‘We are in Third World War - an economic war. And the weapon is debt’
Thousands took to the streets of American cities from coast to coast to mark May Day and call for a nationwide strike.
Between 50 and 100 people joined them in London by moving into Paternoster Square with tents and supplies on Tuesday night. However they were forced to leave by City of London officers just hours later.
The renewed activism comes more than six months after members of Occupy London were prevented from occupying the square in heart of the City of London. Many thought the movement appears to be on its last legs. Jamie Kelsey-Fry from the Occupy London convinces RT otherwise.
RT: You said yourself that this place [St. Paul’s Cathedral in London] is almost haunted – the tents used to be right here just where you are standing. Is the Occupy movement dead?
Jamie Kelsey-Fry: Absolutely not, obviously. One of the things of camp movement is that we are allowed to put more energy into the movement itself. It was actually becoming very difficult to sustain the camp because it became very large. If you bear in mind that five months ago none of us thought the camp would last this long, we are still developing our ideas and have them move forward, have to use outrage to escalate the movement, to generate solidarity and otherwise really of reaching the public consciousness to get across our very simple ideas of social, environmental and economic justice. So, we have really just begun in that sense really.
RT: It is no coincidence that we are here in one of the financial hearts of London – London Stock Exchange is not very far from here at all. Bankers are still being paid their bonuses, as we are hearing from newspapers every day. The 1 per cent appears very much to be still in charge. Have you had any impact at all?
JKF: Absolutely. I think there have been some measures by the government because they have such an influence on the public view on the financial system, that there has been a leading banker who has had to turn down his bonus. Sir Fred was made to turn back his knighthood. But I think these are just punitive measures. I think they show that the government realizes that there is a lot of public support for the issues we are raising awareness about. So they are taking some measures to make it look as if they are doing something.
You are absolutely right. In terms of 1 per cent remains the 1 per cent – that is completely untouched. Also, if you bear in mind the fact that last year of the hundred top Footsie (FTSE) the average pay raise is 49 per cent. Everything business is usual, but what is different is that people are now aware about this. People are now entering this dialog, and they are beginning to challenge the assumptions that have not been challenged for a very long period of time, which is that can we continue with such an unsustainable, undemocratic, unjust economic system.
RT: So far Occupy looks kind of a sort of open-air party for people who have something to lose. What are people in the movement willing to sacrifice in order to achieve those goals?
JKF: People are sacrificing their jobs, their relationships – not by intention. Many people have lost their homes. I have never been in a movement where people are that dedicated. The general portrayal of us is being people who are, you know, jobless, on the dole, losers is absolutely the opposite to the reality. The reality is that a whole span of people from across the general public have been motivated to dedicate themselves, a hundred per cent to this movement. This means that a very small proportion of us are actually experienced activists and by far the highest amount of us are people who are just from ordinary walks of life, who have gone “I wanna make a stance. We have to do something about this unsustainable system.” And this is a movement for us to do that in.
RT: It has been five months since you came to this area. Let’s talk about your goals. Lots of people seem to have very limited understanding of what you are actually trying to achieve. Just take me through it.
JKF: When we took this space on October 15th, over a period of 48 hours some about 3,500 people took part in generating what was called our initial statements. So really within 40 hours we made it very clear why we were here. We are questioning what we see as an unsustainable economic system, an undemocratic economic system, a political system that seems to be working with profits before people; it is intertwined with the corporations. We are also questioning the idea of regulated bodies being managed by the people they are meant to be regulating. We also question the idea that perpetual war for resources is something that is going to destroy the planet. So we made it very clear. We nailed our ideals to the wall within 48 hours. An economic system based on infinite growth, but which relies on found out resources, is flatly absolutely embarrassing.
RT: Let’s broaden it out a bit and talk a little bit about the global economic situation, if you like through the prism of your movement. The European project is constantly in the papers and it looks like it's on its last legs, how do you see it playing out?
JKF: What we see it as – and when I say we, I am speaking “I” as a member of Occupy – it’s very clear for the movement from the beginning that the global economic system is on its last legs. About nine months ago we had a leading trader on BBC news live who said very clearly that governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs does. So it’s very clear to us that what’s happening in Europe, what’s happening in Greece, is just a symptom of this disease. And this disease is going to continue to get worse unless we as people, as a grassroots movement actually take control ourselves of this economic system which is being run by very few people, that has just run completely out of control.
