Occupy Melbourne: not the usual suspects
The black bile continues to flow against the movement on the OM twitter stream. I get a bit shouty at the computer screen at the recurring themes. The biggest seems to be that the (insert expletives here) (insert diminutive term here) need to get a job. There’s some irony in that statement.
However all the people that I’ve talked to in the square or on the street have been gainfully employed, often highly educated and unlike the misinformation propagated by the shock jocks and Mayor Doyle, far from being dole bludgers.
Correction. One demonstrator had a bit of a moan to me about Centrelink. She was a recently separated suburban mum in her 40’s out demonstrating in the rain with her pubescent son who wanted to attend the rally. She wanted to work or retrain, feeding her family being paramount. Far from the bludging rent-a-crowd usual suspect, here was a person who’d been inspired by the collectivism and harmony of the first weekend of OM. She’d been particularly impressed by the communal kitchen and spent the week cooking healthy food for her family.
I told her, “If Occupy Melbourne does nothing else except motivate you to buy less processed junk and make better food for your kids, then it’s been an amazing success”.
But stories like this don’t tend to make their way to the blinkered, who have a high investment in the image of what the Occupy movement is about.
As for what OM stands for, there’s still a debate over it’s focus and direction. Another irony is that on the one hand some that have been attracted to OM are refreshed by its initial lack of familiar faces, that there’s a new movement of non-alligned groups and individuals. But then the same people criticise OM for its lack of leadership, direction and aims.
Serendipitously I listened to a classic Late Night Live, Phillip Adams in conversation with Gerry Stoker about the future of politics. Despite the interview being recorded 5 years ago, it could have been a fly on the wall of a discussion in the square last week, about democracy, consensus and the importance of finding a way to engage a new generation in the political process.
The way I see it, is OM is an emerging movement, strongly committed to peaceful discussion and the forgotten, time consuming process of allowing everyone to have a voice and collective decision making. This means it’s just learning to walk, let alone even being on its L Plates as a political force. If this germ of a collective is allowed to grow, I have a renewed optimism for the health and wellbeing of our planet. Cut it off at its knees and I sink back into pessimism.
It’s a movement that needs nurturing. It’s likely too unformed to turn OM into something huge and positive – just yet. But there’s hope.
Despite the unnecessary violence of last Friday, I’ve read no reports of a single window broken or threats to members of the public by OM. At it’s least it could be seen as a bunch of disparate dreamers, camping and drumming in a public space.
But at it’s most? Watch this space.
I’ll be off line over the next few days and can’t attend the rally on Saturday. I’m hoping that it’s big, peaceful and offers a few more curious souls like myself a taste of hope.