07 December 2011

A shameless bit of self-promotion

Harry Browne braves the bitter cold for #OccupyUniversity
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Wednesday 30th November
What follows is shameless bit of self-promotion by me, masked by a reference to a talk by the excellent Mr Harry Browne. You should engage your mental ad-blockers, now.

Harry Browne returned to Dame Street on Wednesday last week, to give his second talk as part of the #OccupyUniversity program (although technically a) he has visited Dame Street many times in between, he just wasn't giving a talk on those occasions and b) his first talk actually happened before there was a formalised #OccupyUniversity program, so this was actually his #OccupyUniversity debut. In many ways Harry Browne is the hipster of #OccupyUniversity, giving talks on Dame Street before it was cool). His first workshop was on the Shannon Peace Camp, but this was on the subject of CrisisJam, the online series of articles on Politico.ie and how it all came to be.

CrisisJam began as BudgetJam, a series on Politico.ie (not to be confused with the entirely unrelated Politico.com) by a group of journalists, writers, economists and academics offering alternative visions to the December Budget process in 2010 in a series of articles and a liveblog. Their intention was to challenge five main myths upheld by the political and economic establishment, 1) the country is broke, 2) we're all in this together, 3) there is no alternative, 4) we have to move on to go forward and 5) the international institutions will give us tough love, which we need. As the Budget was passed and inequality noticeably increased in Ireland (in fact those earning over €200K actually ended up paying less tax thanks to the budget) the group behind BudgetJam saw the need for an ongoing series offering radical alternatives and challenging the rhetoric and dogma of the political and economic elite, and thus CrisisJam was born.

Harry Browne summed this decision up in his workshop by explaining that "You can only start talking about solutions when you have discussed the problem".

In addition to many of the folks behind CrisisJam participating in the #OccupyUniversity program, the series has also followed the development of #OcupyDameStreet since nearly day one, with an interesting array of critical opinions being aired and a good few home truths being raised that the Movement needed to hear. Aside from the more satirical Broadsheet no other Irish media outlet has really taken the time to understand what the #Occupy Movement in Ireland is actually about. As with Broadsheet, their coverage isn't always positive, but at least they have a fair idea what they are talking about.

In the interests of full disclosure here I must admit that of course I am no longer an unbiased observer in all this, for shortly after #OccupyDameStreet began I was contacted by Politico.ie to see if they could repost a few of my articles from the first week of life on Occupied Dame Street, and since then they have gone on to publish a few more, including things that have nothing to do with Dame Street, Occupied or otherwise. This doesn't invalidate my analysis of Harry Browne as being tragically hip, nor detract from my recommendation of Politico.ie and Crisisjam as being a good place to go for an informed and alternative take on our current political and economic malaise, it is more a caveat on my use of the phrases "informed" and "fair idea what they are talking about" which obviously no more apply to my own flawed contributions than do the phrases "good grasp of English grammar and spelling" or "concise, direct and to the point".

No matter, if you want to catch up on what you have been missing of mine on Politico.ie the links to some of the more cognizant articles are below, and while most have also appeared in some form or another on the pages of this very blog, reading them on Politico.ie shows how much better everything is when recast through the skills of a very good editor.

'Support the 99%!' Protesters occupy Dublin's Dame Street - 10th October 2011
#OccupyDameStreet - I am the 99% - 15th October, 2011
The #Occupy movement: Strength through disunity - 2nd November, 2011
It hasn't gone away, you know. - 1st December, 2011
A chariot worth 4.58 million bondmaids - 7th December, 2011

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