What’s very frightening about this gentleman who was saying that Goldman Sachs rules the world is that he was reveling in it – he apologized, but he was reveling in it, because he said “If you understand this situation you will know how to make a huge amount of money out of the global collapse.” Now for any human being to be in a situation where they can benefit hugely, buy massive yachts from the suffering of millions and millions in the world – we should be embarrassed of being part of that same human race. And we should be embarrassed to stand by and do nothing about it.
RT: It seems as though a movement like Occupy would be in support of bailout of countries like Greece – for the sake of solidarity of workers, that kind of thing.
JKF: A very interesting question. I’m not the Occupy movement, I’m one person in it, but I am not sure that the movement would support bailing out. Exactly where we are standing at the moment was the famous tent city university and we had an evening of solidarity with Greece. And there was about 50 Greek people here and there was a fascinating noise. And they kept going back to a very interesting point – we are in Third World War and it’s an economic war and the weapon is debt. And it was a fascinating thing to say, a very revolutionary phrase.
I think the movement is moving more towards a revolutionary solution to the situation we are in rather than a reformist [one]. If you look at the revolutionary, it has much more to do with the idea of dispensing with the organizations like the IMF, dispensing with all organizations that have ruled and regulated the way that financing world is run because we believe them to be completely corrupt, completely in the pockets of people that are meant to be regulating and moving over. And the same with governments, they are completely intertwined with all these financial decisions. They have an ear for corporations, they have an ear for global financial institutions – much-much more than they have an ear for the people of the country they are meant to be looking after and supporting. So in the situation what is happening in Greece and then coming out with the statements “the Third World War is here, it’s an economic war and the weapon is debt,” that really rang a bell with a lot of people.
If you look at Iceland – now they are something that is quite inspiring in a sense that they absolutely ignored what they have been told to do. They didn’t go for being bailed out in any way. In fact at the moment they are crowdsourcing their constitution themselves. They dispense with all the leaders they believe to be corrupt and they were banging their saucepans just like in Argentina until they have a leader they believed in. And they are going much further. They are now actually chasing and wanting to bring to court those bankers that brought the country to debt in the first place. So they are taking control themselves and they are doing right.
RT: Can the crowdsourcing really work on the national and international scale though?
JKF: Yes. In terms of a national scale with Iceland they are simple crowdsourcing their constitution themselves and it is managing well. This new technology has absolutely revolutionized the speeches and it revolutionizes the way that we move towards radical change in activism. And it has only just started. The fact is – yes, I can see in the future, within a lifetime, a situation when there’s a form of global referendum. If we have that, I think very quickly the leaders and the people around financial institutions and corporations will be put to shame because when they would literally hear the voices of the 99.9 per cent of the planet – then they will be put to shame, they will be put into the shade, and ideally they’ll go.
RT: Governments in different countries are obviously opposed to you occupying places and you were evicted from here on a court order. The US has reportedly rolled out what it’s calling “a microwave weapon” to disperse crowds. Are you making plans for dealing with those kinds of technology?
JKF: This country last year bought large water cannons to dispense with demonstrators or activists. And I think that’s kind of a scare story – I know that it’s true that the military in the States may have bought this weapon that can use soundwaves to kind of disempower people that may be in the streets but I think that’s a symptom of something far worse that is coming. Occupy is the canary in the mine as we can see. But eventually the rest of this world will realize that they have been robbed and they have been put into subjugation by completely unjust undemocratic unsustainable financial systems. And they will all as one become furious eventually.
So I think those kind of weapons may well be something to take much more seriously in say six months’ time or eight months’ time. In this country the austerity measures haven’t really hit as hard as they are going to. It’s easy for people to just stay within their own “little pub” if you don’t mind the world. But when the austerity measures cut into their actual lives, come right on to their doorstep and enter their front door, and cut them away from a lot of what they are used to, there will be enormous growth in people who are trying to find this kind of economic justice that Occupy represent.