Thursday, 10 November 2011

Occupy Occupy

An Outside View tonight posts on the Occupy Movement's efforts in Brighton.

He makes an interesting point in the following passage...

'The Brighton occupation raises another point. Most of the campers seem to be middle class, affecting a working class accent. They have the resources to equip themselves with comfortable, weathertight accommodation. But also in Brighton is a hard core of genuinely homeless people, with nowhere to go, who are living in the streets and sleeping in shop doorways.

I wonder if it has occurred to these concerned anarchists to engage with their neighbours who have fallen through all the safety nets? How would they feel about sharing their well-found accommodation with those much worse-off than themselves?'

I hate to say it, but for all the good intentions of the Occupy movement's rather vague campaign aimed against capitalism, bankers and the rest of it, a few homeless men turning up at the doors of their tents (if indeed, anyone lives in the tents at night) might have them running back home to mum and dad.  It is obvious that like a lot of campaigners and protesters, Occupy think global, when, in fact, Christ teaches us that we need to think local, very local, to the very poor in our midst or even just to our neighbour, who might be, God forbid, a banker! They think macro, whereas Our Lord, from the Gospels at least, seems to think micro.

Obviously, the more influential in society one is, decisions can affect millions of lives, but my personal take on it is that a load of protesters sleeping in nice tents in sleeping bags is a bit of an insult to the homeless in Brighton. I might add, also, that if Brighton's homeless community formed a community like this in protest at inadequate housing provision, or being locked out of a housing network that demanded a 'local connection', then the police and the Council would be onto it sharpish and you wouldn't hear anyone, certainly not Mary Mears, standing in their defense. These protesters, however, are being indulged by the authorities to a level which is quite eerie.

They may be the '99%' against the 1%, but what about the 0.03% of Brighton that is rough sleeping, every night, without a nice cosy fire to gather around, nice new tents, supplies of food and drink, camaraderie, guitars and big signs saying, "We are the 0.03% of Brighton." I am quite certain that a demonstration of real voice by the homeless would last about a day before being raided, but then, I guess we'll probably never know. If these middle class protesters think sleeping in a tent is hard, well, let them take up residency in crack central, 17/19 Grand Parade, and see how long they last there or try it without a tent. The temperature is dropping again and when winter bites, the protesters might think again. The homeless community of Brighton can think again, but those who don't have a 'local connection' will not be able to demonstrate against the greed of Baron Homes, the sinister way in which they are courted by the Council and the whole nature of the housing benefit hostel rip off that is Brighton's homeless circuit. Is it really the case that the authorities think these Occupy guys are untouchables because their dads are barristers or something?


Richard said...


The Occupy protestors seem to think that someone else should do something about the problems.

But they don't know who should do it, or what it should be (and I'm not even sure that the agree on what the problems are).

But Jesus tells us to "love our neighbour".

Tricky thing, love, but I think you tend to find it in personal relationships rather than committees.

The Bones said...

Mike, as far as I know the safeguarding measures in the Diocese are excellent.

Tim said...

Having seen what the Occupy protestors did in Rome,

I take a pretty dim view.

Gigi said...

Thank you for this post. Although not unsympathetic to their stated protestations, I have wondered if Brighton's tent-army would break bread and share canvas with the geuinely homeless of this city.

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