Mercer's Poems
Political Espionage and the Art of Activism

Last night witnessed one of the biggest, and most amazing nights ever for Occupy Wall Street. As thousands took to the streets to protest against corporate greed and wealth inequality not even the previously reticent mainstream media organisations could ignore it. 
But, there are problems with this. This movement has been going on for two months, and yet on one day a vast hoard of people can suddenly show up? Who are they, why were they there? Who organised them? What is more, with mainstream media interest they will start to wheel out their own ‘spokespeople’ rather than rely on the guys on the ground. Where, after all, is the legitimacy of an interview with a hooded, cold individual on the street; someone who has been part of the movement since its inception and knows all about it, when they can easily wheel their own mouthpiece into the warmth of some studio lights and get soundbites that suit their agenda?  

This movement is all inclusive, that much is true, but it is also completely independent. It is not partisan to any political agenda because it is its own political agenda, that anyone can believe in regardless of who they voted for, or intend to vote for. There are individuals from all walks of life represented in the core of the movement. But they should be wary of being too trusting, and allowing a force of numbers of bodies on streets overwhelm them, without checking whether those bodies are there for the spirit of the movement, or for the spirit of something else entirely.

A lot of word from the street last night spoke of an organisation known as UnitedNY organising things. Who are these people? Why did they feel the need to take on the role of organisers, and de facto police if some reports were to be believed? Ask the questions. What is their agenda? Were they there in the name of Occupy Wall Street, and the freedoms, transparency, equality and democracy for which it stands? It would seem not, given that they with no disguising of their elitism were trying to call the shots as the ‘authority’ behind last night’s events. So ask who were they there for? Who do they represent? Who runs them? Where does their funding come from? It is these questions, and the transparency that arises from their answers that Occupy Wall Street is all about.

There is a danger with activism that an individual can get so caught up in the moment. They can become so infused with the spirit and the passion of bodies on the street. They can become so wrapped up in what they are doing, and what they stand for that they lose the cynicism and the mistrust from which their movement was born. Anyone questioning the motivations or intentions of people who show support to them instantly become targets of hate - Suspicion ends up aimed at the suspicious while, potentially obvious co-option slips under the radar via medium of misplaced trust and an almost cult-like fanaticism to the beliefs of the movement.

Do not lose sight of your objectivism. It has been what has gotten the movement so far, and protected the movement from harmful influence. Most activists are aware of how to spot an undercover police officer, but how do you spot an undercover agenda? Particularly when you are told looking for it questions the very fabric of the movement? But, a transparent movement is the one glass house in which it would be wise to throw stones.  

