It’s been a dramatic week. In Greece, the annual commemoration of the uprising that brought down the last military dictatorship has taken on a new significance as a new unelected government takes power, and Occupied London and Contra-Info both have coverage of the “Then with the tanks, now with the banks” demonstrations that’ve taken place. And pretty much everywhere, the Occupy movement’s taken a new turn as state repression makes the tactic of just peacefully occupying a park impossible. In New York, Occupy Wall Street made an attempt to actually live up to their name by disrupting commerce, and the New School has been occupied by students. This is interesting as the New School’s already been occupied several times as part of an earlier wave of university occupations in 2009, which both Malcolm Harris and Prima Porta have identified as being one of the major sources for the current movement. Elsewhere, there’s been dramatic clashes in Italy, and Occupy London has taken over an abandoned building belonging to the investment bank UBS. In both London and New York, this move indoors is something to celebrated, as one of the major problems of the Occupy movement is the way that the antagonistic element of an occupation seems to be missing from the permitted, non-disruptive occupations of public space. Seizing buildings is a lot harder to ignore, especially at a time when the government is moving to criminalise squatting. Another very positive development has been the move to practical anti-eviction work, led by Occupy Minnesota, where Monique White’s house is currently occupied by a large number of (invited) protesters seeking to prevent bailiffs from throwing her out of her house, and the practice is set to spread to a second foreclosed home this weekend. Over here, anti-eviction campaigners in Nottingham have been targetting local councillors who support evictions, and a squat eviction is being resisted in Hackney today, two weeks after the last successful action against evictions in the area.
Rounding up, the national campaign against benefit cuts has called for December to be a festive month of action against Atos, and two people in Nottingham are facing charges for doing just that. Also on the legal front, 10 people have just been convicted for the occupation of Fortnum & Mason’s on March 26th. The sparks’ struggle continues to spread to new areas, with rank and file meetings taking place in Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol and Sheffield, as well as continuing action in the North-East, London, Manchester and Liverpool. Finally, two decent pieces of analysis: Fitwatch offer an excellent argument why people shouldn’t get hysterical about “agents provocateurs”, and IWW members active in the push for a general strike in Wisconsin analyse that movement’s failure.
There’s a lot going on at the moment, but the overall trend of the occupy movement seems to be a positive one. The non-disruptive park occupations have pretty much reached the limit of what they can achieve; from now on, the movement needs to start directly sabotaging the things that ruin our lives, or else it’ll quietly die away. The examples from London, New York, and Minnesota seem to show there’s still a chance to take things forward.