29 October 2011

#OccupyDameStreet - Marches and Neighbours

Blue skies over O'Connell Street
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Saturday 29th October
The clouds vanished from the sky this afternoon to see a much more subdued march than last week's jubilant two thousand pass once again down O'Connell Street from the Garden of Remembrance and on to the site of Occupied Dame Street. I worried when this week's event was called that the good people of Dublin might start to exhibit the signs of march fatigue, and while those who did attend were no less committed than in previous weeks, it canot be denied that they were significantly fewer in number.

Passing the GPO. That masked fella sure does get around a fair bit.
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Saturday 29th October
One challenge that #OccupyDameStreet will need to address very soon now that it has entered its fourth week of existence is (somewhat ironically given my earlier castigation of journalists for demanding an answer to this very same question) the "what" of the Movement. For three weeks now we have been looking for a conversation to start amongst the people of Ireland, and it is clear from the interactions we have had with the members of the wider public and from the results in the two Referenda held on Thursday that the people are talking (even if it is not necessarily because of us). The time is fast approaching when #OccupyDameStreet can no longer simply ask that a conversation happens, it needs to start looking at where that conversation is going, and what happens when, and if, it starts to reach some conclusions.

It may be that today's smaller march numbers are an indication that #OccupyDameStreet is transitioning from Protest to Process, that people are more focused on what happens next and this, perhaps, is a good thing, a sign of the maturation of the Movement and its transition from reaction to action.

The March passes by the Spire
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Saturday 29th October
There was also a bit of a cerfuffle over the Socialist Workers' Party and their "Enough" Campaign. Apparently throughout the week talks had been going on with them about the possibility of inviting them to join in today's march in a show of Left Unity. At last night's General Assembly (which unfortunately I was not at, for reasons that I will elaborate on in a later post) a sizable number of people were deeply unhappy with this suggestion, and so consensus on the issue was not reached. The SWP were asked to respect this and while they were invited to take part in the march as individuals, they were asked to leave their political banners behind and refrain from fundraising, leafleting and recruiting. Unfortunately as the march gathered at the Garden of Remembrance this afternoon, the SWP arrived with their "Enough" banners, and during the open mic session at the start they actively publicised their campaign, much to the annoyance of many in the crowd. This may have contributed to the subdued mood on the march, with folks concerned that an attempt was being made to hijack it all. The tension boiled over at the post-march Assembly, with the SWP being criticized by many for basically being bad neighbours and not respecting the decisions taken at previous Assemblies.

No other issue provokes so many heated conversations in General Assemblies, and the actions of the SWP today will not have won over any converts to their side of the argument.

Under the clock at Clery's
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Saturday 29th October
Now, I love me a good march, so I do, but I also think that marches are one of the tools of the old political order, an order that has failed to connect directly with the people. I hope that #OccupyDameStreet avoids the mistakes of so many groups before them, falling into the trap of marching for marching's sake and running out of steam as each week fewer and fewer people rally to the cry. The jigs and reels at last week's march show how a spark of imagination can lift a crowd away from the bricks and mortar upon which they stand, and such moments of joy are what need to be seized upon to engage with a wider audience beyond the slick wet asphalt of Dame Street.

The revolution will be bought on Amazon for £5.99 plus shipping. One size fits all.
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Saturday 29th October
Also, people really, really like that mask from V for Vendetta. I'm sure its great and all to be Anonymous, but it really messes things up when I go up to someone and carry on a conversation with them for five minutes before I realise that they're not the person I was looking for. To be honest the height, hair colour and possibly gender should have been a giveaway, but I was having a bit of a slow day.

Alan Moore must be so happy to see his work everywhere, and know that every mask sold gives DC Comics and Time Warner a little more money and him not a single penny.

Hooray for Anonymous!

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At 7:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, members of Anonymous also go to supermarkets, own cars, computers, cameras and even pay for internet access. You don't have to completely remove yourself from a system in order to effectively criticize it - Wake up..

At 9:17 pm, Blogger Unkie Dave said...

Actually my snarky comment wasn't about the nature or actions of Anonymous, more the adoption by so many people of a piece of movie merchandise that seemed to offer no benefit to 50% of its original creator team - but in researching a reply to this comment I discovered that Mr Moore seems fine with the whole thing.

So chagrined am I that I felt a simple comment wasn't enough, so I went and wrote a new post about it here.


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