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Occupy London: A Camp Facing Its Own Death

Live Magazine's Robbie Wojciechowski gives us his view on the recent events outside St Paul's Cathedral

Just as the Occupy London Camp headed towards its second successful week in occupation, and with an eviction attempt from St Paul’s Cathedral apparently imminent, it’s with great regret that I chose to step away from it all, making the decision that this is the end of the story for me. My journey’s been an inspiring one, one that’s seen my opinion’s challenged, changed, tampered and revolutionised by a week within a movement that’s taking over this entire world. But where it falters, is not in its message – but in its people.

I started this crusade as a young person enlightened by a year of unrest, excited by the actions of UK Uncut and engaged by the student movements of last December. And it’s there that I found my awakening to this anger for government, and fury against the unjustified decisions that are crippling our society. It’s with this in heart, and the views of many young people in hand that I found myself on the steps outside St Paul’s on the first night of occupation, post Assange, feeling so inspired that this could be the start of a new world. To contain this excitement became difficult, as sporadic tweets of pure ecstasy filled my timeline; I saw the buds of community forming. Over the next week, I found myself at the camp near constantly, living amongst the expressionists who’d joined me in forming our own democracy. I was absorbed, obsessed, spending any hour I could helping build a communion of like-minded people.

As foundations grew, as did our resources, and the first telling’s of what this people’s society were to be based on were laid out on the cobbled stones of the piazza. The kitchen and tech tent were closely followed by a library and the Tent City University, and at this point, it became evident that Occupy London was to be space for learning and education, an environment where people could feel secure in finding themselves.  But as the week went on, to me it’s this security that began to feel challenged. Working groups, formed from the first General Assembly meeting (a large discussion had at 1pm, and 7pm each day, with members of the camp, and passers by both in attendance) seemed to fractionalise. At first competing together for good, it came to feel as though each working group faced a battle in working collaboratively with each other. And it’s through this that our message seemed to come out to the press unfocused.

It’s the General Assembly, where many went at first to express their views, but through rapid growth and pressure from outside media, the message and process seemed to become unorganised as the camp went into its second week. Co-ordinating a conscious and concise message between the groups at Finsbury Square and St Paul’s felt near impossible. Thus our output still remained unorganised.

Occupy London is a breeding pot of different ideas; here there are communists, anarchists, idealists, spiritualists, well wishers, religious believers, disabled individuals, the homeless and people discontent with society, all living alongside each other. To portray one ideology or the idea of anti-capitalism (as the media seems to have canned us as) is impossible. What we do all recognise together though, worldwide, alongside all the other occupy movements, is that we are unhappy with the current system. And see that something needs to change.

We are all characters disillusioned by our current society, people are lost, people don’t know what society is any more, nor do we recognise our system, and it’s making many unstable. It’s this instability, and insecurity that can now be felt in the Occupy London camp. Past the inspiring and overwhelming nature of it all, that is seen by many on their first visit; it’s the deeper worry that’s led to me choosing to leave for a while. At moments Occupy London feels like a rehabilitation unit for the lost and unjust, it’s the decisions of politicians worldwide that are crippling their people. And it’s this that makes for an unstable environment. The camp’s starting to attract people that have been attacked by the system twice now (first by Thatcher, now Cameron), whose anger is deeply in-bred into their entire personalities and their views come out, strongly, when you try to talk to these characters. It was nice at first, to hear these views, because they aren’t ever widely expressed, but in vast amounts they destroy any positive attitude towards action. You see the troubles of society in-front of you, and it’s terrifying.

I don’t dis-believe in the Occupy London cause, if I did, I wouldn’t have found myself staying for six nights, but it’s these wider complications of it all that have led to me feeling mixed up and shaken by my experiences. The occupation is an incredibly inspiring, cohesive and addictive environment, but my challenge comes in its unrelenting nature. Can these insecurities hold? I doubt it. It’s far too difficult to say whether there can be a strong future for the camp. But I ultimately think its death will come from itself, it’s people, and it’s nature, not from any eviction.

Text by Robbie Wojciechowski
Photos by Marcus Boyle