About Occupy London

It’s been four years since the financial crisis hit. Governments have failed catastrophically to implement the economic change needed to prevent it happening again. They have failed to protect their citizens’ interests against those of corporations and the financial markets. Ordinary people – families, small businesses and communities – are being forced to pay for a crisis they didn’t cause.

Occupy London is part of the global social movement that has brought together concerned citizens from across the world against this injustice and to fight for a sustainable economy that puts people and the environment we live in before corporate profits.

 

The leaderless model of Occupy has allowed diverse voices to be heard meaning that every individual who participates stands equal to everyone else making Occupy a true people’s movement.

Decisions are taken democratically by the General Assembly which is open for everyone to submit proposals, attend, debate and decide. The decisions are implemented by the Occupy London Working Groups also open to everyone to bring their skills and enthusiasm for positive change.

For more details on what Occupy London stands for please read the Statements agreed by consensus at the General Assembly.

 

The following statements were agreed by consensus at the General Assembly.

Initial Statement

This initial statement was collectively agreed by over 500 people on the steps of St Paul’s on 26 October 2011. Like all forms of direct democracy, the statement will always be a work in progress and is used as a basis for further discussion and debate.

  1. The current system is unsustainable. It is undemocratic and unjust. We need alternatives; this is where we work towards them.
  2. We are of all ethnicities, backgrounds, genders, generations, sexualities dis/abilities and faiths. We stand together with occupations all over the world.
  3. We refuse to pay for the banks’ crisis.
  4. We do not accept the cuts as either necessary or inevitable. We demand an end to global tax injustice and our democracy representing corporations instead of the people.
  5. We want regulators to be genuinely independent of the industries they regulate.
  6. We support the strike on the 30th November and the student action on the 9th November, and actions to defend our health services, welfare, education and employment, and to stop wars and arms dealing.
  7. We want structural change towards authentic global equality. The world’s resources must go towards caring for people and the planet, not the military, corporate profits or the rich.
  8. The present economic system pollutes land, sea and air, is causing massive loss of natural species and environments, and is accelerating humanity towards irreversible climate change. We call for a positive, sustainable economic system that benefits present and future generations. [1]
  9. We stand in solidarity with the global oppressed and we call for an end to the actions of our government and others in causing this oppression.
  10. This is what democracy looks like. Come and join us!

Notes

[1] Article 8 was added to the statement following a proposal being passed by the Occupy London General Assembly on 19 November 2011.

Safer Space Policy

Open discussion is at the heart of our Occupation and our decision-making process. The more people we can involve in our debates, the stronger and more representative the results will be.

Occupy London wants to operate and conduct our discussions in a safe anti-oppressive space – whether offline or online – that is welcoming, engaging and supportive.

In order to ensure this we feel it is necessary to establish some guidelines for participants. These have been agreed by the OccupyLSX General Assembly.

Please note that, as with all forms of direct democracy this policy is a work in progress. Suggestions are welcome.

1. Racism, as well as ageism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, ableism or prejudice based on ethnicity, nationality, class, gender, gender presentation, language ability, asylum status or religious affiliation is unacceptable and will be challenged.

2. Respect each other’s physical and emotional boundaries, always get explicit verbal consent before touching someone or crossing boundaries.

3. Be aware of the space you take up and the positions and privileges you bring, including racial, class and gender privilege.

4. Avoid assuming the opinions and identifications of other participants.

5. Recognize that we try not to judge, put each other down or compete.

6. Be aware of the language you use in discussion and how you relate to others. Try to speak slowly and clearly and use uncomplicated language.

7. The group endeavors as much as is feasible to ensure that meeting spaces are as accessible as possible to the widest range of people.

8. Foster a spirit of mutual respect: Listen to the wisdom everyone brings to the group.

9. Give each person the time and space to speak. In large groups, or for groups using facilitation: Raise your hand to speak.

10. “Respect the person; challenge their behaviour.”

