Impossible To Imagine
When I first arrived in the Occupy movement on the 15th of october 2011 I was primarily concerned with power. I didn’t know enough about capitalism to be completely for or against it but I did understand that the political system had been taken over by corporate empires. To me inequality in all it’s forms, was the enemy.
I had read many books and become somewhat left wing. I had read about social movements but I had no direct experience of them. My goals where something like dismantling corporate power, building greater democracy, environmental sustainability and ending imperialism.
It is now one year later. I have experienced the beauty and trauma of leaderless camp life, I have protested in the streets more times than I can remember, I have attended lectures and had conversations with people of every kind, I have learnt about the nature and history of struggle, I watched camps get destroyed by the state, I danced on the roof tops of an occupied office block overlooking the City of London, I have experienced moments of meaning and friendship that will always be with me. In short it’s been quite a trip.
Today there are no camps. The struggle lives on in it’s next phase. Looking back at who I was one year ago it’s clear that some things have changed. My goals have been expanded upon and refined. I understand with greater clarity, through experience and reflection just what my aim is and has been all along. The experience of camp life was intense and difficult. It was fascinating, frustrating and wondrous. During that six months or so I witnessed incredible self-organization, the spirit of community, tremendous disputes, power struggles, total confusion and determination. What ever was happening though, we experienced it, we reacted to it and we learned it’s lessons together. The commodified fragmented way of life that we where all familiar with was replaced with a new mode being. A mode of participation and shared destiny. Our camp was our camp, our kitchen was our kitchen, our library was our library, our conflicts where our conflicts, our struggle was our struggle. In that strange, artificial and unsustainable way we, even just for one unexpected moment, were in control over our own lives. And our lives where held together around a shared situation, a set of ideas and resources, a community and a threat. Underneath the insanity and chaos, the ways we really wanted to live where becoming visible for the first time. A world without dehumanising structures. A world of common interest and individual freedom. A world where creativity could find it’s free place. A world where we all had a say. A world we could not demand from anyone.
My experience over the last year has helped me understand what kind of a society I want to live in. Capitalisms crippling dominance overwhelms and distorts our psyches making another kind of society almost impossible to imagine. I understand therefore, that capitalism along with it’s authoritarian and elitist structures has to go.
What comes next? We’ll see.