So, in the light of my recent ponderings about capitalist excess and consumerism- this story caught my attention…
The protest – modelled on earlier such events in Spain and, more famously, New York – descended on London’s financial district last Saturday with the intention of setting up a permanent camp in Paternoster Square, the private commercial and retail plaza housing the Stock Exchange headquarters.
However, the square’s owners won a court order preventing this, and police blocked access. Several thousand activists, who eventually coalesced into an encampment of around 200 tents, instead based themselves on the western edge of St Paul’s. There, they set up an increasingly entrenched camp, featuring a food marquee, a media tent and a “university”.
Relations with the church began well, especially when its canon chancellor, the Rev Dr Giles Fraser, delighted protesters on Saturday by saying he supported the right of the “good-natured” crowd to remain.
Since then, however, cathedral officials have repeatedly raised concerns about the size and scope of the camp, warning that it was impeding access for both worshippers and tourists, especially ahead of next week’s busy half term. This is a particular issue for a cathedral that relies heavily on entrance fees for its income.
Hmmm- I wonder if they Dean is concerned that some radical might start turning over the money collecting tables?
To be fair, the closing of the doors of the Cathedral does seem to be at odds with his earlier statements-
He said: “We are delighted that the London protests have been peaceful, and indeed there has been a good atmosphere generally between cathedral staff and those dwelling in the tents around St Paul’s.
“There is something profound about protest being made and heard in front of this most holy place – a gathering together of those concerned about poverty and inequality facing the great dome of this cathedral church.”
I wonder though- is this perhaps the beginning of a real movement for change in our rather sclerotic socio-economic system? Might these few hundred tents be far more in touch with the zeitgeist than the health and safety constrained Cathedral managers?
Over in America, a recent survey suggested that only a slight majority of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Asked whether capitalism or socialism is a better system, 53% of American adults cited capitalism, 20% said socialism and 27% said they weren’t sure.
The question remains- what next?