11. If someone violates these agreements a discussion or mediation process can happen, depending on the wishes of the person who was violated. If a serious violation happens to the extent that someone feels unsafe, they can be asked to leave the space and/or speak with a person or process nominated by those present.

12. Whilst ground rules are collective responsibility everyone is also personally responsible for their own behaviour.

13. Occupy London is an alcohol and drugs free space.

Statement of Autonomy

This statement of autonomy by Occupy London reached consensus at the General Assembly by St Paul’s Cathedral on 14th December 2011.

Occupy London is a people’s movement. It is party-less, leaderless, by the people and for the people. It is not a business, a political party, an advertising campaign or a brand. It is not for sale.

We welcome all, who in good faith, seek redress of grievances through non-violence. We provide a forum for peaceful assembly of individuals to engage in participatory as opposed to partisan debate and democracy. We welcome a diversity of opinion, particularly those gained from direct experience, and are open to amending or modifying proposals based on what we hear and compatible with our stated intentions.

Any statement or declaration not released through the General Assembly and made public online at occupylsx.org should be considered independent of Occupy London.

We wish to clarify that Occupy London is not and never has been affiliated with any established political party, candidate or organisation. Our only affiliation is with the people.

The people who are working together to create this movement are its sole and mutual caretakers. If you have chosen to devote resources to building this movement, especially your time and effort, then it is yours.

Any organisation is welcome to support us with the knowledge that doing so will mean questioning your own institutional frameworks of work and hierarchy and integrating our principles into your modes of action.

SPEAK WITH US, NOT FOR US.

Occupy London values collective resources, dignity, integrity and autonomy above money. We have not made endorsements. All donations received are transparently allocated.

We acknowledge the existence of professional activists who work to make our world a better place. If you are representing, or being compensated by an independent source while participating in our process, please disclose your affiliation at the outset. Those seeking to capitalise on this movement or undermine it by appropriating its message or symbols are not a part of Occupy London.

We stand in solidarity. We are Occupy London.

International Statement

This statement from Occupy London’s International Outreach Working Group to create global dialogue reached consensus at the General Assembly by St Paul’s Cathedral in November 2011.

  • Our global system is unsustainable. It is undemocratic and unjust, driven by profit in the interest of the few.
  • An economic system based on infinite growth, but which relies on finite resources, is leading humanity and the environment to destruction. As long as this system remains in place, people of the world continue to suffer from an increasingly unfair share of income and wealth.
  • We seek a global system that is democratic, just and sustainable. The world’s resources must not go to the military or corporate profit, but instead go towards caring for people’s needs: water, food, housing, education, health, community.


An international, global collaboration has started, and is working on a statement that will unite the occupy movements across the world in their struggle for an alternative that is focused on and originates from people and their environment.

Press release: http://occupyLSX.org/?p=733

 

Economics Statement

This initial statement by Occupy London’s Economic Working Group reached consensus at the General Assembly by St Paul’s Cathedral on 6th December 2011.

Our economy is in crisis and urgently requires profound changes; both small and immediate as well as radical and systemic. This statement is intended to be a springboard for discussion, both within Occupy LSX and beyond, about how to achieve this transformation.

Occupy LSX has been labelled as many things but what unites us is our commitment to economic justice and social equality. We are part of a worldwide movement working to create a more equitable, democratic and sustainable society which will ultimately benefit everyone. Below we outline some of the major issues in the current economic system that need to be addressed.

1. Banks and financial institutions need to be accountable to society
Financial institutions have increased in size to dominate our economy but have not become socially accountable in line with their increased power. Since 2008 hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs and millions have experienced pain and hardship because of reckless financial practices. The debts incurred have been loaded onto almost every person in this country while a wealthy elite further enrich themselves. Despite promises of reform, banks have been allowed to continue business as normal. Remuneration practices that irresponsibly reward risk and speculative behaviour must end, and deeper structural changes must follow, or our financial system will inevitably continue to fail.

