A year ago it was unthinkable that large groups of unrelated people could have come together and established tent cities in the financial districts of major cities across the world. The point was to send a clear message that the people will not stand by and tolerate the gross injustice caused by the insanely destructive economic system any more.
Solidarity, as Noam Chomsky pointed out, is what Occupy created. People of all backgrounds and walks of life, ages, ethnicities, ‘professionals’ and people that are experiencing hard times, came because they believed in the cause.
Occupy is a movement for economic, social and environmental justice. These injustices will not be solved by passing some new law, or better regulation. The problem, as Occupy insists, is systemic. We need a radically new form of governance that doesn’t exploit and bring misery to people and planet, but instead promotes the well-being of all.
At the moment our legal system supports the economic system (the law is not neutral). There was nothing unlawful about the vast transfer of wealth in this country from ordinary people (the 99%) to the banks and the bankers (the 1%). There’s nothing unlawful about the vast bonuses those bankers and people at the top continue to receive, at the expense of the taxpayer. There’s nothing unlawful about destroying the planet for profit, and so publicly owned banks like RBS continue to invest in the Canadian tar sands, the most environmentally destructive project on Earth, with impunity.
One of the legal solutions Occupy Law UK advocates is the Community Bill of Rights. This is a local law that ensures local community self governance. The Community Bill of Rights model has worked in the US – where communities are adopting these laws to prevent unwanted developements in their neighbourhoods – like fracking or supermarket developments. To adopt a Community Bill of Rights, the community has to mobilise and campaign for it. There is no mechanism at the moment for adopting such laws in the UK. Taking the power back requires an act of peaceful civil resistance. This has a sound moral basis: people affected by governing decisions should be the ones who make them, and governing decisions made without the consent of the governed are fundamentally unjust. Together, we must build a people’s movement, like the abolitionists and the suffragettes, to change the way decisions are made in our communities. The people must decide! We have work to do.
View a template for a Community Bill of Rights below – remember the template is intended to be tailored for each community: