How would you define Occupy ?
Occupy was a protest movement borne out of the policies of Austerity that followed the Financial Crash of 2008. Recognising that traditional protest achieves little, it used the non-violent direct action technique of occupying public space.
What were you doing before Occupy ?
Working, as a self-employed stock market investor.
Why did you participate in Occupy?
After the financial crisis of 2008 it became clear that the theory Free Market capitalism (rewards for the able, and wealth filtering down to the population at large) was a sham . Bosses who were useless got large pay-offs, while the gap between rich and poor became ever-wider. The financial crisis itself proved we’d all been living a lie, or at least living on debt. Like many people I was initially bemused by what had gone wrong, and wasn’t even sure how we could change things for the better anyway. The levers of power seemed to be firmly in the hands of career-politicians, and there wasn’t a whole lot any of us could do about it. Then came Occupy, and it seemed there was a chance to make things better.
What impact did Occupy have on your personal life?
It turned me from someone with latent political interest, but no action, into a political activist.
Did Occupy change the ways you think, feel and interact with the world? If yes, how so? What do you feel that you learned (or unlearned) that was unique to Occupy?
I learnt a lot about politics and people, and I also took myself onto a path of learning about economics, about which previously I knew nothing. Occupy’s experiments with Consensus decision making convinced me that such a system can never work other than in the very narrowest of circumstances; and that for broad, society-based decisions, majority decision making, as flawed as it may be, is the only practical way forward. I personally would never again involve myself in a group which practised Consensus decision making.
What impact do you think Occupy has had on the economic and political situation?
In the short term it had a huge affect on public opinion, though in the medium term it has probably achieved little. The big affect, I believe, is in waking up yet another sector of the population to the injustices of our modern society – people, like me, who are much more politically engaged than they were before. When change finally comes, we will see that many of the chief instigators will be people who passed through the Occupy movement, and gained tremendously by being part of it.
Given the current political and economic situation, what is your view on what people can do to bring long lasting systemic change?
Engage with what is going on, learn how the current system works, and agitate for change (whether that be protesting, having a political career, or simply talking to people you know).
Before Occupy, were you involved in activities related to the reasons why you participated in Occupy? (Activist groups, campaign groups, media platforms, volunteering, research, etc)
Are you still involved in activities related to the reasons why you participated in Occupy? (Activist groups, campaign groups, media platforms, volunteering, research, etc)
I have my own political website http://ourbrokensystem.com/
Are you still actively working or engaged with people that you met through Occupy?
What kind of activities are you doing together?
At the moment just staying in contact, but always open to any initiatives.