2. Current austerity measures are making a bad situation worse
The UK government’s approach is damaging its own citizens now and the future of generations to come. Cuts to public services are having a disastrous impact on education, employment, business, health, social care and law and order. We oppose the unfair cuts and regressive taxes, currently inflicted on those vulnerable groups least able to bear the burden. Women especially pick up the pieces, often through unwaged work. Deep and painful cuts, coupled with increased taxation, have been put in place based on political motives and flawed beliefs. The strategy is misguided, damaging and not working.

3. The current economic system is unsustainable
Our economy encourages short-term profit at the expense of long-term sustainability. Not only does it precipitate environmental damage, it is also ill equipped to remedy it. It has fuelled a proliferation of financial debt and is piling up ecological damage that future generations may never be able to repair. The climate crisis and dwindling energy and mineral resources, land to build and produce food on, and the growing population, are incompatible with the prevailing economic strategy. We must rewrite the rules of the economy in the interests of sustainability and wellbeing.

4. Tackle systemic economic inequality
The economic system we live in increasingly benefits the few over the many. We believe it is fundamental to the future health of society to reduce economic inequality and its grave social consequences. There has been a widening of the chasm between rich and poor in the last 30 years and a persistent gender and age pay gap. Inequality has torn apart families, left children hungry and without care, pensioners to freeze and turned communities against each other in a battle for housing and other scarce resources. Many within society are burdened with crippling debt. It cannot continue. We must acknowledge the role of the monetary and current tax system in perpetuating and augmenting inequality. It is not enough to redress the excesses of the system: we must reverse the damage done.

5. Clamp down on tax avoidance
Our economy allows widespread avoidance of tax by those able to afford it. There has to be reform to the tax system to ensure that those with the greatest capacity to pay tax do not have the greatest capacity to avoid it. We must abolish the use of tax havens and complex corporate tax structures and loopholes that allow corporations, financial institutions and the wealthiest individuals to avoid contributing their fair share to society.

6. Independent and effective regulation
We call for effective regulation that works for the good of our society. Regulators must be totally independent, transparent, publicly accountable and provided with proper enforcement powers. Dangerous and highly leveraged trading practices have not been regulated properly. Britain must cease obstructing international efforts and take the lead in developing stronger regulation.

The St Paul’s Institute found that 75% of financial services workers agree with us that the gap between rich and poor is too wide [1]. Occupy London is creating an open, participatory space to confront the problems at the heart of our financial system, outside of the confines of current political discourse.

[1] St Paul’s Institute – Value and Values report

Corporations Statement

This initial statement of Occupy London’s Corporations Working Group reached consensus at the General Assembly by St Paul’s Cathedral on 25th November 2011.

Of the world’s 100 largest economic entities in 2000, 51 were corporations and 49 were countries. [1]

With its relentless pursuit of profit at all cost, the present corporate system fits the definition of a psychopath, driving the rapid destruction of our society and the natural environment. [2] This is done only to benefit a small minority and not the needs of the 99 per cent. The way corporations and governments are intertwined fundamentally undermines democracy. Corporations are rarely transparent or accountable to the people. This corporate system is broken and we call on the people to reclaim their power and bring about a radical and immediate change.

We propose these following points as first steps towards this:

Globally, corporations deprive the public purse of hundreds of billions of pounds each year, leaving insufficient funds to provide people with fair living standards. We must abolish tax havens and complex tax avoidance schemes, and ensure corporations pay tax that accurately reflects their real profits.

Corporate lobbying subverts our democracy. Last year corporations spent £2 billion influencing the British government. We believe exploitative corporate lobbying has no place in a democratic society. Legislation to ensure full and public transparency of all corporate lobbying activities must be put in place. This should be overseen by a credible and independent body, directly accountable to the people.

The existing system of corporate sanctions allows executives and board members to avoid individual responsibility for the consequences of their actions and inactions. Those directly involved in the decision-making process must be held personally liable for their role in the misdeeds of their corporations and duly charged for all criminal behaviour.

