Occupy movement

Occupy's bells still ring

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Protesters on steps at St Paul's cathedral

Five years ago a global movement propelled a new generation of people into activity. John Sinha salutes them, but stresses the key debate remains over the type of political organisation that we need to win.

On 15 October 2011 thousands of people assembled on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in the heart of the City of London. It was part of a wave of occupations in hundreds of cities around the globe. Millions were railing against the injustices of an economic system which favoured a tiny elite at the expense of the majority. As one of the placards at St Pauls read, “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out”.

Citizens and socialists in Hong Kong

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We revisit Hong Kong-based socialist Au Loong Yu to talk about the dangers and opportunities that have emerged from Occupy Central.

What is the state of the Occupy Central movement now?

Many people want to continue the movement but some of the pan-Democratic parties [those who support democratic reform] don’t know what to do practically. The biggest issue is the passing of the bill implementing Beijing’s favoured system of electing Hong Kong’s government.

Victory in defeat for Hong Kong movement

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Hong Kong’s Occupy movement inspired vast numbers of young people to take action in opposition to China’s plans to limit previously promised democratic reforms. While Hong Kong citizens would have the right to elect their Chief Executive for the first time, they would have to choose from a handful of pre-approved candidates. After months of inspiring protests in the face of police repression the organisers called off the street occupations, after which the student leaders have come under heavy criticism from some sections of the movement. In a follow up to his article in November’s Socialist Review, Hong Kong: Spontaneity and the Mass Movement, revolutionary socialist Au Loong Yu defends the student leaders and sets out the lessons of the movement.

The Umbrella Movement has not met its objective to force the government of China to withdraw its resolution on political reform in Hong Kong. Some people have ridiculed the students for imposing limits on the movement and accuse them of deliberately refusing to escalate the actions that could have delivered a victory.

We've already won results

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Lam Chi Leung is a revolutionary socialist based in Hong Kong. He spoke to Sally Kincaid and Sally Campbell about the future of the Umbrella movement one month on.

Is the movement still going strong?
Today (28 October) marks exactly one month since the Umbrella movement broke out. The occupation of the streets continues, but the number of demonstrators has started to decrease from its peak of 200,000.

Hong Kong: Spontaneity and the mass movement

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Hong Kong's Occupy movement has inspired and engaged vast numbers of young people. Au Loong Yu, a revolutionary socialist, assesses its strengths and weaknesses following pitched battles with the police.

The retaking of the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong by occupiers on 18 October relied on the courage of protesters, most of whom have never been a member of a political party. These new participants in the movement faced up to police violence with huge determination.

The spirit of Occupy

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John Sinha and Amy Leather are socialists who have been part of the occupation of St Paul's since it began. They spoke to Jack Farmer about the Occupy movement

What has been the ideological impact of the Occupy movement?

John: It's had a huge impact, which can be summed up in the slogan "We are the 99%". What people meant by that is that we are fighting for the interests of the 99% of people who have lost out as a result of neoliberalism.

Amy: The slogan is also the beginning of an argument about class. It's made people think that it is possible to take on those at the top and do something to change the world.

What were the differences between Occupy in Britain and elsewhere?

Putting Socialism back on the agenda

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Estelle Cooch and Jack Farmer spoke to Owen Jones, a left wing member of the Labour Party and author of Chavs, about New Labour, capitalism and the demonisation of the working class

What was it that first motivated you to write Chavs?

Above all it was to put class on the agenda. I wanted to challenge this idea that we're all middle class now and that all that remains of the working class is a feckless rump. The point is that if you don't have class, then you don't have class politics and if you don't have class politics, then you don't have a left.

Unholy row

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In the August edition of Socialist Review I wrote about the crises that have hit successive ruling class institutions, from parliament to the banks. Few would have predicted that the next pillar of the establishment to be riven with turmoil would be the Church of England.

It was the intervention of the police on 15 October that resulted in Occupy London setting up camp outside St Paul's rather than Paternoster Square, home to the Stock Exchange - the original target. An institution that many would dismiss as unimportant suddenly found that it had been lobbed a political hand grenade. The internal division inside the Church produced by 150 tents was a remarkable reflection of the depth of the ideological crisis within the ruling class.

USA: Revolt of the 99 %

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Eric Fretz reports from New York on how the Occupy movement has transformed the mood in the USA.

"We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent." So runs the statement on the werarethe99percent website.

Autonomous Developments

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Young people have been at the centre of momentous struggles this year. Jonny Jones argues that socialists should thow themselves into these struggles while pointing to the power of the working class

Many of the struggles which have rocked the world over the past 12 months have had young people at their heart. In part, this is down to the fact that they are less held back by ideological and economic constraints than those who have to worry about paying their mortgages and feeding their families. Their methods of struggle are inventive and dynamic, unencumbered by the slower moving, bureaucratic processes which they have come to identify with the trade union movement.

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