What do the 99% want?

“We are the 99%”

“We sit in peace and we have strength in numbers”

Bankers got a bail-out, we got sold out”

“Neoliberalism sucks, lets try something else. Come on!”

These were some of the key messages that people brought with them today as they occupied St. Paul’s square. The Occupy the Londons Stock Exchange action is supported by UK Uncut, The London-based Assembly of the Spanish 15M movement, internet activist group Anonymous and other groups, using for co-ordination social media like twitter and facebook to spread out messages.

Between 3 000-5 000 people gathered around 12h on 15 October at the square in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral. According to their press release the aim is to occupy the London Stock Exchange as part of a global movement for real democracy that aims to highlight the social and economic injustice in the UK and beyond.

An estimated total cost of the financial bail-out to 1.3 trillion GBP and planned public sector cuts of 83 billion GBP by 2014-2015 in effect has resulted in cutting the income of 99% of the people. At the same time the remaining 1% and corporations continue to reap profits and avoid taxes (UK Uncut estimate 95 billion GBP a year of tax dodging in the UK).

The occupation is a continuation of the student and anti-cuts protests that have been taking place across the UK in the last year and a half. It is also part the wider global movement of protests and occupations from across the United States, Madrid, Rome, Toronto, Sidney, Cape Town, Hong Kong, etc. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/16/occupy-protests-europe-london-assange).

Initially planning to occupy the Paternoster Square, demonstrators were met by signs pronouncing the square private property and denying access to it, this was reinforced by police blocking all entries to the square.

As everyone gathered back in front of St. Paul’s it became clear that this is where the occupation will happen. The General Assembly is comprised of everyone who is at the square, people wave their hands if they agree with the speaker or a proposal and cross their hands above their heads if they do not. The aim is to let everyone who wants to speak, have the word and to take all decisions by consensus. It is going to be a long- long process but this is what popular democracy looks like.

They assembled into small groups to discuss the main issues that have to be addressed and how to proceed. Then each group sent a rapporteur who spoke in front of the GA about the main points they agreed on.

12 Working Groups were established, dealing with food, water, sanitation, shelter, as well as internal and external communication, legal and medical support, defence, media, bringing more people in and entertainment. The external communications group was to formulate the message that the assembly wanted to send out to the rest of the world. They came back to the GA with the following statement:

“The current system is broken, undemocratic and unjust. We need alternatives and this is where we start working towards them. We will work on them throughout the occupation.

We are of all ethnicities, ages, gender, class. We stand together with occupations going on across the world and we refuse to pay for the bankers’ crisis.

We support the general strike called for the 30th November and the student protests on 9th November and all other actions to defend the health service, protect welfare, create employment, stop the wars.

We want structural changes, so that the world’s resources are used for the benefit of people and the environment and not the military, corporate profits and the rich.”

In the following days and weeks they will work together towards making these demands more concrete and coherent and articulating detailed and adequate proposals on how to address and re-dress the ongoing systemic crisis.

The next GA is called for noon on 16 October. As night falls it remains to be seen whether police will use excessive force to clear the square of peaceful demonstrators.

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In a strange twist of recognition, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has said that the planned cuts in the police budget should not be carried on (read more). This mean broadly two things: 1) the government plans to cut the police budget are affecting the ability of police to deliver frontline services and ensure public safety and 2) a recognition that its very likely to have more riots.

As the smoke settles down in London, one thing emerges clear: There is a direct causal link between public service provision and public safety, exemplified by the combined map of deprivation in London and the location of riots and looting (map link) (the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) was created in 2004 by the Department for Communities and the Local Government as a method of identifying deprived areas across UK). Areas like Tottenham, where youth unemployment is 23% and 8 out of the 13 youth centres have closed down in the last months present a snapshot of some of the conditions behind the riots. However, in trying to understand who is behind these riots, it is very important not to generalise that every person living in a deprived area will automatically begin to loot, on the contrary, people from all communities have joined hands to clean up in the aftermath of the riots (read more).

The student protests in spring this year called attention to the growing dissatisfaction with government policy and the real dangers for social stability of the planned cuts in education, healthcare, youth services, social welfare, police, fire, etc. So far they have not been proven wrong.

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London Riots

Map of UK and London riots: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14436499

A 29 year man, Mark Duggan, was shot in the face by police in Tottenham, north London last Thursday (4 August). To protest against police brutality and racism a group of family and friends gathered the next day in front of Tottenham police station. After waiting for hours of no avail the gathered exploded into a violent protest attacking a police car. A lot of questions are opened about what exactly followed and how the worst riots in British modern history exploded. In London the riot spread from Tottenham to Lewisham, Peckham, Clapham, Hackney, Ealing and others. This has spread across the country to Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham. The details of the incident and what followed are beginning to emerge: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/aug/09/mark-duggan-police-ipcc

But amid the burning fires, looted shops, violence and fear it is important to stand back and reflect on the deep social divisions that have began to cut through British society. Asking questions about the “why”, “how”, wherefrom” is important not only to understand the dynamics of the riots and how to deal with them, it is important to address the causes. As the UK government austerity measures and unprecedented cuts to public and social services have began to affect the most disenfranchised members of British society, the growing inequality has exploded violently on prime time television. Poverty, unemployment, lack of vision and prospects combined with the removal of safety nets are among the systemic factors that underlie the social divisions, growing inequality and growing instability of the world system.