A welcome development at Occupy London is that many people working within these corporations have communicated support for our concerns. We encourage anyone to come forward and offer their opinions, or any relevant information, either openly or confidentially, to add to this discussion.

We recognise that corporate employees may feel like they do not have the power alone to create change, but by welcoming them into talks with Occupy London and working together, we can create a socially responsible and sustainable economic system.

Notes
[1] Sales: Fortune, July 31, 2000. GDP: World Bank, World Development Report 2000
[2] http://www.thecorporation.com/index.cfm?page_id=47http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0218-01.htm

Global Democracy Statement

The United for Global Democracy statement was adopted by Occupy London and reached consensus at the General Assembly by St Paul’s Cathedral in October 2011.

On 15 October 2011, united in our diversity, united for global change, we demand global democracy: global governance by the people, for the people. Inspired by our sisters and brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, New York, Palestine-Israel, Spain and Greece, we too call for a regime change: a global regime change. In the words of Vandana Shiva, the Indian activist, today we demand replacing the G8 with the whole of humanity – the G7,000,000,000.

Undemocratic international institutions are our global Mubarak, our global Assad, our global Gaddafi. These include: the IMF, the WTO, global markets, multinational banks, the G8/G20, the European Central Bank and the UN security council. Like Mubarak and Assad, these institutions must not be allowed to run people’s lives without their consent. We are all born equal, rich or poor, woman or man. Every African and Asian is equal to every European and American. Our global institutions must reflect this, or be overturned.

Today, more than ever before, global forces shape people’s lives. Our jobs, health, housing, education and pensions are controlled by global banks, markets, tax-havens, corporations and financial crises. Our environment is being destroyed by pollution in other continents. Our safety is determined by international wars and international trade in arms, drugs and natural resources. We are losing control over our lives. This must stop. This will stop. The citizens of the world must get control over the decisions that influence them in all levels – from global to local. That is global democracy. That is what we demand today.

Today, like the Mexican Zapatistas, we say “¡Ya basta! Aquí el pueblo manda y el gobierno obedece”: Enough! Here the people command and global institutions obey! Like the Spanish Tomalaplaza we say “Democracia Real Ya”: True global democracy now!” Today we call the citizens of the world: let us globalise Tahrir Square! Let us globalise Puerta del Sol!

Guardian article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/14/manifesto-global-regime-change

City of London Demands

The following demands made of the City of London by Occupy London’s City of London Policy Working Group reached consensus at the General Assembly by St Paul’s Cathedral in November 2011.

  • Publish full, year-by year breakdowns of the City Cash account, future and historic.
  • Make the entirety of its activities subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Detail all advocacy undertaken on behalf of the banking and finance industries, since October 2008.

Press release: http://occupylsx.org/?p=839

Homelessness Statement

Occupy London expresses its support for the massive and growing numbers of homeless people in London and in Britain as a whole.

Having a home is a fundamental human need and right. Only with adequate housing can people successfully contribute to their community in a meaningful way.

Many homeless people have become part of Occupy London and through this have found a sense of community and increased optimism. Many occupiers have unintentionally become homeless during their involvement in Occupy London. In essence, a part of the homeless has become Occupy London, and a part of Occupy London has become the homeless. Together we call for social and economic justice.

Occupy London intends to highlight the issue of homelessness and of eviction of homeless persons from refuges such as St. Paul’s Churchyard. We abhor the violence and intimidation that occupiers and homeless people, around the world, have been subjected to.

Occupy London has been providing tented accommodation for between 30 and 70 homeless people staying at the St Paul’s Occupy site. These people will be affected by eviction of OLSX. We believe that the City of London has a duty of care towards them and that they should be offered accommodation that ensures their safety, dignity and freedom – that is, in homes, not hostels.
Existing systems and shelters fail to provide homeless people with support, access to acceptable shelter, and homes. The hurdles that homeless people have to overcome are too high; they are unnecessarily bureaucratic and dehumanising. Hostels can be dangerous places and are often not available unless a person has a history in the local area.

