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2 March 2012
GOD AND MAMMON COLLUDE TO STAMP OUT PROTEST
Bailiffs protected by police evicted the Occupy camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London, the UK’s financial district, in a midnight raid this week.
The protesters’ tents were thrown into garbage trucks and 20 people were arrested.
The camp was set up in October as part of an international campaign to highlight the injustice of a world in which the ultra-rich 1% of the global population trousers an obscene proportion of the world’s riches, thereby condemning the remaining 99% to relative or absolute poverty.
The bailiffs, who moved in on 28 February 2012, were acting on the instructions of the Corporation of the City of London with the tacit acquiescence of the (acting) Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral.
To no one’s surprise, the UK courts had earlier given the corporation the green light to turf the Occupants out of their encampment, part of which had been on land belonging to the City of London and part of which had been on land belonging to the Cathedral.
The main concern of the authorities in the west is to prevent the development of a protest movement that could, by emulating the tactics of rebels who pioneered the Arab Spring, pose a threat to the established order in so-called western democracies.
Protest camps similar to the one in London have been dismantled by police at Zuccotti Park in New York (the Occupy Wall Street movement) and at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid (where “los indignados” kicked off the Occupy protests in Europe).
Other events not wholly unrelated to the concerns of the Occupy protesters also featured this week.
- The European Central Bank in Frankfurt loaned a gob-smacking €530 billion to 800 banks over a three-year term with a paltry 1% coupon.
- It emerged that HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, handed out over £1 million each to 192 of its top staff in 2011, a year in which the bank’s profits fell by 6%.
- Barclays Bank is being forced to pay back to the UK Treasury £500 million in taxes that it had tried to avoid through questionable accounting wheezes.
Expect to hear more about the Occupy movement in the spring. The protesters are down but not out. As we have just demonstrated, the injustices to which they are opposed have not gone away. The advocates of the 99% will be back.
Giles Fraser resigned from his post as canon chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral in protest at plans to remove the protesters by force. Citing the poet Shelley, he said after this week’s eviction: “You cannot evict an idea.”
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Das Vierte Reich/The Fourth Reich (6 Feb 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
5. What would Gandhi have said? (30 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.