So happy New Year to you. My children are still not back in school, and it has been one long holiday at our house, and it only ended tonight. Playing Lego Harry Potter on Wii, watching Arrested Development, going on walks and snuggling has really eaten into my blogging time. Star Wars, incidentally, is becoming a big part of Christmas thanks to some cookie cutters shaped like Yoda's head and C3PO and R2D2 being in our nativity. I couldn't be happier about that.
For this new year I resolved to work on three prongs of Occupy that I thought to be most important. The first is the alliance with the Church of England. The second is litigation. The third is local organizing.
On the Alliance: Occupy is slipping into a ghetto. What it has accomplished is the awakening, but momentum is not building, the camping idea is not sustainable, people remain skeptical, and a long-term strategy is not apparent to people who are not there. I am concerned it is becoming another invisible activist group, instead of the 99%. Outreach through the Bank of Ideas exists but seems sparse. Local occupations in England struggle. Winter Carnival is only happening, if it happens, on a much more abbreviated scale and without the involvement of any of the London Occupy groups. That is fine. (Well, there is an issue of pride with me. I am a fighter and I don't let things go easily. Even now when someone very gently and nicely points out that the Winter Carnival is not picking up steam, I glower at them and think, screw you, buddy, I will MAKE it happen. But for reasons below, actually, I will not).
I continue to think that the commonality of peoples of faith and everyone drawn to Occupy is the Epiphany, is the connection that could really make this the 99% and keep us all safe - ie nonviolent. I fear for the next year with our militarized police and their protection of the corporate interests pimping the Olympics and the huge strikes and protests planned. And I fear that the more Occupy is marginalized, the more that the change it represents will be marginalized. I know there are people who see this Alliance as important and I wish them godspeed. I don't believe in god and I am an ex-Christian but there is something in this thirst for justice at Occupy that is sacred and holy and squarely within the remit of the Church of England so even though I know I do not make people happy when I say it, the Church of England needs to help. Both Occupy and the Church of England could use some new people.Work together to get some.
On the lawsuits: There was a conference at the Bank of Ideas yesterday about bringing criminal actions in the UK as a private prosecutor and the possibility of, under the Occupy banner, bringing lawsuits for war crimes, economic crimes and welfare crimes. I was going to go. I personally would love to do this. The existing Civil Rights and Civil Liberties organization in the UK, called Liberty, is the preening lapdog of the corporations and I would love to get in there and raise some hell. Put me in charge and I'll file some real lawsuits, the kind the Man is scared of. To me, that is FUN FUN FUN. I don't know much about this private prosecutorial ability, but I do think there is a wealth of possibilities in civil lawsuits against the Corporation of the City of London, shareholder actions, pension owner actions, class actions - a time-honoured element of modern rights struggles is the use of the courts. The court proceedings Occupy has been subject to thus far in London lead me to believe that actually the judges are hungry for justice. It always seemed to me that it is only British culture itself - a feeling, an unwritten consensus-- that prevents a lucrative deluge of lawsuits for fraudulent nondisclosure, bonus pay for bankers, wasting of shareholder assets/taxpayer money, Network Rail executive pay, violation of the EU Human Rights laws by Corporation of the City of London and others. Scrapper Duncan's blog is a great rallying point for that, as is the Occupy Justice Criminal Investigations. They deserve support.
On organizing locally: if this is about people and their networks and being willing to change, I have to, I think, reach out to people in my network where I physically am. Thus my involvement with the very new Occupy Cambridge. We had a meeting today. It was good. These are people who cannot drop everything and camp (well, most of them). These are people who want to slowly and sustainably build up relationships of trust so that we can truly act together.
On Friday I met with a theater producer. (I have been a fan of this guy for decades so it was really dreamy to meet him and fun to be excited to meet someone). It was about an idea for a play I had pitched him two years ago. I now am going to write the play so I have to drop nearly all of my Occupy work. No, I didn't see it coming either. The play is about Williams v First Government Mortgage, a trial I did in 1996, which is also, by the way, the subject of my first ever blog post. There is no doubt in my mind that this constitutes the greatest opportunity I have had as a playwright - maybe even as a person. And what is the play about if it is not about economic injustice and the horrible face of unethical capitalism?
What a strange thing. I know that I will go back to Occupy, I just need to write this play first. I mean, I have to go back, the events of 15 October, that moment when an officer of the law forced me to put down a sign that said justice is possible in order to be reunited with my family, well, that moment is never going away. It was my red pill, and nothing will ever be as it was before.
For one thing, I was so horrified watching people dressing up and going Christmas shopping this year. The untold hours. The desperation. The shoddily made crap people buy out of a sense of duty. The insecurity that somehow we are not enough for our children, and only in receipts and plastic may we truly prove our love and be enough. It was like being in a zombie movie. Man, thanks for that, Occupy. Great!