Homes are being lost because of cuts to housing and other benefits, because of job losses, wage cuts, loss of council housing and mortgage default repossessions. Landlords and the rents they charge remain unregulated and in some cases landlords are unscrupulous, without compassion and even exploit the social welfare system.

Occupy London calls upon the City of London, on the Greater London Authority, on local and national government, on churches and on businesses to open up vital space for short-life and long-term housing schemes so that empty buildings can be put to good use and self-help communities can be established.

There are nearly 1,000,000 homeless people in Britain and 2,000,000 families in need of suitable housing; yet there are over 7,438 hectares of public land, 930,000 empty homes and many other empty buildings that could be used to provide homes.

The money to tackle these problems and implement solutions does exist. Billions in bonuses, executive pay, tax havens and corporate profits could be put to wiser and wider use.

[Homeless people include rough sleepers, sofa-surfers, hostel dwellers, those sleeping in other insecure and unsuitable places and those who are considered to be of 'no fixed abode'.]

Online Safe Space Policy

Open discussion is at the heart of Occupy London. The more people we can involve in our debates, the stronger and more representative the results will be.
Occupy London wants to operate and conduct our discussions in a safe space that is welcoming, engaging and supportive. In order to ensure this we have established some guidelines for participants. These have been agreed by the OccupyLSX General Assembly.
Please note that, as with all forms of direct democracy, this policy is a work in progress. Suggestions are welcome.

1. Safer space. Racism, as well as ageism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, ableism or prejudice based on ethnicity, impairment, nationality, class, gender, gender presentation, language ability, asylum status or religious affiliation will not be tolerated.

2. Respect. Foster a spirit of mutual respect: Listen to the wisdom everyone brings to the group. Recognize that we try not to judge, put each other down or compete.

3. Assumptions. Avoid assuming the opinions and identifications of other participants. If in doubt, ask.

4. Awareness. Be aware of the language you use in discussion and how you relate to others. Be conscious that people may understand your words differently than you intended.

5. Accessibility. Try to communicate clearly and use plain language. Remember Occupy aims to be the movement of the 99%, so be mindful of diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

6. Criticism. Constructive criticism and dissent are welcome, but should be focused on the issue not the person. Personal attacks and false and defamatory accusations will not be accepted.

7. Spam. Repeat posting of the same off-topic posts and spamming of links that have nothing to do with the subject will be banned. This may also apply to people or organisations who frequently post external links or propaganda without adding to the quality of the discussion online. Memberships created solely for these purposes will be banned.

8. Autonomy and self-promotion. Any statement or declaration not released through the General Assembly and made public online should be considered independent of Occupy London. Self-promotional links to one’s own blog, video channel, product, business, etc., even if related to Occupy, are limited to one’s own forum signature and user profile.

9. On topic. If something is posted which is unrelated to the original topic then it may be removed, or moved to a relevant thread by the moderators, in order to keep the thread on track. Before posting, please ask yourself if you’re making a contribution to the discussion and if you are posting in the right thread.

10. Banning. Posts that do not respect the above guidelines will be removed immediately.
Users who repeatedly ignore the above guidelines will be informed that if they continue, they will be banned. Users who have been notified but continue to ignore the guidelines, will be banned. According to the situation a ban can be temporary or indefinate.

11. Moderation.  Moderators help enforce these guidelines. The point of moderation is not to limit discussion, or to promote or suppress points of view. The goal of moderation is to keep the forums enjoyable and free from problems that detract from the aim of the media platforms and the experiences of users. Should a moderator abuse her/his position, the other moderators can collectively decide to withdraw  moderator status.

12. Responsibility. The bad behaviour of one member is not an excuse for another to not respect this safer space policy. These guideline are a collective responsibility: everyone is personally responsible for their own behaviour. The moderators cannot read all posts so they rely on members to report problems that they encounter.

 

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