problem is how to deal with them, given their armies of turd polishers, security personnel, slush funds, old boys networks and tax havens. But I do believe they have an Achilles heel, as WikiLeaks and Anonymous are increasingly showing.

  38. 38

    “I have no doubt that many of the protesters were sincere and well-intentioned, but I very much doubt that their actions had any positive effect on what was already informed public opinion. Or possibly the very opposite effect to what they hoped to achieve.”

    Perhaps Brian, but you are perhaps also being a tad generous in your assumptions of the extent of informed opinion in this country. While I don’t agree with everything the protesters have done, they have got their smelly, unkempt presence into the face of a complacent ‘I’m all right’ unpoliticised middle class that otherwise doesn’t give a tinker’s cuss about economic disparity. The problem is that the protesters, in the nature of Kiwis really aren’t very good at seeing when the window of opportunity has closed, let go, and move on.

  39. I don’t know why water canons weren’t used, once the order to vacate was ignored. It would have brought about a quick resolution and achieved the dual result of bringing down the tents and giving the dirty squatters a real high-pressured shower to wash off all their smelly BO and grime.

  40. Thanks for your comments Ben. I was actually just thanking BE for his comments which were helpful.

    As to your response…. I am so glad that society’s current state is the fruit of the ‘practical steps’ taken by people throughout history. Their methods have clearly been a roaring success. To argue that inequality has existed throughout history and has been worse is useless, and proves nothing.

    The fact that you (and a huge number of your generational compatriots) are willing to simply dismiss our (read younger people) thoughts and suggestions out of hand from a position of some sort of aged wisdom is pathetic. Your entire comment is premised on false assumptions.

    Many of us younger folk are working in practical ways to address the grievances we have.

    Maybe you could cut out the abuse and cut out the arrogant assumptions. I’m not in a tent, but I appreciate their efforts, I for one, am looking at other ways, but I don’t feel the need to belittle their legitimate grievance in the process.

    It is also patently wrong to judge the ‘occupy movement’ by New Zealand’s attempt to be part of it. It being a global movement and all….

  41. Sam, I do not dismiss your thoughts; I merely object to the patronising assumption on your part that your generation has a monopoly on compassion and that you have made the Eureka discovery of poverty and inequality.

  42. @phillip ure.. – What a load of old clarts your excuse for failing to use an agreed form of written English is! Dislike of a using a capital? Pretentious new age tosh. Don’t like apostrophe? What, are you over compensating by abusing the period? And we don’t write like we talk? What are you on about man? Talking and writing are different things,that is why they are done differently. If you can’t see that blinding bit of the bleeding obvious then you are blathering idiot. Now listen up sport. All of the above could be forgivable. God help us, that Irish twit James Joyce got away with all sorts of mangling twaddle on account of his genius. But you are not a genius, so you are reduced to the ranks of the mere mortals like the rest of us. And you know what? I don’t read your posts anymore. They are poorly constructed ramblings. So there. You fail the most basic language test of them all – that of communication. I think English is far to beautiful a language to waste my time trying to decipher your pseudo-hippy grammatical revolt of one. So do us all a favour. Starrt to write in a form that people can understand. If you take communicating seriously, you might discover people start taking you seriously in return.

    Now, on to the occupy movement. Because it some ways phillip ures self-indulgent and Quixotic little tilting at wind-mills war on English is symbolic of the sort of thinking that has rendered the occupy movement so singularly ineffective. I am actually a supporter of these grimy occupiers. Because they are right. They are on the right side of morality. I support their occupations and I hope they provke a violent response, because it is only through violence that people can force change. What level of violence it takes depends on how corrupt and decadent the regime is. A benign, inclusive and responsive democracy doesn’t require a civil war a la Syria or Libya, but it is a given confrontation is always required for change. Now, if you are sufficiently convinced of the rightness of your cause you don’t need to carry popular opinion to force change through confrontation. Popular opinion is just that, it is not a moral force. Hunger strikes, arrests, jail terms, occupations, marches, putting your body on the line for what you believe is a moral force. Just ask Archibald Baxter. To my mind, what has consigned the occupy movement to irrelevance is its hopeless self-indulgence. To put it bluntly they have eschewed the discipline of having goals, objectives, and demands in favour of a lazy “collective” leadership which absolves them from doing anything useful whatsoever beyond sitting on their collective arses in a park have interminable meeting to ensure they respect everyones point of view. No one wearily hurrying past their camp on their way to their job is going to respect a bunch of unkempt lazy bastards sitting around preaching new age sounding twaddle. All politics is about proletyzing. And to proletyze effectively you need to need to lead by example. My great-great grandmoter hated liquor and she made sure she did something about it. If our occupy movement had been modelled more on the temperance movement (up at 6am for a rousing rendition of whatever modern version of “Onward Christian Soldiers” floats their boat, then regular shifts outside that modern day temples of sin Goldman-Sachs HQ with pamphlets and placards) than an attempt by a bunch of drop outs to re-imagine Woodstock a lot more may have been achieved. As it is, the occupiers may have actually discredited the idea of popular, effective, mainstream opposition to our current capitalist hegemony. No wonder the right is rubbing its hands in glee and talking up the prospects of the Green party replacing Labour as the primary opposition. They know just how useless that sort of “activistism” is is doing anything other than pleasing spoilt brats and prima donnas who demand their opinion be entered in the meeting record. Assuming they keep a record, that is. assuming they keep a record, that is.

  43. Sanctuary, I have no quarrel with what you say, but it would make it easier for the reader if you were to make better use of paragraphs.

  44. re the postings from phillip ure..

    I reckon, I’ve got this boy figured out.
    In an earlier post, he lays claim to having studied politics at a university; that would account for the way he constructs his prose.

    Of course, it could be a real double whammy and that he also suffers from a speech impediment by being a stammering dyslexic. Let’s all be tolerant.
    Please!

    BE: Since I have (temporarily at least) stopped publishing Phillip Ure’s comments, it would be entirely unfair to continue to publish criticism of him to which he cannot respond. So this humorous attempt will be the last.

  45. So, while I agree with the basic idea of the protests I think that the original message (in NZ, at any rate) has been diluted by a bunch of special interest groups who have thrown their lot in to get some cheap publicity.

    In my mind the central issue is not just about haves and have-nots but about how our politicians are in the process of selling our political system to the highest corporate bidder. We see this through public disillusion regarding the way that the recent anti-piracy laws were passed, the deposit guarantee schemes, sale (and sometimes buy back) of assets, etc.

    I think a big step in the right direction would be for politicians to be completely open about who has been lobbying them and for what end. Even if the reality isn’t as seedy as people imagine, at least the public will have a little more faith in our leaders, which would be a starting point.

  46. @Ben, blame the iPad.

  47. Interesting… What is also interesting is some of the financial and other connections the movement has and where it seems to have started from.

    http://strathmorepark.org/2011/12/02/challenging-the-occupy-movement-disinformation-manipulation-on-the-protest-line-occupynz/

  48. There’s a heap of difference between (a) lazing about in tents (because you have the state-funded time to do so) in an area funded and upkept by the very process about which you’re complaining, surrounded by infrastructure (free toilets etc) supplied by the same system (b) and marching (sometimes at risk) to protest against something. The very indolence of the “occupiers” (whose slogan should have beena simple “gimme”) was enough to discount them – they offered nothing except this week’s media sideshow.