Occupiers Occupy my Heart

I have just returned after three days at the OccupyLSX protest, initially scheduled to be in Paternoster Square outside the London Stock Exchange, however moved due to heavy police presence to outside St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is only steps away from the intended location. 
I have to say I have been taken aback. It is truly amazing. On the first day there must have been around 1000-2000 people or more on the steps and in front of the cathedral, and all of them there for the same reason. Forget the anti-capitalist stuff, forget the anti-austerity, forget the anti-establishment. These are being implemented as political tools. They are necessary steps to getting to a government we want to live under. The reason those people were there, and the sole reason alone, is because they love and respect their fellow human being. The message was there across the board, from children to the elderly, across ethnicity and religion, across race, across job, across everything the underlying message is so pure, so simple, and so true. We are all one. And this is the start of a global movement that intends to act with that mantra.
It was a bit nervy at times, the police cordoned off the area in a manner that was all too familiar as the ‘kettling’ tactic so widely used in protest situations. However what the police failed to recognise was that far from this, as is usually the case, being an intimidating and trouble-starting tactic, the crowds there couldn’t have cared less if they were kettled in; because they weren’t going anywhere anyway. Late on in the first day, the police forcibly removed people from the top steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral in a measure that was described by one officer as being “for the safety of the protesters.” However these officers were told to stand down by The Reverend in the morning, apparently all too happy with the message, and level of peace of the protest.
After that point, the police presence lowered and the atmosphere only continued to rise. It is truly a testament to the people there, and to the spirit in which they have come together, that trouble is virtually absent. It is a protest that is winning hearts, minds and sympathies; and this is vital if it is to continue, and to be fruitful.
The level of organisation too exceeded my expectations. Standard British levels of organisation have difficult putting together the proverbial piss up in a brewery. While initially it seemed occupation may be difficult, due to police shutting off the intended destination, consensus was reached within a matter of hours quite what was going to occur, and by late afternoon on Saturday tents were already being pitched. Not only did the organisation lead to an occupation being made possible, but it has also made it quite comfortable too. The field kitchen is well stocked and staffed, with a wide array of snacks, meals and assorted nibbles; as well as copious amounts of water, juice, milk, soya milk and other things to keep hydrated. There was a stall of surplus bedding and tent equipment which certainly helped make my second night a lot less chilly, and a lot more comfortable (thanks to whoever donated the tartan woolen blankets!) And there was also a good first aid area, and the media centre while not at full speed, was doing a great job of trying to get a place where people could charge devices; as well as keeping live-streams going.  
But, again, what is most striking is the atmosphere. More of a carnival, or a festival than a protest. The mood is one that, though reflective of the ills of society, also wants to live in the spirit not of how things are, but how they should be. There is a freedom in the air, and one befitting of a protest such as this. There is entertainment in all forms as guitars, trumpets and drums have all featured and, even I, with my two left feet and my unwillingness to move in any way remotely rhythmic, succumbed to the drummers beats.
It is truly beautiful. After only a few days, it has already become a community, as people intermingle with one another, make new friends, hear new opinions and go about it all with a free-spirited and open minded attitude that is almost unheard of in any social structure these days. Instead of different opinions leading to division and factionalism, it leads instead to discussion and the formation of new respects and friendships. It shows a movement of individuals who have realised that beneath all political beliefs, ideologies, ideas on how things can change, and the natural variation we have in our minds as human beings; beneath all this is one core belief, one idea, one value. That we are all human beings, and thus, at the very core of our existence, we must believe in each other. It is this, I believe, that the governments of this world are truly afraid of.
And it is easy to see why. When you can set up a leaderless social structure, and a community living within it in only two days, why do you need a government? When you can have an economic structure of ‘give what you can and take what you need’ that provides for all and excludes no one, in only two days, why do you need global financial institutions?
The fact is, neither is essential. Neither governments, nor banks are truly necessary and these occupy communities are the proof. All we humans truly need, are each other.

So, my first stint done, I have returned for a couple of reasons. Firstly, and most importantly I was hideously underprepared. This led to my catching a serious chill through the night on Saturday and spending most of Sunday shivering. The other reason is that I have appointments throughout the week, but I will also be taking my time to prepare for a return to Occupy in London. But, and I say this with utmost sincerity and from a part of my heart that I never knew existed, I miss it. There is something in the air there that just feels different. Having walked through the rest of London to catch my train all I could feel was the heavy, dank, oppressive and cold October air, as people rushed about from one place to the other slaves to a system I, only moments previous, had been occupying to denounce. The air at the camp is free. You can hear it in the claps and cheers, you can feel it in the wind, you can sense it with a sixth sense that we human beings have probably forgotten we had. And so it was with a heavy heart that I left; but also in faith. I have every faith that the individuals there will still be there for my return, along with many other new faces. I have every faith that the camp will only continue to improve in number, in strength, in solidarity and in atmosphere. And even as the winds turn bitter, and rain sets in, I have every faith the occupiers will remain.

If you are not there, and can make it, please do. There is food and water for you, there is a great atmosphere, bring your own tent or befriend someone else and see if you can rest in theirs. Because what is occurring is history, and whether you agree with everything that is said or not, you are welcome. But it would be a shame if you looked back through the history books with your children or grandchildren and weren’t able to say “I was there.” Get there, be there, make a difference.

My love goes out to all those occupiers in London and all the organisers and people who just chipped in and helped. You made a truly magnificent experience and I look forward to resting up, sorting out my business, and getting back. I love you all. (p.s. Look out for my little poem on the “WE ARE THE 99%” Banner…It’s on the central stalk of the E :D)  

Open Letter from the UK Government.

