ODS: And with that… they were gone. March 8, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
Behold the tone of sweet reason emanating from Leo Varadkar over Occupy…
The move comes following recent calls on the protesters to leave the Central Bank plaza ahead of the St Patrick’s Day parade.
Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar yesterday said it was “regrettable” that those involved in the Occupy Dame Street camp would not consider relocating for a few days during the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
“I think it’s disappointing that they’re not going to move the camp for a few days. I understand they feel very strongly about their politics, but I’m sure they don’t want to damage the festival,” Mr Varadkar said.
But his words do point up one problem with Occupy. It’s presence, even if [and when] it reestablishes itself over the next week or month or whatever, has always been contingent on the good will, or at least indifference, of the state authorities. That it wasn’t moved before this merely attests to how said state sought a time that provided them with some cover. And lo and behold, who should gift them that but St. Patrick?
And this points to a broader problem with Occupy, in that far from so far representing a fundamental break in the socio-political context it has yet to demonstrate precisely what it is – which by the way given the problems other more overtly left formations have had in the past four years is hardly unknown in these times. And part of that has to be the concentration on location.
The writing wasn’t on the wall with the removal of other ‘Occupies’ around the globe, though no doubt the Gardai and others watched carefully to learn whatever lessons were necessary, but instead from the beginning when a decision was taken to have protests at specific locations.
Indeed one person from ODS was quoted recently saying…
Whatever may happen around St Patrick’s Day, however, the occupiers say their protest, which they call a process, has just begun. “This place, outside the Central Bank, will continue to be the focus…Of course we have sympathy with the traders, and we do see that the public has lost access to the plaza. But we feel the gain, in having this focus for a process towards real fundamental change, is greater than the loss.”
Where does a movement based on location go when it is removed from that location? And while the response can be any location, or at least some other locations will serve as well, the problem is the DS in ODS. Either that has an significance or it doesn’t. If it does then to be moved on is problematic. If it doesn’t what’s the problem? And the other question is what is Plan B, or location B, and why wasn’t it put in place given that the Central Bank was always going to be a temporary site. That thought in mind it’s odd to read:
Occupiers will be also meeting with legal representatives later today to assess how to best move forward.
A garda spokesman said the force was obliged to move the camp for health and safety to ahead of the St Patrick’s Day parade, but it “remains to be seen what happens in the future”.
All this, one would have thought, would have been foreseen long long before and contingency plans set in place.
Granted I’m simplifying this to an extent. But the energy, and indeed the innovation that was referenced previously on this site in relation to useful experimentation with open air talks and so on should not be allowed to dissipate – albeit to judge from Helena Sheehan and others there was a considerable tapering off of activity from mid-Autumn onwards [and here note once more this – to my mind – excellent analysis].
So there’s no grounds for outright pessimism. At least not unless the experience so far is merely dismissed. The opportunity to learn from that in ways that are creative and long lasting remains.
[For more on the protests taking place this evening, thanks to shea for pointing to the WSM twitter feed, to be found here…]