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The rain does not scare us

just if you were wondering…

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Expressing agreement and support at the General assembly

Every day the square changes.

There were a dwindling number of Indignados on Plaza Catalunya when the police attacked on the morning of 27 May. 121 were reported injured, of whom 4 seriously. The brutal and futile use of force completely failed to achieve any of its goals and showed again how much out of touch the political system was with what was happening on the ground. It also served as a catalyst of a growing support, as thousands came to express their support for non-violence and peaceful resistance, the tents were soon up again, the committees buzzing and running with renewed energy.

Then, on Saturday, before the Championship Finals they voted to clear themselves the square of any objects that may cause physical harm, following the game, as thousands would gather at the square if Barca won. So all the tents, fences, the generator, computers, were cleared and there were only their sleeping bags left.

On Sunday night at 22.30h they gathered again for a general assembly, this time there were around 5 thousand people. The whole of the square was covered with them, outraged, committed, doubting, curious, of all ages and occupations. Waving their hands in the air when they agreed with what the speakers where saying. Their weakness of being without clear goal and strategy turned into strength by the exploration of all possible options and the invention of new ones. Their strength in their growing numbers coupled with their conviction that if the system were ever to change it would be them, and the tens of thousands across Spain, who would provoke this. 

The Comunal Organisation of Plaza Catalunya, showing the structure with the general assempbly at the centre and the various committees (for communication, international links, information, outreach, education, legal, sanitation, food, etc.) and the sub-committees (transaltion, radio, newspapers, theater, dance, etc.)

The Tattoo Committee ;)

Someone brought this one over from Greece

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Politics vs Football: Spanish style

“Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar” A. Machado

Today, 28 May Barlecona plays Manchester United in the Football Champions League Final and if they win everyone will gather at Bafcelona´s Plaza Catalunya, where protesrets have been camping since the 15 May. Using this as na excuse to clean up police crushed down heavy handedly on the protesters at 6am in the morning on 27 May. They entered the square with batons, air guns and cleaning trucks and a helicopter above for maximum impact. As a result 140 people were injured and in hospital as the calls of “Peaceful Resistance” were met with baton sticks.

As Police cleared the square, they took away tents, equipment, computers with them. However, as news of the police operation spread, thousands more people came down to the square to support the protest.  As the Mossos (Catalan Police) receded down calle Fontanella, the demonstartors took the square over again and in a few hours the tents and canvases were going back up, the committees running, even plants were being planted.

They call themselves Los Indignados – “the outraged” a movement accross Spain that started on 15 May. They were only 40 people at the beginning. Now there are tens of thousands in over 50 Spanish cities. Most importantly this movement is without the support of any political party or trade union.

The outraged want citizens to regain their voices – as in a participative democracy embodied by neighborhood associations, and in favor of the right to vote for immigrants. Practically, they want a reform of the Spanish electoral law; more popular say on public budgets; political and fiscal reform; increased taxes for higher incomes; a higher minimum wage; and more control over big banking and financial capitalism.


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Spain rocks!

Against the backdrop of one of the highest unemployment rates among young people in Europe, the Spanish take to the streets and a change of mentality has begun:

And each poster has a clear message:




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Protesters occupy Puerta del Sol in Madrid

Peaceful protester occupy the Puerta del Sol square in the centre of Madrid to protest against government planned cuts in public spending in Spain.


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The continuing Lybian uprising and the future of Western intervention there

The chairman of the Libyan Transitional National Authority, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, has recognised the key role of NATO-led intervention in Libya but has called for the international community to “Give us the means to liberate ourselves and we will astonish the world”.

Amids reports of significant damage caused by NATO air strikes coupled with their inability to support rebels enough to bring an end to the civil war, Prof. Gilbert Achcar argues for the need to provide enough technical support to the Libyan insurgents but against any further ground interventions by NATO allies. “These NATO powers are preparing the conditions for such an invasion by the very fact that they refuse to deliver to the insurgents the arms and equipment they need to defeat Gaddafi’s forces, thus enabling the latter to progress to a point where the Libyan insurgents themselves may feel compelled to request the ground intervention that they have rightly and resolutely rejected until now. A first victory of this Machiavellian manoeuvre is the fact that the insurgents in Misrata have asked for an intervention on the ground after despairing of NATO’s ability to stop from the air and sea the advance of Gaddafi’s forces”.

(Read full article)

In the meantime, as the Arab world continues to shake, the government of Syria has resorted to using tanks against its own people protesting in the town of Daraa (BBC).

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Interview with an Anarchist

Young anti-capitalist activist Che talks about the motivation of young students behind direct action at London’s March for the Alternatives that took place on 26 of March.


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