Dear Subjects of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 

We note that some of you appear greatly dissatisfied with the way things are being run. We are all too aware of your grievances and we understand. This is why we will lie to you at the time of the next election with regards to all the things you are worried about, in the hope that we may gain your votes and take power. Because we love being in power, and fueling the fires of the myth that we are your leaders and not your servants. And we love that you, ignorantly, believe that. 

We understand that you are upset that you feel we did not treat the bankers harshly enough for squandering the wealth of our nation on fraudulent and risky schemes. But we treated them very harshly indeed. At our last champagne and caviar meeting I got them all together and told them what rotters they were, and informed them of our plans to give them billions and billions of Great British currency so they may redistribute it to you freely. They said they would do so only when hell froze over. So we gave them further billions in order that they may further their research into the potential of climate change in hell. You see, we love you, and are trying our best for you. Please do not believe the rumours that huge donations and lobbying funds from these financial institutions in any way affected our judgement on what the best, and fairest economic policy should be. That I rose to power only due to the wealth supplied to me by financial and corporate donors is irrelevant; after all it was you whom I used these massive marketing funds to manipulate, who voted for me. Well except of course you didn’t, you voted for a hung parliament and in the process managed to decimate the legitimacy of the Liberal Democrat party. And I thank you for that, as you have truly narrowed down the competition so that we can continue with the see-saw two party dichotomy that has been ruining this country for our own personal gains for centuries. Sorry! Did I say ruining, I meant benefiting.

We understand your displeasure at our taking one of the finest, fairest institutions in our country; the NHS, and putting it out at firesale prices to corporate bidders. This is only because we believe you are entitled to only the best healthcare, and that means you are thus only entitled to it if you can afford it. You’ll be fine right? I mean, it’s not like this country is in dire financial trouble right now? And why do the poor need healthcare anyway? If we make sure they all die horrible deaths there shall only be lovely middle-class, middle-management types left and then you will always vote for us and that will only be brilliant for this country! You’ve often complained that waiting lists on the NHS were too long. Well fear not, you won’t have to worry. Because you won’t be able to afford to be treated at all, so you will not have to wait to receive no treatment! It’s amazing, isn’t it. We’ve already cut waiting list times drastically! It also helps solve the problem of hygiene in hospitals, which has been complained about. With fewer patients, the fine outsourced cleaners can focus their efforts on making sure you all get a fabulously clean hospital. There won’t be any riff-raff stinking the place up with their criticism and their MRSA. I’d say we’re doing a mighty fine job.

Worry not, too, about National Security. We have everything well at hand. We are already manufacturing fear such that you feel unsafe going anywhere and doing anything but work. We have security cameras watching your every move so that we can protect you from those nasty terrorists and criminal scumbags; and these will of course be in no way abused so as to quash dissent. Your way of life was in danger of being threatened by the menace of fundamentalism but, thanks to grotesquely expensive foreign wars that are in no way motivated by lust for natural resources and the notion of setting up bases in the Middle East to make sure the whole region is little more than a Western puppet, you will be safe. So concerned are we with protecting your security that we are building camps, in which you can be detained and work in safety and security. We had considered measures of putting Government issue locks on every door of every house; and having government officials come around to lock them securely at night and open them in the morning; but this was, alas, too expensive a measure to undertake. And it may have looked like we were trying to infringe on your liberties. 

So, to the growing number of dissenters. We do not hate you. See above, and see that we are working for you. We are happy for you to have your voice. You are entitled to protest. But please, have some dignity. Do it quietly, and without leaving your own home. This is purely for your own safety. If you go outside, the police may oppress you. They may kettle you. They may even beat you. But it is for your own good. It is because we are trying to protect you from tyranny and oppression that we must tyrannically oppress you. I am sure you are smart enough to understand.

Thanks for your time. I look forward to ignoring your responses and following the corporate agenda until such time as I leave government and take a directorship with one of the companies who stoked our coffers with their dirty lobbying funds.

Sincerely,

The UK Government.